Year in Review

Where It All Begins: 2015, A Year in Review

With the new year approaching, I was struggling to come up with a witty way to review my 2015, like I did at the end of 2014. But then again, that post always makes me laugh, because so much was about to happen and I had NO CLUE. Over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about that new year’s celebrated on San Antonio Riverwalk with my friends during our Alamo Bowl trip. I remember being really happy, and though I had told myself two months before that I wasn’t going to look, but was going to be open to new job opportunities, I really did love my life in Kansas. I had no clue that just nine days later I was going to apply for a job in Washington D.C. and that a very short two months later I was going to start all over and move halfway across the country AGAIN to the place I had dreamed about since I was little.

2015 was full of adventure and taking risks. It was a year where I challenged myself and when I really learned about value. How to work toward better valuing my friends and family, criticism and praise, life and opportunity. Many of my values were strengthened and some I chose to question. And I learned to better value myself. In the book “Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie F. Downs that I have (very) slowly been working through there is a line that says, “–that I am who I am on purpose.” That thought really struck me and I’ve carried it with me ever since (literally, as the picture on my phone’s lock screen.). In the blogging world, a lot of people talk about choosing a “focus” word or phrase for the coming year and at the end of 2014, I thought I would join. My Grammy had given me a token that said “Shine From Within,” and I thought about how that sentiment could mean so many different things. I don’t know if I “focused” on that phrase as much as I said I would, but I do believe that I worked toward being my more authentic self. Of course there are always many more miles to go, and maybe I’ll find new definitions for that phrase, but I can say in full confidence, that I like where I am headed in 2016.

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Let’s not skip past 2015 though, because it’s certainly not a year that I ever want to forget.

In 2015, I took a new job and moved to Washington D.C.

On January 9th I heard about a job opening at U.S. Wheat Associates
On February 9th I accepted a job there as a Communications Specialist
On March 9th I was all moved in and had my first day as a “wheatie.”
And by April 9th, I knew I had found someplace special.
The learning curve is still really steep and I might live by “fake it till you make it” forever, but I honestly love my job. I love my office environment, the work, the farmers I work for and feel so lucky to have so many great co-workers. I love the feeling that I’m doing something that benefits others and in an industry that I believe in with every part of me.

I REALLY miss both Kansas and Oregon, but I am confident that this is where I need to be in my life right now.

In 2015, I explored my new home.

Looking back I don’t really remember much in March and April. I think it was all I could do to go to work and learn as much as I could everyday and curl up on the couch when I got home. But I’ve always dreamed of living here and eventually I began explore. I am fascinated by this place. So much history, so many unique people and there is always a dozen or so fun events going on here. I am continuing to slowly work my way through the tourist attractions (saving some for when I have visitors) and searching out some of the lesser known sights. I love visiting Arlington Cemetery, running on the Mall and saying Hi to Lincoln. I crossed off an item off of my bucket list and watched fireworks on the Mall and enjoyed the cherry blossoms in the spring. Anyone who would like to visit, let me know, I am honing my skills as a tour guide 🙂

In 2015, I had so many opportunities to travel.

My job took me back to Kansas, San Diego, Phoenix, Lake Tahoe and on my first big international trip to Guatemala.
I had the chance for a quick trip home and to the cabin over the summer, celebrated my sister’s 21st birthday in Las Vegas, my 25th birthday back in Kansas and witnessed my friend Blaine’s wedding. I spent Friendsgiving in North Carolina and Christmas at home again with my family.

At one point in the summer I went 8 weeks where I never spent more than 8 days in a row in D.C. This is the life friends. There is a lot of ugly that goes on in the world, but I still refuse to believe that it’s not beautiful.

In 2015, I really valued my time with my family and friends.

My grandparents are the true rockstars of the year. They cut their anniversary trip short to fly to Kansas to help me pack and then made the drive East with me. And I don’t know which was more horrible, the weather on the drive or my attitude. I put all of my stress and worry on them and all they did was love me back. I am still incredibly grateful for the help and support.

Even though I moved to the East coast I still got to spend quality time with people that I love and as I mentioned above, shared many celebrations together. I had a few visitors to my new home, including my best friend Richole from Oregon and my college friend Chelsea, who is now a fellow Virginian at Virginia Tech. And most importantly I am starting to build a life here and making new friends

In 2015, I did things that made me happy.

I became a resident of Virginia and began to embrace my new home.
I began a window garden again, and failed, AGAIN.
I continued to do some DIY projects and finished my very first crochet project.
I discovered the BEST semi-annual book sale at the local library and added so many new books to my own library.
I finally got a professional camera and am enjoying learning how to better use it and sharing those images with others.
I really dove into blogging, sharing my love for music, scrapbooking my life and felt so rewarded and motivated by my new “The Road I Traveled” series. And those are all just SOME of the highlights.

There is a lot that I am hopeful for in 2016.
I hope that I continue to grow, build my self confidence and be someone that I can be proud of.
I hope that I keep learning and become a better communicator and agriculturist. I hope to better serve others, both in my career and everyone who deserves the best from me. I hope to continue to have wanderlust and be brave enough to take risks. And most of all I am always hopeful for health and happiness, for myself and those I love.
There are a lot of things that we can be in this life, but I think just being simply happy, is the best there is.

I have lots of goals and adventures to be had, so 2016, I hope you are ready, because I am not slowing down.

And of course, my list of favorite music this year is long, but these four songs are what motivated me and spoke to my heart this year.

Cheers, and Happy New Years!

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Shine From Within

At the end of each year, we all tend to reflect on the year behind us and look toward what’s to come. Whether we do it with purpose or it moseys on through our mind, it happens. Many of us write down our goals or make resolutions. But the new trend that I have seen lately is for people to choose a “focus word” or phrase. (Example HERE.)

I particularly like this idea, partially because of my love for words. This exercise puts you in the position to  set individual, tangible goals, but also challenges you to “focus” on your character and lifestyle in a specific limelight. I struggled though, with what direction I wanted to go. I’m sure this is felt at a different age for everyone, but I feel that in just about every aspect of my life, I’m going through change. Some are subtle and expected, while others are bold and mindful. So how the heck am I supposed to choose ONE thing to focus on that is ideally all-encompassing? Or am I just missing the whole point of the exercise?

Well I thought about the word “value.”
Where should I be adding value in my life? How am I adding value to my job, and other roles I have? How are my values being shaped and remolded? How am I currently defining value?

Another word that has always been important to me is “risk.”
Where should I be taking risks currently? Am I being too risky?

I then thought about the word “yes,” and decision-making.
What is the best “yes” for me? Do I say it enough, not enough?

I was a little frustrated, and had almost determined that this was not for me.
Then on New Year’s Eve, my Grammy gave me this necklace pendant:

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My Grammy is always so thoughtful with her gifts and they often reflect her own way of looking at life.

Shine from within

That’s a big thought.
But the only thing I kept thinking, is what the heck does that even mean?
It’s not a single word so there isn’t a direct definitive meaning, and even introspectively there’s a lot going on there.

That’s when it became my 2015 focus phrase.
If I didn’t know how to define it for myself and my life, then I needed to.
It might be a bit cheesy and certainly won’t be easy to measure at the end of the year.
But that’s okay. I find that most things that are hard to measure the value of are an important part of who we are that sometimes get overlooked.

So I don’t have a well thought out plan.
But I do plan to spend my 2015 figuring out what “Shine from within” means to each part of my life and how I can be better from it. Whether I wear it as a necklace or just keep it in my pocket, I’m excited to have this token with me moving forward.

Here’s some of my inspiration to get started.

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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/265923552973913584/

This has been my favorite quote since early high school. I love that no matter where I am in life, it always applies. And it was the very first thing I thought of when I got the pendant.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/265923552973858385/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/265923552973858385/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/404268504022678603/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/404268504022678603/
harry potter
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/265923552967004139/

What does it mean to “Shine from within” to you?