I write lists of things to look forward to as a way of keeping hope and a spirit of anticipation strong in me. This year alone, I got to live in ninety-two of those things. I shared the first half last week; here’s the second.
My freshman class from college graduated in May. Although it did feel strange to know I wasn’t sharing in the experience, my pride in the growth and accomplishments of my dear friends was the most overwhelming part of it all. I was bursting for them.
Writing about some of the big things | Finding new things to write about | Writing poems that express what I want them to
A lot of my writing this year has stayed private, more than it has in many years. Things were confusing and tumultuous, and often I didn’t feel like I had the authority to speak even if I did possibly have something to share. But I still wrote often in my journals and to my close friends. I write a poem every evening, too, which helps me exercise the muscle as well as express feelings or thoughts still lingering at the end of the day, and that was so good for me this year.
On the blog it was a bit quiet apart from my monthly media roundups, but I did talk about Jesus’ heart for refugees, the role of generosity in love, the nature of submission being about choice, the mixed feelings that come with being in recovery, the importance of an awake church, and the difficult but vital work of discerning God’s voice from others.
Seeing friendships grow deeper | Meeting people who will be significant parts of my story | Becoming friends with people I didn’t expect to | Rekindling friendships that became distant | Hugging people I love | Having conversations that make me laugh every time I remember them later
I love my people. I spent much of this year slightly isolated, so I’ve learned to treasure time with them even more than I did already and to seek out more of it. You all hopefully know who you are; I love you. Thank you for holding me up when it felt like I couldn’t stand anymore.
Playing with puppies | Holding adorable little animals
I got to meet (and be lavishly kissed by) my Uncle Terry’s puppy earlier this year. I also got to hold a bunch of tiny Siamese kittens at Kandy’s house, which was an absolute dream. And of course I held my own sweet animals, too. And (consensually) pet various dogs and cats I came across.
Driving in tree-filled areas during the fall
I tried a new counseling office this year, and while that definitely did not work out, it was in the heart of a beautiful campus and I went in the middle of autumn. The drives ended up being better for me than the sessions I was driving to, and eventually I realized maybe that was a clue to what I actually needed.
Running into people randomly at the store | Randomly running into my professors
I love unplanned reunions and how they automatically become the highlight of the day for me.
Giving and receiving words of love on our message board
My mom writes a little note every morning before leaving for work. I love her.
Watching it snow
We started the year with a few inches of snow in Oregon. I’m not the biggest fan of winter so seeing snow is a redeeming quality.
Watching sunrises and sunsets
A beautiful sky can genuinely turn a hard day around for me. One particular memory of a sunrise this year was in the winter, when my grandma and I were driving along the coast and the sky was full of color even after nine in the morning
Smelling roses and other wonderful smells | Having scents for my candle warmer that don’t make me feel sick
I can be sensitive to smell sometimes because of my anxiety disorder, so pleasant smells are a nice mood-lifter. I found a few wax melts with scents that don’t overwhelm me and now I can make my room smell nice any time I need to.
Attending the weddings of dear friends
Two of my close friends got married this year! Katie got married in March (I got to see her at her home-state reception a month later, which was such a gift), and Cooper got married in September, both of them to wonderful and sweet people. Seeing people I love so much find their people is wildly uplifting.
Feeling noticed in the best way
Jesus romanced me so well this year, even when I was afraid and closed off. His love is so good. Dream-like.
Starting an Etsy shop | Making more quote signs | Giving my art to more people | Making greeting cards for friends
I opened Tessa Maye Makes Things this year! Was it successful? To be frank: no. I didn’t make any sales through Etsy. But did it teach me to focus on what I like to make versus what I think I have to make? And did I learn a few new skills in starting a business? And did my mom and my grandma commission me more than once to support me? And did I make an effort to do the work my hands found to do? Yes. A hearty yes. For the time being, my art is best spread freely to the people in my life. Maybe someday, it will be the right time to spread it further.
Drinking hot cocoa | Drinking strawberry lemonade | Having mango flavored things
Some of my favorite beverages across the seasons (though I drink them all year round).
Praying with people
The isolation I lived in this year led me to pray with (and, more accurately, ask for prayer from) my family much more than I used to, and that’s a way God has already redeemed it before my eyes.
Having solid interactions with kind strangers | Observing the quirks of others
Genuinely some of my favorite things about life! I love making friends, even if it’s only for a day and we have one conversation. People are just amazing. I am blown away by how different yet akin we all are the more I keep looking at us and learning.
Exploring quirky shops
In the fall I had an hour long gap between meetings, so I’d walk through a shop in the neighborhood that had the weirdest, most random and creative things for sale. I never bought anything, but it was always fun to peruse and see what they had that week.
Having spontaneous dance parties
This is basically every day for me. But to be honest, what I’m really looking forward to is having a family that does things like dance around in the kitchen while we’re making dinner.
Having a cat that likes being a sweet companion
I’ve had my cat for over thirteen years, but in most of that time she’s been aloof and mean. This has been such a good year for her personality softening and opening up to more to us; she’s been wanting to come in the house and take naps, and she lets me hold her and cuddle her for a few minutes at a time. I just love feeling her soft little body rest against mine.
Baking and decorating a lovely cake | Making food for people | Getting food with people in the middle of the night
I made a carrot cake this spring and it turned out great– apart from the buttercream flowers I attempted to make with my scratch frosting that was truly just colorful butter. I happened to mention the cake to Rachel when we ran into each other at an event, and in less than a minute we decided she was coming over that night to help me eat it.
Having a simple breakfast with people I love
For some reason sharing breakfast just feels more intimate to me than the other meals. I got to have many little breakfasts with my grandma during our back-and-forth visits as she works on moving into the neighborhood. I’m so excited to have her closer.
Happening upon street art
This is always a fun little surprise and it did happen to me this year, but one time it took an especially unique form: Sierra was creating street art and I, Johnny, and Jenessa got to keep her company as she did it. So many laughs, oh my goodness.
It might seem like a small thing, but I’m telling you: game changer.
Reaching one year porn-free
I’m currently eighteen months porn-free. Recovery is such a weird process to be in, but I am so grateful to be in it and to be walking in this freedom. The temptation hasn’t gone away and neither have some of the effects; sometimes I’m still shocked by nightmares and impulses that show up. But my heart is healed and I know that. And I am fully loved, just as I always have been. I know that, too.
If you want to read or use the lists where I recorded these hopes (among others), you can find them here, here, and here. Coming up with them helps me, but I’m finding that doing intakes like this yearly might be an even more helpful exercise. It’s the dose of perspective and optimism I need walking into a new year. I encourage you to start your own lists if this was any form of comfort to you today.
Your life is so big, and your Father gives good gifts. Be ready to welcome them.