new years resolutions

Goodbye, Year of Ambition. Hello, Year of Composing.

For four years, I’ve selected a single word to highlight, headline, and motivate each upcoming year. There were years of discovery (2012), dedication (2013), exploration (2014), and even ambition (2015). No two years were the same and no single year was perfect, yet each held a divine combination of mystery and intrigue, absolution and enlightenment.

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In 2015, my aim was to be ambitious, to play to my Slytherin tendencies rather than denying them. And, for the most part, my ambitions paid off.

I completed three straight semesters of grad school, with virtually no breaks in-between. On that note, I changed grad programs and distinguished myself from my classmates. I helped my parents market their home, move states, and find a new home. I drove cross-country and didn’t have a single road accident, thank you very much. I was published (twice!) in a literary journal and earned the praise of professors I had yet to meet.

All in all, 2015 was a success…albeit I spent nearly as much time biting my nails, banging my head against (mostly figurative) walls, and wanting to wring the necks of others, as I did being ambitious.

Alas, the year of exploration has reached its end.


With that, it’s time to recognize the year of composing.

When I tried to think of my neon lit, red ink stamp, and billboard-sized word for 2016, I struggled to limit myself to just one word. In fact, “marvel,” “persist,” “build,” “write,” and even the phrase “take root” seemed to resonate with my hopes for this year.

In the coming days, I so desperately crave the wonderment of new experiences, the challenges of hard tasks, the process of putting together all the parts, the thrall of creation, and the glory of growth. But, none of those words truly suit what I wish to see and feel when it comes time to recognize the sum of 2016.

And that’s why 2016 will be the year of composing.

I ultimately chose to call this the year of composing because the word “compose” making my bones sing. The idea of making something whole, be it a story or other work, is absolutely intoxicating. I have a desire, a need to take pieces and make them whole, in whatever way I can.

In 2016, I want to compose. I want to compose the plot points I’ve been keeping in my head into a full-fledged story. I want to compose these semesters of grad school into a well-earned degree. I want to compose the divergent parts of me into someone that my younger self would admire, even as I undergo the stresses of graduation, moving, traveling, and searching for my first true job.

I want to compose something new.

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Keeping with tradition, I won’t write out (more specific) resolutions, but rather I will simply wish that at least 16 lovely things will happen over the next 365 days. That being said, feel free to post your resolutions or #oneword2016 in the comments below.

I hope that your hearts are full in the days ahead and, without further ado, let the pleasure and thrill of 2016 begin! Happy New Year!





Goodbye, Year of Exploration. Hello, Year of Ambition.

For the last three years, I’ve rejected the idea of explicit resolutions and instead made a habit of declaring a single word to embody each new year. There was the year of discovery (2012), the year of dedication (2013), and even the year of exploration (2014). Each year lived up to its name, albeit sometimes in surprising ways that pushed me to my limits and then a bit beyond.

In 2012, I discovered who I was away from my friends, outside of my hometown, and apart from everything that I’d always thought was certain, as well as who I was when I came back. In 2013, I dedicated myself to whatever felt important, including finishing my bachelors degree in English and refining my art. And, in 2014, I explored whatever struck my fancy, even as that led me to travel from coast to coast for months on end and begin a master’s degree in criminal justice. No two years were the same, yet no year was more or less enthralling than any other.

All of that being said, 2014 was pretty intriguing. I spent three months in California, Oregon, and Washington. Then I spent three months in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. That’s not to mention all the states and shores I visited on the way to and from those places. I turned 21 and wasted my newest privilege by drinking a pitifully small volume of alcohol (say “no” to big kablue-nas). I began graduate school and discovered that sometimes the student teaches the professor. I baked foods and treats I couldn’t even pronounce and used ingredients I’d never heard of before.

In short, I explored.

Now it’s time to put all of that behind me, to close the door on 2014’s wild exploration, and step into the year 2015, which already seems daunting and intoxicating.

Over the next 365 days, I’ll be traveling back to South Carolina, the state I know only through my family tree.  I’ll be completing my Masters of Criminal Justice degree, complete with nerve-wracking comprehensive exams. I’ll be leaving my friends and the only place I have ever truly regarded as “home.” I’ll be taking control of my health and defying my genetics. I’ll be taking important steps in my personal and professional lives, striving to achieve success through desire and determination.

All in all, 2015 can and will be nothing less than wild and engrossing, fast-paced and sublime. Thus, in the same vein of thought, I’ve decided to call 2015 the year of ambition. I chose the word ambition to embody or headline this year mostly because I have a strong desire to achieve multiple things this year. I have an end-game in mind and nothing will stop me from reaching it. In addition, I’ve come to realize that being ambitious is just in my nature and that is something to use to my advantage, to accept as a benefit. So, this year will be a journey in accepting ambition as a facet of my nature.

Keeping with tradition, as I jumpstart the New Year, I won’t write down any particular resolutions because, well, it just feels awful when a perfectly composed resolution isn’t fulfilled precisely as it was written. I prefer to stick with matters of certainty, like the inevitable graduation and move, and variety, like the generality of being ambitious in all my endeavors. Along the way, I simply hope that at least 15 marvelous things will happen.

Here’s to a year of purpose and cheers to everyone reading this. I hope that you find precisely what you are looking for in the exciting days ahead. Happy New Year!

Goodbye, Year of Discovery. Hello, Year of Dedication.

I have an issue with New Year’s resolutions.

It is not so much the act of making them. It is the act of leaving them unfulfilled. Often it seems that resolutions are made simply to be forgotten as the chocolate high and bubbly buzz fade. Regardless of the year’s worth of time that passes before open eyes, rarely are resolutions actually achieved. I myself am guilty of making resolutions and dismissing them over the course of the year. Even those resolutions which I am heart desperate to fulfill, often get pushed aside as unimportant in the wake of new circumstances. At the donning of 2012, the Chinese year of the Dragon, I made nine resolutions on this blog:

2012: Resolutions.

  1. Exercise more frequently and achieve the most physically fit state possible for me.
  2. Listen to others as well as to my own conscience.
  3. Finish the short novel that I have begun.
  4. Travel as far as possible and allow my senses to run rampant in each new place.
  5. Feel as often as I think, for too much of either is no go
    od at all.
  6. Find family.
  7. Paint and draw until my ideas run out–art will never come to be if you never begin.
  8. Disappear to a new place and find what I do not even know I am looking for.
  9. To be like a dragon and achieve exactly what I want.

Now, as I feel 2012 fading into a year of memories that even I already cannot keep straight, I am disappointed in all that I have not done. Yet, at the same time, I know that something must have happened in this time that has passed. So, I have made this list as well.

2012: What Actually Happened.

  1. Reading whole stacks of books from the library.
  2. Learning who my real friends were in the midst of college confusion.
  3. Spending three months traveling the west coast with my parents by RV and car. 
  4. Buying this domain name/address and finally putting new efforts into my blog.
  5. Learning how to ride a bicycle without training wheels or having Padre help me.
  6. Letting go of high school drama/ the past, and remembering how to start fresh.
  7. Conquering my fear of heights by traveling to the top of the Seattle Space Needle.
  8. Allowing myself to deal with the emotions of life rather than always being logical.
  9. Not voting in the first presidential election for which I was actually eligible to vote, and thereby showing my political colors even as others did not respect them.
  10. Developing a growing disdain for the way in which technology has dulled the emotional and social connections of people in modern society.
  11. Realizing how strong the influence of music is upon my moods, thoughts, and feelings, and also realizing how much greater CDs are than downloads.
  12. Changing my degree plan from Computer Science to Business Administration and then back to English and Literature, the only degree I can really see myself finishing.

I think the best way to describe 2012 is as a year of true discovery.

At the end of it all, 2012 was less about all of the action verbs themselves, and more about that which I learned from those verbs–the lessons along the way.

In books and travels, I learned freedom. In writing and bicycle riding, I learned what it is to feel simultaneously weightless yet weighted down. In overcoming fears and focusing on emotion, I learned my own strength and power. And, in college and music, I learned that there will always remain lessons to be learned and songs to be sung or heard.

After a year of unexpected discovery, I will not be making another set of resolutions. Neither will I be casting aside the idea of goals entirely. Instead, just as this year was all about discovery, I want this year to be about something else.


2013 will be a year of dedication.

The people who have known me for years know that my interests are spread wide and far. One day, I may be entirely dedicated to art and design, and the next my focus may be on boxing or military history. My interests are so thinly spread that dedicating myself to any of them in particular is difficult.

And, it is scary. Absolutely terrifying. The idea that I might make the wrong decision and end up devoured by an interest that does not truly deserve such dedication. Being happy in my choices is so utterly important that I have entirely avoided making any choices at all. It is time to change that.

This year I will be learning from the discoveries of yesteryear. Embracing the idea of falling into something so deeply that I might be entirely encompassed. Welcoming whatever my heart longs to be immersed within.

I will dedicate myself to a soul song and let my life sing.

  1. And
  2. maybe
  3. through
  4. my
  5. soul
  6. song
  7. at
  8. least
  9. thirteen
  10. tremendous
  11. things
  12. will
  13. happen.

I cannot wait to see precisely what they will be.

Happy New Year, my darling readers. I adore each and every one of you, and I hope your 2012 served you well and that your 2013 will be even better.

Do not be afraid to let your life sing.

Remember: “Whatever satisfies the soul is truth” (Walt Whitman).