Keep Hoping Machine Running.


I rang in 2013 drinking beer and snuggling on the living room couch with my partner in domestic criminology. It wasn’t the most spectacular beginning to a new year ever, but it was a desperately needed respite from the bustle of what had been my busy life. The next morning, I loaded up on the usual New Year’s Luck with black eyed peas and hog jowl at the in-laws’, and then proceeded to begin a year full of snow days, good food, amazing friends, wonderful family, hard work, and lots of whimsy. 

Some of the highlights of my year involved seeing The Secret Commonwealth in concert for the first time in 15 years, the birth of my beautiful niece Gabriella, watching my daughter become interested in the art of performance and theater, spending a weekend hiking and playing in the Appalachian mountains with some amazing people, spending a Girls’ Night Out in Asheville with my mother, spending my wedding anniversary weekend back at the honeymoon cabin with my husband, celebrating the weddings of several beautiful couples, celebrating my goddaughter’s first birthday, visiting San Antonio for the first time, conducting various fitness & meal experiences with Stacy, attempting to understand baseball in Cincinnati with the help of my coworkers, exploring the crazy secret art of the scruffy little city I live in, getting to see Neil Gaiman speak about The Ocean at the End of the Lane, relaxing and basking in the Perdido Key sun with my family for a week, creating an elaborate Minecraft birthday bash for my daughter, lots of yoga, lots of Zumba, taking A. to her first Renaissance Faire, celebrating the imminent arrival of a new baby Alley, celebrating the any-day-now arrival of a brand-new cousin in the Pacific Northwest, and rejoicing in the end of year holiday season with friends, family, and loved ones.

I began 2013 with three simple over-arching goals: run another half-marathon, try for a baby, and continue my commitment to a balanced life. As per usual, I completely forgot about the three resolutions. I definitely failed to run a half-marathon, deciding that the training was too taxing on my body and that I should stick to 5Ks instead. However, I was successful in the baby-trying, and I feel I was extremely successful in finally finding balance in my life. It’s funny, because I wasn’t even really focused on balance as I have been in the past. Still, it feels like that happened anyway. Maybe that’s the key to finding balance — stop trying so hard and the balance starts happening. One of my mantras of the year was “Eat Dessert First,” and I think I did a good job of keeping that attitude as I navigated the year.

I think if there was a word that would sum up 2013 for me, it would be: “celebrate.” I managed to successfully turn a rather stress-filled, ultra-busy lifestyle into something more manageable, something more sustainable, and something more fun. Furthermore, I didn’t have to make any major life changes to do it. I just had to wake up each morning and be present for the day, for the tasks at hand, and for the people who surrounded me. It sounds simple, but it’s actually a lot more difficult than you may think. Still, I feel like I was able to shed a LOT of the stress I’d been carrying around for years to find a place of peace in my little corner of life.

So, what about 2014? I recently ran across Woody Guthrie’s list of New Year’s Resolutions from 1942 on Facebook, and I found it very inspiring (you can see an excerpt at the top of this post.) 2014 is already going to be an eventful year, as I will see one child begin high school and bring another child into the world. I think it will be good for me to make a list of reminders like this to help keep myself focused when life inevitably becomes chaotic. So, these are not so much resolutions, I suppose, as they are New Year Reminders:

  1. Be Mindful

  2. Keep Loving Yourself

  3. Write Like Your Life Depends On It

  4. Get Lost In Books

  5. Spend Time Just Being With Family And Friends

  6. Keep In Touch

  7. Keep Up With Budgets

  8. Sleep As Much As You Can

  9. Practice And Pray

  10. Keep Hoping Machine Running

The last one I shamelessly lifted from Woody Guthrie. I can’t say exactly what he meant when he wrote it in his notebook, but I like the sound of it, and to me, it means allowing yourself to keep dreaming, to keep creating, and to do the maintenance you need to do on yourself in order to let that happen. One very simple way I plan to do that is to start maintaining a website again, because let’s face it — it’s a lot more fun to tell stories if you have an audience who wants to listen to them.

So, here’s to another year. Let’s continue to celebrate, to do the hard work of living, and to share these experiences with each other. It’s how we keep the hoping machine running.