quiet updates

I did a work task today that only happens at the end of each calendar year, and I was struck with how slowly this year has absolutely flown. A dichotomous statement, but it captures my 2017. It feels like seven lifetimes ago that I was in Belfast for 4Corners, but I blinked and the summer was gone. I spent huge amounts of time in airports and on trains this year, as it was a real mark of transition in my professional life. This meant a lot of time for reflection, while also being exhausted to my bones.

I try to be a reflexive person and spend a lot of time interrogating myself. How can I grow, where do I need to change, what do I need to learn next, how could I have offered grace better, how could I have been a better leader. This year was no exception and I’ve started the mental process I go through each fall of asking myself what needs to die so that new life can be resurrected in spring. This can be habits (I’m trying desperately to break my relationship with constant Twitter checking) or attitudes or beliefs or goals. I wanted to do “x” this year and it didn’t happen. Should it happen in 2018 or should it die? These are the questions I spend autumn on, trying to wrap up this season with Thanksgiving so I can celebrate lessons learned and choices made, before moving in Advent, where I wait for the already and the not yet of God’s incarnation through the vulnerable babe in the manger.

So, I’m reflecting.

This year has been spent in four major projects, which are all happening concurrently. I do not recommend this, by the way, especially if you have high functioning anxiety (raises hand). Maybe one of my goals for 2018 should be saying ‘no’ at least once a day. Anyway…

Project one is about women in Baptist spaces of higher education. I wrote about the point I’m at here, but I have at least another year of data collection to go. The project is holy, but huge, and I am intentionally taking my time with it.

Project two is one my brother and I are embarking on together, which help from people much smarter than us, thank the Lord in heaven above. We’re taking over the network of companies our father has built, and will start 2018 with new roles, new titles, and no small amount of bravery. Y’all, I have to learn math for this.

Project three is my own business, the division of Abbey Companies called Abbey Research, of which I am inordinately proud. We’re taking academic research rigor out of the academy and putting it to work for small businesses and non-profits. One of the best days of my year was when our board agreed to hire my right-hand lady full-time. Erin’s been on board for about a month and we are in the throes of strategic planning, ambitious dreaming, and having the time of our lives.

Project four is writing. I’m doing it here, at Abbey Research’s blog (today I wrote about women in comic books – talk about fun), and some other places. I do book reviews at my blog, AAR, and Fresh Fiction. I’m also, tentatively, sketching out two book proposals – one on Northern Ireland’s religious history and present, and one that’s more essay based on faith and practice. I got a book chapter accepted this year (on religion in HBO shows) and got about seven journal articles rejected because academia is the worst, but still we trudge on.

With some renewed focus thanks to a vacation this month, I’m starting the process of how these and other pieces will fit into 2018. And, evidently, learning math again. Wish me luck.

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