Which I’m pretty sure is the year that everything from that Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House was supposed to be real, but I guess I’ll give that some more time. I’ve been looking forward to 2014 for a lot of reasons – namely because it will mark the first year of me being a South Carolina resident physically instead of just in my heart and daydreams and Pinterest boards. I am not good at waiting, and this has involved a lot of waiting, and also a lot of cardboard boxes and bubble wrap.
But it’s 2014!
And it’s time for the move!
And I just had my very first day of my internship!
And January 13th will be the first night I get to sleep in my new place!
I’m so excited!
This past weekend, I helped take sneak pictures of my friends’ engagement and have already made 2 or 20 new Greenville friends and have a list of churches to go visit and brunch places to try and even a few coffee dates already in my day planner. I feel a little bit like how you do when you’ve been riding a bus all day and then you get to Six Flags and just want to DO EVERYTHING RIGHT AWAY – but instead, I’m trying to walk into this season mindfully, which means setting a few intentions.
I got this idea from a chapter in Shauna Niequist’s book Bittersweet, which I absolutely suggest you read if you currently have a pulse and are facing or will ever face transition or change or disappointment or hard things in your life. I made two lists – what I want to do this year, and what I want to NOT do this year. There are things I need to say “yes” to, and things I need to work on saying “no” to. The spirit behind this is that I probably saw more change and growth within myself in the past six months than I have the whole rest of my life, and want to make sure that I’m paying attention to what I’m learning and what the Lord is teaching me and pulling me toward in this next season, which is probably something aside from having brunch all the time, although I do have a hunch that He’d be a stuffed French toast with fruit and whipped cream on top kind of guy. You know, if you’re going to do brunch, do it right. YOLO. Except God, I guess. You get my point.
What I intend to do:
Show up. The past two years, I spent NYE at fancy sparkly parties wearing fancy sparkly dresses, and this year I pulled a Carrie Bradshaw and sat at my apartment planning out the order in which I want to take apart all my IKEA furniture, because the move being up in the air prevented me from making advance plans. Welcome to introvert life. And then I got on social media and scrolled through all the fancy sparkly things that other people did, instantly felt really lonely, and simultaneously realized that it’s because I put myself in situations that make me feel that way. Epiphany! Oh, that’s why. So much of my journey with depression involved convincing myself that I wasn’t good enough to go do anything fancy and sparkly when in reality, I love everything having to do with those two words. So I want to go celebrate things more. NYE and engagements and birthdays and first days of things and special days at the zoo and regular Wednesdays. And I want to keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge at all times, ready to go, ready to shout “hooray” and clink glasses and celebrate at the drop of a hat.
Write more. One of my favorite things about 2013 is how much I wrote and blogged in the latter half of the year, because it was a mark of me finding my voice and using it and getting life from that. One of my trademarks in college was that I would write long, long letters to people for all sorts of things, whether that was because they were my prayer partner for the week or they were graduating or at a summer camp or having a birthday. I love sending a good handwritten note because I know that those matter to people, and that we could all use a reminder every now and then that we’re loved and cared about. So, I resolve to blog more, to write more letters, and to actually find wherever the heck my journal has disappeared to and dust that little guy off.
Spend time in the Word. Speaking of things that I miss and need to dust off, my Bible has been sitting on my desk untouched for a little too long. One of the things that gets me the most pumped about moving is that I get to find a new church home to plug into. I didn’t do a good job of that in Boone, and I am intent on finding community in Greenville that encourages me spiritually, because I need people to remind me that God is good and that He loves us when I forget that. Whenever I’ve been in a spiritually tumultuous place, there’s a connection to me not being in the Word and getting lazy in my prayer life – and I’ve recently re-realized how much I really, really need those things.
Do what I need to do to take care of myself. Another lesson of 2013 is that there are things that I just have to do connected to the change in my mental illness diagnosis. I choose to be a one-glass-of-wine girl because people with my diagnosis have a ten-million-times-more-likely chance of developing a substance dependency, and nooo thank you. The medication that has helped me get my life back also requires that I go to bed early and about 9 hours a night. It’s really tempting, when I’m traveling or don’t want to miss a late-night-something to get a little off my med schedule, and that’s just not smart. It’d be like me saying, “Hey, I want myself and everyone I interact with to have a bad day today on purpose.” I’ll be fine not staying up until 2am, and will start making grandma jokes about myself. And have decided to own the early bedtime and my status of “DD for life, aka most popular person of all time” instead of being embarrassed about it.
Ask for help. I need so much help all the time, but have just as much if not more pride to go alongside that, so I usually end up going it solo. (My grandfather gave me a very interesting look when I told him that I could probably move my couch by myself in a broken foot boot and a Jeep that a couch absolutely will not fit in.) But I LOVE to give help. And I imagine that must be true for other people, too. Letting people help you is a really important and sweet part of life, I’m finding. It took me like 17 self-pep talks to ask someone if I could stay with them for a week in Spartanburg while my place is still getting ready for me in Greenville. But I did it, and it’s going to be a really sweet time of reconnection that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It’s a good first step in defeating my prideful side, and I’m looking forward to it.
What I don't intend to do:
Count (stupid) calories. I spent a lot of 2013 on my phone tracking various diet apps and calculating Weight Watchers points and also a lot of time on my fancy scale that tells me what my muscle mass is. I thought that this was me just being healthy, but it was actually me telling myself through more hi-tech outlets that I wasn’t going to be okay or whatever until I lost ten pounds. And yes, I am obsessed with spin class, but as soon as I broke my foot in November and lost my ability to do cardio, this all got way worse. Like ten times worse. I fell right back into a shame cycle that left me hating myself for eating pizza. But nooooo more. That’s not the mentality I want to have. Pizza is delicious, and has no pull on my self-worth. I don’t want “if you eat this, then…” looming over my head. Mostly I just want to go to Mellow Mushroom. Because that crust, y’all.
Worry about the haters. My friend Melissa likes to quote back one of my rules to me whenever I get down, and that’s #6: “Sometimes you’ve just gotta brush your shouldas off and keep on hustlin’.” This has really manifested in my writing. I can’t help when I sit down at my computer to consider how a certain sentence or story will make someone feel, which is probably a healthy consideration, but I’m usually writing about my messy insides on a very public forum, so I think that fear of criticism has certainly hindered me recently. I listened to a great message from Shauna Niequist about Ecclesiastes 7:21-22, though, and she reminded me that I can’t put stock in every single little thing that everyone says, or else I’ll get hung up on avoiding criticism and will get distracted from my calling. And I don’t want to do that. I want my writing to reflect that I’m listening to my calling, and not the haters.
Hang onto things that hurt me. I really do believe that no season is wasted, and that we can revisit even our very worst experiences and walk back out with a silver lining – when we’re ready. But I also believe that our hurts can suck us back in, and that rehashing every detail of our mistakes and our what was I thinking’s and our why didn’t that pseudo-relationship work out’s can trick us into carrying around stories about ourselves that aren’t true, and get us stuck in a narrative of believing that we are the problem and we’re what’s wrong and we’ll never get better – and I don’t want that to be the voice that’s in my head all the time. I just don’t. I don’t think that’s what life is about. So I’m deleting the text messages that I keep scrolling through to try and re-analyze where I went wrong for the millionth time and I’m trying to sift through the things that people say and decide what’s worth keeping and what’s not – and I’m letting go of the things that aren’t teaching me anything; the things that are doing nothing but holding me back.
Yard of the Month, and other things that don’t matter yet. So my new neighborhood has a Yard of the Month. And of course, when I heard that, the domestic side of me had to stop myself before I got my keys and ran to the lawn ornament section of Target. But I want this year to be about real connection with real people, not my yard. I don’t need to focus on lawn gnomes and landscaping and birdhouses. We’re going to be lucky if I figure out how to turn on a lawnmower. (Is it basically a hovercraft car thing that has rotating knives under it? So mysterious.) Spoiler alert: have already researched contractors for that. I’ll worry about yard décor when I’m like 50 and my kids are grown up and I need a project to keep me from stalking them.
Fancy baking projects. One look at a frosting from scratch recipe on Pinterest almost makes me break out in a cold sweat. That stuff is intense! I have a friend from grad school, Emily who is the QUEEN of baking, and she has done caramel-filled whipped buttercream icing cupcakes arranged and decorated to look like a stork for every baby shower anyone she knows has ever had – and she’s amazing at it. And the thing is, she LOVES it. She gets energy from it. I think if she found a financial backer, she’d quit school counseling and just do that. Me? No. Spending 4 hours with my KitchenAid mixer is not my thing, because let’s all revisit the time I made a cake from scratch for my friend Peter’s birthday and it was uneven and the edges fell away from the center because I tried to fix the uneven-ness by putting a whole can of frosting in the middle layer. I think we ate it with our hands. So that was fun, but I am not Betty Crocker, and Starbucks makes better cake pops than I’d ever be able to, and I’m good with it.
So, yes. Here’s to a brand new year! I’m trying not to get all “This is going to be THE BEST YEAR EVER because I get to move to SOUTH CAROLINA and ALL MY DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE” because that’s setting myself up for some disappointment. I’ll make mistakes and bad things will happen, I’m sure of those things. But God will be with me in it, so I’ll also learn a lot, and I’m certain that WONDERFUL things will happen, too.
Maybe it’ll be hard.
Maybe it’ll be murky.
Maybe it’ll be a lot of things I can’t even see coming.
But whatever it is, I know it’ll be WONDERFUL.