New beginnings

New beginnings

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” – Isaiah 43:19

A new thing. A new year. Can you see it?

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. (You might say I don’t believe in making promises I can’t keep, even to myself). I took some time to mull over my “word” for the year, praying about it and hoping to find the one thing to focus on and be reminded of regularly. And I’m still in the process of figuring out just what it looks like in the everyday.

Meanwhile, there are other things I do to prepare for the new year. To begin, I always go to my “junk” email address and begin unsubscribing from just about everything. Even businesses that I like to shop at/receive coupons from, I unsubscribe. It helps remove the temptation to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need.

I purge in other areas as well. That DVD collection, do we really watch all of those? And my clothes? And shoes? Luckily for me, we’ve moved in the past six months, so I’ve already done a TON of purging. But the purging never really ends. So I continue.

There are a few other goals we have this year, loose ones, but I think that’s good. I put way too much pressure on myself if they’re too specific (and then feel like a failure if I don’t wholly succeed).

  • Drink more water. Because hydration is good, headaches are bad.
  • Yoga. Seriously, this is on the list every year, because headaches are bad.
  • Less food waste. Husband and I are on this one together. Crossing our fingers that diligence creates results.
  • More horse time for me, more surfing time for Husband. Because once kids arrive, things will be different.
  • Write. Because it’s what I do.
  • Read. Because it’s what I love.
  • Bake. Make it a habit.
  • Friendships. They take time, and I need to make that time.
  • Beach photoMy SIL gave me this photo for Christmas, and I’m glad to have it because I don’t even remember this day…I think it was the summer we were engaged? Or the first summer we were married?

    Goals

    I have a few goals for this year…except they’re not so much for this year but for this stage, this piece of my life. Married but before kids. Young with aspirations and also with responsibilities.

    Life changes quickly and often drastically, leaving me scrambling to figure out my new normal. So while I have a firm grasp on this era, I want to make the best of it.

    Some are big, some are little.

    I want to spend more time with my horse–enjoy Saturday morning rides, quick training sessions before the sun goes down, and even hot summer hose-downs with Chappy.

    Chappy

    I want to read. Reading keeps me grounded, keeps me learning, keeps me growing. I need to read.

    I want to buy a house–a dream of ours for this year, this place in our lives. It’s scary for me–settling down, staying, committing to a place. I’m a traveler, a bit of a wanderer at heart. I have been in my current house for nearly 2 years, that’s more than twice as long as I have lived anywhere since I was 17. Buying a house? That’s a whole new adventure.

    I want to travel. Not far and wide, not like I used to–we don’t have the money for that if we’re going to be making big investments (see previous goal). But still travel. Learn that travel doesn’t have to be to far away places. Travel doesn’t have to mean embarking for the great unknown. It can be a weekend in the Virginia mountains, a visit to Montecello, or even a canoe ride through the Great Dismal Swamp (can you believe I’ve lived in Virginia for 3 years now and haven’t yet been there?). But even these local travels must be purposed, intended, sacrificed for.

    The Blueridge Mountains.

    Perhaps more than anything, I want to write. Really write. I don’t talk about it much, because it is so close and dear to me. It’s vulnerable. But I love to write fiction and I have a story–a good one–that has been percolating for years now. It needs to be written. I need to get it out of my head and down on paper. And I need to do it now.

    And all of this boils down to one thing–I want to savor this era of my life. I want to love it. I want to live it…with singleness of heart.

    The culmination of an era… (aka preparing for graduation)

    The culmination of an era… (aka preparing for graduation)

    It’s hard to even grasp how much has changed since I first arrived at Regent University to start my graduate school career. Sure, I expected to be starting a new life, in a new place, making new friends, and having new adventures.

    But it never once crossed my mind that I would end up…well, married.

    It probably should have. After all, during one visit to the area with a friend a few weeks before moving here, she told me that I should find a “surfer boy” to marry. Apparently she’s more prophetic than I give her credit for.

    surfing

    Husband surfing

    I came to Virginia Beach following the road I thought lay before me. Graduate school. But somehow I didn’t see all the twists and turns that road would take before I reached my destination. I didn’t know that my degree would take me three years to complete instead of two. I didn’t know I would meet and marry Husband. I didn’t know I would be offered my dream job.

    I didn’t see all the blessings that were coming, but I’ve done my best to flex with every curve and embrace every change.

    It’s funny how that happens. How we make a plan and set out on our way just to find that our path changes, sometimes we’re derailed, sometimes just gently nudged to take a different road. Sometimes its just circumstances out of our control. Sometimes its so clearly the Lord.

    “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

    And I’m so glad he does.

    Us

    Sometimes life has a way of changing us. Three years ago I was just turning 23. I had plans and dreams. I wanted to live in Africa for a year or two. I’d thought about joining the Peace Corps. I had never even been on a date, marriage was the farthest thing from my mind. I just wanted to truly LIVE my life, not just muddle through.

    Now my goals are different–not better or worse, just different. Husband and I talk about buying a house…after being a gypsy for the better part of five years, something like buying a house is a huge change for me. But it’s good too.

    Not everything has changed though. I still dream of going to Africa, maybe next year. I still want to learn French, publish a book, and travel the world. I still want to live every moment of my life to its fullest.

    Sunrise over Virginia Beach.

    Saturday morning I graduate. I close this chapter of my life and start a new one. And I wonder, what will be written on those pages?

    February Goals!

    February Goals!

    My February Goals

    Okay, lets start with a few holdovers from January:

    • Finish hanging picture frames in master bedroom.
    • License horse trailer!
    • Finish membership classes at church.
    • Make time for manicures.

    And a few new goals…

    • Stick to our new budget. Seriously.
    • Finish thesis project!!
    • Yoga, yoga, and more yoga. It helps my sanity.
    • Choose paint colors for the kitchen =).
    • More organizing! (Roll-top desk, under-bed storage, kitchen closet, and craft room to be exact.)
    • Start riding Chappy at least 1x/week (hoping the weather stays nice…)

    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Here’s a look at how I did on my January goals…

    • Finish sewing curtains. Nope.
    • Streamline cleaning process on Saturdays. Doing better!
    • Organize Christmas items as I put them away. Yep. I so condensed our Christmas items into fewer boxes =).
    • Make time to play with Gidget and Fidget every night. Hmmmm, maybe not every night, but most of them.
    • Hang picture frames in master bedroom (everything was taken off the walls when I painted…in September). Half-way done.
    • Find a rare warm evening to take a bike ride! (For Christmas, I bought Husband headlights and taillights for our bikes…) Yes! We took an entire Saturday afternoon and last night we rode our bikes to the barn =)
    • Re-budget…things change, time for the budget to change too. We did this, but I’m learning that budgets are far from stagnant, so I’m sure we will be revisiting it again soon…
    • Visit family in the Washington DC area. (We really, really want to get out of Va Beach for a weekend!) Made plans, got sick, plans were cancelled.
    • Officially join our church as members. (Looking forward to this one!) Working on it, two more membership classes to go!
    • Make significant progress on thesis project (I will probably need to define significant…) I guess this depends on the definition of significant.
    • Do some financial organizing (as in closing accounts, transferring funds, etc.). I did a lot of this, but there is still a little left to work on.
    • License horse trailer! Nope.
    • Budget for England. (What, didn’t I tell you I’m going to England??) England trip on hold…
    • Make time for manicures, even if I am doing them myself. Fail.
    • Read, and read some more. (Currently working on Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell.) Pass!
    My January Goals

    My January Goals

    A recap on how my December goals have progressed:

  • Make homemade soup (I don’t know why this appeals to me, I hate to cook. And after the first attempt, I will probably be over my desire for homemade soup…)—Does it count if Husband made the soup? It was delicious! I can’t wait for another batch =)
  • Wrap gifts early (I’m usually pretty good at this, but I still put it on the list, because I know how some years go…but I want to be able to enjoy the look of presents under the tree BEFORE Christmas Day when they all go away)—Check!
  • Research the 12 Days of Christmas (Husband and I are considering adding this to our repertoire of traditions)—I mostly did this, but more research will come next year…
  • Finish sewing curtains (I have several curtains that were purchased frugally, but have no backing to provide a layer of insulation in the winter, so I’m adding it myself.)—Half way done, I finished 2 out of 4.
  • Make a gingerbread house (a new tradition Husband and I began the first Christmas we were dating =)—Check!
  • Take the light rail into Norfolk to visit “the big mall” and little shops before Christmas—Check!
  • Make Christmas cookies! (I might have to limit this, last year I made far too many for us to eat, I had too many to even give away!)—Check! And I even limited myself to ONE kind of cookie, much more apropos =)
  • Take time to relax, read, and just enjoy (Reading list: Little Women and Miracle on 34th Street, which was a delightful find from a used book store in Norfolk)—Check! And I even finished both books
  • Decorate carefully and joyfully—Check and check!
  • Streamline cleaning process on Saturdays (should it really take me 5-6 hours to clean my house?)—Made progress, but still working on this…
  • Finish my last graduate course well.—CHECK!!! Can you tell how glad I am that it is finished?
  • Attend yoga class at least once a week (it seems to be making a big difference in number of tension headaches I always get, so I’m definitely becoming a fan!)—Mostly check.
  • Enjoy Christmas.—Definite check!
  • January

    Okay, now on to January goals, starting with a few carry-overs:

  • Finish sewing curtains.
  • Streamline cleaning process on Saturdays.
  • Organize Christmas items as I put them away.
  • Make time to play with Gidget and Fidget every night.
  • Hang picture frames in master bedroom (everything was taken off the walls when I painted…in September).
  • Find a rare warm evening to take a bike ride! (For Christmas, I bought Husband headlights and taillights for our bikes…)
  • Re-budget…things change, time for the budget to change too.
  • Visit family in the Washington DC area. (We really, really want to get out of Va Beach for a weekend!)
  • Officially join our church as members. (Looking forward to this one!)
  • Make significant progress on thesis project (I will probably need to define significant…)
  • Do some financial organizing (as in closing accounts, transferring funds, etc.).
  • License horse trailer!
  • Budget for England. (What, didn’t I tell you I’m going to England??)
  • Make time for manicures, even if I am doing them myself.
  • Read, and read some more. (Currently working on Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell.)
  • My December Goals

    My December Goals

    I know myself. And I know that unless I write them down, things just won’t happen. I’m not only a writer by trade, I’m also a writer by nature. (You would not believe the number of lists that I have, and you really can’t imagine the number of sticky notes currently surrounding both my home and office computers…)

    So I decided to compile a list of goals for this month. These are in no particular order, although some are obviously a lot more important than others. I hope I’m able to complete them before the new year:

  • Make homemade soup (I don’t know why this appeals to me, I hate to cook. And after the first attempt, I will probably be over my desire for homemade soup…)
  • Wrap gifts early (I’m usually pretty good at this, but I still put it on the list, because I know how some years go…but I want to be able to enjoy the look of presents under the tree BEFORE Christmas Day when they all go away)
  • Research the 12 Days of Christmas (Husband and I are considering adding this to our repertoire of traditions)
  • Finish sewing curtains (I have several curtains that were purchased frugally, but have no backing to provide a layer of insulation in the winter, so I’m adding it myself.)
  • Make a gingerbread house (a new tradition Husband and I began the first Christmas we were dating =)
  • Take the light rail into Norfolk to visit “the big mall” and little shops before Christmas
  • Make Christmas cookies! (I might have to limit this, last year I made far too many for us to eat, I had too many to even give away!)
  • Take time to relax, read, and just enjoy (Reading list: Little Women and Miracle on 34th Street, which was a delightful find from a used book store in Norfolk)
  • Decorate carefully and joyfully
  • Streamline cleaning process on Saturdays (should it really take me 5-6 hours to clean my house?)
  • Finish my last graduate course well.
  • Attend yoga class at least once a week (it seems to be making a big difference in number of tension headaches I always get, so I’m definitely becoming a fan!)
  • Enjoy Christmas.