It’s been a couple of weeks since New Year’s, and I’ve meant to write this post sooner, but if it’s still in the month of January, I still consider it New Year’s season. I did manage to write in my journal on New Year’s Day. I had been looking forward to it for several weeks! Take a couple of hours to just sit, listen to some calming piano music, reflect on the past year, dream up the one to come…. I think New Year’s might be one of my favorite holidays! (I will admit that I’m just a holiday person in general; I like celebrations.) Indeed it took several hours to go through my journal, to read past entries, rediscover the epiphanies and transparencies. My flannel pillow and quilted star blanket make it easy to sink into the moment and I was lost in the memories, hopes and fears of 2013.
I remember celebrating New Year’s at a house party in D.C. a year ago. Some friends and I were spontaneously dubbing the new year with whatever random thought came into our heads, “2013: The Year of Awkward Glances.” “2013: The Year of Board Games.” “2013: The Year of Potato Chips.” If the new year to come was truly to be determined by that party, I’d be about a hundred pounds heavier and locked in my room researching conspiracy theories. I do remember randomly telling a friend at one point, “2013 just sounds like an awkward year, you know? Like the century is going through puberty.” It was a humorous thought for some young adults at the time, but oddly enough, it kind of fits my year pretty well.
You know how when you go through puberty you start realizing that you are an individual? That your personality digs deeper than just the smiley-face backpack you wear to school? That there’s more to you, more to life, than what you had previously experienced with your younger siblings? You start wondering, exploring, understanding abstract ideas that were just complete nonsense before. You start realizing that as much as life is a rapid ride down a river, with its ripples and waves, you do have a paddle! So, you start figuring out what path you want to take, when to slow down, when to work hard, when you need a team, or when a team needs you. The whole entire world that once was a blur of environments now becomes more focused and you start wondering why you’re standing on this patch of gravel, rather than that other patch. It can be a very awkward time with its trials and errors. But always full of surprises, welcomed or not. It’s puberty, after all!
This rapid ride, this exploring never ends. Hence the “lifelong journey.” And change is just a part of life, but puberty is when it hits you in the face and you have no option but to deal with it. I admit I had an identity crisis at 13 years old. Yup. Suddenly TV, cookies, or biking on a sunny day could not distract me from the big questions that were popping into my head! And a similar slap of reality happened this past year.
I was born into adulthood several years back when I graduated from college, I thought I would take one year, maybe more, to expand my understanding of what was out there in the world. I pictured myself trekking along a highway, backpack and guitar strapped to my back, opening up my time and energy to whatever came along. My childlike wonder was fascinated and distracted by new things, new experiences, and new teachers. I’ve visited three countries abroad and added more US states to my been-there-done-that list. I’ve tried, and scratched off, three career paths and have been the country and city mouse. I’ve also realized my spirituality is more than just a gathering for an hour on Sundays. And then 2013 came along….
That childlike wonder is definitely still present, trust me. However, come January 1st, 2013, I suddenly felt… older. Maybe I was just tired from the night before. But, I also felt more aware of myself, and as the next few months went on I faced the same question over and over again, “Where do I belong?” How many of your pre-teen, teenage-selves asked that question? That question, was actually asked in the form of many other questions, but that’s basically what I was getting at: “Who am I and where is home?”
I was struggling with my life in DC, but felt lost looking forward. I just knew that after several years of being the stranger in a new land, I think I wanted to try finding a place that felt more me, giving up my adventurer status for the title “community-member.” It took a lot of reflection, writing many songs later, but come summer I finally had chosen my river and I was ready to paddle.
My wonderful parents helped me out and we agreed, after moving from state to state all my life, that it might be a good idea for me to find a situation the I could see myself staying in for longer than ten months. I was ready for a real home. (Growing up we did live in towns we called home for several years, but it’s been several years for me since that’s been the case.) So, I came back to South Dakota, a place that I have a special affection for after my year in Pine Ridge. I’ve been very blessed to have found a situation that not only is helping me connect with the community, live a stable life with antiquate housing and food, but also is allowing me to explore what I believe to be my true calling in life.
This was also part of focusing my once blurry world. Instead of trying out different jobs that I thought, “oh, I could do that” I’m actively seeking a career that I have long wanted, but thought too elusive to even try to pursue: writing music. I’ve invested in equipment and have set aside “working hours” to specifically labor on projects. I even bought a textbook (didn’t think that would happen so soon after graduation) on recording and music production. It’s challenging, and there have been times where I’ve been discouraged, but I find that I’m enjoying the learning and every new opportunity feels like a present on my birthday.
Going through the century’s puberty last year was difficult and about as emotional as I remember the first one to be. But coming back to South Dakota after having been home for Christmas last month, I realized that I was happy to come back, that there was no other place I wanted to come back to. Honestly, it’s a new feeling for me at this time of year. And while life will continue to change, and I will continue to question existence on this earth, I am content with where I am. I realize it may be a few (or a very many) years before I can financially swing a trip abroad again, but surprisingly, I’m okay with that. I have no doubt that this adventurer will have future calls to the wild and unknown. But for the moment she’s just taking in the adventure that is home and community.
So, YAY 2014! I’m so happy to see you. After that long, awkward description of my past year you are invited to keep reading, but I understand if you can’t. Maybe check back later because I have a few exercises I’ve adopted as New Year’s activities that you might want to consider.
So, as part of my New Year’s celebration, that I was looking forward to for weeks, I pulled out my “In 2013…” list I wrote in my journal a year ago. You might call it a bucket-list, but it’s more than that. It includes self-improvement kind of things as well as new things to try. Just to give you a taste of how successful my year was, I was able to check-off:
- Launch my music website (www.arobinsonmusic.com)
- Visit a new place (South Africa)
- Do not lose the light
- Smile more
Like most years I need to do better at adopting an exercise routine and journaling more often.
Once I went through that list I moved on to my second New Year’s list: “Things to Remember in 2013.” This was more of a reference for me to look back on throughout the coming year, referencing revelations I had in the previous year:
- When you’re down, listen to or sing a song.
- There will be down moments. It’s allowed. Just don’t let it drag and shadow the light.
- Cleanliness can do wonders for the soul.
- Facebook is not going to make things better. Getting off it and doing something else will.
I think I got through 2013 alright, and after reading those lists I was ready, and excited, to make new ones for 2014.
- Learn to let go
- Be more patient
- Learn gardening
- Read more books
- Go to a new place
Things to Remember in 2014:
- Assumptions really do no good.
- Share your gifts, that’s why you have them.
- Cleanliness can do wonders for the soul.
- Facebook is not for killing time. Log-on with a purpose.
- You just never know.
As you can see, I have a very personal battle with Facebook. And I realize that a clean bedroom is refreshing even though I’m not always motivated to make it that way.
Well, this has to be one of my longer posts. But an entire year is a long time to cover! Especially from my perspective. My time in DC already feels like ages ago. I also tend to have “Aha!” moments while I’m writing, which was definitely the case this time, so that just added to the word vomit. But I’m not apologizing; not for my long blog post, and definitely not for my enthusiasm for the new year! Hello 2014! Bring it on!