Happiness Highlights of 2011: The Year of the Journey

I will forever remember 2011 as the year of the journey.

The last twelve months have taken me to two dozen states, but it has also moved me from a place of earning to one of experiencing. For the first time in a long time, possibly ever, my personal life has taken priority over my career. Instead of focusing on achieving professional milestones in 2011, I discovered how to be happy in my role as a wife, mother, and friend. That shift is one I never expected for myself, and I’m still a little baffled by it.

It’s always amazing to me when gifts or lessons you don’t seek out show up on your doorstep anyway.

These are some of my favorite posts, my happiness highlights, from 2011. Looking back, it gives me a little hint as to how I got to where I am today, in this place where my purpose in life is to love and be loved.

The year began with a declaration of acceptance. There’s Nothing Wrong With You


Emma; January 2011; Blue Springs State Park, Orange City, Florida

In February, I started letting go of the old in preparation for what was to come. On Getting Rid of My Shoes

And then we sold pretty much everything else in March. The Real Cost of My Stuff

Megan, Becky, Lisa, Britt; March 2011; Savannah, Georgia

In April, I went to New Orleans for a week without my family and got my first taste of how much I had come to need them around me. Without Balance

And then it was time to say goodbye to everyone else I’d come to love having around me. It sucked. Going Away

On June 1, 2011, we moved into the RV.

Devin and Emma; June 2011; Savannah, Georgia

And then I told you about What We Did With Our Car.

Early on in the trip, I struggled with managing expectations. It wasn’t a happy highlight exactly, but it was a very significant part of finding our way on the road. Stress Confession

The month of August might be my very favorite month of the entire year. I got to visit my favorite place in the world, New York City, and discover a brand new love – and I did both with my husband and kids. Happiness Highlights: Running from Irene

Devin; August 2011; St. Paul's Chapel, New York City

September was spent falling in love with yet another place, Pittsburgh, a city so great we’re actually considering living there. It was the perfect place for coming to terms with my new role as a happy person. No One Likes a Happy Girl

In October I got to go back to New York City, this time alone. I learned something shocking about myself on that trip. Happiness Highlights: Where My Heart Is

Faiqa and Britt; October 2011; Celebrating Eid in Memphis, Tennessee

As it became crystal clear that my focus was now on the people in my life, I had to think about how I would survive without a constant focus on making more money. Me, Myself, and My Money Issues

Ironically, we ended 2011, the year of the journey, back in our hometown of Parkersburg, Iowa. Coming home always brings up questions for me, questions that don’t have easy answers. While this visit was no exception, it did remind me how important it is to ensure that the questions about tomorrow don’t distract us from enjoying today. The Last Christmas

I’m excited to be able to look back on 2011 and know that I made memories I’ll carry with me always. I embraced more days than I wasted. I learned. I loved. I am happy with where I am today, and excited about what 2012 might bring.

Reints Family; December 2011; Bettendorf, Iowa

Where have you found yourself at the end of 2011?

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  1. the muskrat says:

    Hooray for a happy 2011! Hope 2012 is awesome for y'all, too.

  2. Bre says:

    You are so wise, and I love soaking up knowledge by reading this blog. I admire you, and love you, Jared, Devin and Emma more than you all may know. I'm so proud to call you all my family and look to 2012a with anticipation to see what new things you'll discover and share with us. Keep rockin', Sister! Love, Bre (and Jude. And Jay.)

  3. Like you, I'm amazed how much my focus shifted this year from achievements in my professional life to achievements in my personal life. I'm so happy for you this year. It's been quite a journey. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  4. Megan says:

    As 2011 comes to a close, I find myself with choices. A lovely place to be, but I want to choose them all. And I may for a bit, as long as it doesn't stress me out.

  5. really enjoyed this walk through your year. sweet. :)the closing of 2011 finds me filled with hope. lots and lots of hope. mixed with a little sadness (i still desperately miss my reaillymonster and my aunt sue). and yet mixed with plenty of optimism. optimistic hope.here's to 2012!

  6. Lisa says:

    I am finding myself at a crossroads I didn't expect, today anyway. 2011 was a hard year and I'm thinking hard about changes I want for 2012. I think 2012 is going to be one of much personal growth, whether I like it or not ;)

  7. Jack says:

    I declared 2011 to be a year that I refer to as a frenemy. It was filled with opportunities and disaster that changed life dramatically. It is too soon to say exactly how and what those changes will manifest as, but I am trying to focus on the positive.Sounds like you had a very cool year overall and I think that is awesome.

  8. Mariza says:

    After all the work it took us to get rid of our stuff and transition into a more relaxed and calm life, living in an RV, I find myself FINALLY decompressing. It's been 4 months since we moved into our RV and just in the past two days I think that I'm getting it! I think that I'm finally calm and accepting and enjoying that I don't have to be busy. Just this past week I still felt like I should be busy busy busy. I'm starting to enjoy to be still.

  9. martymankins says:

    A great year end summary of how 2011 was for you and your family.

  10. Samantha Bennett says:

    Excited for your 2012 too, my friend! Happy New Year!

  11. Faiqa says:

    This post made me so happy. It's been amazing watching (and experiencing kind of) this all with you. I mean this in the LEAST condescending way possible: I am proud of you.Let me know if you need a refresher on "condescending"… I'm always happy to oblige.

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