Farewell, 2017

We’ve hit the season when everyone reflects on what has occurred during the past year and dreams of the year to come.  I am no exception.

What strikes me, though, is time’s beautiful ability to slip elegantly from one minute to one day to one year.  Tomorrow may be a new year, but take away the countdowns, the parties, the reflection, it is simply a new day.  Just as today was a new day.  I love that.

It is difficult to pinpoint the significance of 2017.  Before, each year had deep meaning, filled with momentous occasions and deep soul searching.  2015 was the year I finished college, filled with questions and striving.  2016 was the year I trekked across Europe and stumbled into my life’s work.

But 2017?  I suppose it is an extension of all the years before, as if all the momentous occasions, questions, journeys, and stumbles were leading to what I am doing now: living day by day, moment by moment.

This year, I continued life in the small town library where I work.  I experienced my first Summer Reading Program, started a Lego Club, and continued building relationships with my patrons.

This year, I applied, was accepted, and began graduate school online through the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.  Grad school is not easy, but it’s taught me to make time for self-care and that sanity is more important than grades.  This attitude helped me get through my first semester with my sanity and GPA in tact.  Already, pursing my Masters in Library and Information Science has helped improve my skills and understanding of my work.  While I frequently whine and complain about the stress of my studies, I am deeply thankful for this opportunity.

This year, I continued living with my parents.  All year, I have bounced back and forth.  Should I move closer to work?  Do I want to live in that community?  Is it worth it to continue driving an hour to work and back each day?  I’m still struggling with these questions.  While I like living with my parents, I’m ready to be on my own.  But I have absolutely no desire to live in the community where I work and cannot afford to both pay rent and continue commuting.  This is something I’ll continue to wrestle with as the new year comes.

This year, I made new friends and continued walking with old ones.  From road trip buddies to coffee shop chats monthly letters, I am extremely blessed in the friendship department and am so, so thankful.

This year, my faith journey brought me somewhere between the desert and the river valley.  I’m attending church again and am encouraged by friendships, but still feel like I’m walking alone.  In college, my faith journey was wild, frantic, and I pursued the path with relentless passion.  My faith has changed dramatically since then.  I’ve evened out.  I’ve simultaneously rejected the fundamentalism of my upbringing while holding firmly to my spiritual beliefs and heritage.  I’m calmer now.  I continue to study, but I hold my faith with open hands.  I long to be a person of high character, quietly bettering the world around me, letting my actions speak louder than my words.  2017 was a step in that direction.

This year, I spent each day with Wendell Berry.  As part of my devotions each morning, I ended by reading one of his Sabbath poems.  Of all my routines, this was my favorite.  Morning by morning, his words brought me into still forests, quiet fields, and sunlit meadows.  I reached the end of the book in October and went right back to the beginning.

This year, I continued my never ending love affair with the written word.  Thanks to audiobooks during my long commute and a deepening passion for YA, I blew past my previous reading records, making it through 212 books in a mere 12 months.  For more about my reading year, check out my previous post.

I suppose, in light of all these things, 2017 was a pretty good year.  (Minus the dumpster fires of national politics and natural disasters, of course.)  I grew, I worked, I learned.  What more can one ask for?

Tonight, when the clock strikes twelve, we will slip elegantly into a 2018.  Where will this year take us?  What decisions will I make?  What people will I meet?  What places will I go?  What words will I be writing one year from now?  I haven’t the slightest clue, and that is a very exciting thing.

Whoever you are, wherever you may be, I wish you a very happy New Year!

Blogger Recognition Award

After Writing 101 ended, I kind of crashed and spent my free time binge-watching Netflix for a solid week, leaving me a bit behind on the blog.  I’m slowly catching up on awards.

A couple of weeks ago, Shannon from If You Captured Your Life in Snapshots, What Would It Look Like? nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award!  It’s designed to spread love among the blogosphere and recognize sites we love.  Part of the award includes sharing

BloggerRecognitionAwardI don’t know if sharing your blogging story is part of the award, but Shannon did in her post, so I’ll continue the trend.

When I was fifteen, I was deep into the Harry Potter fandom.  This was before Tumblr was a thing and, in order to engage with my fellow nerds, I entered discussions on fan forums.  I ended up becoming a core member of a forum dedicated to a particular podcast and, in the process, made my first online friends.  Anna lived in Chicago and liked to knit.  Cathy, who is a fantastic poet, lived in California.  We were all roughly the same age and would spend hours on the forum talking about life, love, and Harry Potter.

One day, Cathy brought up the subject of blogging.  I was an aspiring fan-fiction novelist at the time, so writing was always on my mind.  Being a fan of my work, Cathy suggested I start a blog.  I thought about it for a while and thought, “… why not?”  Having a corner of the internet to myself sounded like fun.

After doing a bit of research, I ended up getting an account on Blogger.  I stayed there for five years, recording the woes of high school and occasionally posting snippets of my writing.  The only people who read my site were fellow writer friends.  Thank GOODNESS.  Blogging back then was a messy affair.  I used my site as a spewing place for all my thoughts and emotions.  Looking back, I’m thankful to not have a wider readership.

When I studied abroad two years ago, I knew that I wanted to start fresh and make a travel blog.  I also knew that I wanted to switch over to WordPress.  So I did!  In the Bellow and the Uproar was born.  Named for a Virginia Woolf quote, it was home to my travels and adventures in England for three and a half months.

When I came home, I knew I didn’t want to go back to the old Blogger site.  It reminded me too much of my high school self and didn’t reflect where I wanted to go from here.  But I still wanted to write.  So, a year and a half ago, Keep Your Feet was born.  I’ve been here ever since.

That, friends, my blogging story!  Starting young has allowed me to grow into myself as a blogger.  I’ve been told I have a distinctive voice in my writing.  Friends say that, when they read my blog, it’s so me that they hear my voice in their head.  There are a lot of things I wish I could go back and un-say, especially on my first blog, but I’m still thankful for the chance to always learn and grow.

Now for Shannon’s bonus question: If you could go anywhere, would you go to a Where or a Who?

My first impression is to say Where.  There are so many dots on my “To-Visit” map.  But I’ve done a great deal of traveling in the past and, although solo adventures are exhilarating in their own way, they’re also a bit lonely.  Seeing the world isn’t as fun if you don’t have someone to share it with.  So I think my answer is Who.  I don’t have many super close friends–only a few people in the world truly know and appreciate all the corners of me, messy bits and all.  The older I get, these few souls seem to move farther and farther away.  One of my dearest friends lives in Japan, others live in Austria, and I’ve got people all over the United States that I miss so much my heart aches.  Seeing them again would make my month.  We’d drink tea and talk for hours.

Feel like this post is missing something?  Check out my personal rules regarding awards on my Award Policies page.

Rivers & Roads (Writing 101, Day 15)

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” Victor Hugo

There’s something about music that is essential to life.  It reaches into our souls and expresses the inexpressible.  I’ve always loved music and, after four years of failed piano lessons, played the flute in middle and high school.  These days, I don’t do much in the way of music creation, but oh boy am I a consumer.  Most of the music I now listen to isn’t played on the radio.  Top 40, while catchy, doesn’t hold much appeal.  I tend to favor indie-folk/rock–the kind of bands that you can see in small clubs for only $15.

If I had to choose a favorite song, it would have to be “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart.

The lyrics are deeply nostalgic, filled with a longing for times gone by.  It’s a song about seasons and change, how people grow apart with time.  The people who are near you now will someday be far away.  Although we know it’s inevitable, it’s still heartbreaking.  I feel like this song captures something we as humans all feel at some point in our lives.  In my experiences and travels, I’ve made some very dear friends who are now very far away.  Some are only an hour or two, others across the country, many across the world.  When I listen to this song, I think of all the people I love.

As heartbreaking as the song is, it hangs on to hope.  It ends with a repetition of the following lyrics:

Rivers and roads

Rivers and roads

Rivers ’til I reach you

There is distance between us, but distance can be crossed.  It may take time and dedication, but it’s possible to reclaim what is lost.  We may become separated from the ones we love, but we can never be disconnected entirely.  The people I care about may be far.  I miss them terribly, but there is hope.  We will see each other someday.  These ties are weakened over continents and years, but they are not and will never be lost.

Take a listen to the song and let me know what think.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

(Today’s assignment included a quote by Nietzsche, but I like Hugo’s better.)

This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

Hostessing struggles

Let’s just say I’m not well reputed for my hostess skills.  Mind you, it’s not from lack of effort.  I do my very best to make guests feel comfortable and at home.  I vacuum the floors, dust the counters, scrub the bathroom, make sure all the dishes are cleaned and put away, and top it all off with a pan of brownies.

Despite my best intentions, though, gatherings put on by yours truly always seem to fall a bit flat.  Brownies get burned.  I accidentally email the directions to the wrong apartment.  I don’t know how to get conversations flowing.  I don’t know what kind of music people actually listen to.

For my Bible study, we are trying to have a Girl’s Night once a month.  I was so relieved when my co-leader, Jourdan, offered to host it at her off-campus house.  Yes!  I thought.  No baking, no cleaning!  Just show up and have a great time!

Well… yesterday evening, I got a call from Jourdan.  Her Chilean boyfriend was stranded at the airport and couldn’t get a flight home (to Chile) until Sunday.  He had no money and very limited English.  Naturally, she had to go to his aid…

… Leaving me to suddenly pull together Girl’s Night.

Despite past hostess failures, I have high hopes for this one.  The apartment has been cleaned, brownies baked, nail polish brought forth.  We’ve got a stack of movies to last all night.  And, if all else fails, there’s an on-campus Improv show that we can go to!

Here’s to another shot of hostessing.

Wish me luck!