the year of: presence.

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Three years ago, my word of 2013 was light.
Two years ago, my word of 2014 was release.
Last year, my word of 2015 was nourish.
This year? My word for 2016 will be PRESENCE.

To me, PRESENCE is

  1. the state of being present
  2. the area that is close to someone
  3. something felt or believed to be present (for me, this is God)

PRESENCE. Just be.

My goal is to have no goals. The sounds unambitious and lazy, but for me, it’s a way to recharge, embrace, rest, let go of rules and self-expectations. To enjoy each moment. Eat all the things. Work out if I want to, or not. Of course I will strive to eat well, keep my body moving, work on writing projects, and so forth, — but with no rules or deadlines. If I don’t want to do something, I won’t. Last year was really stressful. This year will bring some stress and concerns, no doubt, but if I don’t set any expectations, then I won’t be disappointed or rushed (this makes sense in my head). I do have things I want to accomplish this year, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.

Along with that, I want to be more present in moments. Being available for people. Being there for people. Being active in church and community. Putting my phone down when I’m with others (Have you ever gathered with people only to realize everyone is looking at their phone but yourself? Happens to me all the time.), listening, stop thinking about the past or the future, but enjoy today. Today is all we have.

So, let go of rules and schedules and deadlines and just be there for people.

I’ve also been thinking about one of my favorite bible verses:

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10 NLT

Be still. And know that He is God. I know this…. but oftentimes I don’t pause long enough to understand. To be still. To notice. To be in His presence. This is something else I’d like to focus more on this year, too — and all the years going forward.

As for social media? Stepping back from that, too. I won’t be closing any my accounts but I’ve deleted apps off my phone and limited my log-ons (I have a limited phone data plan and no internet at home anyway). I’d like to have a Pinterest/Instagram-free year. I loooove seeing all the photos and posts from my friends on these sites, and I enjoy sharing my own too, but I’m always left feeling unsatisfied. Like I’m not doing well enough. I think we’ve all experienced this, and there are plenty of articles out there about people comparing their worse selves to other’s best. I’m guilty of this too, and need to step away so I can stop comparing. So I  can stop feeling like I need to acquire some item to make it all better. So I can stop feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything. So I  can stop feeling like I’m not good enough. So I can fully embrace all the wonderful people and ‘things’ I do have.

Time to be present.

Do you have a word for 2016? Please share.

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Goodbye, 2015!

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Well. This was our hardest year ever. This was my hardest year ever.

It was not an incredibly difficult year by comparison to people’s lives, but in my own little life, this was the hardest year for me. Of course, it was filled with many good things, but oh my dear, how much I stressed and cried and wondered, “what next?”

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January started off slow with cold. We were constantly running out of gas/heat but getting by with layers and gas conservation as best as we could. (On the plus side, we learned how to deal with cold…. now, if I walk into a home that is more than seventy degrees, it’s way too warm!) I also felt less like myself as we were constantly worrying and stressed, walking on eggshells around the people we were living with and wondering if we made the right decision. Needless to say, it wasn’t the magical adventure we thought it would be — although we were learning a lot! Late February brought us unexpectedly to a studio apartment in town, in the midst of two snow storms. The first storm stirred up (or possibly released) some unexpected conflict and we made the quick decision to move from the land we were on. Since there was snow on the ground, we couldn’t move the RV to the park nearby, as had been my backup plan. So, by the second storm, we were warm in a spacious studio apartment in town. It was supposed to be a teporarary situation for the sake of all involved before we moved back into the RV. We didn’t know that a week later the person we had grown to trust and look up to would accuse me of lies, selfishness, and ungratefulness, just to name a few. It shocked me, and continued to as I uncovered more information. And thus, our plans were turned upside down. There was no way we could go back to that. (I tried to keep this kind of quiet this year, but today, I don’t care anymore. I know the truth.) I spent the next few months grappling with the thought that we gave up all the security we had for a new life out here, full of uncertainty… to have it all collapse. Or so we thought.

IMG_0898Late March brought sunshine and warmth — more warmth than we’ve had in the previous months. I also attempted a Whole30 challenge and learned more about how my body reacts to food. After the snow melted, my husband and I were able to retrieve and move our RV to another location for safekeeping. The studio apartment we were in had no windows and became a bit stifling and depressing. Eager to be outdoors with a purpose, we became hooked to geocaching again in April. That month, we also realized that we would have to give up our dream to keep living in the RV and build a tiny house. We put the RV up for sale, and explored our options. Stay? Go? We decided to stay and look for a place to put down roots. My husband and I have always been able to take care of ourselves and weren’t ready to let one person ruin what we had dreamed and worked for when the RV dream died.

In May, I led my first hula hoop workshop, which was fun. In June, I turned twenty-nine and my dreadlocks turned two years old. I also explored a little more of the beautiful state of Kentucky with my husband as we geocached constantly. My husband also accepted a new job closer to home that left his weekends available again! So happy for that. And the saddest thing we had to do? We said goodbye to our RV as it went to a new owner.

IMG_2919 (1)In July, we celebrated the fourth with a wonderful group of people that we now call best friends. The rest of the month was packed with weddings, including a long weekend in beautiful Colorado! We also started house-hunting. In August, I said farewell to my babies at the daycare as I accepted a new position in the school district. I miss my sweet babies and visit when I can; however, I’m happy to be back in a school. My husband also brought in a fluffy black kitten off the street, which we adopted and named Luna Mae.

IMG_3959 (1)September moved us into our house and we spent the month getting situated. October is my favorite month — but this year, it seemed to be quite a month! We enjoyed a day at the Ohio Ren Faire with some dear friends from college, celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary, and delighted in autumn. Towards the end of the month, we closed on our house! Two days later, my husband drove over some gravel on a curvy road and hit a tree. It was a scary night for us, moreso for him. Our church community gave us so much support, they are amazing. We are blessed. Less than a week later, I replaced my car with a new one. Towards the end of the month, we also found out some information regarding our health that impacted some of our future plans. It was then that I nearly broke down, mentally exhausted and wondering plans God could possibly have for us.

IMG_5722November was calm as I meditated on all of that. The month was filled with plenty of prayer and bible-reading. We also met and welcomed my husband’s godson. Thanksgiving was spent with a dear family that we have somewhat adopted here in Kentucky. December was possibly our best month of the year. All the chaos seemed to settle, we became comfortable in our house, and we were able to enjoy a quick holiday in Chicago with our families. Now we are here, ready to welcome in 2016. I’m ready to let go of the past and push forward.

The first half of the year I struggled with trying to forgive. Most days I am fine, but some days the anger and hurt overtake me as I try to understand why I’m being blamed. It’s a new situation for me. I’ll never know why; but I can walk away from it. The second half of the year, I dealt with a huge change in plans and the questions of purpose and value. I cannot sit still. I need to learn and grow. I need to make the changes I want to see in my life.

My husband and I grew in our church community and our faith. We also grew closer to each other as we navigated each obstacle thrown our way this year. We said goodbye to one dream with a broken heart but welcomed another dream sooner than expected. We explored, we fought, we laughed, we bonded. Although where we are right now isn’t where I thought it would be, it is so much better. God really does have plans for us that we cannot see. And I am so proud of what Kyle and I have accomplished together, through hard work and the help of friends and families.

I cried a lot this year. But I did laugh, I did find joy, and I did love. And oh, there were plenty of snuggly evenings with my three fur babies! Plenty of good weaved in with the not-so-good, and for that, I am so grateful. And I am so grateful for a God that is good. Above all, He is the strength that carries me.

2015 was quite a year.

I’m ready for you, 2016.