2017, am I right?
Geez. Glad that’s over with. NEW YEAR, NEW EVERYTHING.
Actually, and I know you’re not going to believe me, but it wasn’t all bad. There were lots of wonderful and good things about 2017. I wouldn’t have made it through otherwise.
So with that in mind, I’d like to focus on the positive for a minute or two. I love looking back in conjunction with moving forward so that’s what I’m doing. Reflective growing (both blog-wise and personal), if you will.
Last year, people visited TrustyChucks.com over 123,500 times. That’s an average of 338 visits a day. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I can tell you in the past four years, that’s a record low for my website. I didn’t write much in 2017. We all know why, but it’s important for my mental health I do more writing. Not everything I write gets published, but I need (and want to be) more consistent. I hope you see that as January rolls out, and I hope I don’t lose my momentum like I’m prone to do. *sheepish grin* (Fun tidbit: I wrote less in 2017 than I have in the past four years, but my posts were viewed more than ever before. So you’d think I’d write more because people are obviously reading…but, nah, I’m gonna play on my phone instead.)
The most viewed post in 2017 was “My Husband is Not My Soul Mate.” Seriously, that thing will never die. It was read over 20,000 times last year, and in May it will be four years old. It’s not an exaggeration when I say it’s been viewed over two millions times. Plus, that’s not even counting stats from it being published on The Huffington Post. I don’t have access to those numbers, but I’m sure it’s similar, if not more. (Tidbit about publishing on HuffPost: it’s great for name recognition and opening doors, but it steals traffic from my website. So it’s a bittersweet gig.) (Tidbit about that post: I hate how it’s written. The lack of time I spent writing it is embarrassing. The poorly focused theme and how disjointed it is annoys me. So, of course, that’s the first post I had go viral. OF COURSE.)
The most read post I wrote and published in 2017 was “And The Devil Just Laughed.” It struck a cord with a lot of people, and it’s still relevant a year later, which is always encouraging to see. I hope my writing isn’t just relevant at the moment it’s published, but also years later. Making sure I’m writing from a biblical-truth standpoint should help ensure that, but it’s always a work-in-progress.
As I sat down to write this, I silently hoped my series on the destruction of our marriage didn’t top the most-read list. I’ve been writing here for nine years and, while I know that shit storms bring in more page views, I didn’t want it to be the most read posts. I’m glad it wasn’t.
Favorite read of 2017: (I want to say The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile but I’ve written enough about it for now with another mention coming in Friday’s post. So that’s my legit favorite, but for the sake of repetition, I’m choosing other books for now.) So my favorite fiction read was Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. While this isn’t necessarily a life-changing book, it was fun and distracting at just the right time last year. I lost my reading groove (and many other grooves, honestly) in 2017, but Where’d You Go, Bernadette kept me up at night in the best way. For non-fiction, I’m going with Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and a Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber. I loved this book about her faith, her struggles, and her heart. It made me question some long-held beliefs and, I think, challenged me to really dig into the things I truly believe without question.
Favorite listen of 2017: My Favorite Murder podcast. This isn’t for the faint-of-heart, I get it. But I love listening to Karen and Georgia go from heartbreaking and super-serious to giggling and sarcastic all in the span of a few moments. I think that sums up my life well. My Favorite Murder is for murderinos (people who love true crime), and I’m learning about all kinds of serial killers and local creeps just in case I need to solve a mystery in my own neighborhood. Basically, I listen as a public service. (I’m sharing a new list of my favorite podcasts in about a month so stay tuned; if you’re interested, here’s a list from February 2017 where I shared my favorites. Apparently, February is Mary-writes-a-favorite-podcast-post month. Interesting.)
Favorite watch of 2017: The Crown. Are you watching it on Netflix? We can’t be friends if not. I have never been more obsessed with the royal family than in 2017 (and, also, now…). With Prince Harry and Megan Markle getting married this year, my interest has reached fever pitch. Get on board with this before it’s too late. We have many things to discuss, and I need your opinions.
Favorite music of 2017: Two albums were on constant rotation at my house last year. (Is that whole sentence what an old person would say? Albums? Rotation? I listen to music via Apple Music but still talk like I’m seventy-five years old.) Divide by Ed Sheeran and Rainbow by Kesha were it for me. With those two albums, you literally have a song for every emotion you will ever feel and you’ll need nothing else in your life.
Favorite subscription of 2017: Apple Music. I hate monthly subscriptions and got rid of most of them last fall, but I started a free three-month trial for Apple Music with the intention of cancelling when it was time to pay. Except, no, never. How did I live without it? Also, we do the family share plan and for less than $15 a month, Chris Graham can download so much music that he’ll gladly skip a meal or two to keep this on the monthly budget. I’m married to a music lover, and this was the best commitment we made last year.
Personally, I had two favorite posts last year. “The Ministry of Fifteen Pounds” is something I’m still working on, and I love how God is continuing to transform the learned idea that my worth is found in my physical appearance even now. My other favorite post was “Muscle Memory.” It was a top-read post, but that’s not why I love it so much. I don’t normally think my writing is that great. That admission isn’t to demand compliments, it’s really common for anyone who produces things to be their own worst critic. But I love that post. Next to my grandpa’s obituary, it’s the piece I’m most proud of.
Last year, 36,818 readers came from Facebook. That’s cool. But did you know Facebook decides what posts you see? Unless, of course, I pay them and then they’ll show more people my content. Neat. If you’re a frequent reader here, may I suggest signing up for my emails? You only get sent one when I post, I promise not to share your email with anyone ever, and next week, I’ve got a series on money coming where some things will only be shared with my email subscribers. 2018 would be the perfect time to subscribe to my emails and really stick it to Mark Zuckerberg. (Just go to the top of this page, please and thank you.)
Favorite trip of 2017: Norris Dam State Park in Tennessee. For the Memorial Day weekend last year, we camped at the state park with some friends. We were fresh off the implosion that was Chris Graham getting caught drunk in a very public way and weren’t doing so well. Our friends offered to reschedule for another time, but I insisted we go. Their two daughters and our two daughters had a blast, we got to briefly forget what was happening in our marriage, and during a very powerful thunderstorm one night, all eight of us crammed ourselves into our four-person camper and slept in very close quarters. Very close quarters. I loved every minute of it.
Favorite child of 2017: Just kidding. I don’t have a favorite kid (Harper), I like them both equally. But if I had to choose (Harper), I’d pick the one that is less hard-headed. Again, parents should never pick favorites (Harper), but if pushed, I’d probably go with the one who is currently easier to parent (Harper).
Favorite piece of clothing of 2017: The older I get, the more on board I am with moo-moos. This ridiculously cozy dress is great for a summer night out with friends, a bathing suit cover up, a nightgown, a fall day at home, or when traveling because it’s put-together yet you could sleep in it. I don’t know if I should be proud of this purchase, but I am. So there you go.
Favorite movie of 2017: The Greatest Showman with Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron. This might be my most shocking or out-of-character pick, but we saw this movie over Christmas break (it came out 12/20), and I LOVED IT SO MUCH. The movie is fun, inspirational, visually stunning, and the music will change your life. The girls and I enjoyed this so much. Chris Graham is only mildly impressed with everything, so he only slightly enjoyed it. We’ve had the soundtrack on non-stop for over a week, and I really feel like I’m living my most inspired life because of that film. Also, I’m starting to embrace my lady beard which is pretty inspirational in-and-of itself. *pets lady beard proudly*
Okay, that’s it. I’m sure if I sat here long enough, I could just keep going with the favorites, but my sweet spot for a blog post is 1,000 to 1,200 words, and I’m way over that. (Final tidbit: most internet readers want articles/posts to be between 800-1,000 words or they will lose interest and will not finish. That’s sorta shameful, and we should be better than that, but as a writer, it’s good to keep in mind as I craft a post.)
Final word count: 1,715. Good work being above average and finishing this post. I’m proud of you. 2018 is going to be great, I can feel it.