Another Year Gone By

madewithOver-2 It's 2014!  I'm 25!  I love any chance to take a fresh look at what I've experienced and what's up ahead...and 25 seems like a pretty good age to really take it all in.  I'm so excited to be 25.  It sounds way better than 24.  25 is like, "I'm not messing around anymore world...I am a mid-twenty gosh darnit!"

I love life.  I love that life is a work in progress.  I love that there is wisdom gained in every experience.  I love that relationships are so integral to the human experience.

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This year held some very wonderful things and some very painful things.  Sometimes those two went hand in hand.  I watched some of the dearest people to me experience pain and sadness and loss.  This has made me question whether the God I say I follow and love really knows what he is doing, and whether he is good.  On the other side of that coin, I have seen immense blessing and much to be thankful for, and this has made me question how we could expect anything more, and how I could ever think of myself so highly as to deserve more than what I already have.  I haven't come away with many answers.

I learned to not beat myself up.  It's been amazingly freeing and I want everyone who struggles with insecurity and worthlessness to experience this and I want to beat up the culture that indoctrinates people to feel not good enough.  I've learned (okay, I'm constantly learning) to be proud of myself and proud of others in our differences.

Closely tied to that, but not a direct cause, I learned what the value of exercise was to me, and I finally was able to stick with it.  I really struggled with this initially, because I knew if I was working out to 'look a certain way', then I would be driven by outside opinion and vanity, neither of which are ways I want to operate.  It was a fluctuating journey of consistency and pride/shame since the summer, but after things got especially stressful at work/school, I noticed that I really missed my normal gym time and realized I needed it for mental health.  I'm happy because I've never been able to make this a habit before this year, and I actually like it.  I'm happy because it's tied with how I feel and not how I look (though that tiny bit of bicep muscle that does show through makes me a little giddy) and that means it's no longer something that ties me down with shame and insecurity, but rather can just be another fun thing that I like to do!

I've been overwhelmingly blessed by the friendships I have.  They have been fun, meaningful and sweet for the soul in a deeper way than I have ever experienced before.

Photography!  I talked about this a few months ago on here but I've really fallen in love with it again.  Last year I thought that doing photography as a part time job was making me hate it and that made me really sad.  This year, through many ups and downs, I've been able to come out with a more level headed perspective and am truly thankful for the photography experiences I've had this year.  I mean, getting to be apart of the day when someone tells another someone they love them the most and then all their friends and family celebrate that love!?  Pretty neat.

Colin and I achieved our major goal of getting out of debt this past year.  Now we are learning the gives and takes and ups and downs of saving and giving and enjoying the money we have for fun stuff but also being wise and not materialistic.  It's a tough one, and from what I've heard it doesn't really become 'easy'.  But I'm thankful that we are learning these habits and lessons now and I am thankful for what we have.

I finished school and got a job.  And it's a job that I love and am passionate about and I have an amazing boss and great students and I could just gush about it.  I also learned this year to make sure I don't work a part time job and take a class at the same time as doing my full time job, though, or I will go crazy.

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2014 ehhh.  I'm not very good at setting resolutions, except for: "Making this year the best year ever!".  But I do have some things that I hope happen...

Japan.  Our plan is to go there so I really hope that happens.  I am on Pinterest almost every other day looking through beautiful photos of different parts of the country and I can't wait to take some of my own.  I'm so looking forward to meeting Colin's family there, eating local food, getting lost in the city (but being able to read the signs..) and soaking up the culture.  Yum.

Love.  Colin is really good at making me feel loved.  He's so vocally affirming, he listens to my random stories and passionate vents, and there's no shortage of cuddling.  I want to be more loving to him and really make it clear that he is the greatest guy to me.

Strength.  I want to be able to do one real push-up. THAT'S ALL I ASK OF MY MUSCLES.  And maybe a little flexibility...

Boundaries.  I'm starting to learn that I can set up boundaries in my mind and in my relationships and that doesn't make me a bad person.  In fact, it makes me a healthier and more content person.  My natural bent is to please people, even if I don't have the resources (whether that be physically or emotionally), and when I do that more often than not, I find myself getting irritable and feeling generally incapable.  But even the sheer realizations that I don't need to accept every booking request and I don't have to respond to that work-related text after work have been amazing.  I feel like I just woke up.  I'm like WHOA I CAN SAY NO!?  But I can know that I should say no in an appropriate situation but then ignore it anyways ...so this is a  goal to actually do it.

Encouragement.  I want to be an encourager.  I want to see the best in people and tell them what I see.  I want to tell people they are loved and beautiful and mean it from my heart.  I want to be more free with words of love.  That may occasionally come in the form of more blogs but I don't want to commit TOO much to that one, since I'm more of a spontaneous blogger ;)

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And that is my recap/forecast.  I'm so looking forward to what this year has to bring, and I hope I can live this year and the next 25 to the fullest possible amid whatever highs and lows might come into our lives.