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Remembering the Good: My Top 9 in 2020

Honestly, I can hardly remember what happened before the world shut down, so when I was looking back for today's review, I was not surprised to find my highlights all happened between spring break and today.

Do you remember when "My Top 9" started being a thing? A website or app appeared that would scan your Instagram for your most liked nine posts at the end of the year and you'd come away with a cute little grid of memories. Last year, I replaced my curated top nine with one of my own, choosing favorite moments or memories instead. I decided to do the same this time around, too.

It's still a little crazy to me that we're just days away from the new year. Time sure has been strange in 2020... March lasted twelve years, April was a slog, May and June ebbed by, and the fall swept us up in a whirlwind, and November barely existed. December arrived then poof!  Here we are. And with that, here we go.

  • Spending the “last normal days” in March with Rach and Dana before the pandemic hit. 
    I set off on a trip to Cincinnati on March 6th with a return date of March 10th (hello, spring break!), and by the time it was time go go we were beginning to hear of this "coronavirus thing" and wondering if needed hand sanitizer for the airport. But before everything closed and we all stayed home, I'm so grateful I had one last adventure with two of my best friends, brunching and movie-watching, wine sipping and art museum perusing. They are some of the gems of my life! I'm also so grateful that since our friendships have always been from a distance that depending on Facetime and texts was no new thing to navigate. We are pros! 

  • My rainbow bookshelves! 
    They are literally an answered prayer and a daily delight in my apartment. In the fall of 2019 (I know, a decade ago practically...) I started praying about where I would be moving next. One of the requests I put into my prayer journal that felt a little silly at the time was "little delights in design". I wanted there to be something unexpected in my next place that reminded me that I was seen and known by God, and I kid you not that I teared up when I saw the built in bookshelves at this apartment. Plus they're great inspiration to read from my own shelves instead of buying more books! I mean... I still buy more... I'm just running out of room... oops!

  • Turning 29 this July. 
    Celebrating this summer in the midst of uncertainty was still so sweet. I wanted a small, safe gathering with a few friends, and when our local flower farm started offering virtual floral arranging classes I reached out to see if she would host one on my birthday week. Instead, she offered to let us come out to the pavilion at the farm and do a class in person. Addison helped me build the balloon arch of my dreams for inside my apartment, I had quite the ordeal getting "29" balloons home from the grocery store, and we snacked on charcuterie with our bouquets all over my apartment. Sparklers, balloons, flowers… what more could a girl want?

  • Taking steps (literally) toward my physical health.
    I didn’t make wild progress on the goals I set at the start of the year, but I got started towards prioritizing my physical health, and that definitely counts in my book. Over the summer (and in the early days of the pandemic) I followed the couch-to-5k app (didn't quite finish...), and then made use of the gym at my new apartment once I moved. I've been trying to cook more, following some youtube videos, and trying other apps here and there. One of my big bummers was that I had signed up for a local dance studio over spring break but.. you know.. COVID closed all the things. Maybe I'll dance a bit more next year. A few steps forward is still forward movement!

  • “I still remember the days I prayed for the things I have now.”
     This Mulberry Market Designs sign might be my favorite piece of decor that I've purchased for my new place, and it is such an encouraging reminder. I am literally living in the middle of several answered prayers: my home, my health, my job, and more. Yes, there are things I desire and things I am praying for, but I don't want to overlook the ways God has answered already.

  • Quite simply, leaving and going back to my classroom.
    Leaving school so unexpectedly in the spring was heart wrenching. I skipped off for spring break, taking off on vacation after a busy musical and competition season, and we never went back. I was grateful for some serious time to rest, but it was the longest time I've spent not working on a show since high school. And while being back this fall has been challenging, I’m so grateful to be with my students and creating theatre again.

  • The Shakespeare stairs at Cincinnati Shakes…
    Be still my heart, I miss seeing live theatre. BUT this year has convinced me more than ever that I’m in the middle of my calling and that my passion for this art is a gift from the Lord for my life. We didn't get to see a show over spring break, but Dana made sure we got to take a peek at the lobby and got a snap of me on these steps featuring the works of my man Mr. Shakes! I got to direct Macbeth in the fall and it delights my heart to no end that my students enjoy him now, too! I also just watched Prom the Musical (on Netflix) and teared up multiple times during some of the numbers, especially "We Look to You." Gosh, I love what I do.

  • Beautifully designed snack boards + charcuterie (bonus if they're inexpensive)!
    You know I had to include a snack board. Hosting and gathering has had to look different this year, cut down to a minimum honestly, but a few pretty treats go a long way, even between one or two friends. Plus it’s a fun creative outlet my soul needed. Pretty boards for movie nights (sadly the Christmas movies were a thing of my dreams....) to Sunday charcuterie for one, they sure are tasty!

  • Lastly, decorating for Christmas in my own place.
    It’s been three years since I’ve had a space all my own, and creating a warm, twinkly, welcoming home was just what I wanted and needed this winter. I've been looking forward to decorating for Christmas again for SO long, and I finally bought a pretty flocked tree! I don't want to take it down! I decorated early, which was nice since my December was full of working Christmas concerts instead of spending much time at home, so any extra time I got in the warm glow of the tree was much appreciated.

It felt a little funny to be celebrating bookshelves and Christmas trees when I'd ordinarily post (on Insta) Broadway shows and summer adventures, but I'm also ultimately grateful for the quiet and small wins of the year. 2020, I'm not sad to see you go, but I'm also grateful for some of the gifts along the way. The little things really do add up.

2021, here we come!

Love, Bailey Jean

Back at it? Maybe so. Where to? I honestly don't know.

Two years. It's really been two years since I've used this space to write, dream, and share, and that feels hard to wrap my mind around especially after using this corner of the internet for almost ten years prior. The blog-o-sphere watched and recorded my transition to college (sic'em, Bears!), galavanting across Europe studying abroad, choosing the adventure of moving to Seattle, switching things up again by going to graduate school (go Pokes!), then finally becoming a teacher. I wrote, reviewed, planned, pinned, and more. 

Then after December 27, 2018, I somehow stopped logging in. Well, I understand the somehow a little more than that might lead you to believe, but I'm sure we'll get to that later...

Now, here we are.
December 29, 2020.
In the blink of an eye two years have passed.
In a matter of months the entire world has changed.

One of my favorite parts of my new apartment (since we've seen the insides of our homes more often than not this year):
a sign and a reminder that in the midst of it all I'm living in the middle of several answered prayers.

I've debated signing back on and putting fingers to keys on and off over the past two years, but in that time the blogging world has shifted (my world has, too). Instagram captions are the length (and attention span) of most readers. We scroll and we scroll, "link in profile"/lengthy post reading days in the rearview mirror. I'm lucky if I make it through one of the newsletter e-mails I'm still signed up for. 

We just don't do well with long-form writing any more. Or at least that's how it seems.

But you know what I've realized recently?

I do well with long-form writing.

I don't mean that I do necessarily well with posting consistently or creating out-of-this-world prose, but I -Bailey Jean as a person, creative, doer, and dreamer- do well (if not better!) when I'm writing consistently. 

My goals are more likely to happen when I'm writing out my thought process behind them and keeping myself accountable by checking in each month.

I get lost in my own mind less when pen is put to paper and I journal consistently or fingers set to keys and the swirl of thoughts find a home on a page or screen.

I do well with long-form writing. Or maybe just writing in general. I can't be entirely sure, but I think I'm willing to take a gamble here and I think we're about to find out.

I've also caught myself stuck in the thought that I have to live in extremes when it comes to my online life: all in or all out. Writing, promoting, sharing, content-creating on a mission or social media detoxing with strict limits and offline deadlines. 

When I've started to listen to that nudge and tug in my heart towards writing here again, I get overwhelmed thinking that means I have to get "back on a schedule" or try to promote my way through again, and it feels exhausting. The exact opposite of what I want.

And when I think about getting offline completely (goodnessit is tempting), going 100% radio silent doesn't feel like the right move either. I do know I need better boundaries (goodbye, 2020 doom-scrolling) and I also know that I don't have to produce anything in particular. It gets to be whatever I want it to be. 

I want my time online to serve my heart and my life well, and I also want to use the little bit of a platform and my tiny corner of the internet to serve and encourage anyone who happens to stumble upon it. But I don't want to manufacture pressure to perform because "everyone else" is doing it.

Welcome to the late night, innermost thoughts of Christmas-break Bailey.
*insert the squinting/grimacing/sort-of-smiling emoji here*

So here we are. Or here I am. Two years almost to the day since this place last saw something go live.
Will anyone read it? Maybe not. And that is 100% okay.
Will writing again help my heart and mind in 2021? I sure hope so.
But I also give myself permission here and now to let it go if it doesn't.
Here we are, and here we go.

And if you're here... thanks for sticking around. :) 

Love, Bailey Jean