My greatest fear is that what I hope for will not come to pass. There are so many good things I want to experience, and with every disappointment I face I become terrified that they won’t work out. That is why I keep a list.
I have an ever-growing list of things I hope for. I call them my “looking forward to” lists, to keep me trusting. Last year I decided to see how many things I’d lived from them– and found the number was fifty-six.
Dreams are made for life. Sometimes, it really doesn’t look that way. But I still believe it’s true.
And to strengthen that belief, I’m sharing some of the dreams I lived in 2016– of the 77 total. Let’s do it.
Reading more books. | Reading the Jesus Storybook Bible. | Reading more fairy tales. | Reading the Anne of Green Gables series. | Reading If You Feel Too Much.
I set my reading challenge to thirty books this year because I thought, “I was in college half of last year and I still managed to read 18 books! I can read thirty this year for sure!” I didn’t quite realize that I like taking my sweet time to read; I didn’t even reach 18 this year. What I did read, however, was overall wonderful. My favorites were probably The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway by Dr. Susan Jeffers (I wrote about it), and the last four books in the Anne of Green Gables series. You can see everything I read this year on my Goodreads Year in Books.
Going to more concerts. | Going to a rap concert.
I was surprisingly able to go to a handful of shows this year! Meigan and I saw Rend Collective in February, which was a wonderful time of what felt like a family gathering; my mom and I took a mini road trip to Fish Fest in August with Cindy and Jamie, where we spent all day in the hot sun to see many acts, including Switchfoot (they played the song I secretly hoped they would and my heart soared); and in September I got to take a fun trip with Meigan and Brandon to see NF and Fleurie, two artists I admire so much.
I did this often because I volunteered in a nursery. I also realized that working with children is not my passion, and stopped doing it. It was a weird discovery, but I think I’m relieved to not be guilting myself into serving a certain way anymore.
Seeing meaningful new movies. | Seeing new Pixar movies.
I’m not as much of a movie person as I once was; I do a lot more rewatching of films I already love as opposed to exploring new ones. But I still got to watch quite a few stories that touched me in some way this year. It terms of new films/Pixar films? Finding Dory was so, so wonderful and Rogue One shocked me with how much it made me feel.
Getting better at painting. | Making art that gets me excited when I finish it. | Getting better at art-journaling.
I practiced with acrylics a lot more this year and have become much more comfortable with them. Working in an art journal was a great way to try out different ideas and expand the ways I create. Something I’ve learned this year is that the greater volume of things you make, the more okay you are with making imperfect things, because you know there’s a lot more to come and that you’re getting better all the time. [The prompt journal I’ve used is the Wreck This Journal, if you’re interested in trying it out!]
Hiking a calm little forest trail. | Being reunited with college family. | Having a simple breakfast with people I love.
I got to spend a day last month with most of my little group of friends from college. It was refreshing to see them again. It’s also becoming refreshing to feel less tied down to what things were like in college and to welcome what’s here now. I’d never hiked this particular butte, and the view was wildly wonderful even on the cloudy day. I love Oregon. [Photo by Cooper]
In August, I also happened to be in the same place with the three original friends I met during orientation years ago! We’re still cuties, aren’t we? [Photo by Meigan]
Buying scented candles and lighting them all the time. | Smelling roses and other wonderful smells.
I actually started using a candle warmer this year! I like how long the wax cubes last (much longer than a regular candle), and discovering where to find new scents.
Visiting the coast again. | Camping with people I adore.
I spent a night in a yurt with my grandparents. It was rainy and cold, but we found graffiti under a bridge and cried laughing while playing Jenga and Bananagrams. The next day was much more sunny; we visited a lighthouse and a lookout point. Oregon, man…
Taking a class from my beloved writing teacher again.
I wrote this on my first “looking forward to” list. I wasn’t sure at that point in time if I’d ever go back to college or not, but now I’m sure I won’t (which is completely fine with me; preferable, actually). But when I found it in my lists as I was preparing to write this post, I stopped for a minute and sat in all the emotions that came. My writing teacher died this summer. I’d experienced grief before, but not like I experienced it for her. She was supportive of me and invested in my growth during a time when I could have given up on myself. I still remember what she taught me, both in writing and in being a person, every single day. I love you and miss you, Ms. Lee.
Learning an instrument. | Feeling more skilled in things I currently feel like an amateur in. | Having my passion for music be known by the people around me, instead of bottled within myself.
Last year, if you had asked me what I do, I would vaguely mention art; I was ashamed of my skill level in music, didn’t feel like a true music-maker. That has changed this year. I’ve discovered songs in my ancient Casio’s keys during my frequent playtime with it, and teaching myself to play a few songs through YouTube tutorials has been helping me train my ear and get better at using both hands. I love saying, “I play with piano.” It’s truly like a delightful game for me. I have so much more to learn, but I am learning, and I love it. Music is home.
Setting up my easel and painting somewhere outside. | Having painting parties.
When your best friend calls you asking if you can come over “like, right now” and paint with her from a birdwatching tower, you say yes. Such sweet times with her. Thanks for getting me to dip my toes in the world of oil paints, Sierra. It inspired me to go and paint the lake I grew up next to the next week.
I also had a few friends over to play around with watercolor near my birthday. Look at how great they did (mine’s the one that looks like it’s framed by fruit loops ignore that one)!
Getting letters from people I love. | Writing letters.
Always writing to Katie from across the country, except now she gets to write about her wedding plans! Love her so much. She came to visit during the summer.
Discovering more musicians I’ll cherish forever. | Growing more associations with albums and seasons of my life.
The most impactful discoveries this year were NF, Fleurie, Anthem Lights, Jeremiah Daly, and Kings Kaleidoscope. You’ll find them all on the playlist I made throughout 2016, which is on both YouTube and Spotify if you want to eavesdrop.
Adopting a pet. | Holding adorable little animals.
Jonas came into my life in October. I wrote about him.
Wearing more pretty dresses.
I became a little obsessed with my black and white striped dress, and may have just gotten a navy and white striped dress with longer sleeves because I like the look so much…
Seeing my best friend again and going on a random little adventure with her.
Our adventure this year didn’t go as we planned. But with all the children’s books, car talks, tea, bad karaoke, borrowed pajamas, and Eloise at Christmastime gushing? We’re still my favorite.
Coloring with children.
My dad had me watch his friend’s granddaughter on the fourth of July; her adventurous spirit and ability to color way beyond her age’s typical skill level were wonderful surprises.
Making notebooks for friends.
I don’t make them for my own school notes anymore, so I like being able to still put them in schools somehow. Having my friends be the vessels is the best way I can think of.
Making prayer-art a regular part of my life.
In high school I met a woman who “prayed in color;” she’d paint in a journal whatever came to her mind as she prayed, and was able to express some of the wordless things she was feeling. I was inspired and wanted to do the same thing, but it didn’t really connect for me like it seemed to for her. I’ve learned that it serves a different purpose for me. When a friend asks me to pray for them in a specific way, sometimes I’ll feel like I’m supposed to paint about it, so I’ll do that as I pray, and will often send them the artwork afterwards with a note about any impression I was getting. I also feel driven to create when tragedy hits the world in some way.
Watching fireworks at our annual Fourth of July barbeques.
I went through a video-making phase during the summer, so I have this year’s fireworks set to music. You can watch it here.
Playing Loaded Questions.
We played for hours at a church group I go to; I laughed harder than I had in a very long time. We’re good at being a bit intense in our discussions, so it was nice to have a light-hearted night and get to know each other’s personalities a bit more.
Making more quote signs.
A pretty common practice for me, but always fun. And the past month or so, I’ve been working out some plans concerning my little encouragement posters! Hopefully you will hear about it soon.
Writing about some of the big things. | Finding new things to write about.
I wrote about being kind to myself; about having flaws, and how maybe that’s okay; about forgiveness that doesn’t stop being necessary; about getting defensive on the internet; about using religion as a tool instead of a fence; about being hopeful despite the fear of getting crushed; about not finding a place shaped like me; about love being the cure; about shame, and what it was like to grow up in church; about my pornography addiction and honesty; about God’s revelation to me concerning anxiety and the tools He’s given me to replace it; about my promise to be your friend in our differences… yeah. Some of the big things.
Seeing friendships grow deeper. | Hugging people I love.
Two of my favorite things about life. Enjoy this photo of my sister and I near our birthdays.
Finding a purse that suits me.
I haven’t had good luck with purses because I don’t want to lug around something big, yet I want room for a sketchbook or journal amongst my other little things. Finally found something in a good size that’s also pretty cute (and it was on sale)!
Driving in tree-filled areas during the fall.
My situation is a little different from what it was last year, and I was a bit downtrodden when I realized I probably wasn’t going to be able to drive much, if at all, this fall. But I did get to drive a few times. And one particular day, I drove under so many trees that I was able to be in the dance of what felt like hundreds of leaves by the time I reached my destination. Grace.
Owning more band merchandise.
The concerts I went to this year helped! I super enjoy my t-shirt with some of my favorite Switchfoot lyrics, and my NF hat (I’ve discovered a love a good ball cap, by the way).
Watching more episodes of great web series.
Oh my goodness, Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party came out this year and I loved it! Not only is it hilarious, but it’s super well-written with a mystery that I couldn’t nail down until the very end. If you want to see classic authors blame each other for murder in the most hilarious ways, but also be curious and in the dark along with them, definitely check out Poe Party!
Giving and receiving words of love on our message board.
We do this super often now that only two of us are home during the day. My mom writes little notes every single morning; sometimes there are puns…
Making food for people.
I put the frozen pizza in the oven every Monday night. I’m saying that counts.
Drinking strawberry lemonade.
I’m not the biggest fan of Roadhouse Grill, but we go there once a year for my parents’ anniversary and I get the strawberry lemonade every single time. Wow it is good. I also had watermelon lemonade at a little picnic with Katie and G’ma Edie this summer.
Writing new poems that express what I want them to.
I’ve written a poem every day this year. Not only has it helped me as a writing exercise (if you’re a writer of any kind, study/read/write poetry; it teaches economy of words and gets your head voice familiar with what sounds right), but sometimes it’s my opportunity to get what’s inside me out and find the starting point of some closure or insight. Gems have come from it, at least in my perspective. I’m working on figuring out what to do with them.
Next week I will be posting part two of the hopes I lived this year!