2013 was just the prologue. 2014, I’m ready.

I looked back at 2012’s New Year’s Eve post today as I sat down. The first sentence said “I have the most deliriously, deep-to-the-bone happy feeling about 2013.”

Man.

Was I ever right to feel that way?

2013 was a year of conquering. For the very first time I think I really waded into some selfishness. I wanted to really evaluate what I wanted in life. What was I going to do to get there? For the last three or so years I had been floating along with good enough; and turned out––that wasn’t good enough anymore. In that case, I think selfishness is the way to go.

The list of 25 by 25 was a huge impetus to get my butt in motion. To stop talking so much and do a lot more. I never imagined how putting a list together and reflecting on action could make so much happen.

I mean, just the cliff notes?

– Visiting NINE new states.

– Going to Canada.

Me + Soon-To-Be-Little-Did-I-Know-Now-Current Roommate

– Running a 10K.

– Really kicking butt at my old job. I was given some great new accounts and was really proud of the work Woodbine was doing.

– Sibling beach camping trip.

Me + Brother

– Running a HALF MARATHON.

– Making some amazing new best friends. Ones that came in the last half and ones in the first (looking at you, Tara).

It's amazing how you can become best friends with someone in a minute.

It’s amazing how you can become best friends with someone in a minute.

– Little brother graduated and moved to college.

Davis looks good.

– Quitting my job.

– Welcoming Evan into the world. That was a best.

He’s growing like a weed, though.

– Moving to Boston.

– New, great roommates.

– Starting graduate school.

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 3.08.29 PM

– Teaching myself the guitar.

– A Savannah AOII reunion.

– So many sporting events. Countless Dash. W-S Open Tennis. A Braves weekend. Red Sox. Patriots. Panthers. Whew.

– Going to probably 10 concerts.

Boots and Coozies tailgating for Brad Paisley.

Boots and Coozies tailgating for Brad Paisley.

– Being at the Macy’s Parade for Thanksgiving.

– Staying close with best friends. Even when they’re freaking far away.

Katieryn LANE! (Wright.)

B + VK + Me. ❤

Sha. ❤

Roberta and Stephanie. 🙂 Rob and Steve, you know I love you.

Denise and Briana. Derek and Brad, you know I love you too.

The B.C. to my A.D.

Linds Love.

V found me in Boston.

And of course Kait. Plus Sha. Plus Brooke.

Mushy.

Mushy.

PS, if you’re my friend and don’t have a nickname we apparently need to work on that.

– Finding a new church.

– Coming back from a rough sports injury.

–  Starting OVER with friends and coming out with a pretty amazing group.

Broadcast Family Class '14

Broadcast Family Class ’14

– Oh, and a new boyfriend. That’s a pretty big deal. Love this guy.

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I pretty much (minus a few 25s) crushed 2013. I honest-to-God do not know how it could’ve been better unless someone came out of the scenery and gave me like $100,000 or something.

Seriously. I am so freaking blessed.

And on the one hand where I am infinitely grateful to the things that God has moved in my life; I am also just so proud of myself. I know I couldn’t have done it without Him––but there was a part that required me to be brave. And there was a part that required me to have some insane trust and at the same time strength.

Moving to Boston was one of the most terrifying and gratifying things I have done. But I couldn’t see the gratifying part while I was laying in the floor of my Winston-Salem apartment crying my eyes out. Committing to a Boston apartment before I was sure that I wanted to leave? Committing to an apartment before I had let anyone know? That made it real. And that made it scary. But I took a deep breath and I went.

There have been equal forces at hand in each part of 2013.

The incredible joy of travel while facing an uncomfortable fear of flying.

The reward of returning to school with the painful goodbye and sadness of leaving an office made of my second family.

The excitement of new friends while missing the old.

The happiness of conquering change while feeling the holes of traditions and being with family.

The fresh victory of testing my body and seeing my running capabilities blossom with the regret of pushing too hard and finding its limits.

The amazing excitement of  love and then also the fear of vulnerability.

My life is amazingly balanced. And if you know me, and how Libra I really am, you know that I couldn’t be happier. On a daily basis I am amazed at the fullness of my heart and the satisfaction I have.

For the first time in a long time I don’t feel like I am settling.

2014 you have one heck of a lot to match; but I feel confident. I feel excited. And I feel like I’m going into 2014 with the best momentum I could ever dream of.

You know when you were young and adults would tell you “Just wait, these aren’t the best years of your life.” I had the scary and happy and confused and curious thought recently that . . . I think 2013 was. I think it was one of the best. And I think 2014 will be the second. This roll that 2013 started doesn’t feel like it’s settling down. Instead,  I really think God just got started. 2013 was a prologue and I damn can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in the next act.

So for my annual predictions.

Last year I called: Happy changes. Beautiful friendships (new and old). Fun celebrations. Promises followed through. Adventurous travels. Getting out of the comfort zone. Being invested. Healthy growing up. Lots of love.

And I want to keep all of that. But I’m going to add:

  •  A little growing up. 25 is young; but I can grow.
  •  A graduation.
  •  A stronger family.
  •  A running come-back story.
  •  A giving back to the city I’ve fallen in love with.
  •  Decisiveness.

Decisiveness? You might say. Yes. I think 2014 is going to challenge my confidence in the big decisions. I’m going to need to jump fast and with my whole heart. I’m going to have to know what I want, how I want it, when and where. And I’m going to have to be 100 percent in those big choices.

I want to go with my whole heart.

And if 2013 is any indication, I know I can.

Still alive. Still very alive.

I was sitting in the kitchen last night when my mom asked “Ashley, did you post on your blog today?”

After answering with a “No,” I got the cringing response; “You know it’s been a month, right?”

Oye, nothing like your mom calling you out for being distracted.

Something about being a graduate student in November and December? It’s busy. And not in all of the typical expected ways.

Of course there are the “finals,” which in my case were all final projects. Final packages to film and edit, papers to write and scripts to finish. I had to turn in some final research (eek, which I still need to do). There were students from my TA class with a lot of questions and there were some very busy end-of-semester projects for my graduate assistantship.

That’s all expected and a good excuse, right?

The other intangible part was that there were holidays to prepare for; a month-long trip home to pack and anticipate––and a lot of graduating that called for celebrations.

I remember so vividly early September. Not only did December seem far away, it still seemed imminent. There was an intimidating “older” girl in one of my classes who was set to graduate at the end of the semester. We always ended up sitting next to each other in our class. She seemed nice; but like she knew what she was doing. And since she had already been in Boston a year, I figured she already had friends and she wouldn’t take too much notice of me.

In some ways that made me grateful because she wouldn’t be looking over my shoulder at my mess of an edit job.

Somehow one day I decided to tell her about November Project though. She looked like she appreciated being active and working out. And that’s all it took.

She wanted to come! And it turned out that we had a lot to talk about. Enough so that she invited me to meet her at a birthday party that weekend.

Hmm. Even though Jeanna was 23 (younger than me!); she was getting ready to graduate. And in a REALLY weird way I felt like I was back in high school and an older girl was inviting me to a party––and oh, I felt special.

But I didn’t know anyone.

The kids in my program year hadn’t really hit it off yet. I wasn’t comfortable enough to really force one of them to be a tag-along.

That Saturday night as I had text back and forth with Jeanna, who was asking where I was at, I was skeptical.

I told my roommates, “They’re going to graduate in December. What’s the point? Why make the effort to be friends?”

My roommate Brian made a plausible case, “You never know what kind of connections they could be afterwards! If nothing else, go for that.”

I said if I could find a sidekick I would go. Luckily for me, Erika said she’d meet me there in 15 minutes.

Four months later as I got a little teary writing Jeanna’s graduation card among a stack of others, I thought “Wow. What if I hadn’t gone to that party?”

Maybe things would have turned out quite similar and the next weekend she would have convinced me to come.

Maybe?

Maybe inevitably my friend Alex would’ve gotten to me and forced me to hang out like he’s apt to do.

All I know is that after that night I fairly forced the graduating class to adopt me as a surrogate graduate. I spent all of my weekends with them. I went to all of their celebrations for the end of the semester. And I went through some waves of sadness in the last month realizing that the next two semesters will be very different without them.

Every time my mom would call it seemed that I was on my way to a party. “Are you sure you’re doing school work?!”

I was. But I had to make sure I squeezed in all of my time and congratulations in the midst of that school. Boston has been for graduate school, yes—but turns out that it’s also been for a lot more.

Not to mention, that birthday party? Well it turned out to be Andy’s birthday party. Yeah, that turned out kind of special too.

My life in Boston would only have been a shadow of as awesome if it hadn’t been for those people graduating.

Beautiful Christmas Sweater photo creds to Jeanna.

So, that is why I am so delayed. I’ve been living it up the last month and soaking in every last second before going back to North Carolina.

You know, as the plane landed and I’m walking through the Charlotte terminal, I couldn’t help but feel like it had only been a week that I was gone. A week of a surreal, yet very detailed dream.

It’s just nice to know that it wasn’t. And while for a few weeks that may feel like a parallel life—I’ll try to connect it to North Carolina as best as I can over the holidays.

Man, there’s one heck of a New Year’s post brewing. I can feel it!

More on turkeys, Thanksgiving, the Macy’s Parade and all this love I’m feeling for life soon. But at least now you’re decently on the news.

xxxx.