Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Giant List of What I Was Into: 2015

We've almost completed the first month of 2016. Rather than a blank slate, turning the calendar page this year felt more like riding a boomerang than relishing a blank page.  It's this crazy season of fortunate events, with all the rest of the ordinary joys and sorrows mixed in between the celebrations. 

With one last glimpse backward, here's a sampling of what I was into and experienced in 2015.  (It's not too late to share your 2015 favorites with me, and it's always the right time to share recommendations.  Feel free to list away in the comments section!)

favorite art experiences

Oddly, this area of my life is a bit stale right now.  Here I am living in the middle of one of the artsiest cities in the country, with entire world-class museums digitized so I can see their exhibit online and when I think about this category for 2015, I can barely muster a memory.  But there were some good experiences, and I guess that's why this annual documentation is important to me.  The power of recalling a year's worth of impressions and experiences helps me sift through time, and, hopefully gives me direction for the coming year.  The following art experiences made an impact on me last year:

favorite movies

For a whole bunch of reasons Brian and I watched more movies in the theater this year than we've ever done before in our lives.  I was far less discriminating in what I'd normally see for the sheer joy of getting caught up in a story together.  These 5 movies rose to the top of my mind when I thought back over the year.

favorite television experiences

First, The Viral Video Clip That Wrecked Me: Church Shooting Victims' Families Cry, Forgive at Court Hearing

I say "experiences" because most of what I watch is not current TV.  I'm horribly illiterate when it comes to current programming.  Still, I've enjoyed some great moments watching television. Here's what comes to mind at the end of the year.
Seriously considering naming Call the Midwife my favorite television series of all time.  The seasons following the original three which were taken from Jennifer Worth's memoir trilogy are not my favorite of the series. I miss Nurse Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine), but it's still beautiful, power television.  The reboot of Partners In Crime, starring Jessica Raine (and her a-MAZ-ing, mid-century, London wardrobe) makes up for missing Nurse Jenny a bit.  Rectify is powerful, still.  It's hard to watch at times, but so well written and cast and filmed.  The Waltons was a total nostalgia binge, but I was surprised how well (the first few seasons, at least) stands up to the test of time -- and even comes across as quite current in many of its themes.  Grantchester really is a placemarker for all I love about British murder mysteries (Endeavour, Inspector Lewis, Sherlock, Foyle's War, etc.).  This series, though, has the special quality of a young, Anglican priest/war veteran who wants very much to serve his Cambridge-area parish well, but suffers from doubt and loneliness. Sort of a post-modern portrayal Father Brown, but set in the same general era. (both also start as novels)  I'm looking forward to another season.

art of homemaking 

With the cold temps and the sinus suffering last January, I started out 2015 with great recipes in liquid form!  Our dear Rebekah made us the homemade Spiced Pear-Infused Vodka (after soaking pears for like 2 weeks!) which made perfect hot toddys. I also decided that raw garlic and lemon really does heal.  Try it.  The trick is to pretend you're eating an Italian appetizer. 
The late spring introduced us to the wonderful adventure of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and neighbors sharing vegetables on Fridays. In our first month, we've tried about 7 varieties of vegetables for the first time:  pattypan squash, Lebanese zucchini, cured German red garlic, Swiss chard, fresh fennel, French Sorrel (blushing to confess we've never cooked with some of these ingredients). 
Spring also brought some good, old-fashioned housekeeping:
  • Make the Bed Remodel | My first week transitioning from a forty hour workweek to 20 hours made me feel so full of new life I sprang into spring cleaning.  Well, I least cleaned all of our bedding, air-fluffed our pillows in the dryer, rotated our mattress and took the comforter to the laundromat.  Ahhh....a fresh bed is a beautiful way to celebrate new life.
  • How to have hanging ferns that are the envy of the neighborhood | I'm on a quest to keep our Boston Fern alive all summer.  It seems the secret lies in repotting the plant into a coir-lined wire basket.  I swear the fern thanked me audibly after giving her a new home.

As always, the first day of school pumpkin chip cookies & milk party. It was the biggest year yet.

favorite reads

I listed my favorite reads in a post last week:  My top 10 reads in 2015.
You can see all I've read in years past at the following links (I know only people like me would even want to see these lists, but since a lot of people like me also like to read and write blog posts I think it's fairly safe to included these links for you.)
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • before I started lists and then after I made lists with shorter summaries, I try my hand at writing reviews for some of the books I read each year and you can find them here:  Book Reviews, 2008-2014
  • For my top 15 life-changing books since I started writing this blog in 2008, click here 
This year, I'm using a reading challenge checklist with a Facebook group of friends (and sisters).  You can find the 2016 checklist here:  Take Our Ultimate Reading Challenge.  Our group is also using this list as part of the challenge: A Year Of Reading the World (196 countries, countless stories)  

I'm also looking forward to another great year reading with this group: Liturgy of Life Reading Group 2016

favorite listening experiences

Audio streaming anything makes the daily mundane of my life better:  albums, playlists, podcasts, sermons, live concerts, your kids saying cute stuff on Facebook. On rare occasions (rarer than I'd like) the sound comes alive in a concert or house show or public reading. Here's some of what I heard and enjoyed in the past few months.

favorite journeys

a whole bunch of neighbors and friends

On the blog
WALKING EPIPHANY through all the neighborhoods [a guest post wrap up]  the blog series was a complete and surprising joy for me. Here's my thank you to the gracious guests who shared their neighborhoods and stories with us each week of Epiphany 2015.
Lent daybook series. Look, Read, Pray, Listen and Do for the 40 days of prayer.
Retrieve Lament: 7 mourning stories during Holy WeekEach year during Holy Week I ask friends to share a mourning story from their own life as a way to help us see Christ in the midst of suffering. Each story reflects on one phrase of Jesus' dying words and gives me a real-time glimpse into the suffering of Christ.

Easter daybook, 2015. Look, Read, Pray, Listen, Do for the 7 weeks of Hallelujah!

Practice Resurrection: your photo stories for 2015. One of my favorite blog series ever.  Simple, beautiful, joyous mini-stories of the ways you practice life every day.  Thank you, friends!
16 thoughts for 16 stanzas about practicing resurrection & regretting that hashtag | Holding the Mad Farmer's poetry in one hand and the newspaper in the other.
This is an opportunity to repent. In the outpouring of response to the evil event in a Charleston church, the quietness and strength of the family member's forgiving words cut through my own questions: How should I pray? How should I respond? What does it look like to be a Christian right here, right now? 
Instead of Facebook, a book of faces [sharing at Think Christian] | If these folks filled your Facebook news feed with selfies, you’d probably be tempted to click the “hide” option.
Monday morning thoughts: dancing bear acts, crash helmets, and a Doxology | a hopefully undramatized stream of consciousness meditation about Sunday worship

Anyone want to read stories about staying married? (I'm asking for a friend) | perhaps the most commented-on post from this year, and to which I have not yet been able to formulate a response

A polite disagreement with Jayber Crow and the Mad Farmer [sharing at ArtHouse America] | Publishing at one of my favorite blogs was a dream come true.  I hope Mr. Berry didn't mind.

My friend A (also M & L) |an homage to an imperfect, long-lasting friendship with good women

This is why I broke a promise to myself on Facebook | In which my best made plans for civil and gracious social interchange got waylaid by the subject of providing refuge within our borders for Syrian & Iraqui refugees fleeing persecution. 
I mean this question sincerely: When Jesus said love your enemies, did He mean Muslims too? | The follow-up post in which I lost more friends than anything else I've ever written (at least, that I'm aware!) 
Advent daybook, 2015 | Look, Listen, Pray, Do for the 24+ days of waiting
Christmastide daybook, 2015 | Look, Listen, Pray, Do for the 12 days of celebrating

What were you into in 2015?
What are you hoping, dreaming, planning, wishing, pinning and making for 2016?

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