As the year ends

“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer. -Zora Neale Hurston

I don’t know who Zora was, but I like that quote. When I saw it a few weeks ago, I thought “yes, this year asked a lot of questions, and I hope 2014 answers them.” And then I thought about it some more and was reading back over my end of 2012 thoughts and I realized that actually, 2013 answered a lot of questions that 2012 had asked. It’s just taken some looking back to notice that.

It was a roller coaster of a year. There were a lot of ups, but there were a lot of really deep downs too. To quote one of my closest friends, Nicole, who said this recently in an email, “Life is a serious bitch sometimes. It’s worth it all and has some really fantastic stuff, but it hurts like hell.” That’s pretty much how I feel about 2013. John Green also has some words I like: “Maybe there’s something you’re afraid to say, or someone you’re afraid to love, or somewhere you’re afraid to go. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt because it matters.”

2013 mattered. I had no idea what it was going to hold, and it blew me away at times, both in joy and in pain. But it mattered. I am not the same person now as it ends as I was when it started, and I’m betting most of you would say the same thing about yourself.

What it held, for me, in a nutshell: Some kick-ass times with friends, all throughout the year. Travels. Really great conversations. Seeing and spending time with my old roommate, seeing Eastern Montana and North Dakota. I surprised my parents and showed up in GA on the 4th of July and ultimately got to see them 3 times this year since I was also there in February and then cruised to the Bahamas with them in October. I visited with my brother and sister in law twice. I had some amazingly perfect conversations with my niece and nephew. I saw my oldest and dearest friend and got wrapped around the little fingers of both of her children. Later in the year I cried with and for her as her dad almost died and then rejoiced with her when he survived. I inherited a best-friend-in-law when David married the man he loves and I had more fun being a part of that than can be described. I gained a few more friends through that time as well. I saw New York City as an adult (the last time I was there was 8th grade). There was some hiking and some snowshoeing. I quit running (but that’s not a forever quit). I made some really tough choices. I made a few desperately needed changes, and some others came about more as a consequence of the intentional ones. Some of those are still being worked on. Closure came about in two situations that needed it, both very different, both very difficult, one of which I’m still healing from. I barely scratched the surface of some goals and dreams. There was a promotion at work and most days that is a good thing. I read a lot of good books and watched a lot of good TV and movies, along with some not quite as good. I saw Mumford and Sons in concert for the 2nd time and loved it as much as the first. I wrote. And I made plans to write more. I made a blanket for a precious little boy who peed on me the first time we met. I cried, a lot. But I also laughed a lot. I talked about a lot of books with really intelligent women. I drank a beer in the shower one incredibly hot summer afternoon and it was perfect and for some reason many of my friends find it to be both hilarious and wonderful and so I thought it should make this end of the year post. My library fine was paid off by Alisha for my birthday. I wore a funny hat and sold Christmas trees. I lived out of two places at the same time as I prepare to move in a few weeks (more on that later). I made a lot of lists. I wrote quite a few letters. 2013 was busy.

Usually I make a list of to-dos for the next year. And they are pretty specific. Honestly, I’m not in a place where I think I can do that for 2014. I don’t want a list to check off or to fail in completing, even though there are already some ideas on a list in my head. For right now, I just want to think about the not-so-specific-things that I am fairly certain will go on.

I will listen to more music. I will watch more TV and movies, and maybe I’ll go see a show or two. I will read, a lot, and I will talk about those books with others. I will write. I will have opinions that sometimes get shared and sometimes do not. I will sing out loud when a song I like comes on in the car and I am alone, and maybe even if I am not alone. I will dance to music that is playing when I am at home. I will dream and I will pray and I will search and I will think deeply. I will go to work and do the best job that I can. I will cook and bake and eat out. I will love with all that I have and I will work on forgiveness more and more. These are the things that are not on a 2014 to-do list as they don’t have to be.

2013 was hard and beautiful and difficult and lovely and it was worth it. 2014 is a fresh start, a new beginning, and holds a lot of potential. I’m excited to see what it holds.

See you next year!



Music 2013

Nothing will stop me in my tracks as fast as a song that speaks to me. I’ve been known to pull over to the side of the road to listen more closely, or to ask people to stop talking so that I could hear something better. I really love music. I know, I know;  who doesn’t?

Of everyone I know who reads this blog, I can think of one, maybe two, that this list might be of interest to. And so I write it for them, and also for myself to refer back to, and also just on the off chance that it interests anyone else too. I’m linking as many of the videos as I can, if you are really interested.

You could call this the year of Pandora. As much as I love my own collection of music, I became far closer friends with Pandora this year. I like not having to create my own playlist, but to simply pick an artist I enjoy and then Pandora makes the best possible playlist for me. I’ve discovered a lot of new artists and songs I enjoy through this process.

Pandora stations of 2013, in no particular order (chosen based on whatever mood I’m in at the time):

The Civil Wars

Brandi Carlile

Damien Rice

Mumford and Sons

Rarely-to-never did I venture from one of these stations, because they never failed to meet my current musical need.  I like that each of these artists will appear on the others’ stations, which you would think makes them sound all the same but actually they are just the right amount of different.

A sampling of the songs and artists I discovered I really liked simply by playing Pandora:

Down, Jason Walker

One More Dollar, Wailin’ Jennys

Set The Fire To the Third Bar, Snow Patrol featuring Martha Wainwright (I’ve been a fan of both Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright for a while-no idea they had a song together until it popped up on Pandora)

Wherever You Will Go, Charlene Soraia

Where I Stood, Missy Higgins

If I was to make a soundtrack of 2013, it would contain the above songs and the following two sets of songs.

Songs I liked and was always happy when they were on the radio:

Highway Don’t Care, Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw

We Were Us, by Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert

Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, by The Band Perry

Angel Eyes, by Love and Theft (I can’t find a good video of this one, so how about a picture of these two not so shabby looking guys instead):


Cruise by Florida Georgia Line (NOT the pop remix-also I don’t really care for the video, I just really like signing along to the song)

Drunk Last Night by the Eli Young Band

Wrecking Ball, Miley Cyrus (don’t judge me, it’s a catchy song! and no, I am not linking to that video)

Royals, Lorde

Need Your Love, Ellie Goulding and Calvin Harris

Just Give Me A Reason, P!nk

Final category, meaning my top favorites of the year, also known as songs that I love so much I will not get out of the car when they are playing even if I am late for a meeting:

Cups, Anna Kendrick from Pitch Perfect

Next to Me, Emile Sande

Wake Me Up, Avicci

Let Her Go, Passenger

All in all, I think 2013 had some pretty great music.