It’s a new year, and while I really should spend my first blog post of January outlining my goals for 2018, I just don’t have it in me. (Could be the nasty head cold/sinus infection.)

2017 was a tough year. There were a lot of ups and downs for everyone. When I look back on it, I’m sure I had more ups than downs, but it’s hard to see the positives when the world is full of negative.

Hmmm.

I published a new book of which I’m extremely proud. It’s slowly being read by people outside my inner circle. It’s getting good reviews, too. That’s one positive.

My husband and I bought ten acres of wooded land and began the process of building a new house. At this point, we only have a gravel driveway and a large space cleared of trees. Still, that’s another positive.

We traveled to Washington, D.C. (twice!) and Folly Beach, South Carolina as a family, and I managed to have a girls’ weekend away in Chicago with two of my best friends. More positives.

I spent my 40th birthday weekend surrounded by a group of people I love and who love me back. Even more positives.

I managed to sew up/throw together some fun costumes for Gen Con and Halloween and created a dress for an adults-only New Year’s Eve party that I would be happy to wear out in public again and again. (That’s the dress at the top of this post. I was so ecstatic, because it fit like a glove after hours spent fitting and tweaking and fine tuning the muslin. Practically killed myself trying to finish it before the party, but I got it done.) Positives the fifth.

I spent a lot of time looking inward, battling my implicit biases or even just acknowledging them whenever they arose. It’s nothing to boast about, but it’s a step.

I “won” NaNoWriMo in November. Barely. After taking a break from writing in December, I’m back at it and revising November’s novel. It’s a personal little story about my favorite characters from classic American literature, the March family of Little Women. I do have one goal: once I finish the revisions, I want to send the manuscript out to a publisher or three or possibly even an agent. This is the year I want to find out if I can go the traditionally published route. I have another story – a piece of “chick lit” – that I’ll try to send out as well. It’s even more personal than the NaNo story.

My boys continued to grow and develop and are turning into fine little men. I can’t believe my oldest turned eleven in August! He’s almost as tall as his mother. I sometimes pine for the days when they were babies, but I’ve really been enjoying their emerging personalities over the years, discovering their likes and dislikes, reveling in their accomplishments. They will always make it on my Positive List.

I’m sure there were oodles of other wonderful things that happened in 2017, but I have a nasty head cold and am having difficulty coming up with anything specific. Sushi and karaoke with friends at a local restaurant? That was fun. Spending a night in Indianapolis with my boys to take in the holiday lights at the zoo and one of the museums there? Super fun. Getting a new puppy? He’s extra work and responsibility, but it feels like he’s always been a part of the family.

So, I guess 2017 wasn’t all that bad in retrospect. This post reminds me of our most recent holiday card, created on tinyprints.com/Shutterfly.com. I didn’t think much of the tagline on the front of the card when I first chose the design. I just thought it looked pretty once I slid in the photo of my boys. (They truly are my joy.) Once I saw the cards in person, I realized how much I needed those three little words in my life:

2017-12-25 09.38.27-1

I hope you all find your joy in 2018. I’ll be on the lookout for mine.

Peace, love, and light. And thanks for reading.

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a stay-at-home-mom and writer living in the rolling hills of southern Indiana. When she’s not caring for her family or obsessing over punctuation, she can be found helping out at her sons' school, catching up on her Goodreads list, playing (and sometimes winning, but mostly losing) board games with her friends, crying over her favorite PBS programs, or sewing yet another costume for the local gaming/pop culture convention, where she’ll probably lose at even more board games.

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