Looking Back on 2013

It’s always interesting to look back over a period of time to see where you are compared to where you thought you would be or even where you would like to be.

Right now, I am sitting in a Starbucks in San Diego surrounded by others with computers, sipping an Earl Grey latte and blogging. In my dreams, it would be a normal occurrence and not just a stop on my way to the airport to go back to Chicago!

But I don’t mean this quite so literally. Last year I commented on the new start that the New Year brings and how it prompts us to turn over a new leaf and make new goals. It was interesting to read through last year’s post since I haven’t stuck with any of goals I had for myself last year.

However, they did remain themes in my life for 2013.

Faith: time with God wasn’t as regular as I would have liked, but it was a huge improvement from 2012. Reading Jesus Calling nearly every day helped me to start my days off right. And although I am still not in a regular habit of spending one on one time with God, he has taught me so much this year. So although it didn’t look quite as I expected this year, I am happy with the progress I made.

Fitness: well, I started off well with eating right but that didn’t last either. But again, improvements have been made from where I was. And 2014 will be a second chance: starting on Wednesday, my roommate and I are going to strive for a Real Food diet in January. Of course, Bar Method didn’t figure into my plans at all since I started that in May. This has continued to be an important part of my life, sometimes more frequently than others. I did have the pleasure and privilege of taking a class at Bar Method Point Loma while in San Diego on vacation. What fun! So again, this didn’t look quite like what I expected but improvement was made over 2012.

Blogging: hahaha! Well, I did set myself a lofty goal. Not sure I’m going to even try for this year! Completing NaBloPoMo was a satisfying blogging achievement, one I hadn’t planned. I’m not going to set any kind of goal for myself here for 2014, but I would like to keep updating periodically. We’ll see how this goes!

There were other achievements in 2013 that weren’t planned for as well, such as paying off debt, getting a second (and third!) job, and, the largest and most satisfying, earning my PHR-CA! None of these made my published list for 2013 and were still important this year.

If I’ve learned anything from 2013, it’s that personal progress is more important than perfection. This is important, for me, as a perfectionist, to realize. While my achievements didn’t look the way I wanted them to for 2013, I am making strides toward the end I wanted. And I can be satisfied with that, without cutting myself down for not reaching the extremes I pictured in my head.

It’s nearly time for me to head to the airport. It’s been a great trip with many lessons and I’m sad to leave. But I’m looking forward to the rest of my week off of work and the opportunity to get 2014 off to a good start. Hopefully this flight will give me a chance to sit down and make some rough goals for 2014.

How do you feel about your year in review?

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Friday Favorites

There are many things on the way to Friday that are worth celebrating – some big, some little – and they deserve their own time. I’m taking some time again this week to highlight some of my favorite things and to be thankful for more than just the fact that it’s Friday.

On this last Friday of 2013, some of my favorite things this week have been:

  • Turbulence on my flight to CA. Yes, I’m weird, but I sort of enjoy some turbulence. It’s like a roller coaster!
  • An amazing Sunday in San Diego which was my dream for how my Sundays might be when I move: Bar Method, church, and meeting someone for Starbucks in the afternoon. What a wonderful day!
  • The various people who have been supportive and encouraging of my plans and offered their suggestions.
  • Driving my step-dad’s SLK for the first time. It’s a really good thing I don’t own a car like that! I would have so many speeding tickets…
  • Spending Christmas Eve sitting outside in the sun reading in a tank top and capris.. That is how all Christmas Eves should be!
  • Great AT&T customer service.
  • Spending time with the parents hanging out, getting advice on my future, sharing interests, watching Mel Brooks movies and film noir.
  • Unseasonably warm weather in Palm Springs. Napping in the sun is underrated.

Book Review – Boy Meets Girl

Confession: I hadn’t actually read a Meg Cabot book until this year. Sure, I knew about The Princess Diaries and had watched the movie, but hadn’t ventured to her other work. Until I was shelving some of her books at the library and noticed just how many there were! So I grabbed The Princess Diaries. Yes, it’s a kids book, but it was fluffy and funny. And not very much like the movie which made it different enough to surprise me. Finishing that book had me searching for other books by Meg Cabot and I came across the Boy series.

The Boy series is made up of three related but separate stories of employees at the New York Journal, all told through email or journal entries. I’ve read all three and enjoyed them all, but Boy Meets Girl was my favorite.

Kate Mackenzie is an HR rep at the New York Journal working for a difficult boss. When she terminates an employee on her supervisor’s demand, she finds herself being deposed in a wrongful termination suit. She’s shocked to find herself attracted to the company’s attorney, who is also the brother of her unlovable boss’s fiancé.

The various perspectives and humor in this book are hilarious! Best friends, work colleagues, and siblings all weigh in on the situation, on both sides of the attraction. The reader gets to know the boss and her fiancé’s point of view as well.

Having experienced working for a difficult supervisor in HR (although nowhere near as bad as Any Jenkins!) I loved Kate’s story. The exception humor just added to the enjoyment. It’s definitely a light and quick read, perfect for vacation.

Enjoy! And remember, my opinions are my own.

Friday Favorites

I realized on the plane yesterday that I never scheduled my Friday Favorites post! Not for lack of desire, but more because I was trying to wrap everything up before leaving town. So here it is, a little late!

Friday Favorites

There are many things on the way to Friday that are worth celebrating – some big, some little – and they deserve their own time. I’m taking some time again this week to highlight some of my favorite things and to be thankful for more than just the fact that it’s Friday.

This week, some of my favorite things were:

-Catching up with old friends and new ones at Christmas teas.
-The chance to enjoy more Christmas music performed by friends. First time I’ve heard the group perform since I was always one of the people on stage! Great experience and a chance to catch up with more old friends.
-Laughing and having fun while serving at church and hopefully encouraging others while doing it.
-Vision insurance that allowed me to buy prescription sunglasses for the first time ever…and just in time to escape the snow to sunny Palm Springs!
-Wonderful and talented coworkers and friends who help you out when you have too much to do by taking on projects you couldn’t finish.

In spite of the stress of packing, cleaning, and getting ready to travel, it’s been a great week! Merry Christmas everyone!

Book Review – Jesus + Nothing = Everything

Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian is the latest book my mentor and I have been studying together. Don’t ask me how to say his name… I’m giving thanks right now that this is written and not spoken!

The title does a great job of summing up the entire point of the book: Jesus is everything. There is nothing we can add to what he has done and without him we have nothing.

Each chapter is dedicated to looking more deeply at a portion of this formula, backward and forward, diving into the concept of grace and what it means for us as Christians.

Not only does he offer scriptural support, but Tullian draws on several other Christian authors throughout the book and offers a list of twenty-six books about the gospel and grace to continue learning.

Maybe it was just my experience, but this book was hugely eye opening to what exactly grace means. Nowhere in my past was grace explained so clearly. Every chapter held a new punch, a reminder that it really isn’t about me. I tend to struggle with perfectionism, the need to dot every I and cross every T, to do things right. The comparison of law vs. grace and constant reminders that Christ did it all and I don’t have to were (and are!) freeing.

We read this book a chapter at a time, meeting every two weeks, so it has been hard to synthesize the entire book as a whole. I wouldn’t do anything differently because this book has made an impact in my life, but I do want to go back and read the entire book in its entirety. Also, a highlighter and pen was very helpful while reading!

I’m absolutely not an expert and this is only my opinion, but I think this could be a good book for people who are struggling with legalism or the concept of grace. While points are supported by scripture, it’s also not deeply theological, making it easy to understand for people who aren’t familiar with deep theological concepts.

Friday Favorites

There are many things on the way to Friday that are worth celebrating – some big, some little – and they deserve their own time. I’m taking some time again this week to highlight some of my favorite things and to be thankful for more than just the fact that it’s Friday.

This week, some of my favorite things were:

  • PASSING THE PHR-CA EXAM!!
  • Attending the 80th anniversary of the Purdue Christmas Show. Having performed in it when I was at Purdue, it was lots of fun to go back for such a milestone. Plus the travel time with a good friend was a lot of fun as well.
  • Space heaters and electric blankets. When it’s single-digits outside, these things are important!
  • Coworkers who email encouraging thoughts because they know you’ve had a trying day.
  • God’s reminders of his love and grace and everything he has already done for me. No matter how often I forget, he always reminds me.
  • Safe travels in several snow storms we’ve had in the last week.
  • Entering the single digit countdown for vacation!

Exam Week

One of the steps on my journey to California was to earn my California PHR designation. California employment law is very different from the rest of the country, which is why the state has its own supplemental certification (to earn the PHR-CA, you must already have the PHR certification). When I started putting together a plan to relocate, it quickly became apparent that having the certification would help me be a more marketable job candidate especially because I haven’t supported any California employees in the last four years.

So this summer I ordered my preparation materials and scheduled my exam. When everything arrived, December seemed like such a long time away. But as always, time moves swiftly and the date snuck up on me.

This week, while I have been focused on studying, the absolute love and support that has poured out has been overwhelming. God’s love has been apparent through the various people who have reached out to encourage me when I was stressed and worried that I wouldn’t be able to remember all the information. Thank you to each and every one of you for your thoughts, prayers, and encouraging messages.

I sat for the PHR-CA exam today and although the results are preliminary…. I PASSED!

Full results will arrive in 2-4 weeks detailing how I did on each of the four areas of the exam. While I’m ecstatic to have passed, I know this is just the first step. I’ll be taking my detailed results and going back over the areas where I’m weak and eventually I’ll begin applying for jobs.

Again, thank you to everyone who prayed and supported me through this process. You all are amazing!