hello world, it’s been a while

WordPress does an excellent job of teaching the art of blogging. Emails regarding Blogging 101 keep appearing in my inbox and fascinating me and I’ve finally decided to do it.

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted anything not for lack of desire, but for lack of creative topics and/or confidence in what I’m writing. Something structured like Blogging 101 is just the ticket to get the creativity flowing again!

Today’s assignment is to write a post about who I am and why I blog. While this program is meant for new bloggers, I think there is plenty here for everyone. Writing in general has appealed to me for years and this is a small, bite-sized version of something that seems impossible (although, since I’ve completed NaNoWriMo a novel isn’t so formidable).

I blog about a wide variety of subjects because my interests are varied. Also, I don’t feel I am enough of an expert in any one thing to put myself forward as a subject-matter expert. So I blog about my life: the things I like, the things I don’t, what I am learning, and I hope that someone else can find encouragement or inspiration in the lessons, struggles, and joys of my life.

One of the prompts for today’s assignment is “if you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?” For me, it is that someone would have found encouragement or hope through what I have to say.

It’s good to be back.

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Anthem

Life lately has been challenging. Not in a life-altering way that draws the attention of people around me, but in a quiet, internal way. There are so many lessons I am learning and it feels like it’s all at once. For several years, life just skated along, with family changes and job changes, but little spiritual challenge. Then, suddenly, God’s work in my life just seemed so obvious. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention before, but he certainly has it now!

In the midst of this, the song Lift My Life Up by Unspoken has become an anthem for me. God has brought me though some very painful things in the past, so why would he leave me now? He’s obviously working to prepare me for something. I want him to have his way with me, even though I don’t understand what he’s doing right now, what is coming in the future, or even where I am now. Even if my dreams aren’t in his plan, I trust him that his plan is best and being in the center of his plan will be more fulfilling than any of my earthly dreams.

Celebration!

Celebrating the great moments of this past year!

If today is any indication, this next year will be incredible. Here’s looking forward a great last year of my twenties!

Another Year Gone

Today was my last day as a twenty-eight year old.

I’ve been reflecting on the past year for about a month and initially, the best way I could describe the year was “meh.” It seemed like a year that just…was. A filler year, a space between. Nothing has happened in the past year that marks it; no great successes or failures. There were some great things – visiting my mom in her new home for the first time, getting my braces off, attending my first SHRM conference and sharing the experience with my mom – but it felt like I was in the exact same place as I was last year.

It was only tonight, as I prepared to write this post, that it’s dawned on me: this isn’t true.

The path of my life has changed because of decisions I made this year. Living somewhere warm has been a dream of mine for over a decade – living in California specifically has been a dream of mine for at least four years. But it was always a nebulous concept, a “someday” type of thing. This year, that dream was defined, given a deadline and steps along the way, and I took action. It took some painful things to prod me out of my safe little rut, but I took a risk on a dream, something I’ve never done before. Just that one decision makes this year worth marking.

No, the year hasn’t been marked by advancements or achievements. No goal milestones set the year apart. No huge failures or griefs mar it either. But I have grown in the past year. It’s happened quietly, sometimes painfully, but God has been working in my spirit. He has used many wonderful people, books, sermons, and circumstances to reveal to me completely new things about Himself and who I am in Him.

Suddenly, I like who I am right now. I am a work in progress and I will be until Christ returns, but as I look back on this year, the personal growth I now see is worth celebrating.

Thank God for NaBloPoMo!

Can I be honest?

I completely forgot about NaBloPoMo.

NaNoWriMo? That I’m aware of. Last year I decided 2013 was the year. I’ve gotten all the preparatory emails, wanted to go to the pre-planning sessions, but deep down I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it. As much as I want to, it wasn’t going to fit in with working three jobs especially during open enrollment, performance reviews, and holiday shopping. And I was deeply disappointed.

Until today, when I got an email reminding me about NaBloPoMo. All of sudden, there was hope again! I could do this! Sure, it’s not quite the same, but I could still participate. And next year, when I will be getting used to living in a new city and don’t have all the commitments I do now, NaNoWriMo will be my goal. I can just see myself sitting in the sun under a palm tree with my laptop working away on my novel… mental pictures like this get me though the rough days here in the freezing cold Midwest.

And we all know I’m not good at posting regularly. They say it takes 66 days to form a habit, and this is about half of that. Who knows what could happen? I’m excited to look for the inspiration for a daily post all around me. I know it’s there, I just haven’t been seeing it.

Life is about being flexible. So NaNoWriMo? 2014 is your year. 2013 belongs to NaBloPoMo.

Wise Counsel

One of the first things they tell you when you’re trying to achieve a goal is to tell people. Hold yourself accountable by telling people who will probably ask you how you’re doing. Even the Bible encourages you to consult others (Proverbs 15:22).

So far in my plan to move to San Diego, I have found this to be true. The closer the person is to me, the more they remind me of my goal. I told my roommate this weekend, and it has come up in every conversation we have had since. She is helping me plan and think about things I hadn’t put much thought into yet.

My roommate’s feedback to me was to be sure I’m not running away from difficulties here. I’ve had that same concern and I don’t think I am, but her caution made me stop and evaluate again. And I still don’t think I am. In fact, it will be even more difficult there. She reminded me of a friend who moved for their dream job and hated it for the first two years until they established a network of friends. I’m afraid that might happen to me, in spite of being closer to family.

Today, I’m sitting outside in the breeze and sun, enjoying the weather. It’s a bit warmer than it would be in SD and there are no palm trees, but hey, a girl can imagine! And it hit me that I can have exactly the same life I have now only in San Diego.

There’s only one catch to that: it has taken me five years to build this life. I don’t want to wait five years before I have friends, a church, and a job I love in the location I want to be in. So what steps can I take right away to get there? I wasted a lot of time in Chicago by not getting involved. So I’ve put together a list of things I can do right away to meet new people in a new city.

  • Find a church and get involved
  • Join a gym and attend regularly (yeah, Bar Method!)
  • Be social with coworkers
  • Find an alumni network
  • Join a professional group
  • Locate a running group
  • Go out and be friendly…no hiding behind my phone!
  • Learn a new hobby…like surfing?

Weight of Decision

It’s amazing what a simple decision can do to improve your outlook on everything. When you’re confused and doubting and all the reasons why or why not are buzzing around in your head, making a decision one way or another can provide amazing clarity and focus. And sometimes has the bonus effect of relieving pressure in other unrelated areas.

For a few years now, I have struggled to balance two conflicting desires: moving to San Diego and finding someone to share my life with. They regularly war with each other, because moving to San Diego essentially means that I can’t focus on meeting someone where I am, because I plan to move. And finding someone to share my life with here means I probably won’t be able to move to San Diego. Or I’ll have to delay it indefinitely. In the middle of both of them is my struggle with debt. I owe over $100,000 total, nearly all in student loans. That burden of debt makes moving tough.

Although I’m still over a year away, approaching 30 has focused my attention on my dissatisfaction with where I am in life. Watching my friends pair off happily, moving to California for their dreams, and working regularly with maternity leaves at work has not helped my attitude. And then I have the self-imposed guilt over my lack of enthusiasm for my friends. And I’m sick of it.

So I’ve made my decision. I am going to move to California. I am deliberately choosing not to pursue a relationship right now. I realize this probably means that I will over 30 before I get married. But I want to spend my life in a warmer climate and near my family and this choice and focus will lead to that.

Having made that decision, everything else makes more sense. It’s easier to focus on saving money to pay off debt and move. It’s much easier to interact with my friends and their significant others knowing that I have made the choice to focus on another dream. And it is amazingly encouraging to have a date. To be doing something about my dream. Everything I do somehow relates back to making this happen.

Has anyone else experienced this?