I started writing a list of things to look forward to when I was nineteen. I was a year through college, realizing that I didn’t like what my life looked like, and battling the terrible thought that maybe my life wasn’t going to be worth living if it couldn’t hold my hopes and see them through into reality.
But I became determined to keep living, and to believe that God had true life in store for me. Instead of fearing that my hopes would never come to pass, I started writing them down under the title: “Things to Look Forward To.”
A lot has changed since then; a bit hasn’t. But hopes keep existing in me. And I keep doing my best to give audience to them rather than to my fears. And the list? It’s grown to be over three hundred items long, and I got to live ninety-two of those items this year alone.
Dreams are for life. For my life and yours.
We get to keep living. We get to see that God really does give good gifts, even when we don’t yet understand how they’ll arrive.
I do these intakes yearly as a reminder for myself, and for you if you need it. Without further ado: here is the first half of the hopes I got to live this year.
Developing photos and scrapbooking them | Filling more journals
I’m notoriously bad at printing out my photos (in other words: I’ve had the same camera for nine years and haven’t developed anything, ever). But this year I took up a more creative approach to my daily journal and started recording the highlights/main events of every month, and it felt natural to add photos to those pages. Now I just print out a few favorites at the end of the month and stick them in as a more relaxed scrapbook; it works well for me, since my journal already hosts everything else.
My family lives on a lake and we get to watch the fireworks show every Fourth of July from our backyard barbeque. My grandma was with us this year, so that was extra special.
Reading more books | Reading more fairytales | Becoming a good bookworm again
I used to think that I was a slow reader– then I started reading books I actually enjoyed. Giving myself permission to stop reading books I wasn’t getting anything from was a great decision and allowed me to read some fantastic stories this year. Goodreads kept track of them all for me if you’re interested in seeing more of my thoughts on them; the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness and Eve by Wm. Paul Young were powerful favorites.
Writing lyrics again | Learning an instrument | Putting my lyrics to music | Feeling more skilled in things I currently feel like an amateur in
Music is the thing for me, even if I don’t always act like it; I think knowing how important a role it plays for me has made it feel almost too pure to pursue, if that makes sense. I’m really going to work on pushing through that hesitancy in 2018. However, I’m not going to let what I haven’t done keep me from being in awe of what I have done. Watching clips I’ve taken of my piano practice from early in the year and comparing them to what I can do now gives me a rush of happiness. I started to add very simple piano backing to some of my lyrics, too; I can’t wait for my skill in that to grow. I know I’ll get there. It’s the thing for me.
Going to more concerts | Seeing Colony House | Owning more band merchandise
I got to my see my absolute favorite band this year, and it’s hard to explain how that feels; when they started playing the first song, a sound came out of me that was half laughter and half sobbing. If you ever get a chance to see Colony House (or whoever your favorite artist might be), do it. Huge thank you to my mom for making the trip with me and to Karen for letting us stay with her while we were in town.
I also got to see Switchfoot, Relient K, Andy Mineo, MercyMe, Jordan Feliz, and Matthew West this year. Mostly old favorites, which was unplanned but nice.
Seeing meaningful new movies | Seeing my favorite actors in great new movies | Seeing new Marvel movies
My interest in film has grown quite a bit and I’ve stretched myself in terms of the kinds of movies I see, which has been overall very rewarding! I finally watched Interstellar (so good, wow!), Arrival (surprising; I might need to rewatch it), The Sixth Sense (fantastic), and Guardians of The Galaxy (I felt like a fake Marvel fan for waiting this long to see it), among other films I’d somehow avoided. As far as new ones go…
La La Land was wonderful and so was my beloved Emma Stone; Hidden Figures was delightful, inspiring, and important; Hacksaw Ridge was one of the most powerful films I’ve watched in my lifetime and made me so proud of Andrew Garfield; War for The Planet of The Apes was incredible (as is the whole trilogy) and Andy Serkis is a powerhouse of an actor; Doctor Strange was such an awesome, interesting piece of the Marvel universe; Wonder Woman was cool, and reminded me that femininity and strength are not mutually exclusive but rather are intertwined; the fifth installment of Pirates of The Caribbean was engaging and introduced me to the wonderful Brenton Thwaites; Collateral Beauty wrecked me; Thor: Ragnarok was super fun; and, yes– Spider-Man: Homecoming made me so ridiculously giddy (I saw it in the theater more than once, which is not something I ever do) and Tom Holland is one of my favorite people.
Watching movies with dear friends | Receiving a bouquet of flowers | Having flowers in the house
Meigan, Brandon, and Josh came over to watch a movie over the summer and brought flowers for me; my friends are the best and love me so well. Josh and Rachel have come over for movies a few other times, too, and Sierra and I spent a lovely evening together watching La La Land for the first time.
Getting better at painting | Learning new ways to make things | Making art that gets me excited when I finish it | Spending more time in my sketchbook
Discovering through practice is one of my favorite ways to grow. I really enjoy creating without pressure, and having a random sketchbook that I’m not afraid to mess up in or throw random scraps into has helped me do that a bit more.
Going to more baby showers
My sweet friend Kayla is having her second little boy soon and I loved being able to celebrate and anticipate with her.
Going on a road trip | Seeing a real castle | Taking walks in new places | Sitting by the lake in the summer | Dangling my feet over a dock for a calm while | Staying in hotels
This summer I got to visit Port Townsend, Washington with my family. Such a fun trip, featuring my first ferry ride, walks in town and inside the Manresa castle, game nights with cry-laughs, a giant stairway leading to nowhere, street cats, chats on the docks, and a lot of beautiful things to see.
Hiking a calm little forest trail
My mom and I went to a local butte she’d never hiked before. A lovely summer morning.
Visiting the coast again
My grandma lives on the coast right now so I got to see it a few times with her, including Easter weekend when we stayed with her. We often walk a particular trail and I feel a strange partial ownership of it now.
Getting letters from people I love | Writing letters | Getting packages in the mail
My dear sweet Katie still sends me letters, no matter where she is. I love having that correspondence with her and knowing we’re still touching the same things even when we’re on opposite sides of the country. She even sent me a Christmas package!
Discovering more musicians I’ll cherish forever | Unexpectedly hearing songs that bring me to the most beautiful place of nostalgia
So many wonderful musicians out there creating such meaningful things. I’ve been compiling a playlist all year long, and ended up listening to it probably almost daily. Notable new finds for me this year were Kina Grannis, Phangs, Ed Sheeran (definitely not new, but new to me), John Mayer (ditto), Knox Hamilton, Isla Roe, Francis and The Lights, LANY, and Post Animal. Plus, old favorites like Colony House, Pen Pals, Good Old War, Nick Voelker, and Andrew Belle released new work!
Exploring art galleries | Seeing my best friend again and going on a random adventure with her | Drinking bubble tea
Sierra gifted me one of the best afternoons of the year for my birthday. She took me to the art museum on her university campus, taught me about the Barberini tapestries we saw there, led me on an autumn walk, bought me bubble tea, and was the listening ear I needed. Such a good time.
Being reunited with college family | Wearing more pretty dresses | Wearing red lipstick | Taking adorable and/or dorky photos in a photo booth with loved ones
Some of my best friends were seniors in college this year, and Meigan invited me to her senior banquet. Brandon was nice enough to share his date with me (haha) and I had a lovely time with them and the other friends I got to catch up with there.
Also, I’d never worn red lipstick before this year and I think it’s so fun!
Flying in a plane | Traveling to places different from where I live
I definitely did not expect to embark on my first ever flight this year, but my Aunt Cheri invited my grandma and I to visit her this summer, so we did! I can’t tell you how many times I googled “can I pack _______ in a carry on” before we left. I was nervous, but it ended up being relatively painless. And being up in the sky… insane. The world is so big and I forget that sometimes; it’s such a comfort.
My aunt lives in a city unlike the ones I’m used to, and I was grateful she took us exploring during our stay. But I have to say: our backyard meals and movie marathons and laughs were just as fun as the “bigger” adventures.
Having painting parties | Having craft days with friends | Painting/carving pumpkins
Meigan, Ariel, and Rachel came over near my birthday to paint mini pumpkins with me. I so enjoyed the company and seeing everyone’s unique brand of creativity.
Next week I will share the second half of the hopes I lived in 2017. If you want to read or use my “looking forward to” lists, you can find them here, here, and here. I encourage you to write your own if you think there’s any possibility it might bring some hope into your life.
Your dreams? They’re made for you to touch.
Take heart, and enter the next year with hope.