Day 1 – I Got Goals

The first day of 2019 started just like the last day of 2018–lying in bed, trying to soak up a few extra moments of sleep before getting out of bed, trying to soak up the last moments of laziness left in this holiday break. But even if the days are largely indistinguishable outside the numbers on the calendar, there is something exciting about the beginning of a new year. The next 365 days stretch out before me with the unblemished smoothness of a field of fresh fallen snow. I’m holding a blank notebook in my hand, and I’m excited to see what sort of adventures will unfold.

If we’re taking a bird’s eye view, I’d say 2018 was a pretty good year. (But you know I default to optimism). We finally finished the renovation project on our investment property. The kiddos are both healthy and doing well in school. Stevie got to spend a few days in New Orleans (even if it was for a work conference instead of a vacation or our long-awaited honeymoon). And I had the opportunity to step into an exciting new role at work.

But all that said, there’s still plenty of room for improvement (there always is). And there is a definite need to find some balance. The kids are hitting an age where we’re busy with activities. Cadence is currently involved in swim team, piano and guitar lessons, and wants to do dance team at school next year. Henry is starting soccer in January. And 2018 was definitely a year where Stevie and I both felt pulled in a few too many directions–bringing work home nights and weekends, serving on committees, playing in sports leagues, volunteering. The new year gives us an opportunity to try and find that balance–to scale back where we need to scale back and to tackle some new challenges.

For me, regaining balance means setting aside the time to do the things that feed my soul.

It also means protecting that time.

My writing has always been the thing that keeps me balanced, yet it’s always the first thing that gets shoved aside by…well…by anything and everything else that comes along. I’m constantly back burnering projects, using work or kids or other obligations as an excuse to push my writing to the bottom of my priority list. Neglecting my writing and shutting down that creative outlet always ends up taking a toll. So, that’s where my focus will be in 2019. Well, that and continuing to work on getting physically healthier–that’s aways a work in progress.

So, here are the goals I set for myself:

  1. Write something every day – Even if it’s just one sentence, I’m committing to putting pen to paper every day in 2019 and I’m going to fire up this blog again to help hold myself accountable. Brace yourselves.
  2. Write one letter a week – There’s something fabulous about a handwritten letter, and I’ve been seriously neglecting keeping in touch with some of the people I love the most who live far away. So, I’m going to spur my writing momentum by choosing one person each week and send a handwritten note.
  3. Read one book a week – Cadence had an assignment over the holiday break that included counting all the books in the house. There are 1,571. Call me crazy, but I’m ridiculously proud that we have cultivated such a library. But at the same time, I’m ashamed that the busyness of life has stunted my reading just as much as it has my writing. So, I’m recommitting to reading by challenging myself to read one book every week in 2019. I’ve already got a few lined up, and I’m ready to dive in.
  4. Exercise for 30 minutes each day – Walking, using the rowing machine in the basement, Insanity, fitness apps, yoga…doesn’t really matter what it is, I’m committed to getting in better shape this year. In 2018, I managed to shed almost 15 pounds just by paying closer attention to what I eat and cutting down on sugar and empty calories. Now it’s time to get my ass moving.

How about you? Got some goals for the new year? Share your goals in the comments and we can be accountabilibuddies!

Alright 2019, let’s get this started!

Well, Hello 2015

Stevie and I have pretty much accepted the fact that our lives are always going to include a certain level of chaos.

It’s okay. We’re learning to embrace it.

Because somehow, things always have a way of working out. Things might not always go according to plan (in fact, they rarely do). And sometimes the end result is quite opposite of what we originally intended, but still, there always seems to be some order in the disorder. And sometimes the things we never knew we wanted turn out to be exactly what we needed.

Funny how things work out.

For us, 2014 was a year of self-discovery. New jobs, old jobs, new opportunities, new life. In the last few weeks alone we found out that we have a new baby on the way, decided to sell our house, accepted an offer, celebrated Christmas, rang in the new year, and decided to put an offer in on a new house.

It’s been one helluva ride since Thanksgiving.

We’re rolling into 2015 on a wave of possibilities, and we’re excited to see what comes next.

Stevie and I aren’t really big on New Year’s resolutions, but I have two personal goals that I plan to accomplish this year, in the midst of all the other happenings.

1. Finish my memoir. It’s been sitting around in this “draft” stage for long enough and, come hell or high water, it’s time to move forward. I already started a Facebook page for the project, and I need to get back in the habit of writing regularly (and hopefully blogging regularly) to finally get it done. If you want to follow the project, you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/InASeaOfStrangers

2. Make NY-style pizza. Stevie and I are tired of the lack of true NY-style pizza here in Nebraska. So, I’ve been researching some recipes and dough-making methods and I’m determined to master making NY-style pizza before the year is out. With my mother-in-law’s sauce, some freshly grated mozzarella, and the right dough, it’s going to be epic, and I’m determined to do it.

How about you? What are your plans for 2015?

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Project Life 365 – Day 54 & 55

I posted these two photos on facebook, but wanted to share here too, for anyone who is keeping up with my Project Life 365.

Day 54 – When I Grow Up

At this point, I don’t know what Cadence will be when she grows up–an artist, a rock star, an actress, a stuntwoman. What I do know is that whatever she decides to be when she grows up, she’s going to be AWESOME at it. 🙂

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Day 55 – Good Night

Anyone who knows Cadence knows that this is one kid who hasn’t been able to fall asleep in public (or anywhere other than a dark, quiet room) since her infancy. Seriously people, it’s like she feeds off other people’s energy. This kid can go full speed from the moment she wakes up, all day long, no nap, running and playing and dancing until the early morning hours (like she did at several weddings this past year) and never run out of battery. If I could find a way to bottle that energy, I’d be a gajillionaire for sure.

So, when Cadence crawled up into my lap and surprisingly began to doze, you know I couldn’t miss the opportunity to document it.

Good night my little Energizer Bunny…

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Project Life 365 – Day 46 – Reward

Okay, so maybe I’m a total dork, but I don’t mind admitting it. I consider going back to school a reward.

Laugh if you want, but I am seriously excited!

Yeah, this is just my admission to take a few summer session courses before I get around to the nitty gritty of diving headfirst into the counseling psychology program in Fall 2014, but it’s a step and it feels good to be moving forward.

Great way to start a weekend if you ask me. 🙂

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Project Life 365 – Day 44 – Steps

Break it down to its most basic, and life is just a series of steps.

From the moment we are born until the moment we die, we are moving, nudged along whether we like it or not with every second that ticks by on the clock.

Some people fight it, wasting their lives trying to cling to all of the things that inevitably move away from them. Others rush foolishly forward, without even considering the consequences.

The trick is to find the balance and appreciate the journey.

Sometimes, it’s just hard to stay focused.

Life is full of hardships, obstacles, frustrations. We move forward, fall back, stumble. We make dumb choices, start down dangerous paths that take us farther and farther away from our goals and dreams. We backtrack. We burn bridges, and mend others. We find ourselves moving in directions we swore we’d never go.

Sometimes we walk so far so fast we hardly remember where we came from. Sometimes we waste a whole lot of time and energy spinning in circles and making ourselves sick. Sometimes we get trampled and suffocated by the crowd. And other times we have to face our deepest fears and forge a path alone.

The thing I’ve learned about life is that we all have a destination. What we don’t have is a roadmap to get there.

And that’s really the point of it all isn’t it? The journey. The choices we make.

I learned the hard way (the very, VERY hard way) what happens when you get lost. I got so lost, so far off track, that I honestly believed the only option left was to give up. Funny thing about that depth of darkness though…even the tiniest pinpoint of light, even the faintest glimmer of hope is enough to turn around. All you need is one tiny thread to hold onto to begin pulling yourself up out of the abyss.

See, the Universe will always give you the signs you need to keep moving in the right direction. Of course it does! We are all here on this earth to fulfill our own personal potentional, to be the absolute best that we can be. Sure, we’re dealt a certain set of circumstances, and some of us have a much more difficult hand to play. But we all have issues. Every single one of us.

Truth is, we’re all “broken” in one way or another.

Maybe we can’t read as well as someone else. Maybe we’re genetically predisposed to obesity or cancer. Maybe we’re born without something, or with something extra. Maybe we can’t hear or can’t see color or can’t see at all. Maybe we had a shitty childhood or suffered an abusive relationship. Maybe we never had enough to eat. Maybe we always got everything we ever wanted, but never learned how to value anything at all.

The unfortunate thing is that too many of us have bought into this idea that our circumstances are enough to hold us back. We’ve begun to believe that being broken can beat us.

Truth is, the only thing that can beat you is you.

Truth is, we all have a destination. We all have a purpose. We all have a very unique reason for being put here on this earth.

No one can ever live like you. No one can ever be you or take your place. Your potential, your absolute best, your soul is yours and yours alone. So what an unimaginable waste to throw it away. What a waste to give up, to give in, to say “I know I could probably do better, but I’m just so tired.”

Bullshit.

We all get tired. We all get to a point where we feel weighed down by the burdens in our lives. We all sometimes feel like we can’t possibly go on.

And that is the moment when you will take the most important step in your life. That is the moment when you make a choice.

So, take a moment and look around. Appreciate this extraordinary moment you’re living right now. Appreciate the blessings, and the hardships too, for they have taught you so very much. I promise, the Universe will give you a sign, a nudge in the right direction. But it’s up to you to follow it.

Be still.

Listen.

Now, take the next step, and keep going…

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365 Project – Day 237 – Stones in the Road

These past few weeks, I’ve been working on finishing up the photos from my first senior photo session with the daughter of one of my best friends.

It’s been something of a surreal experience to say the least.

See, I’ve known Katie since she was three, and I was just a high school student myself. It doesn’t seem quite possible that she will be graduating this year. I mean, I know I just celebrated a birthday, but that doesn’t mean that I actually believe that I’m 31. It’s one of those things that I tacitly acknowledged, yet it hasn’t quite sunk in just yet, you know?

See, time is a funny thing. When you’re a child, the days are endless. Hours tick by at a maddeningly slow pace. And it always seems like you’re waiting for something. Waiting to be older. Waiting to grow taller. Waiting for your next birthday. Waiting for Mom to give you permission to spend the night at your friend’s house. Waiting to be chosen for the team. Waiting to get your learner’s permit and your driver’s licence. Waiting to graduate. Waiting to leave home and go to college. Waiting for that 21st birthday to roll around so you can finally go to the bar and have your first legal drink. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

But then, something happens. Some night, while you’re sleeping, some unseen force hits the Fast Forward button on your life. Days and weeks and months begin to blur together. And, instead of waiting, you find yourself chasing time like you once had to chase the cross town bus, waving desperately and praying that the driver will see you and slow down. Birthdays and holidays sneak up and fly by faster than you can acknowledge them.

At the risk of sounding cliche, it really does seem like only yesterday that I was graduating myself. Maybe it was just all the time I spent working on Katie’s photos these past few weeks, but the past thirteen years really have flown by. It wasn’t so long ago that I was just a wide-eyed graduate, leaving everything and everyone I knew behind to hop a plane to New York to pursue my dreams. I felt like I had already come so far, and I had no idea all the things that were yet to come.

It has been a long road for me to get here to this moment, a road full of obstacles and stumbling blocks and steep uphill climbs, yet I honestly wouldn’t trade one step of it. There has been love and laughter, joy and heartache, absolute frustration and utter devastation. There have been moments that took my breath away, moments I’m not so proud of, moments I will never forget and plenty of mistakes made along the way, but in the end, the sum of it has only shaped me and made me stronger. Like a carefully crafted chunk of clay, I had to endure the fire or risk being irreparably broken.

I don’t believe in coincidence, nor do I believe that every event in our lives is carefully choreographed and set in stone. What I do believe is that we come to this Earth with some ultimate goal, and that we are presented with options and choices that can help us get there. The choices that we make in those moments ultimately shape our futures, and we must learn to choose wisely or suffer the consequences. Life tends to get confusing and chaotic when we stray too far from our paths, but one thing I have learned is that there are always signs and guideposts to help us get back to where we need to be, if only we pay attention. And I like to think that, these days, I am a whole lot better at paying attention.

Tonight’s 365 Project is dedicated to the roads we travel, and to the amazing people we encounter along the way.

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