2016: Hustle. Then Hustle Some More

Last New Years Day I drove back from Ridgway to De Beque. The two and a half hour drive home was hard. I walked in the door, made myself a pot of coffee and promptly burst into tears.

I cried.

And cried.

And cried some more.

Everything felt so up in the air. I just wanted to be home but teaching positions wouldn’t start being posted for a few months. I realized that I had spent too much and even if I did find myself back in the San Juans I had dug myself a pretty significant hole that I would have to climb out of before I was able to think about building a house. I’d just left a party full of friends and neighbors and now, despite Sprocket’s willingness to let me snot into his fur, I felt alone.

Finally, totally unable to pull myself together, I picked up the phone and called a friend. I tried to explain how I felt so untethered and sad and overwhelmed by the too blank future. After they tried to offer platitudes to calm me down and once I just felt silly for being so unhinged I hung up.

I started to make a plan. I would make a plan to get out of debt. I applied for multiple jobs in Grand Junction that very afternoon. (Fortunately none of them worked out and I wound up starting at Provisions in March, strengthening my connection to Ridgway.) I decided while I was open to staying in De Beque another year that I would chase jobs in the San Juans and that I would chase them hard.

My phone went off: “You will be fine. You’ve got Sprocket. You’ve got Ruth. You have land. You are beautiful.” I have forgotten and remembered this line so many times and I have held it close.

My friends, 2016 has been a debacle in so many ways. I have cried in frustration with my life, with politics, for not climbing more mountains, and out of sheer exhaustion. I’ve had more than a few moments of self consciousness when someone asks me where I live knowing that both the shed, my constant working, and the bouncing back and forth between Norwood and Ridgway is hard to do in an elevator speech.

On the other hand, I have my faithful Sprocket. I have Ruth and I continue to grow in my confidence to handle minor bumps in the road. I have land that I have gotten to spend so much time on thanks to #shedlife and my continuing side-hustle(s). I did a spring break Colorado County Highpoint trip, took a Labor Day trip to Utah and a Thanksgiving trip to Arizona on top of some quick trips to Washington. I am soliciting bids for a house. I’m a better teacher now than I have been in the past. I even managed to keep a few runs happening between all the craziness.

2017 should be a mix of hustle and getting back to my regularly scheduled life thanks to the foundations laid in 2016. I’m so ready, bring it on.

Pyramid Rock: Final Summit of 2015

New Year’s Eve morning, I woke up to a glorious sunny day. I was just 0.4 miles shy of 200 miles hiked on summit hikes in 2015 and I decided to head up to a local summit to round out the year and enjoy the sunshine. Sprocket, as always, was very excited with this plan so we headed out into the hills.

V 2/10 Road

We made our way to a ridge that looked like it would go fairly easily and started making our way up towards the summit. The views got better and better and being out in the crisp winter air was the perfect way to wind down 2015. The sparkles were everywhere and there wasn’t a hint of darkness to be found.

Ridgeline

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I had debated at the car whether or not to wear snowshoes and I’m glad I didn’t. The snow was only ever more than 5″ deep once (and then I managed to bury myself up to my waist) and I was glad I didn’t wear them.

Hiking with the best dog

We walked across a small flat area and then made couple of small scrambly moves among the snowy rocks and found myself at the summit.

Summit Selfie

Summit views

Final summit of 2015

Summit views

Panorama

When we got back to Ruth, I was in such a wonderful mood. I had planned to spend a low key New Year’s at home with Sprocket and decided that was not the right choice. I scrambled together a shower and headed home to spend the evening with my friends in Ridgway. <3

The Night Is Dark and Full of Sparkles

I’m not a person who really looks forward to New Year’s Eve. This year I was mostly excited to have a chance to dance the night away with friends here in Ridgway but by mid-morning on the 31st, I had worked myself into a downright melancholy mood. Sometimes I just can’t understand how I’ve ended up here, just me and Sprocket against the world. I can’t understand how I lost a love that meant the world to me. And reflecting on 2014 wasn’t helping.

Sprocket in bed

I’d written about how 2014 was a year with amazing highlights and also a year that completely knocked me on my ass at times but I don’t think I’d really ever considered that 2015 was a new year. While relaxing in my bed with Sprocket, I found a New York Magazine advice column that make me stop and think about things a little differently.

I’ve always found it silly to make resolutions or consider the new year a time to make changes but there I was reading this article and getting excited about what was coming down the pipe for me in 2015. The change from 11:59pm December 31 to 12:00am January 1st was starting to mean something to me.

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The whole thing is amazing so you should run over and read it right now if you didn’t already check it out but it was this paragraph that first grabbed me and pulled me in:

“At times like this, though, it’s important to know WHAT MAKES YOU SO SPECIAL. You can’t just have a vague idea. You have to know exactly who you are and what you believe in. You have to know how you want to live, even if it is all a big nothing. That takes time.”

That’s been my exact journey this fall. I’d forgotten how damn awesome it is to be me. I forgot that I’m a delightfully sassy person who is totally whip-smart and can accomplish anything that I put my mind to. I’d sort of forgotten how it felt to be a good friend and a good family member. I forgot how awesome it was to chase my dreams.

“Make that your work now: Finding sparkles. Suffering opens a direct path to sparkles. That’s what the jingles don’t tell you. Heartbreak and loss bring their own kinds of sparkles. Admitting that it’s all a big nothing brings sparkles. If it’s all a big nothing, what is left?”

So that’s the plan. 2015: you’re the year of the sparkles. As a friend put it New Year’s night: The Night Is Dark And Full of Sparkles. I’m excited to tackle my goals and continue to make forward progress into my future. I’ve got trips in the works and good things are happening. The night might be dark but damn if it’s not full of sparkles.

Heels in the snow

So as I counted down the last seconds of 2014 surrounded by friends, neighbors, and strangers I found myself tearing up. I felt that catch in my throat as I shouted, “3,” and thought a bit as I said, “2,” and laughed as I almost cried at “1,” at “Happy New Year,” however, I made my way into 2015 with kisses, hugs, and laughter.

Cuddled in bed with Sprocket for my first sleep of 2015, ready to embrace the sparkles:

“Here’s to the things we’ve never had a chance to say to each other. Here’s to the things we never tried. Here’s to the sparkles that we didn’t notice. We were surrounded by sparkles this year, but most of the time we couldn’t see them.

We can’t do everything. But let’s find more sparkles next year, okay? Let’s look very closely, and notice them, as much as we can.”