2018 was a wild one, friends. If I had to sum it up in a word: Resilience. Last year felt like a time to build tenacity, and flexibility. Pilates Reformer Machine for the soul. Life, perhaps especially Manhattan, requires a rigorous elasticity, with an unusual amount of uncontrollable variables, and I am settling into a stronger sense of place. In the words of the great Bishop T.D. Jakes, “It is what it is. It’s gon’ be what it’s gon’ be. Let it do what it’s gon’ do.”
On the first day of the new year, I spent a few minutes reflecting on the highs and lows of the year. I hope you’re able to carve out some time to do the same. Your accomplishments and disappointments matter, and it’s good to think through how much good you actually did.
That said, here’s my Must Read, See, Hear and Do List from 2018:
A disclaimer for those of you who love this annual book list: Mine was so low last year! It shocked me to see how few I read – only 14! However, I did create more content than ever, between preaching, blogging, devotionals and of course, completing my first book! Also, the news was bananas in 2018, and that required more time to research, read transcripts, and remain engaged.
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing
- Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Christian Smith and Michael Emerson
- The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson
- The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of The Talents by Octavia Butler Warning: Don’t let the Bible titles fool you, these are dystopian novels beautiful Butler wrote in the 90’s. Do not read if you are sensitive to or triggered by intense imagery and violence.
- The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever by Jamie Wright Warning: I laughed my head off, but again, do not read this if you are sensitive to language. Miss Wright is a Christian, who curses like a sailor.
- The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
- Never Alone by Tiffany Bluhm
- New York: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd
- The Sacred Enneagram: Finding your Unique Path by Christopher Heuertz Yes, I joined the bandwagon that hit mainstream this year. I liked this book because of it’s attention to the ancient practice of the Enneagram, and it’s connectivity within humanity.
- An American Marriage: A Novel by Tayari Jones
- Bonus Feature: The Skimm No, it’s not a book, yes it’s a great recap of the news delivered daily.
- Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu Praise be, that I didn’t have a heart attack during the season two finale. Trigger warning for language and mature content.
- Won’t You be my Neighbor?
- Red Table Talk Series with Jada Pinkett Smith
- Super Store The maternity leave episode was all the way real. If you come from a town with a Wal-mart, get ready to have stomach pains from laughter.
- A Million Little Things
- World of Dance Don’t hate on me. It’s so good.
- A human’s face with no phones present. Highly recommend we do more of this.
- Why Tho Podcast with Ash Abercrombie & Tiffany Bluhm The only time I’ll toot my own horn, but it’s a great podcast. We hit #57 on the iTunes Religion and Spirituality chart last year!
- Audiobook version of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Yes, friends, do yourself a favor and listen to this one!
- Jesus & Jollof Podcast with Yvonne Orji and Luvvie Ajay
- Oprah Super Soul Sunday with Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade Bring your tissues.
- Jen Hatmaker Podcast with Lisa Sharon Harper
- Freedom Road Podcast with Reverend William Barber A lesson in civics and supreme court justices – I cannot recommend this more highly. It’s a MUST.
- Spotify Playlists. Man, do they ever put together good ones. Search your genre and find your musical tribe. There is not a single day that passes that music is not in my eardrum.
- Laughter. Find it on twitter, in a person or child you adore, at your faith community, but find it plenty in 2019.
- Weekly dinner with someone(s) you love.
- Sabbath: A weekly day of rest – doing only what you want to do, not what you have to do.
- Self-care habits: Base it on your budget, but get it in. Go for a walk, get a latte, see a movie, pray and read scripture, volunteer your time, schedule a mani/pedi, whatever refreshes your soul!
- Check your screen time, especially your social media time. The new iPhone can monitor this for you, allowing you to set time limits for all social apps, and will provide a weekly report of progress. The app Moments will do this as well. I reduced my social engagement from 12 hours per week (!!!!) down to four.
- Move your phone from your bedside. Life changing, I promise.
- Engage in spiritual disciplines. Fasting was a huge part of 2018 for me, because I needed help to fight anxiety and fear. Fasting was a helpful reminder that I am not alone, that God is with me, and that my little part is enough. Is there a discipline you need more of in 2019? Prayer, fasting, solitude, service? Cody and I love Celebration of Disciplines by Richard Foster, if you need a little help!
- Declutter. Unsubscribe from some thangs. Clean out a closet. Donate some household items. Finally deal with your trunk or garage. Subscribe and order groceries online. Eliminate unnecessary responsibilities.
- Quit some stuff. A good no, is also a yes. Great gain will mean great loss. Let go of the right things in 2019.
- Travel. Stretch yourself outside your comfort zone. Even if it’s just traveling to a new restaurant for a new experience, do it. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that we are way too stuck in our ways.
What’s on your must read, see, hear and do list from 2018? Share with me, so I can start building my list for 2019! Congratulations on another year of life. You’re wonderful, and we’re so glad you’re here.