Already Planning for Next Year

Today marked my twenty-sixth Christmas, my fifth Christmas in the Treehouse, and my second Christmas with Tim.  Once the presents have been opened and our tummies are full, just before the long winter’s nap, I ponder where I want to be this time next Christmas.  A lot of people think about this kind of stuff on New Year’s a-la Bridgette Jones.  But for some reason, the post-Christmas, I want to be in a completely different life this time next year mood sets in.  I call it the After Christmas Itch.

Symptoms of the post Christmas Itch:

  • You feel like you’ve done absolutely nothing and have nothing note worthy to say about your year would you have written a holiday newsletter
  • You have a surplus of energy, more than likely brought about by the plethora of calories you took in
  • You decide to do something totally out of the norm, like sign up for a marathon or hey, start a blog
  • You promise yourself that no matter what, you will be in a completely different place next year, whether that means mentally, spiritually, location-wise, romantically, or professionally

We went around the table during Christmas dinner and I asked everyone where they wanted to be next year.  I gave the vague answer but since I asked the question, I didn’t want to spill my guts over the beef tenderloin and macaroni and cheese, bringing everyone down into the sobering effect I felt.  And actually typing this will hopefully keep me accountable.  Haha!  How many times have I typed that.

Planning for next year, I have a few goals that are going to be hard.  But the best things in life are hard to achieve.

2013 was a year of awareness for me.  I watched friends come together and fall apart as did a few of my relationships.  I made amends with people who in the past I never thought would give me the time of day.  But I did notice that I have a lot more growing up to do.  Mentally, this time next Christmas, I want to be more understanding.  Now, understanding does not mean gullible, it does not mean I am best friends with everyone, but I want to be a more understanding human being.  Listening to people, genuinely listening to them and not writing them off immediately.  That’s what I have started doing towards the end of this year.  It’s easy in a group to fall into the jibber jabber of nonsense called “shit talking.”   Language aside, it is what it is.  What I have learned this year is that even when I am feeling like I am the best person I can be, I get up on my high horse, and begin pointing fingers and calling names without having the understanding of the person I am offending.  I have noticed that, when an understanding is found, I feel like the world’s biggest jerk.  And I am tired of feeling that way.  Shooting off my mouth without thinking, without stopping to think for a moment “Hey, what you’re saying can get back to this person and it could potentially hurt them.”  I think of the times it has been done to me, and how much it scarred me.  What makes it right for me to act that way?  What makes me different?  Nothing.  I choose that,by this time next year, I will be in the habit of pressing pause and seeing the perspective of another before I share my own.

Spiritually.  This is a toughy, mainly because I have learned this year that the two things you DO NOT talk about in a public forum are politics and religion.  So I will choose to step lightly.  Honestly, I don’t know where I am belief wise.  I may never know.  It has been troubling for me this year because I was raised to be one way and actually got out into the world and learned so much more.  Some would say I “deviated from my values” or “became tainted with sin.”  I don’t know, maybe I have been.  I certainly hope not.  In fact,  I have become more spiritually sound in accepting that it’s okay to not have everything figured out when it comes to my beliefs, which, like my personal self are malleable and able to bend.  I understand that there are people out there like me and there are people who aren’t like me.  This year, I have learned to be quiet when it comes to talks of religion.  Yep, quiet.  Because of it, I have learned so much more about the world, and I have grown to love the ones around me more because I have been silent.  I have noticed that what people want most when it comes to sharing beliefs, is to be heard, acknowledged, and validated.  No one likes to be told “You’re wrong” or “That’s stupid” or “You’re going to hell” for what you truly believe in. Despite the fact that my religious beliefs continue to change, my core belief: To love my neighbor with all my heart has stayed intact and grown stronger.  Next Christmas, I hope to be ever more strong and loving towards my neighbors, friends, and family and to be there for them, no matter what they believe.

Location-wise, I am ready to break out.  I bought the Treehouse when I was barely 21.  Looking forward to my 26th birthday, I am now planning on expanding my living space, maybe even expanding the areas in which I’ve lived.  As much as I love my house, it has grown from something that desperately needed love into something that is dearly loved and is ready to have someone else move in and care for it in the way that I have.  I know I have been teasing at this for some time, but I truly feel that 2014 is the year that I make my move.  It’s scary, it’s stressful, but having such a strong support system in my life from my friends, family, readers, and especially my Tim has finally began to push me forward into a new house that will need just as much if not, more love than the Treehouse.  I am looking forward to the challenge.

Romantically is going to be totally different this year.  My mindset has always been get to the finish line AKA marriage.  That’s what I have been hardwired to do from a young age, thanks to Disney and fairy tales.  But I have learned this year that everything comes in its due time.  This past week, I was actually implored by a ten year old to “get married and have babies” because it was my duty as a 25 year old woman to do so.  Christmas Eve, I looked at my 39 year old boyfriend and for the millionth time, realized that I was put on this Earth to love him.  And that’s what I choose to do in 2014.  To simply love him, no conditions, no pressures, no strings attached.  Easier said than done especially with the social stigma that is a fresh slew of engagements (congratulations to all these ladies) on Facebook.  But this year, I am really going to try.  I love you, Tim.  You deserve the best.  So as far as what next Christmas will bring for Tim and I, bring it.  Whatever it is, bring it.

Monday morning, I am starting my new position in the Rock Hill office of Allen Tate.  I am not going to lie, you guys, I am scared.  So very, very scared.  But like anything worth something in life, fear is going to be present.  I have had a brilliant year as my mom’s partner in Lancaster, but after living in Rock Hill for five years, the commute has taken a humongous toll on me.  I am going to be in tutelage of a wonderful broker in charge, I will have a massive support group of realtors, and I am going to work my tookus off for my clients.  If there is one thing I know after this year, I am not going to be perfect but I am going to fight to do my best.

I hope that your years have been merry and bright, and that your Christmases have been fulfilling and wonderful.  I have so many blessings to count.  And I am very much looking forward to a happy new year for everyone.  Merry Christmas!


This morning when I was driving into work, I didn’t expect to be the witness of a potentially horrific accident.  I was on Highway 21, sipping on my morning shake and listening to the radio like any other day when I caught the sight of a truck spinning out of control on the other side of the road.  I pumped my breaks and turned down my radio as I watched the truck with a trailer totally flip over and miraculously land right side up.  You never really know what to do in those moments but follow your instincts.  I pulled over along with several other passersby and scrambled for my phone.  I called 911 and was immediately on the phone with the dispatcher.  By this time the driver was out of the car, stumbling around a little bit and surveying the aftermath of the accident.  The contents of the trailer had been thrown in the median where the wreck occurred and the bumper of the truck was in the middle of the road.  While on the phone, I was asked a series of questions and had to run over to the passenger side where someone was still inside.  The passenger, whose name I found out later was Ray was sitting in the car and luckily didn’t seem to have any serious injuries.  I relayed the questions from the dispatcher back to him and he answered them clearly.  He reached into his pocket, pulled out a cigarette, and popped it in his mouth.

During all this, the other people who had stopped to help were moving the debris out of the road and a few others were also on their phones calling for help.  It’s insane how calamity can produce two outcomes: panic and organization.  Everyone was organized and making sure this one car wreck didn’t involve anyone else.  Also, I noticed that when something goes horribly wrong, we lose our filters and our self prescribed bull and actually focus on the task at hand and communicate with one another.

The police arrived shortly thereafter and I got back in my car and went on my way.  On the rest of the ride to work this morning, I wondered what William and Ray were talking about before the truck flipped, where they were going, what their plans were for the day.  William told me he was fine just really shaken.  I believe that’s how anybody would feel after being blindsided the way they were.  You just never know what is going to happen when you wake up in the morning.  William and Ray are really so lucky that they will be able to walk away from that wreck alive.  I have never seen anything like it before where someone goes through something that scary and they make it out without a scratch.  It may have been luck, it may have been God, I don’t know.  But it did make me think really hard about how fast things can change.  Thankful that both of those guys are okay.


On My Own: Reflections of the Past Year

I really never thought I would make it a full year on my own in The Treehouse.  Ever since I was a kid, I lived in a space with either family, at least one roommate, or a significant other.  Last year, when Ryan and I broke up and I was thrown into this new life of a single girl, I was sitting on my couch crunching numbers of being able to afford my lifestyle on one income.  What I found was my budding career and my desk job was just not going to support me.  I had a panic attack.  I think I burst into tears daily for about a week because I felt so overwhelmed with the idea that I was A) Going to be absolutely alone in my house for the first time and B) The bills would continue to pile up regardless of whether or not I could pay them.

Probably around day 3 of being alone, I considered getting a roommate.  There seemed to be quite a few college to mid twenties ladies out there looking for a place to live on the cheap, just like me.  But a miracle occurred: I got stubborn.  This stubborness bloomed from me really not wanting to share half my house with anyone.  For 3 years, I had picked up after a man at some point.  I had to butt heads over who paid for what and when.  Usually allergies were involved in the crumbling of the happy home and they couldn’t handle Maddie.  Not to mention every single time I wanted to change something in my house, I had to submit it to “the board” AKA my sig other who usually shot the idea down.  So the stubborness begot braveness and I stuck with it.

I went out less, shopped less, and figured out creative ways to make ends meet without taking a huge hit on my lifestyle.  I budgeted more, saved more to make sure I was covered for the hard times, and when I did actually have some money, I spent it on myself and the house.  Being “single”was awesome!

I was worried about my late night anxiety attacks returning once I had no one to curl up with and talk to.  Somehow though, they have been put to rest and I have not had a genuine attack in well over a year.

I know I have grown up a lot in the past year.  I have learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of.  If my house or life presented a challenge, I stood up to it.

  • Where I’ve Triumphed: I have a bit of a bug problem in the house.  I honestly used to be terrified of bugs but I have gotten really jaded to them now to the point that I don’t even jump when one pops out from behind the fridge.  I simply grab the Raid or sometimes my shoe and go medieval on that son of a gun.
  • Where I Could Do Better: Just put my big girl pants on and hire an exterminator so I don’t have to reach for the Raid as much.  I can afford that now.
  • Where I’ve Triumphed: It was nice having a man around the house for the fixes.  But it became apparent that I was going to have to handle some things immediately and couldn’t wait around.  So I got my hands dirty.  A lot.
  • Where I Could Do Better:  Take a basic home repair class at Home Depot.  I still don’t know how to handle small leaks in my house.
  • Where I’ve Triumphed: I did not have to sell my soul to a loan shark nor did I go over my head in debt.  I only had to pull from my emergency fund for a few months but I have been replenishing it ever since my business started picking up.
  • Where I Could Do Better:  Save more money.  Simple as that.  Oh, and pay off all my credit card debt and just use cash.
  • Where I’ve Triumphed: I am slowly becoming a more fun and sociable person. I actually enjoy going out and meeting new people.   I used to have a little bit of fear when it came to introducing myself to and chatting up total strangers.  But being lonely, a realtor, and an overall friendly person worked against it.  Now I know some amazing people who I consider family and closer to me than many friendships I cultivated for years!
  • Where I Could Do Better:  Make time for my old friendships.  I know life is way too short to leave a true friend behind just because life is too busy.

It’s been a fantastic year, though.  I don’t think I would recognize myself if I were capable of jumping ahead one year.  I am not totally there yet, I am still learning but I am finding that I am staying away from the things that would trigger me to fall back into the person I used to be.  Not that she was a bad person, but the 24 year old version of myself just had a lot more to learn than I do now.  It’s going to be amusing to see how I turn out this time next year.