So Long, 2014 + What I Liked In December

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As I write this post on New Year’s Eve, I’m sitting in my parents’ living room, looking at their gorgeous Christmas tree and smelling the wonderful balsam scent in the room.  Christmas felt like it passed by so quickly this year, and yet for the most part, I didn’t feel a lot of the bustle and stress that normally accompanies the holiday season.  I was fortunate again this year to be able to head from Chicago to Atlanta for two weeks, and this year was especially nice, since my boyfriend and I rented a car and drove down, so he and our dog could come as well.  Driving from Chicago to Atlanta is not exactly fun, since it is eleven to twelve hours of very boring highway, but it is so worth it to be able to spend the holiday season at home.

I don’t really go in for the whole New Year’s Eve thing. I don’t like to make a big fuss, go to parties, drink a lot.  That can all be fun, but ultimately it’s too stressful for me.  Instead, my New Year’s Eve plans consist of staying home, watching college football bowl games, eating too much delicious food, and, let’s be honest, probably falling asleep before midnight.  Wild, I know. I’m also not huge on New Year’s resolutions.  I never have been, simply because I’m not sure they work, at least in the way that most people think about them.  I feel like most people view resolutions as cut and dry things; once you resolve to do or not do something, you have to go at it cold turkey.  It’s just so unrealistic and sets you up for failure, or feeling like a failure, when you inevitably slip up. But still, the start of a fresh year has it’s allure.  It’s nice to think of having a clean slate, a chance to start over, a chance to make some changes or improvements to your life. The beginnings of things are always very exciting, the ends less so.  Instead of resolutions, I like to make a few yearly goals for myself that are simple, attainable, and will enhance my life in the coming year.  Goals just seem more manageable somehow, and leave more room for missteps and do-overs.

Last year,  I set five goals for myself to focus on in 2014.  My first was to read more for fun.  I read well over thirty books in 2014, way up from just getting through the Game of Thrones series in 2013. My second goal was more proactive dog training, and I’d say it’s been a success, though it is something I have realized that will always be a work in progress.  My third goal was organization, and I’m afraid this one has fallen by the wayside.  I just didn’t get organized in the way I wanted, but that is okay.  My fourth goal was to eat out less, and I think this was definitely accomplished.  We still enjoy the occasional pizza or take-out Mexican food, but over all we’ve been eating at home a lot more.  My fifth and final goal was to take more advantage of living in Chicago.  I’ve definitely taken more advantage of my neighborhood, especially recently, and I’ve enjoyed walking around the UChicago campus.  I’ve also found some awesome new spots (okay, coffeeshops) in really cute neighborhoods all over the city.  I still have my favorite haunts and hoods, but I feel like I’ve gotten more out of living in a big city this year.

2015 Goals

Take better care of myself // this one is pretty self explanatory.  I’m not focused on losing weight or fitting into any specific sizes of clothes.  This is about being good to my mind and body, and just generally feeling more energized throughout my day.

Finish graduate school // this one is inevitable.  It will happen, and I am both ready for it to happen and completely unprepared.  I’m excited for what the next chapter in my life will bring, which is a Master of Fine Arts degree and hopefully a full time job.

Keep reading // It was so nice to get back to reading truly for fun this year, so I want to keep the trend going.  I read over 30 books in 2014, so in 2015, I’m going to up the ante and aim for 40 books.

Get on a schedule // with my writing, that is.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to work whenever I want to, but since I am hoping to have a full time job soon, I know that I won’t always be able to do that.  I’d like to get myself on a writing schedule, which means picking a time of day, sitting down, and just writing for a couple of hours with no distractions.

Those are my goals for 2015.  They are pretty simple, but they are all things I want to do and things that I know will benefit me greatly in the coming year.  And now of course, since it is the end of the month, as well as the end of the year, it’s time to take a look at what I liked in December.  I love doing these “What I Liked” posts.  They are such a fun way to go back through the month and reminisce a bit.  It can be so easy to feel like nothing is happening or that everything is ordinary, but these posts help me realize that there are good things in every month.  There aren’t always big or exciting things, but there are always good things.

What I Liked in December 2014

home for holidays // I’ve said it before, but I am so thankful to be able to come home for the holidays and celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with my parents in my childhood home.  I am even more thankful that this year my boyfriend was able to come home with me for the first time.  It’s nice to have a couple of weeks to unwind and relax.

strange magic // this month, I reread one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.  I’ve read this book many, many times.  I read it once a year, usually, and I am constantly amazed by how the book is equally heartbreaking, hilarious, poignant, and thought provoking.  It’s no secret that if I could be anyone on this planet, I’d be Joan Didion.  This was a great read to finish out the year, and moving forward as I think about my thesis.

vlogmas // this year I discovered YouTube, and by that I mean, I discovered a handful of channels that I really like.  Most of them are beauty / lifestyle channels, and most of them did something called ‘vlogmas’ this December, where they essentially posted a new vlog every single day from December 1-24.  I loved watching these.  It was seriously the highlight of my day, every day, to sit down and watch five or six vlogs.

another quarter gone // the fall 2014 quarter came to a close.  It was overall uneventful, but I feel like I got a lot accomplished and had some good experiences.  This was probably my final “normal” quarter, as from now on I’m working solely on thesis things, and not taking or participating in any classes.  It’s exciting and kind of sad.

true detective // oh. my. goodness.  If you have not seen HBO’s series True Detective, run, don’t walk to your computer and watch it now.  It is so good.  The show is set up to be an anthology, sort of like American Horror Story, where every season is a different story and cast.  The first season starred Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey.  It was only eight 1-hour long episodes and I may or may not have watched it in a day.

serial // I was a little late jumping on this bandwagon, but this month I got into the podcast Serial.  It was a twelve week podcast, made by This American Life and hosted by the wonderful Sarah Koenig.  The point of the podcast was to tell one true story over the twelve weeks.  The story they chose? The murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999 and whether or not Adnan Syed, the man sent to prison for her murder, was actually guilty.  This was riveting to listen to.  In the end, the story was messy and complicated, and nothing was tied up neatly, but it was fascinating to listen to.  I can’t wait for a second season.

Those are just a handful of things I liked this month.  Here’s to the end of 2014, which was a good year over all, and to a new and exciting 2015.

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