My theme for 2019

49 comments on My theme for 2019
4 minutes

I’ve never had a theme for a year be so useless as last year’s was: stability. 2018 turned out to be incredibly hard, maybe the hardest of my life. My dad died. Our daughter-in-law died. We helped elderly parents transition to the home where they will live out their days. Several of our children had serious struggles. There were family squabbles. Work was brutal, needlessly so, culminating in me losing my job.

Meanwhile, my wife had her own life challenges, including a serious back injury, all while she and I are still fairly new in our marriage and are still trying to figure out how to blend our families and love each other. We frequently got it wrong.

It’s been too much.

We’re still grieving our losses and trying to make sense out of all that’s happened. But — dare I risk saying it? I’ve said it before and have been wrong — the worst is over.

Early spring crocus

It’s time for Margaret and I to get back to our core principles and values. To take good care of ourselves. To build our marriage as if it were brand new. To love our families.

It is time for me to renew myself. My faith, which is lagging. My career, which took it on the chin. My physical health, as I’m overweight, my digestion is bad, I sleep poorly, and my blood pressure has soared. My mental health, as the twin monsters of anxiety and depression are holding me back. My marriage, as the events of the last couple years have really been hard on us.

That’s why my 2019 theme is renewal.

I’m going renew my faith, first by spending time in my Bible every day this year. I have a great Bible that lays out the entire Scripture chronologically in 365 chunks. I’ve read through the Bible this way a few times before and I always find it incredibly rewarding and enriching. It’s been years; it’s time for me to do it again.

I’m also going to rededicate myself to my service in the church. I’m an elder in my congregation, a sort of lay leader. But I’ve not been able to fulfill most of my responsibilities there as our family’s challenges have been so consuming. I don’t think I’ll be able to give the church all of the time and effort I want to in 2019, but I expect to be able to give significantly more than I did in 2018.

I’m going to renew my health, in three key ways. First, I’m going to shed the 15 pounds I’ve put on, by limiting my calorie intake and taking long walks every day. I love to walk.

Second, I’m going to keep working toward best possible function through a chronic condition I live with. I changed to a functional medicine practitioner last year and she has already seriously moved the needle on my health. But there’s far more that needle needs to be moved and she and I need to seriously team up to make that happen.

Third, I’m going to stop relying on my nightly shot of bourbon to help me sleep. Through all this stress, sleep has been elusive. All the sleep aids my doctor prescribed had unacceptable side effects. My nightly shot of bourbon, which I’ve come to very much enjoy, works great. The trouble is that it sometimes becomes two, and once in a while three shots. It reduces the quality of my sleep, is a source of empty calories — and is potentially a slippery slope.

I’m going to renew my career, by getting busy learning the ropes in my new job, which starts Monday. It still stings that my last job ended the way it did. It hurts that my dream of startup glory had to die. But I know I’m fortunate as hell to have landed another role at comparable pay so quickly, and that I’ll learn a lot at this company.

I’m going to go away with Margaret once a quarter for a long weekend. We find it possible to talk about things on these breaks that we just don’t get to at home. We remind ourselves just how much we love each other’s company. 

We’ve already agreed that in 2019 we want to focus on our relationship and our home, making both happy and comfortable.

I’m tired, and I’m sad. I’ve earned these feelings; something would be wrong if I didn’t have them. But now I believe I have the time and emotional space to let them work their way through my system. I’m looking forward to renewed energy and happiness in 2019.


49 responses to “My theme for 2019”

  1. Dan James Avatar

    Jim, what an honest and inspiring start to the new year. I wish you and yours all the best for 2019.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Dan, and the same to you and yours!

  2. Heide Avatar

    “I’m tired, and I’m sad. I’ve earned these feelings …” What a beautiful and honest way to acknowledge the effects of a difficult year, Jim. And “renewal” — what a beautiful intention with which to start 2019, too. I hope you will indeed find renewal in the months ahead, and much happiness, and better health. My best to you and yours, as always.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks H. I hope this year’s theme is useful, unlike last year’s. I need it to be.

      1. Heide Avatar

        I have no doubt this year’s theme will be useful, Jim — because stability can be shaken by so many external forces, but renewal comes from within. I hope that by this time next year you’ll be looking back at a year full of growth and accomplishments with great satisfaction.

  3. Bob Dungan Avatar
    Bob Dungan

    May God Bless you and your family in the coming year

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you so much, Bob. May your new year be filled with blessings.

  4. Richard C Kraneis Avatar
    Richard C Kraneis


    Renewal seems like a good theme for all of us.

    God Bless,


    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Richard, and best to you in 2019!

  5. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Jim, your honesty and transparency are the reason I follow your blog daily. May God richly bless and strengthen you and your family in this new year.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Greg, it helps that I need less privacy than the average person, and that writing things out helps me process and understand them. Best to you in 2019!

      1. Greg Clawson Avatar
        Greg Clawson

        Jim, your processing helps others like myself when life gets tough. Thank you!

  6. Wayne Avatar

    Thank you for sharing that,Jim,Blessings and encouragement and success to you and your family, Jim!
    I was reading this this morning:
    “Have I not told you?Be strong and of good courage,do not be afraid or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ” Joshua 1:9 In His perfect timing-you will and are blessed!
    Vintage cameras aren’t bad,either ;)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks so much Wayne! Be well in 2019.

  7. Nancy Stewart Avatar
    Nancy Stewart

    Wishing you and Margaret a much better year ahead. Could you tell me what Bible you use ?? Mine belonged to my oldest Aunt, given to her by her parents in 1925. I like using it for the sentiment, but it’s starting to fall apart, and I need to break down and purchase a new one.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks so much Nancy — we’re due for a better year. I’ve been reading a New International Version Bible for several years now, after being a stauch New American Standard Version guy for a couple decades. The NASB is a fairly literal translation using modern language, where the NIV is more of a “sense for sense” translation. But the NIV is just so easy to read compared to the NASB, and I’ve yet to feel like anything it said didn’t harmonize with what I know from the NASB or even the King James Version. Once you decide which translation you want, then it’s down to deciding on the size of the book, how large the print should be, and whether it has a commentary built in.

  8. Tom Harrell Avatar
    Tom Harrell

    Sounds like a good plan Jim. Just remember not to set the bar so high that you set yourself up for failing!
    Tom Harrell

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Right. As I reread this it sounds like I made some resolutions. I don’t believe in resolutions for the very reason you give! These are just the ideas I have that I’ll be moving toward. Others may come to me.

  9. Michael McNeill Avatar

    You’ve had a tough 2018 Jim by any standards. And those are big aims for 2019. I hope you and Margaret continue to support each other in the year ahead and end up with a better report in 12 months time. As they say in this part of the world ‘May the road rise up to meet you’

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks so much Michael! Here’s hoping.

  10. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    I’ve reread this post four or five times. Honest, transparent, thoughtful. You’ve written things here that I’m taking with me as I head into a year of change. Thank you! And best of all things to you in 2019.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m humbled that this bit of transparency offered you something you can take with you.

  11. Ian Ronketti Avatar
    Ian Ronketti

    Nice post Jim. Almost inspiring and food for thought. Remember, always take a camera with you on those long walks, you’ll never know what you might come across. It doesn’t even have to be a big camera, the olympus XA’s and minoxs (minoxes?) are all very portable and give great results.Hoping you exceed all your expectations in 2019.


    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes! I’m trying to figure out what the right coat-pocket camera is. I just shot my Olympus Stylus and were it not for the bloody automatic flash it would make the cut. Maybe my XA2 is the right choice — almost point and shoot simple.

  12. J P Avatar

    I have long admired your openness in sharing struggles. My filters seem set so much higher, which makes going there difficult for me.

    I will join you in slamming and double-locking the door behind 2018.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Well, you’ll notice I didn’t tell many details. You know some of the details. Here’s hoping the door hit 2018 on the ass on the way out.

  13. -N- Avatar

    Jim, I don’t know if I have ever commented on your blog before, but I cannot help but say something today. 2018 was tough, and who knows, 2019 could be worse. The fact is, you have the ability to pause, reflect, think. “Renewal” is very apt – renewal of your life, your perspectives, your relationships with your family, friends, God, and the world. In short, you are determining how you want to look at your world – you are choosing how to behave, not just react. This takes strength and character and thought and analysis, and failure and success, and a kind compassion within, for yourself and those around you.

    May 2019 find you deeply enriched and blessed on levels you have never before perceived possible.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I thought 2017 was hard and I was looking forward to restabilizing in 2018. And then 2018 was worse. 2019 could be worse still; nobody ever knows what the future will bring.

      I hope it won’t be. I’ve had all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more, as Popeye used to say. But if it is, I hope I can muster the internal attitudes necessary to push through without building resentment and bitterness.

      1. -N- Avatar

        Jim, I think that being as aware of things as you are, as thoughtful, will help you out a lot. Gratitude and daily appreciation also help – they help me. As well, professional help when needed can as well. I wish you the best in 2019!

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          You’ve reminded me of my gratitude practice, which I’ve let lapse. It’s time to get it out again. Here’s a post I wrote about it long ago:

  14. 16eparis Avatar

    So sorry for all your troubles…. however, you are ‘not’ alone. I know one golden rule is to ‘not say’: “I know how you feel” – but, I do. My mom almost died due to Viral Encephalitis attack in May 1981{she survived, and been helpless and in a wheelchair ever since, she’s 82 now – but, got other issues due to her handicap}…then 7 months later, December 1981; my 16-year-old sister did die from mono and hepatitis. Maybe that ‘saying’: “that of which doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger’ was written for us. My thoughts go out to you…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Wow, 1981 was a watershed year for you. I’m sorry you and your family had to go through all that. Who knows why life sometimes deals us such a bad hand? All we can do is play it.

  15. Russ Ray Avatar

    I think you’re on the right track, Jim. I have similar results that I want to achieve myself in mind, body and spirit, and it seems to me that devoting more time to God, my health and my relationships would be the way to do that. These are great reminders.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Russ, and I’m glad my words offered you something.

  16. Photography Journal Blog Avatar

    Good luck in your journey for this year. With this honest appraisal of how things are going, I think you are on the right track.
    Cheers, Amy

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Here’s hoping, Amy! Best wishes to you in 2019.

      1. Photography Journal Blog Avatar

        Thank you very much :)

  17. DougD Avatar

    As others have said, honest and inspiring. As with snowy skid control, look and steer towards where you want to go.

    Our theme this year may well be uncertainty, as there are a couple of shoes in our lives just waiting to drop. But as you mentioned a good relationship sure helps deal with it.

    As always you’re welcome to come by for one (1) scotch, which technically isn’t bourbon so you’re in the clear :)

    Best wishes to you & the family

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Ooo, what a good metaphor!

      Someday I’m sure we’ll toast over scotch.

  18. Martin Cutrone Avatar
    Martin Cutrone

    Jim, you have had a hard year, and I’m glad to read the meaningful plans you have to renew. As a physician, I applaud your insight into the issues you are dealing with, and the concrete plans you are making to help. Best of luck to you this year, I hope things continue in a better direction for you and your family. I enjoy your photography, and your musings. Thank you for sharing this personal info with us.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Martin — it feels good to have a physician’s blessing for my plans.

  19. cornis00 Avatar

    I haven’t read your blog before, but the title of this particular one captured my attention. Your first paragraph is a painful summary not unlike my own 2018. And 2017, as well. These were a hard couple of years and, like you, my thoughts have been that it has all been too much. It seems my husband and I hit about 8 of the things on the “Top 10 Most Stressful Things” list.
    But I found your pledge to renewal to be encouraging and optimistic and it gives me encouragement and a compass for 2019 as well. Thank you for sharing.

  20. susanJOY Hosken Avatar
    susanJOY Hosken

    Jim, thanks as always for the open sharing of your year of which I am familiar with some but not all you have written. Praying for a much better year for you and your family and friends, me included! I keep a gratitude journal but no longer write it everyday. I keep it for special things that spring to mind on any given day and I look back on it fondly when I am needing that added boost xox susanJOY

  21. Sam Avatar

    Sorry for the bad year you had Jim hope this year is much better. I remember your hardships. Great post.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks so much Sam!

  22. Victor Villaseñor Avatar
    Victor Villaseñor

    Sorry to hear about your sleep problems (not to mention your other 2018´s challenges!), I struggled a little with that a couple of years back, and using one of the activity tracking bands helped me gamify / track it and improve it. It might be a good time to get a Fitbit and use it on walks / exercise and sleep?

    I hope your renewal 2019 is effective and you keep sharing photos from those long walks!

    All the best to you and your family!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve got some of the same instrumentation going – here’s hoping it helps. Thanks!

  23. annabelharz Avatar

    Your sadness and pain are eloquently expressed. Maintaining your voice with such openness and self-exploration ensures an honest experience, even if it’s not all happy. Wishing you a better, more positive 2019!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you. Here’s hoping 2019 is better for my whole family.

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