New Year’s Eve.

As a kid, my family generally rung in the New Year by playing board games, Monopoly and Risk were favorites. Sometimes some of my aunts and uncles would join us but mostly it was just my family and I. (Except for NYE 2000 where I vividly remember being an 8th grader, dancing on a coffee table singing karaoke in my pajamas at my cousin’s house at 5am…)

In my Christmas loving family, the song “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” showed up in rotation fairly frequently. I wanted very desperately to have someone want me to give them a kiss at midnight. As circumstances would have it, I fell in love with a man who really wasn’t in to holidays or staying up late and I’m pretty sure didn’t actually know that a midnight kiss with your love is a cultural trope. New Year’s Eve 2013 and 2014 I think found him asleep before the clock struck midnight. (I know NYE 2012 did but we all fell asleep because we were at the cabin and it had been dark for hours and 10pm felt like 2am.)

After my divorce, however, NYE has changed significantly. I read an Ask Polly column as night fell on December 31, 2014 and it all clicked into place. (This is not surprising because I have since realized that Heather Havrilesky is amazing.) I might have kissed a 23-year old visitor to Ridgway that night but what meant the world to me was hugs from the people who in the last three years have become a community family to me. I floated home believing at a deep level that my life would turn out in some fantastic fashion at some point. 

Facebook deemed it important to remind me of a post I made in the early afternoon of December 31, 2015: Sprocket and I had just summited Pyramid Rock near De Beque. My plan was to head home for a quiet night with SP and ignore the holiday. A comment from a friend on that post telling me to “come home.” It was the tiny push I needed. I loaded Sprocket in the Jeep and away we went. Tucked into the Jeep in the January chill, I realized my understanding that “The sparkles were everywhere and there wasn’t a hint of darkness to be found” was spot on.  I had feels about not being in Ridgway but I kept them at bay until the drive home.

My 2017 feels are similar to my 2016 feels:

2017 should be a mix of hustle and getting back to my regularly scheduled life thanks to the foundations laid in 2016. I’m so ready, bring it on.

2017 was different in one big way: I could see the results of my sacrifice daily. I lived #shedlife for one really cold week to welcome 2017, weekends until May (with more than a few weeknights tossed in), and just over two weeks ago, Sprocket and I moved into the house.

My lessons this year are so much harder to articulate. I’ve basically let this blog go fallow (sorry! hoping to do better in 2018!) because adventure has been thin (although I do owe you some Thanksgiving break posts). I’ve had to confront some of my lingering feelings surrounding F and what transpired between us. I’ve been too much of a sloth for my liking and have definitely had some feels about how my body looks these days.

2017, however, despite really just being a grind has really taught me one thing: I am powerful.

It seems so odd to say that. It seems conceited somehow but I cannot figure out any other way to describe it. I’ve lost track of the number of people who have looked at me and said some variant of “You’re a badass, you know that right?” (Holla Kat, Wanda, etc.) I do achieve the things I want. I’m still unsure of how to include other people in that drive but I’m here and I’m pushing forward.

I’m not quite sure how 2018 is going to shake out, I anticipate this being a year of settling in. I’m still working some, the better to buy some touches for the house. I’m taking an EMT class in the two night a week and a few weekend days; it’ll be lovely to be back to volunteering for my community by summer. I’m settling into the house which is wonderful but it feels a little slow going to settle in—I simultaneously feel deeply at home because I designed the space and also in transition.

2018: I’m welcoming you with a quiet joy in my heart. I’ll be here in Ridgway, just like the prior three years and I’m so grateful.

2016: Hustle. Then Hustle Some More

Last New Years Day I drove back from Ridgway to De Beque. The two and a half hour drive home was hard. I walked in the door, made myself a pot of coffee and promptly burst into tears.

I cried.

And cried.

And cried some more.

Everything felt so up in the air. I just wanted to be home but teaching positions wouldn’t start being posted for a few months. I realized that I had spent too much and even if I did find myself back in the San Juans I had dug myself a pretty significant hole that I would have to climb out of before I was able to think about building a house. I’d just left a party full of friends and neighbors and now, despite Sprocket’s willingness to let me snot into his fur, I felt alone.

Finally, totally unable to pull myself together, I picked up the phone and called a friend. I tried to explain how I felt so untethered and sad and overwhelmed by the too blank future. After they tried to offer platitudes to calm me down and once I just felt silly for being so unhinged I hung up.

I started to make a plan. I would make a plan to get out of debt. I applied for multiple jobs in Grand Junction that very afternoon. (Fortunately none of them worked out and I wound up starting at Provisions in March, strengthening my connection to Ridgway.) I decided while I was open to staying in De Beque another year that I would chase jobs in the San Juans and that I would chase them hard.

My phone went off: “You will be fine. You’ve got Sprocket. You’ve got Ruth. You have land. You are beautiful.” I have forgotten and remembered this line so many times and I have held it close.

My friends, 2016 has been a debacle in so many ways. I have cried in frustration with my life, with politics, for not climbing more mountains, and out of sheer exhaustion. I’ve had more than a few moments of self consciousness when someone asks me where I live knowing that both the shed, my constant working, and the bouncing back and forth between Norwood and Ridgway is hard to do in an elevator speech.

On the other hand, I have my faithful Sprocket. I have Ruth and I continue to grow in my confidence to handle minor bumps in the road. I have land that I have gotten to spend so much time on thanks to #shedlife and my continuing side-hustle(s). I did a spring break Colorado County Highpoint trip, took a Labor Day trip to Utah and a Thanksgiving trip to Arizona on top of some quick trips to Washington. I am soliciting bids for a house. I’m a better teacher now than I have been in the past. I even managed to keep a few runs happening between all the craziness.

2017 should be a mix of hustle and getting back to my regularly scheduled life thanks to the foundations laid in 2016. I’m so ready, bring it on.

Pyramid Rock: Final Summit of 2015

New Year’s Eve morning, I woke up to a glorious sunny day. I was just 0.4 miles shy of 200 miles hiked on summit hikes in 2015 and I decided to head up to a local summit to round out the year and enjoy the sunshine. Sprocket, as always, was very excited with this plan so we headed out into the hills.

V 2/10 Road

We made our way to a ridge that looked like it would go fairly easily and started making our way up towards the summit. The views got better and better and being out in the crisp winter air was the perfect way to wind down 2015. The sparkles were everywhere and there wasn’t a hint of darkness to be found.

Ridgeline

image

I had debated at the car whether or not to wear snowshoes and I’m glad I didn’t. The snow was only ever more than 5″ deep once (and then I managed to bury myself up to my waist) and I was glad I didn’t wear them.

Hiking with the best dog

We walked across a small flat area and then made couple of small scrambly moves among the snowy rocks and found myself at the summit.

Summit Selfie

Summit views

Final summit of 2015

Summit views

Panorama

When we got back to Ruth, I was in such a wonderful mood. I had planned to spend a low key New Year’s at home with Sprocket and decided that was not the right choice. I scrambled together a shower and headed home to spend the evening with my friends in Ridgway. <3

The Night Is Dark and Full of Sparkles

I’m not a person who really looks forward to New Year’s Eve. This year I was mostly excited to have a chance to dance the night away with friends here in Ridgway but by mid-morning on the 31st, I had worked myself into a downright melancholy mood. Sometimes I just can’t understand how I’ve ended up here, just me and Sprocket against the world. I can’t understand how I lost a love that meant the world to me. And reflecting on 2014 wasn’t helping.

Sprocket in bed

I’d written about how 2014 was a year with amazing highlights and also a year that completely knocked me on my ass at times but I don’t think I’d really ever considered that 2015 was a new year. While relaxing in my bed with Sprocket, I found a New York Magazine advice column that make me stop and think about things a little differently.

I’ve always found it silly to make resolutions or consider the new year a time to make changes but there I was reading this article and getting excited about what was coming down the pipe for me in 2015. The change from 11:59pm December 31 to 12:00am January 1st was starting to mean something to me.

image3-e1420264046509

The whole thing is amazing so you should run over and read it right now if you didn’t already check it out but it was this paragraph that first grabbed me and pulled me in:

“At times like this, though, it’s important to know WHAT MAKES YOU SO SPECIAL. You can’t just have a vague idea. You have to know exactly who you are and what you believe in. You have to know how you want to live, even if it is all a big nothing. That takes time.”

That’s been my exact journey this fall. I’d forgotten how damn awesome it is to be me. I forgot that I’m a delightfully sassy person who is totally whip-smart and can accomplish anything that I put my mind to. I’d sort of forgotten how it felt to be a good friend and a good family member. I forgot how awesome it was to chase my dreams.

“Make that your work now: Finding sparkles. Suffering opens a direct path to sparkles. That’s what the jingles don’t tell you. Heartbreak and loss bring their own kinds of sparkles. Admitting that it’s all a big nothing brings sparkles. If it’s all a big nothing, what is left?”

So that’s the plan. 2015: you’re the year of the sparkles. As a friend put it New Year’s night: The Night Is Dark And Full of Sparkles. I’m excited to tackle my goals and continue to make forward progress into my future. I’ve got trips in the works and good things are happening. The night might be dark but damn if it’s not full of sparkles.

Heels in the snow

So as I counted down the last seconds of 2014 surrounded by friends, neighbors, and strangers I found myself tearing up. I felt that catch in my throat as I shouted, “3,” and thought a bit as I said, “2,” and laughed as I almost cried at “1,” at “Happy New Year,” however, I made my way into 2015 with kisses, hugs, and laughter.

Cuddled in bed with Sprocket for my first sleep of 2015, ready to embrace the sparkles:

“Here’s to the things we’ve never had a chance to say to each other. Here’s to the things we never tried. Here’s to the sparkles that we didn’t notice. We were surrounded by sparkles this year, but most of the time we couldn’t see them.

We can’t do everything. But let’s find more sparkles next year, okay? Let’s look very closely, and notice them, as much as we can.”