So this is the new year

Tinsel and ornament

Happy, happy 2014! Something about a fresh, sparkly year makes me feel so inspired and excited and ready. And though I’m not making official resolutions this year, I definitely enjoy the process of reflection . . . and the idea of tweaking my habits to help build a more fulfilling life.

If 2013 taught me anything, it’s that I can do much more in an average day than I once believed. Post-college life has made me a little lazy. Back when I was a student? Well, I commuted to school, took a full course load and worked at least 30 hours a week in the evenings and on weekends. In between my time at the craft or book store, I studied and wrote papers and read, read, read. It was challenging at points, but I got it done.

When I got promoted at the paper in 2009, I quit my second job at Borders and, for the first time in my adult life, found my nights were actually my own. I had time. I started reading and writing more, then really committed to this blog. I took up photography, put myself back into the dating scene, started my Etsy shop. I got hobbies, basically. I got a life.

Then I got engaged.

Last year was consumed by wedding planning. When I wasn’t working, I was typing into spreadsheets and designing invitations and searching for the perfect red shoes. I moved, then had to regroup and reorganize. And then it was Thanksgiving and Christmas and there was so much to do, and I didn’t have time to think about what was next . . . because I had presents to wrap, cookies to bake. You know completely. You understand.

But the tinsel has been swept up with the crumpled ribbons and bows. The holidays are over. We’re taking down the Christmas tree this weekend, a ritual I find both sad and refreshing. I’m sitting in our apartment with my newly-chopped-off hair (y’all, it is short!), listening to our downstairs neighbor’s rock music pour through the floor, and it’s a strange but brave new world.

And what now?

The time I spent endlessly arranging the details of Katie’s wedding and my own is now crisp and fresh and ready to be filled. Though I’m working my full-time schedule, like always, my evenings are once again my own.

I feel the possibilities, tingly and exciting.

I’m daydreaming about upping my ante with photography, getting into a light exercise routine, expanding our healthy-meal repertoire, doing some traveling. I also want to recommit to my writing and start working on the book I’ve had floating around in my brain for years, always buried and hidden under “someday.”

I want someday to be now.

Last year was filled with high highs and low lows, a year of uncertainty and deep love and change. It feels good to finally be settled, even if being settled can be unsettling, too.

But I’m going to get going. Get gutsy. Keep trying.

This will be our year.

Taking stock of 2008

new_yearObviously 2008 was a year of adventure, chaos and uncertainty — professionally, personally, economically. In America this year, we’ve seen the rise and fall of the stock market, gas prices surging to astronomical levels, a floundering economy, a long and very exhausting presidential election and… a host of other craziness. But we made it through all of it! As New Year’s Day appears bright and shiny now on the horizon, I think it’s important to reflect on everything I accomplished this year. I didn’t do anything major, and I didn’t save any lives, but I did accomplish quite a bit.

So here’s what happened:

• I wrote two complete novels, each totaling around 80,000 words, and began the arduous process of querying to find an agent. No luck yet, but 2009 is right around the corner;

• I got a promotion at my full-time newspaper job, allowing me to comfortably quit my part-time position and enjoy much more time with my friends and family;

• I celebrated my 23rd birthday, my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary and my two-year anniversary with Palmer;

• I became more confident and less nervous on the phone (I know that sounds strange, but it’s a weird struggle for me!);

• I started this little blog and have really enjoyed getting to know folks in the booking blogosphere, as well as honing my posting abilities, learning new technology and taking an abundance of photographs;

• I got closer to good friends and made some new ones;

• I relearned HTML and taught myself some CSS, FTP and other crazy stuff in order to set up a real webpage — my father’s blog. In 2009, I’ll be doing the same for myself!

• I voted for and helped usher in President-Elect Barack Obama, the first African-American man to run our country… and I’m looking forward to watching his inauguration in January;

I read a ton of great books, was introduced to some new authors and became part of the Twilight universe with my somewhat troubling obsession with fictional heartthrob Edward Cullen;

• I saw John Mayer, my all-time favorite musician, in concert in July — from the front row!

• I worked hard to always remain positive and to embrace change, rather than fight it.

And that’s the mantra I will be chanting into 2009 and beyond… roll with the changes in tide, don’t run from them. I hope everyone takes some time to think about everything they’ve done this year — even if it doesn’t seem like “much,” I promise you that it is! — and has a very safe and happy start to the new year. I think it’s going to be a good one… and no matter, in the words of a good ol’ “High School Musical” song, remember that we’re all in this together!

Happy New Year!