One of the big changes I made this year was to start writing the type of blog I like to read (more below), and I love to read year in review/year ahead type posts. So in that spirit, here are some thoughts on how the past year has gone, with a focus on this blog.
The blog itself
This year marked a big change on the blog: I decided to stop chasing search engine hits and clicks from Pinterest. Personally, I don’t know of any blog that I actively enjoy that publishes those types of posts. I much prefer the “here is this idea I read, let me work out some of my thoughts about it” type publication that are often in response to books, current events, or similar posts or thoughtful articles published elsewhere on the internet.
As a result, while I haven’t published prolifically, I’ve published much more than I have in previous years, and it’s been freeing to have removed a burden of somehow blogging for business.
I have still done some fun things through the blog: I did my read-along podcast of Charlotte Mason’s School Education over the summer and I’ve consistently emailed my subscribers weekly. My newsletter is perhaps my favorite thing to do.
Phone and Social Media Use
This has been a year of continual drawing back. I think it was earlier than 2022 that I started feeling that using Instagram and Facebook were contradictory to what I feel is good for people. It’s not good to be continually distracted. It’s not good to face a barrage of pictures and posts designed to catch your attention and get you to respond in some way. I decided to stop actively posting.
This year brought the increased awareness that responding to other posts (especially within Facebook groups) is nurturing some sort of a vice. I’m not quite sure which one it is, but I have largely pulled back from even responding to other people’s questions and problems.
This has also been the year to start getting on top of the way I use my phone. I already limited the number of apps on it (no social media) and have turned off most notifications. After reading Andy Crouch’s The Life We’re Looking For, we bought a charging cradle and my and my husband’s phones now ‘go to bed’ every evening downstairs. This has been really positive.
I’ve also started using more of the inbuilt controls to limit my time on websites where I’m tempted to browse a long time (the news). I also blocked some completely (Wordle, I’m looking at you). It is a relief to get bored with my phone. I’ve also begun using the same controls to turn on focus mode at the same time that my children go to bed, which means no internet browser and no YouTube after 8:30pm, the two most likely time-wasting culprits.
I’ve also continued to use Feedly to aggregate the blogs and websites I do want to follow. It’s good to not have to go clicking through and checking websites, or hoping that someone will post a link and that Facebook will be so kind as to show it to you.
I hit 2022 with a lot of goals for writing. I achieved almost none of them. I am disappointed in this to a certain extent, but then 2022, with its opening up after Covid, marked a big shift in my schedule. I also have a lot to learn as a writer, and I’ve had to make peace with taking the time to learn it.
That said, one of my longstanding goals has been to publish articles in other places, and I did manage to do that this year, with my article Persons not Products on Mere Orthodoxy, which is an intro to Charlotte Mason and her ideas, setting them forth as an example for others to consider. Having read Mere Orthodoxy for a while now, I am still really pleased about this article and its publication.
For about half the year, I also contributed to the Momma Theologians website, which is currently on hiatus due to the founder taking maternity leave. You can see one of my articles (on wisdom) here. This is one of those projects that has been helpful for consolidating things I am thinking about.
Reading and Learning
With my new habit of putting my phone to bed at night, I stopped using Goodreads. Apparently I tend to finish books and begin new ones in bed, and without my phone handy, I stopped tracking my reading all together. As a result, I don’t know how much I read this year. I probably did not hit my goal unless I count all of the Agatha Christie I read along with all I read to the kids. I have very nearly finished the Literary Life reading challenge for the third year, so I know I have a decent baseline of varied reading. I also reread Charlotte Mason’s third volume (and The Lord of the Rings…), so a decent year for reading, even if it wasn’t my best year for reading.
I also enjoyed taking a class this past term from the Davenant Institute. I audited the class, so I had no papers or exams. Despite that, I still did all the reading for the class and attended all the lectures. As someone who tends to lean a lot on external accountability, I am actually proud of myself for this. It would have been very easy for it to fall off my plate. The class and the readings especially were very challenging, but I did learn a lot about natural law and made a heap of connections between the content of the class and Charlotte Mason, which is what I was hoping for. I also found it to be a very good experience to be the least learned person in the room. When your oldest student is eight, it’s easy to feel like you have a pretty good grasp on knowledge, which is obviously misguided.
I now have three full years of formal homeschooling under my belt, with having two students for nearly two years of that. While I still feel like I fail in a thousand ways, daily, I do feel the benefit of experience. The autumn term went particularly smoothly, I think in part to my eldest getting over some of his math struggles and to having the most realistic schedule I’ve ever put together. This meant, in part, that I stopped scheduling composer study for days where we have to be at Nature Study (never enough time to just sit and listen to music when we need to get out the door!), and that I took almost everything off our schedule on the days that I provided lunch at co-op. It’s also the term that our schedule matched Ambleside Online the most, with the fewest swaps and additions.
Coming soon: the year ahead.