The grandest of challenges I took on were as follows:
1. Read 52 books this year.
2. Take one photograph for each day this year.
I can say with confidence and a bit of indifference that I failed both. I didn't complete either task one hundred percent. But I did read forty books this year and I did take (assuming I take one tomorrow) 362 photographs.
And I call that a success. It doesn't matter to my daughter that I did these things. It doesn't matter to my husband. It doesn't matter to anyone that I even tried them. But it matters to me. It matters that I had the guts to try, even if I couldn't do it all. It matters that I filled my time with things that make me happy, things that I might have done anyway but that gave me a reason to keep going when I otherwise might have given up.
So here is a short list of the books I read this year that were life changing, in one way or another:
Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring -- Andi Ashworth
Real Food: What to Eat and Why -- Nina Planck
Walking on Water -- Madeleine L'Engle
Traveling with Pomegranates -- Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor
The Mission of Motherhood -- Sally Clarkson
Understanding Exposure -- Bryan Peterson
Hipster Christianity -- Brett McCracken
Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life -- Margaret Kim Peterson
The Artist's Way -- Julia Cameron
Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies -- Marilyn Chandler McIntyre
[See full list here.]
And photography, a hobby that sort of somehow became this thing that I sort of love almost more than I love the written word, has this year become more than I could have expected. I'm sure I don't have to tell you.
It's been quite a year. I hope to make a new book list for 2011, but who knows. I won't be doing the 365 project next year. I won't be trying to read a book a week. I won't be trying to do anything except enjoying my life every single day and living by the words of Henry David Thoreau:
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.