New Year, new roads!
The fact that we have moved into a new year always ceases to truly hit me until at least two weeks after new years. After a mid-night chinking of glasses, a across country road trip, and a swan dive into two condensed college classes, I have finally found myself staring at the new year with my hands on my hips and hopes in my heart! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that this year is divisible by five. I think that bodes well for the upcoming year.
I think in looking to the future, there is nothing more fitting or beneficial than pausing to give thanks for what has passed. I was recently challenged by a friend to publish a 2014 thankfulness vlog/blog (here’s that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZS_XLoRcEI&list=UU207ogiNxzQFvbBSf2aQtIQ), to remember one thing I was thankful for each month. I liked that idea a lot. And so I did! Doing so helped me re-live moments of my year, remember its flavor and its mountains and valleys.
So, here is my list! I would love to see yours! If you have a blog, vlog, or other media sharing conduit, please do share in the thankfulness.
Also, before I begin, let it be noted that I have not included specific people in my list of thankfulness. If I included the people I’m thankful for, it would dominate this list and several more. I would not be who I am without Parents who have my back, siblings by my side, and friends in my heart. Let that be the song that sings through all my thankfulness.
And, then, without further ado….
Twelve Thankful Months:
January: Zoom out Adventures.
This time last year, I was taking two condensed classes (much like I am this year!). I had one class from 8:00-11:45 and another from 2:00-9:00, and when I wasn’t in class I was reading/writing/preparing for class. One night while staring at my computer screen waiting for words to appear there for a 2,000 word paper due in two days, I suddenly was gripped with the desire for an adventure. I (as dramatically as possible) pushed my desk chair back, grabbed a sweater, and called my friend Kate.
“Kate!” I said, “I think I’m going crazy. I need to go on an adventure. Let’s go to the beach.”
So we did!
First, we got helplessly lost on the California freeways. After about 20 stop lights, a few peeved California drivers (let’s be real… most of them are peeved most of the time), and a bounty of laughter, we ended up being the only customers in a small French cafe in San Juan Capistrano. We ate crepes, commented on the decor and then left to make our way down the corridor of quaint beach houses. Finally we found ourselves walking along the cliffs overlooking the ocean. It was vast and blue and there was no one else there. I breathed in the sweet salty air as it crept up the sides of the sandy hills. It cleared my lungs and my heart.
In between laughter and deep conversations, we made our way down the sandy bank and walked along the shore till our toes were numb from contact with the cold packed sand. In an unusual turn of events for Southern California, we could see the stars. As we delighted in all the smells, textures, and sights that the evening could offer, my checklist of to-do’s and my 2,000 words seemed very small and almost unreal.
That night, we saw a shooting star. I’m a firm believer in shooting stars, so I wished on it.
“God, I wish for a year of breathtaking adventures.”
It was a bold wish, but it came true. This year, beginning with that night, has been a year of being confronted with beauty and adventures that have taken me outside of myself and my sphere of control. From San Juan Capistrano to Dublin, it has been a year of adventures that have made me realize how small I really am, and how breathtaking this world we live in truly is.
I’m thankful for that.
February: Soul Tilling
February was a bit of trying month for me. I felt like my life was a boxing match in which I would get thwacked in the face, and stand up triumphantly as if to say “LOOK! I am not beaten!” only to catch another left jab. Perhaps you have had months like that.
In retrospect, though, I am truly thankful for that time. In that month, life took a lot of my well settled soul and dug it up, turned it over, and shook it out. It was not very comfortable, but the result was that I felt softer, more open to God’s work in my life. I could say much more, but perhaps that is enough.
March: Being an RA
I think I could write a whole blog article, nay! Book about what I learned from being an RA. From event planning to interpersonal skills, it stretched and challenged me in a way that few other things in my life have. But perhaps the sweetest thing about being an RA was the girls. I left that place being so blessed by the faces and stories I got to encounter in my time at the dorm. When I think of it, I smile. I’m glad to be back to see them all.
April: Coffee Shops
Starting in March and fully established in April, I created a habit of taking myself on a coffee date every Friday to soul-center, contemplate my existence, and stare at hipster pictures whilst sipping lattes. It’s a great practice and I highly recommend it. It also made me quite glad for special places with good music and classy coffee. In California, my favorite place is called the Night Owl. That may or may not (read: it does) have something to do with the fact that it is decorated with paintings and figurines of owls… the coffee is good too, I guess.
I am truly thankful for coffee shops. They provide such unique environment to meet people, work, and be.
May: Friends Around the World
After school ended Sarah came out and we hauled up and drove all over the Pacific Northwest visiting vistas and family friends. Everyplace we went were graciously accommodated by friends. It made me realize how lucky I am to have friends scattered across the continent and, indeed, the world. It blesses my soul to think of the web of love multi-location friendships create. Yay friends.
June was not very exciting. However, after a whirlwind semester of running around like a chicken with its head cut off, I found June slow but happy month, which was, in itself, its own kind of novelty. It was a blessed thing indeed to loll around the house, play the piano, have un-precedented amounts of teatimes with my mama, and heck! If I pleased, I could sit and watch a lady-bug crawl on my porch banister.
That’s more exciting than it sounds.
Truly, though. I believe I needed that time to rest, and be, and think. I think we move too quickly these days. We could all do to be a bit more bored.
July: Job at a Coffee Shop
This past summer I had the immense pleasure of working part time at a coffee shop. It was a delight. From regular customers, to the crazy stories I was told by un-caffeinated people, to the copious amounts of coffee I drank… it was a delight from end to finish. What would the social fabric of an American town be with a coffee shop to draw its many threads together?
My thankfulness for books is two-fold. Firstly, it is for the comfort, wisdom, and world they bring. Over the summer I got to read more than usual. In books, I find mentors and friends. Isn’t it amazing that we can sit and experience the thoughts of someone who lived many generations before us? Secondly, I am thankful for the community books create. This summer I attended the CS Lewis Conference in Oxford and Cambridge. Aside from the fact that it was in one of the most delightful places in the world, I was struck by the fact that Lewis’ books had created a community of likeminded people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. And that is something to be glad of heart for!
I would remark on this, but….
Just read my past 5 months of posts.
October: My Sister being in England!
I know I said I wouldn’t say people, but this is more of a thankfulness for the Sarah-en-dipity (heh heh… heh) of circumstances culminating in Sarah and I getting to be in Oxford at the same time. It truly was a delight of delights to have my dearest sister by my side in one of the funnest adventures of my life. The stars aligned and God kissed my wishes.
November: Writing Papers:
The amount we got to write in Oxford was one of my greatest delights. It was exhausting, stretching, and sometimes painstaking. What was wonderful about it, however, was the space it cut out in your life to think deeply about very impactful topics. To research and parse through ideas, and finally to shape your own thoughts on the matter was one of the greatest gifts of my time there. Few other activities afford such an opportunity to stop, think, test, and come to steady ways of thinking about topics in life. I’m thankful for that.
After getting back to Colorado, I was flung into the hurry and scurry, and hurry up and calm down of the holidays and seeing my family and people I love. Whether whispering late into the night with my sister, or sipping tea in my pajamas and talking about life with my mama, or going out to see friends, snow seemed to set the stage for every precious moment. I haven’t really been around snow for nearly two and a half years; I had forgotten its wonders. It is soft and crisp. Cold and new. It brings with it a peace, and also a sense of the ever changing seasons. When it snowed, it reminded me of the rhythm of the earth, set into motion by the great Pied Piper, which I dance to with the rest of the world. It reminds me that I am not in control of the seasons of my life but God is, and He is the God of the magnificent power of nature, and the God of tiny snow flakes, like intricate lace, all unique. I can trust my life to a God who makes snowflakes.
Well, there they are! Rambly and reminiscent as can be. I am thankful. I am most full of thanks and gladness for 2014. Now let’s see what this new year holds.
Joy Clarkson is a featured columnist and the Director of Marketing at Humane Pursuits. She is a graduate of Biola University, and also spent time as a visiting student at Oxford University studying C.S. Lewis, Literature, and Theology. Her days are spent helping people and companies tell their stories well, pondering, writing, singing, and drinking too much Yorkshire Gold tea.