The Past Makes Us Human (or, The Best Blogs & Books of 2017)

The past makes us human.

Every winter, our dog bounds around in the first snowfall of the year as if it’s his first time. There’s a good reason for that. For him, it likely feels like the first time. He probably can’t remember last year’s snowfall.

I write a lot about being present—about being mindful of this moment—and there are all sorts of joyful gifts in that. Just ask any dog. However, our ability to remember, to venture into the past, is one of the things that makes us distinctly human. And memory is a gift, no matter how many strings—like regret, guilt, grief, and sorrow, to name a few—might be attached to it.

What is the gift of remembering?

best books of 2017

Photo Credit: sidarta (Bigstock)

The gift of remembering is that moment at the age of nine when, after a twelve-hour car trip on the eve of Christmas, you pulled into your hometown, big, thick snowflakes falling from the sky like a blanket, covering the ground, muffling the world, while your grandparents waited for you on the front porch, backlit by the warm light of a home you’ve longed to return to.

The gift of remembering is, for instance, being able to take the feeling of homecoming with you wherever you go.

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The Top 10 UnTangled Posts of 2015

Here we are again. The last Wednesday of the year. The last UnTangled post of 2015. And, as has become tradition here at UnTangled, the year-end top-ten lists.

2015 top 10

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It’s been a quieter year around the blog. No appearances on the TODAY Show. No viral marriage post. No documentary filmings. This particular lap around the sun has been much more ordinary here at UnTangled. And it’s tempting, when things are quiet and the attention goes away, to wonder if you’re doing something wrong. So, this orbit through the solar system has been one continuous opportunity to call B.S. on that way of thinking.

To remember, when the attention goes away, our worthiness doesn’t.

Because it is eternal and unchanging.

To remember, working harder is a good thing, but a limited thing.

But loving harder has no limits.

To remember, life isn’t about chasing the extraordinary, but resting into the ordinary.

And finding magic there.

Most of my blog posts this year arose from that growing awareness. I’ve listed here the ten most popular posts (ranked by number of Facebook shares), and then, according to me, the best of the rest (that is, the ten I most enjoyed writing). And I’ve added a new list this year: the ten books I enjoyed reading most this year.

Thank you, each of you, for listening with me, to the voice inside of me that I translate into writing and for choosing to seek out that voice within you. I’m looking forward to spending 2016 with you. Even if it’s completely ordinary.

Especially if it’s completely ordinary.

The Top 10 UnTangled Posts of 2015:

  1. Karma Envelopes
  2. The Beauty of Being a Quitter
  3. The Only Real Secret to a Healthy Marriage
  4. The Last Marriage Post You’ll Ever Need to Read
  5. This Is How Christmas (and Life) Should Be More Like Halloween
  6. The Point of Life Isn’t to Be More Happy (It’s to Be More You)
  7. An Open Letter to Millenials About the Insanity of Marriage
  8. Why I Want My Kids to Be in Pain
  9. The Secret About Healing Nobody Wants to Hear (But Everybody Needs to Hear)
  10. How to Know Who Loves You Best

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The Top 10 UnTangled Posts of 2014

I grew up in the age of MTV video countdowns. Every day, the music network counted down the top ten videos of the day. And every New Year’s Eve, it counted down the top one hundred videos of the year. On the last night of the year, my family had a ritual: we’d eat junk food, watch rented movies (on VHS), and then just before midnight we’d watch the last few videos of the year-end countdown. I can still remember Bono singing “With or Without You,” right before the ball dropped in 1987.

UnTangled

New Year’s Eve in Seattle Photo Credit: sea turtle via Compfight cc

I loved that tradition. So, I’ve made it a tradition here at UnTangled, too. For those of you who joined us during this lap around the sun, the last post of the year is always a list of the top ten UnTangled posts of the year (ranked by number of Facebook shares). And then I list “the best of the rest” (ranked by how much I enjoyed writing them!). Thanks for joining us this year, and I hope you enjoy the countdown.

And for all of you who’ve been through this ritual with me before, thanks for sticking with us. There was a time in the not too distant past when I couldn’t imagine having a community like this. Now, I can’t imagine not having it. I’m looking forward to another lap around the sun with you in 2015.

But before we do, the countdown.

Happy New Year!

The Top 10 UnTangled Posts of 2014:

10. Promises to Our Boys About Manhood (On the First Day of School)

9. The One Illusion We Cannot Afford to Believe In

8. A Father’s Letter to Young Women (About Getting Naked)

7. A Father’s Letter to Young Men (About How to Treat a Woman)

6. Why One Text Message is More Romantic Than a Hundred Valentine Cards

5. Why I Waited a Month to Write About Robin Williams

4. A Dad’s Letter to His Son (About the Only Good Reason to Get Married)

3. Why I Don’t Believe in Grace Anymore

2. The 9 Most Overlooked Threats to Marriage

1. Words from a Father to His Daughter (From the Makeup Aisle)

The Best of the Rest:

10. Why I Stopped Teaching My Kids the Wrong Lesson About Hard Work

9. Why Nobody is Interested in the Secret to Self-Confidence

8. How to Accept the Things That Drive Us Crazy in a Marriage

7. How Losing Your Senses Could Make Sense of Everything Else

6. The Virus is Coming

5. How to Feel Joy (With These Five Little Words)

4. The Best Way to Respond to a Compliment

3. What Were You Made to Do?

2. Three Metaphors for the Outdated Institution of Marriage

1. 3 Ways Frozen Subverts the Usual Fairy Tale Rules

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Next Post: Why Lines Make Us Sick (and How Circles Can Heal Us)

Free eBook: My eBook, The Marriage Manifesto: Turning Your World Upside Down, is available free to new blog subscribers. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can click here to subscribe, and your confirmation e-mail will include a link to download the eBook. Or, the book is also now available for Kindle and Nook

Disclaimer: My writings represent a combination of my own personal opinions and my professional experiences, but they do not reflect professional advice. Interaction with me via the blog does not constitute a professional therapeutic relationship. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor who can dedicate the hours necessary to become more intimately familiar with your specific situation. I do not assume liability for any portion or content of material on the blog and accept no liability for damage or injury resulting from your decision to interact with the website.

What Men Are Lying About (And Why It Causes Road Rage)

Men lie. All the time. I suppose that sounds harsh, but I’m not blaming men—we’ve been trained to lie…

masculinity

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I’m at a four-way stop sign, and it’s my turn to go. I begin to move into the intersection, when the car to my left goes out of turn, passing in front of me and then driving away. I’m a relaxed driver and I’m generally pretty slow to anger, but something inside of me snaps, and suddenly the shrink is the one needing a couch.

Why am I so angry? He missed me by a mile—it wasn’t even close. I’ve heard people suggest road rage is due to how much is at stake while driving: life or death. But the truth is, I know what I’m really angry about:

He didn’t even look at me.

If you ask ten men, “Which is worse, someone who totals your car and is profusely apologetic to you, or someone who causes a near miss but drives away as if you didn’t even exist?” nine out of ten will tell you the latter angers them more.

The other one is probably lying.

When it comes to the human need for attention and connection, there’s no difference between men and women. None. The only real difference is women are encouraged to embrace these needs, and men are humiliated for having them. So we stay quiet.

Until we don’t.

Continue Reading »

The Top 10 UnTangled Posts of 2013

So, here we are. Another trip around the sun is complete. Another year gone by. We hurdle through space, spinning thousands of miles per hour. But most of the time, this world doesn’t feel like a cosmic joyride. It feels more like a soap opera—lots of commotion and chaos but you always end up back in the same place—it doesn’t feel like much changes from year to year.

top ten

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I think that’s one of the reasons we love year-end top ten lists. They remind us we’ve been somewhere. It’s a chance to reflect back upon the journey, to remember where we’ve been and where we want to go.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to reflect back with you. This trip around the sun with you was a wonderful one. Full of heartbreak and sorrow and joy and peace. Full of quiet shame and loud, glorious grace. In a word, full of life. Thanks for reading through this year, and this life, with me.

According to the blog numbers, these were the top ten most popular posts of 2013:

  1. A Daddy’s Letter to His Little Girl (About Her Future Husband)
  2. The Reason Every Kid Should Talk Back to Their Parents
  3. How to Defeat the Most Insidious Epidemic of Our Time
  4. The Most Important Thing to Look for in a Life Partner
  5. Marriage is a Joke
  6. How Our Friends Bring Us to Life
  7. A Father’s Letter of Apology to His Boys (For Father’s Day)
  8. Why Good Enough Love is Better Than Amazing Love
  9. Why Would Anyone Get Married and Have Poopy Kids?
  10. The Key to Great Communication and a Loving Marriage: Less is More

And according to me, this is the best of the rest!

  1. A Manifesto for Grace: How a Radical Embrace Changes Everything
  2. Breaking News: Celebrity Divorce Causes Global Uprising
  3. Does Unconditional Love Create Entitled Princesses?
  4. What to Do When Our Feelings Are Lying to Us
  5. The Only Two Things You’ll Ever Need to Know About People
  6. Do You Matter?
  7. What Dressing Up as a Rock Star Taught Me About Shame and Grace
  8. Why Kids Act Out at Bedtime (And What They Really Want From You)
  9. The Safety and Danger of Certainty
  10. On Being Human at the Table for Everyone

Question: Did you have a favorite post that didn’t make the lists? Which one was it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Free eBook: My eBook, The Marriage Manifesto: Turning Your World Upside Down, is available free to new blog subscribers. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can click here to subscribe, and your confirmation e-mail will include a link to download the eBook. Or, the book is also now available for Kindle and Nook

Preview of Upcoming Posts:

  • January 1: “When I Partied Like It Was 1993”
  • January 8: “A New Year’s Resolution That Will Solve 90% of Your Relationship Problems”
  • January 15: “Words from a Father to His Daughter (From the Makeup Aisle)”
  • January 22: “The Key to a Man’s Heart (And Why He Gets Road Rage)”
  • January 29: “Why Egalitarianism is Emasculating (And Why That’s a Good Thing)”

Disclaimer: My writings represent a combination of my own personal opinions and my professional experiences, but they do not reflect professional advice. Interaction with me via the blog does not constitute a professional therapeutic relationship. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor who can dedicate the hours necessary to become more intimately familiar with your specific situation. I do not assume liability for any portion or content of material on the blog and accept no liability for damage or injury resulting from your decision to interact with the website.

What to Do When Our Feelings Are Lying to Us

My youngest son is a lot like me—he pretty much organizes his life around avoiding physical pain and discomfort. So, when he got pink eye, and the doctor ordered us to put antibiotic drops in his eye, I wondered if we could just lock him in his room for a few days until the pink eye resolved on its own.

Don’t judge me. I only wondered for a minute. Or two.

I took charge of the drops, because I can empathize a little better with his theatrics.

As he lay on the couch, writhing, eyes clamped shut and screaming, I realized his feelings were preventing him from receiving a healing balm. The drops were medicine—they would be soothing and they would cure him. But my son’s feelings were lying to him, telling him the discomfort would be immense.

And there was nothing I could do to change his feelings.

When Feelings Are Deceptive

Our feelings are important—we need to listen to them, to become intimately familiar with them, to learn their depths. But that doesn’t mean they’re always honest with us. Sometimes, our feelings lie.

Continue Reading »

Why I Cried at a Kindergarten Soccer Game

“I’ve seen the flame of hope among the hopeless, and that was truly the biggest heartbreak of all. That was the straw that broke me open.” –Bruce Cockburn

Soccer Comeback

Photo Credit: chipgriffin via Compfight cc

The day I cried at my five year-old son’s soccer game began like any other. Late spring in suburbia. Soccer fields undulating with short people playing their last game of the season. For my son’s team, who had not lost a game in three seasons, it was presumably just another victory.

But when we got to the field, the day changed.

The kids on the other team were bigger, more aggressive. I swear one was wearing a mouth guard. One of them looked like Pele and another one was bending it like Beckham. I asked for birth certificates but no one complied.

When the game started, the onslaught began. Our kids played as hard as ever, but the goals started to mount up. My heart was in my throat. Because it’s never fun to watch your kid taste defeat for the first time. And because I’m a sore loser.

When one of the opposing kids dribbled near me on the sideline, I considered tripping him. Just kidding. Sort of.

With only minutes remaining in the game, my son’s team was down by five—victory seemed impossible. I looked around and our team’s parents were hanging their heads and kicking the dirt. I stared at the grass and wondered how I would comfort my son.

When It Makes Sense to Give Up

I think many of us live our lives feeling like we’re a few goals behind and time is running out and the deficit is insurmountable.

Continue Reading »

How to Find Joy in Unexpected Places This Summer

Happiness and Joy

Photo Credit: Timefortea3 via Compfight cc

On July 1, 2012, as the minutes ticked toward midnight, my wife and I stood at the edge of the country. We faced east, gazing out over a dark and undulating Atlantic.*

And we held our breath.

Because hundreds of miles northward a vast thundercloud throbbed with orange pulses of energy, and jagged bolts of lightning showered the horizon. From a distance, it was quiet, but violent and powerful and breathtaking.

At the same time, the sky above us was star-scattered and, from the south, a full moon bathed the beach in a gentle glow.

In one direction—violence and destruction. In the other direction—tranquility and beauty. And us, standing in the middle of it.

Alone.

The beach was empty.

On the fluorescently-lit boardwalk several hundred yards away, throngs of tourists licked ice cream and ate funnel cake and pushed quarters into arcade games.

Distracted.

They were enjoying the classic holiday weekend. Each year, Americans spend approximately three billion dollars celebrating the Independence Day holiday. Three billion dollars on gas and burgers and soda-pop and sparklers. I contribute more than my fair share.

But I wonder if all of us are settling?

I wonder if we settle for happy things on the boardwalk of life.

Licking Happiness and Forsaking Joy

Happiness is all about pleasurable circumstances and orchestrated comfort. Happiness is when all the tumblers fall into place and life just clicks.

It’s sitting on the front porch on a perfect June evening with plenty of money in the bank account. It’s the right job coming along at the right time. It’s your kid walking down the aisle in a cap and gown with a full-ride scholarship, or your daughter walking down the aisle in a completely different kind of gown to take the hand of a guy you actually like.

Happiness is winning lottery tickets, and good luck, and serendipity, and pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming. Happiness is the perfect ice cream cone on the boardwalk, with fireworks on the way and a long beach week with cloudless skies ahead of you.

Happiness is sweet and it goes down easy. But it is always fleeting. Because circumstances change.

The furnace goes out and the roof springs a leak, and suddenly the financial margin evaporates. Or the new boss is a disaster. Or the kid comes home after a semester at college because the pressure got to him first and the amphetamines got to him next.

Happiness is an ice cream cone that melts, leaving you with sticky fingers and a constant hunger for more.

But joy.

Joy is a place inside every circumstance. It’s a constant place, and it feels like peace, and it gives hope, and it looks like love, but it is more than all of these things, and words will always fail it. And the place of joy is waiting for us.

But there’s a catch: it only exists right in the middle of the lightning and the moonlight. In fact, the place of joy in us cannot exist independent of the storms in life, because joy is the peace that comes from looking right into the storm and feeling freedom from it.

Joy is the place we stumble upon when we look our deepest pain and greatest fear directly in the eyes, and we refuse to flinch. It’s the place we discover when we decide pain and fear aren’t going to be the final word. It’s the place where we anchor ourselves in something more than the vicissitudes of our material existence. It’s the place of freedom inside every situation, where we realize the things that are happening to us are losing their power to control us and define us.

Joy is not the answer to hardship. Rather, it is the birth of an entirely new way to experience the pain and the fear and the sorrow itself.

Joy is lightning and moonlight, all at once.

Lightning and Moonlight

The night after I stood between the lightning and the moonlight, I boarded the Paratrooper ride at the boardwalk carnival with my oldest son. The Paratrooper is a kind of Ferris Wheel on steroids, whipping you up and down with legs dangling and feet flying out into the open air.

As the ride commenced with a lurch and a growling-hum, my son gripped the sticky handlebar with desperate tenacity. Looking straight ahead, he confessed, “Daddy, I’m terrified.” As we crested the top of the orbit, I shouted to him, “Put your hands in the air; if you can do this, you can do anything!”

I’m not sure that’s entirely true, but I knew it would feel true to him.

And with joyful defiance, my gutsy, lovely son raised his arms above his head and let loose a wild scream, all terror and glory at the same time. Violence and beauty, all at once. My son stepped into the lightning and the moonlight. He chose his terror and found a joyful freedom there.

I think he’s glad he didn’t sit on the sidelines licking an ice cream cone.

Are We Ready to Risk Everything for Joy?

If we’re going to live, really live, we have to choose to stand in the middle of the lightning and the moonlight, because that’s where joy is found. That’s where we find peace and freedom from the pain and fear, in the midst of the pain and fear.

And that kind of joy gives birth to meaning and beauty. It will be more terrifying than ice cream. But it will be vastly more joyful than funnel cake.

What ice-cream-cones-of-life are we licking?

Where is the dark beach of our lives? Are we tired of the false promise of happy things and ready to step off the boardwalk and go there?

Because there will be lightning waiting, but there will also be moonlight.

And in the middle of it all?

Joy.

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*This post was adapted from a previous post: “Licking Happiness and Forsaking Joy

Comments: This is the first time I’ve updated an old post, and I’ll do it one more time this summer (vacations, you know?). But which one I choose is up to you. What is one of your favorite posts you would like to see updated? Vote in the comments section at the bottom of this post, by leaving the title of your favorite post. (Sorry, no “Marriage is for Losers” or “A Daddy’s Letter”!)                  

Free eBook: My eBook, The Marriage Manifesto: Turning Your World Upside Down, is available free to new blog subscribers. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can click here to subscribe, and your confirmation e-mail will include a link to download the eBook. Or, the book is also now available for Kindle and Nook

Preview: Next Wednesday’s post is tentatively entitled, “Why I Cried at a Kindergarten Soccer Game”

Disclaimer: This post is not professional advice. It should be read as you would read a “self-help” book. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor, who can become more intimately familiar with your specific situation. Counselors can be located through your insurance network or through your state psychological association.

What Good is Gratitude When the World is Tearing Apart?

For millennia, the world has been torn apart and patched together again. A month ago, it felt like something tugged hard at the world and the stitches began to pop. One after another. After another…

gratitude

Photo Credit: Edward Allen L. Lim via Compfight cc

The Week the Stitches Popped

On a Sunday night, I read about Kermit Gosnell, a licensed physician in Philadelphia who is on trial for delivering live babies and then cutting their spinal cords with scissors.

On Monday afternoon, the Boston Marathon was bombed. Three people died. Legs were amputated.

On Wednesday morning, I was brought to a standstill on the highway. A massive accident shut down all six lanes of the interstate in front of me. For hours.

That evening, a fertilizer plant in west Texas exploded. On an ordinary night, it just blew up. Fourteen people were killed. Two hundred were injured.

Around the same time, the rains in Chicago began in earnest. When the sun rose on Thursday morning, Chicagoland was submerged in a historic flood. Our basement and garage were no exception.

Late Thursday night, gunfire broke out on MIT’s campus. One bombing suspect was dead. Another was injured and on the run.

Friday. Chicago remained a town-under-water while from Watertown, Massachusetts, the television broadcast surreal scenes of door-to-door searches. The second suspect was caught around dinnertime and we went to bed with a sigh of relief.

But Saturday morning we awoke to news of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in China’s Sichuan province. Two hundred more people dead.

Just one week of a world tearing at it’s patched and mended seams. One stitch after another.

And those are just the stitches of which I’m aware. We all had stitches popping that week that will never make the CNN scroll.

What are we to do in the midst of such devastation and heartache? The psychologists and the theologians are both telling us we should be grateful.

Grateful?

What good is gratitude when the world is tearing apart?

Gratitude as a Balm?

For centuries, almost every faith tradition has emphasized the practice of gratitude. And around the turn of this century, in an ongoing effort to bolster human resilience, “positive psychologists” took notice of the ancient traditions and sought to harness the practice of gratitude for the benefit of psychological and emotional health.

In the last decade, psychological research has consistently shown individuals who experience higher levels of gratitude also report higher levels of “subjective well-being”— they are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their life and relationships.

This is good news, and the news is getting out. Countless books have been written, scores of “gratitude apps” can be downloaded to phones and tablets, and everyone seems to be talking about how much better they feel since they started their gratitude journal.

But I think there is bad news lurking beneath all the enthusiasm, because I’m hearing questions like, “I want to feel good, so how do I practice gratitude?”

The bad news is we’re turning gratitude into a tool to get what we want—to feel good. It’s tempting to use gratitude like a metal detector to hone in on comfort and satisfaction—it’s tempting to make it about us.

And when we do so, we strip gratitude of its ultimate power.

Gratitude Like Knee High Boots in Slop

On a flooded Thursday, my wife and I were faced with saturated carpet and warped furniture. Our basement was flooded with water, but even worse, my heart was flooded with despair.

Too many stitches were popping and it felt like a free fall without a net.

Then, around mid-morning, a friend texted me and simply asked, “What time am I coming over to help?” By mid-afternoon, he was hoisting rolls of carpet padding over his shoulders as it rained down dirty rainwater upon him.

On a flooded Thursday, my friend gave me something far more powerful than manpower. He gave me gratitude.

And the power of gratitude is this: it is the way we look outward instead of inward. It is the act by which we remember the world and forget ourselves. It puts our ego to sleep and awakens our sense of connection to everything and everyone else.

On a flooded Thursday, I didn’t feel warm and fuzzy—my toes were ice cubes and my fingers were shriveled prunes.

But on a flooded Thursday, I realized gratitude is like a pair of knee-high rain boots for the heart—when we put it on, we can wade right into the flood waters of sorrow and devastation this life and this world rain down upon us.

Gratitude Doesn’t Just Enjoy, It Joins

The storms-of-life are coming, aren’t they?

Or for some of us, they’ve already arrived and the waters are rising.

I don’t have any magic solutions for drying up the mess. But I do think, when we give ourselves over to a life of gratitude, we will be prepared to wade into the pain and suffering of our lives.

Yet I don’t think a life of authentic gratitude ends in self-preservation. Because when gratitude takes ahold of us, we begin to forget about ourselves altogether, and we start to remember a world that is tearing apart and in need of re-stitching.

You see, to a grateful heart:

The laughter of children is pure joy, and also a reminder of powerless women being taken advantage of by a corrupt doctor in Philadelphia.

A pair of running shoes and an open road is ecstasy, and also a reminder of bombs on a Monday afternoon and legs that will never run again.

Safe travels are a relief, and also a reminder that not everyone made it safely on a Wednesday morning.

A green lawn tipped with dew is suburban satisfaction, and also a reminder of a Wednesday night in a fiery fertilizer plant.

A clear dawn and the rays of a warm summer sun are a caress, and a reminder of a quaking earth in China held by the same Big Light.

I think gratitude might be the place where pain and peace meet. Because when our gratitude propels us into a torn-suffering world, we will be immersed in something other than ourselves.

And that, I think, is the definition of peace.

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Comments: You can share your thoughts or reactions at the bottom of this post.                

Free eBook: My eBook, The Marriage Manifesto: Turning Your World Upside Down, is available free to new blog subscribers. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can click here to subscribe, and your confirmation e-mail will include a link to download the eBook. Or, the book is also now available for Kindle and Nook

Preview: Next Wednesday’s post is tentatively entitled, “How My Smartphone Paved the Way for Same-Sex Marriage.”

Disclaimer: This post is not professional advice. It should be read as you would read a “self-help” book. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor, who can become more intimately familiar with your specific situation. Counselors can be located through your insurance network or through your state psychological association.

UnTangled: The Best of the First Year

When I published my first UnTangled post on January 6th of this year, I wondered if I would have a second post in me. Seventy-four posts and an eBook later, here we are. I guess I had another post in me!

Nailed It My Picture is a Perfect 10

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks (Creative Commons)

LOOKING BACK

After the last day of my fourth grade school year, I got home, dropped my backpack, grabbed a snack, and then walked back to the school. I sat on the quiet-deserted playground, and I reminisced about the most poignant moments of the school year. To be honest, I think even composed a cheesy song in my head for a soundtrack.

I guess I’m just sentimental like that.

So, it’s no wonder I’ve always been a sucker for end-of-the-year Top Ten lists. I love the week after Christmas because we get flooded with them. And I just can’t pass up the opportunity to put together an UnTangled 2012 Top Ten list. In fact, I’ve composed two of them.

The first is a list of the top ten most popular posts this year (using number of Facebook shares as the proxy). It contains everything from joyous holiday wishes to a painful plea for the victims of tragedy. But regardless of the topic, I think you will find plenty of hope for redemption in the words. The second is a list of my ten personal favorites that didn’t make the first list. If you missed any posts this year, I hope this is a good resource for you.

Or maybe, if you’re just sentimental like me, come along to the playground and let’s reminisce together.

The Top Ten Most Popular UnTangled Posts of 2012

  1. Marriage is for Losers
  2. Marriage is for Liars
  3. A Plea on Behalf of Newtown, Connecticut (and All of Us)
  4. A List of Those Responsible for the Sandy Hook Massacre
  5. “Mommy, Daddy, Lookit!”
  6. Marriage is for Hopelessly Lonely People
  7. The Mess Will Set You Free!
  8. Why Dirty Dishes are the Biggest Threat to Your Marriage
  9. (What Your Dentist Knows) About the Secret to Life
  10. We Wish You a Messy Christmas!

2012 Honorable Mentions (According to Kelly)

  1. Licking Happiness and Forsaking Joy
  2. One Sentence That Will Change Your Life
  3. Live Passionately, Not Skillfully
  4. JoePa and the Death of Story
  5. Angry Kids, Angry Parents
  6. The Deep Magic is Everywhere
  7. Truth and Baseball Cards
  8. I Wish I Was Clark Kent (And I Wish You Were, Too)
  9. Dangerous, Rebellious Hope
  10. A Letter to Masculinity

LOOKING AHEAD

Two years ago, my wife and I spent New Year’s Eve reminiscing about the places we had celebrated previous New Year’s. We realized in the first eleven years of our relationship we had celebrated New Year’s Eve in eleven different cities. Our life has been full of transition.

A year of writing for UnTangled stands in marked contrast. This blog has been a place of stability and constancy and I’ve enjoyed settling into it with you. And I’m excited about the year to come. I have ideas and posts ready to go.

But I also want to hear from you.

What would you like to see out of this blog over the next year? Topics you would like to read more about? Ideas you would like me to expand upon?

Also, I’m thinking about increasing the flexibility of the Tuesday Tip—using it as a Tuesday Tip when appropriate, but perhaps also replacing it some weeks with more flexible content, such as the two posts in the wake of the tragic school shooting. What do you think? Keep the second post as a Tip, do away with it altogether, or make it a more versatile post?

Any other thoughts and feedback are welcome, as we head into this new year together!

Share your thoughts in the comments section.

NOTE: My new eBook, The Marriage Manifesto: Turning Your World Upside Downis now available for Kindle and Nook. It is also available in PDF format, and I’m giving it away free to new and existing e-mail subscribers! If you are not yet a subscriber, you can click here to subscribe, and your subscription confirmation e-mail will include a link to download the eBook for free. As always, thank you for reading; it’s a gift. Sincerely, Kelly