Anyone who knows me or has read this blog could deduce that I like lists. Many of my lists correspond with goals of some kind. My bucket list? It has hundreds of items on it (you can view it here). New Year’s resolutions? Yep, I’m that girl, and those are forthcoming. However, because this year has been a time of extreme highs and lows, reflecting on the good parts of it shows me just how much I have grown in twelve months’ time. So here it is: my 2014 “nectar list.”
So, what is a nectar list? We all know [nectar] as a sweet substance, and a nectar list is pretty similar. Unlike a bucket list, it documents things that have already happened, and, as the name suggests, things that have had a positive impact on one’s life. Even though parts of 2014 were a nightmare for me, much of it has been a big, beautiful adventure. So, here are my top 15 parts of this year (fourteen for ’14 and one to grow on).
- Made the decision to get healthy.
This is only #15 on my list because I started my lifestyle change this week and it hasn’t had time to make a huge impact on me yet. I have taken on the challenge of doing all of the following things daily: practicing yoga, drinking one gallon of water, doing at least 256 pushups, and doing a “Couch to 5k” running plan. Unfortunately, I have packed on the pounds this year for multiple reasons, but I know I can I get back to where I want to be. Losing weight is important, but I am just thankful for the opportunity to get healthy and be the best me that I can be! Colby, my husband, also has some goals in mind, so we are being each other’s fitness accountability partners. Wish us luck!
Just doing yoga in front of the Biltmore House
Feeling great during the first week of my “Couch to 5k” Challenge!
- Took advantage of some of the incredible natural beauty in my hometown.
Not only is the Great Smokey Mountains region one of the most visited in the United States, but it also tops the bucket lists of many travelers. And, I get to live right in the middle of it! How lucky am I?! Growing up in western North Carolina, I have often taken the mountain majesties around me for granted, but this year, I have been intentional about participating in the world around me. I’ve gone –leaf-looking, hiking, and chasing waterfalls, and this is only the beginning. My home is my playground.
- Saw Cirque de Soleil live
One world: Amaluna. As an art enthusiast and former gymnast, seeing Cirque de Soleil was a dream come true. Not only did the Amaluna show exceed my expectations, but I was also so taken back by the experience of seeing a tent performance. Captivating, brilliant, inspiring. Sorry Mama… I’m running away to join the circus!
- Started a business
As a way to supplement my husband’s salary during my unpaid internship, I started a business with a direct sales company called Premier Designs. They have utterly fabulous jewelry, and I really connect with their philosophy and mission as a company. Due to school obligations, I did not get to contribute as much time to the business as I would have liked to, but I am looking forward to hitting the ground running in 2015. I am hoping and praying that I can expand my team and continue to bless others with the Premier story and lots of free bling.
- Ate Nana’s scratch biscuits for breakfast at least once a week
I love love love living next to my grandparents. My Nana is an excellent cook, and I had to note her famous breakfast on this list, especially since I have started a diet and will be eating fewer and fewer scratch biscuits.
- Reread Their Eyes Were Watching God
This book, my favorite of all time, has undoubtedly changed my life. The first time I read it was during my senior year of high school, I was in the middle of overcoming some personal struggles, just like I was when I reread this beautiful novel this year. It only took me two days, and I was reminded of my love for written word and the phenomenon of a pen tangling with paper that somehow teaches us about what it means to be a human being. Just read it. Zora Neale Hurston does not disappoint.
- Got my freshmen students addicted to slam poetry
Just like I love written word, I love spoken word, and I was so happy to share it with my students. Throughout my student teaching semester, I got to hang out with them as they developed their own passions for literature and learning in general. I quickly learned that using slam poetry was a way to engage them with some of our country’s most important social issues. You know you’ve had a successful teaching experience when your students beg to leave lunch early so they can catch another slam poem before their next class!
- Was a winner of National Novel Writing Month
In fourth grade, my Language Arts teacher pulled me aside to tell me how much she enjoyed my writing, and at that moment, I decided that I wanted to write a book. I have lost count of how many book ideas I have scrapped, but National Novel Writing Month persuaded me to start the first book that I have actually finished. I hope to add about 15k more words to it, edit it, and then send our query letters for it to literary agents across the country. The idea of getting published is a shot in the dark, but I’ve learned that taking a leap of faith is so rewarding, even when it results in failure. At the very least, I will self-publish this book one day.
- Got to fix up my first “big girl” place.
Pinterest. Crafts. Paint. New quilts. Art. Antiques. Ahhh… my favorite things! I had so much fun fixing up my first home with my hubby. Something that made the process even more special is that the house belonged to my great grandmother before she passed away. Although the house looks like a completely different place since we basically gutted the whole thing, I still see pieces of her everywhere. It makes me smile, and I know that my Deenie is looking down from Heaven smiling at all of the memories Colby and I are making in our new home.
- Couchsurfed in Washington DC.
Colby and I stayed on the couch of random strangers, and it was the most perfect trip ever. You can read about it here. We are hoping to make couch surfing our primary mode of travel in the future so we can see more of the world and meet more of its people.
We did not take a picture with Bethany and Moataz, our lovely hosts, so instead, here’s a picture of me in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. This was the only elephant I cared to see in DC. 😉
- Got two fur babies whom I love.
Colby and I got Dobby, our adorable chorkie about a week after we got back from our honeymoon. He is so playful, and he makes the best cuddle bug ever. We got Winky, our sassy Siamese kitten a few months later. She and Dobby fight, but deep down, I know they love each other. And for our fellow nerds out there, the answer is yes; we indeed named our animals after the house elves in Harry Potter!
- My sister signed with the WCU Track and Field team.
My baby sister may be four years younger than me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look up to her more than anyone. She has such a kind heart and she works so hard. She has dreamed about being a college athlete for as long as I can remember, and this year, that dream became a reality. She deserves all of the glory she gets, and words cannot describe how proud I am of her!
- Graduated with a B.S.ed and a B.A.
Last semester, I got so sick that I had to take a medical leave from school. While it was one of the most harrowing times of my life, overcoming my obstacles made my eventual success even sweeter. I ended up graduating as a university scholar (someone with a cumulative 4.0 GPA) and got to give the commencement address at my graduation. What a way to end the best time of my life, right?!?!
- Got married
4th grade was a big year for me: I decided that I wanted to be a writer, and I also became best friends with the boy I would marry! Somehow, I always knew it was Colby. We’ve always been there for each other even though we haven’t always gone to the same school. For a while, it seemed that we were star-crossed and would never be anything more than friends. One of us was always dating someone else! But, we ended up at Western in the same scholarship program, and our mutual friends finally told us to cut it out and just fall in love already. It seems that they gave us good advice!
On June 26, we had the wedding of my dreams on the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. As cliché as it sounds, everything was perfect. Afterward, we shared the most magical ten-day honeymoon in the Southern Caribbean. We hiked to the top of Mount Hooiberg in Aruba, snorkeled in Grand Turk, and met awesome people in Curacao. In between, we ate our weight in Carnival Cruise line’s famous chocolate melting cake and swapped books to read, because we are that nerdy. What a flawless beginning to the rest of our lives!
Photo credit to Tony Thagard
1. Drum roll please!
You know if getting married is #2 on my nectar list, #1 better be pretty awesome. It is.
In fact, I cannot think of anything better. This year, I began to follow God with full sincerity. Before now, religion was always a cultural artifact. I had been riddled with doubt and jaded. I had brief moments of true worship, but God was not my top priority. Confession: until about March of this year, I was basically Agnostic, but I wouldn’t even admit it to myself, much less anyone around me. I am so thankful that the Creator of the Universe adores us so much that He pursues audaciously. Since I came into a relationship with God, I have never been happier.
Along in my journey to find faith, my husband and I have also landed at an amazing church where we get to witness God doing incredible things throughout our community and our world. This body of Christ accepted us day one. We always look forward to Sunday morning worship and gatherings with our small group. I get completely overwhelmed when I think about where my heart was last year and where it is now.