2017 Year in Review

 My Fav Four (photo cred: Emily Bell ... our family photographer)

My Fav Four (photo cred: Emily Bell ... our family photographer)

We are in the final stretch of 2017, and it has been a year to remember in the Diaz fam.

Someone asked me today what word defined this year for me. Without hesitation, I said FREEDOM. 

The biggest change was our #backtothefuture #socalorbust move forward to California again. We've been in SoCal again for half the year, our hearts are home. Of course, we miss the proximity to family and lifelong friends. Those two years came at an important time in our kids' lives and the Diaz/Getz families. But there's a centeredness, a sure-footedness, a stability that our souls have craved. We feel like ourselves again. Our kids transitioned almost effortlessly and they are thriving (something they never did during our 2 years in Indiana). Brian and I laugh more, feel lighter, and are more in sync with one another. We are surrounded by dear friends who feel like family, diversity, incredible food, rich culture, and of course sunshine, beaches, palm trees, and bougainvillea. I really didn't know that people could belong to places until we left ours in 2015. We are OVERWHELMED to be home. What started as a curse in an unexpected tax bill turned into the greatest blessing of 2017. It's a great reminder that gifts from above that aren't expected are awaiting to open, asking hands. God is always at work on our behalf and while he first desires our hearts, he also desires to give us good, good gifts.

Here's a FREEDOM overview from our family of five...

ME. Since I'm the author of this post, I'll go first. 2017 started off by weekly travel while I flew over 35,000 miles in the first quarter of the year -- and stayed healthy the entire time! I traveled for speaking and coaching gigs to Shanghai, China again with Brian and Asher, and to 12 states (some states multiple times). I've been privileged to coach 40 individuals, 4 churches, and train over 30 new coaches in the art and science of long-lasting transformation. Working with great organizations and people means the world to me.

On a deeper level, I'm becoming clearer on the work that I must do in this world. I'm becoming more deliberate in stewarding those callings and gifts. I've been a daily student of myself via the Enneagram (8w7), dedicated to becoming the best version of myself. I've been attentive to listening and learning to voices from the margins - people of color and women - more than ever. I've felt alive as my worldview, faith, and perspective is growing as I learn from those who's voices have been challenged and yet risen above. I've been purging my soul of a scarcity mentality that's existed since childhood, and learning what it means to walk in both contentment and abundance.

BRIAN. Earlier this year when we were talking about Brian going back to work and what he was hoping for moving forward, he articulated for the first time that his greatest joy was seeing our family thriving and supporting me living out my calling. Speechless. I married quite a man. He's continued providing the firm foundation for our family, but he's working for our dear friend, Cami, in her snowboard shop. He's taking care of the online side of the business in the hours between school drop offs and pick ups. He's finding his running groove again in his adored Peter's Canyon trails, and on the mountain-to-sea trail right outside our house. Two of my dear Indiana friends visited us a few months after we moved and they both blurted out how different Brian was - happy, confident, relaxed, and seemingly more himself. There's nothing better than to see your partner doing well. 

Together, we celebrated 16 years of marriage. "Celebrated" as the key word because we are truly more in love and better partners than we've ever been. Our dreams, goals, and hearts are in sync in ways that is mostly a gift but is earned by the hard work of intentionality and commitment. Together, we traveled to 10 states (thanks in part to our cross-country drive to CA) and Shanghai, China.

Together, we've also been working on growing our dōTERRA essential oils business. We fell in love with their products when we brought Judah and Addise home 7 years ago and have been using them ever since. A little over a year ago, I found myself telling everyone about them and bragging about how healthy our family was as a result of them. So, I realized: I must build a business! We started learning more about the company and it resonated on so.many.levels. Brian and I discovered this is something we have shared passion and commitment to, so we're all in. We're building a team of leaders and gathering like-minded folks who want to live empowered in their emotional and physical wellness. I'm finding it's synergizing 20 years of leadership and people-development in a world that's different from the church-world I've lived in. Want to join us in 2018??

IMG_6135.jpg
IMG_7282.jpg

JUDAH (9). Our 3rd grader continues to surprise us. He received a "Growth Mindset" Outstanding Achievement award this month at school. This award represents his life. He's risen above challenge after challenge after challenge, and does so with persistence, light-heartedness, and silliness. Of course, there are tears and frustration (he's human after all), but his posture is "can do" and he is doing it. The bullying we battled the last couple years has ceased and he's found his place in this new school. We are profoundly grateful. He's made friends at school and perhaps found his sport - SWIMMING. Pokemon and Nerf are his favorite games but he'll get lost in a book at any given moment. We call him our Absent Minded Professor because he's endlessly exploring, feeding his curiosity, and trying to figure out how everything works, even at the expense of what he should be doing. 

IMG_6612.jpg

ADDISE (7). She hit the jackpot this year and got our old family friend as her teacher! He's a Godsend for our girl in a hundred ways. She loves Mr. Baran and is soaring in her classroom. She has a gaggle of girlfriends. She writes illustrated books faster than we can buy her paper and art supplies. Art has become a mode of therapy for her and allows her to express herself best. She's a caring big sister to Asher and keeps Judah on his toes. One day I asked her the biggest difference between 1st and 2nd grade and she didn't hesitate, "I have more friends here and there are less bullies here." I choked back tears of pain and gratitude. She's loving her skin color and kinky curls again. A friend noticed that she's more comfortable in her own skin (literally) and her personhood is more relaxed. 

 

IMG_6077.jpg

ASHER (5). His highlight of the year was spending a week in Shanghai with his daddy and me. He literally won't stop talking about it - Disneyland, the aquarium, Miss Sunny's house, the Pearl Tower, and all the dumplings. He begged me to show pics in his preschool and Kindergarten classes. So, we did. He was a travel rock star and loved every minute of that trip. That trip set into motion a family value to travel internationally more with our kids. This is big world God gave us, and we want them to see all of it. Kindergarten has nothing on this kid. He loves it all. Asher's impossibly friendly, always looking to befriend the outsider. He's smarter than he needs to be and loves taking on new adventures and challenges. He's overly affectionate with his words and touch. 

 

Our kids have transitioned so very well to life in CA. One of the driving factors for getting back here was the racial and ethnic diversity that's woven into the fabric of our family's DNA and desperately needs to be reflected in our surroundings. Their elementary school (900 kids in K-4th!) that's connected to neighborhood represents over 60+ racial and ethnic identities!!! My heart nearly exploded when we discovered that statistic. The minority is the majority. The languages, accents, skin colors, religious beliefs, and global heritage is beyond rich. Our kids are at home in this environment. 

Together, they are enjoying each other more and more. They play - and wrestle! - together like true friends. Our new Disneyland annual passes are proving to be a playground for memory-making and joy as a family. 

Without a doubt, this has been a year of discovery and new learning. Shedding false beliefs and opening our hands to more. Continually looking for little lights when we were in a hard place. Practicing gratitude and contentment no matter what. I've paid attention to the Gospels and the #1 question Jesus asks people, "What do you want?" Prayerfully, deliberately, and boldly we are beginning to answer that question. The answer to that question can change anything. 

As you move into 2018, what do you want? May you experience all that Jesus has for you to be and do with your one wild, precious life. 

Comment

April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.