Beginning A New Decade

Like everyone else I’ve spoken to recently, I can’t believe that the year 2020 is beginning. I clearly remember ringing in the year 2000 with my parents (I had just turned thirteen years old): tasting champagne, eating caviar, and watching the news because my mom was convinced that the world would descend into chaos in the new millennium. Nothing happened, of course, and we ended up working our way through her supply of dry beans, rice, camp stove fuel, and distilled water for the next several years. At least it all came in handy when Florida was struck by hurricanes.

The turn of this decade might feel a little less momentous to me than the last one did. In 2009 I had studied abroad in England, definitively ended my relationship with my boyfriend from Tallahassee and applied to graduate schools. I thought that I would be leaving New College in 2010 to start a graduate English program somewhere. I was dating the person I would end up living with until the end of 2011. We spent New Year’s Eve in Knoxville, Tennessee with one of my best friends, and then returned to Sarasota for a month-long independent study period.

I had no idea what 2010 would hold, and it held a lot. I didn’t get into a single graduate school. I had no plans after college. I moved to Austin with my boyfriend and got a job in a bike shop. I applied to 16 more schools in 2010 and spent most of my time working and exploring the city. I had moved to Austin knowing absolutely nothing about it, sight unseen, and ended up with a cool job in a cool place. Even at the end of 2010, I had no idea I’d be in Austin for another five years.

The next decade of my life feels like it should hold fewer changes, fewer unknowns, fewer adventures, but that might be an illusion. I’m married and have kids now, so things are “supposed to” be settled and sedate. But that isn’t how life works. The next ten years could be just as exciting as the past ten—at the very least, the next ten years will be the most formative for my two children. I’ll play a huge part in two new people’s childhoods. That might be excitement enough.

Positive Changes in 2019

We moved to Texas. This is far and away the biggest and best change that occurred in my life this past year. As idyllic as I know our life in Utah often looked (and sometimes felt!), leaving was a good decision for our family. Even though we’re now in the process of finding an all-new set of in-person friends—we have lots of Texas friends, but none of them are in Dallas—I do think that it will be worth the effort to raise our family in a place without the pervasive religious issues we encountered in Utah. And we’re definitely enjoying living in a more modern, convenient house with a back yard and a park just a few yards away.

Issues to Work On in 2020

I want to work on friendships this year. Not just creating new ones in Dallas, but maintaining old ones from Florida and Austin. At this point in my life, age 32, I might not make new best friends, and I’m okay with that. I’d love to have friends in town I can ask over for dinner and have a great time with, but if we don’t end up being super close, that’s fine. I want to invest in my friendships that are already close, even if those friends are far away. More texts, more phone calls, hopefully some in-person visits.

I want to work on being calm and patient. Having two small kids is incredibly trying on anyone’s patience, but I could do a lot better. I find myself snapping at my kids more than I’d like, rolling my eyes, and just not being particularly warm after frustrating days. All of that is totally okay—kids do not need perfect parents!—but it’s been bothering me and I want to improve, for my own well-being as much as for theirs.

I want to work on my health. I’ve always been a regular exerciser, but my diet hasn’t been fantastic over the past few years. I often reward myself with food, which isn’t a good idea, and I definitely get too many extra calories from beer! My husband and I are not drinking at all in January to try to cut back on the carb-y beverages, and we’re also simplifying our diet by doing essentially a Mediterranean diet for the month: less red meat, no fried food, more vegetables and fruits.

I want to write more. My goal is to write 500 words every single day. They can be parts of various writing projects I have going, they can be journaling, or they can be blogging. I am hoping that this will give me an outlet for any frustrations I have, give me a good record of the year and my feelings during it, and hopefully produce some progress on projects that are important to me.

I want to develop my gardening hobby. I have a lot of plans for our yard this coming year, both when it comes to maintaining the landscaping that’s already there, and planting new things to make it more our own. There are some landscaping choices in the front yard that are too fussy for me, and a couple of plants that have actually croaked; I’d like to simplify the front and plant some things that are lower-maintenance. I also want to do basic maintenance like re-mulching the flower beds. It sounds easy, but it’s surprisingly difficult to find time for this stuff!

My 2020 Values

At the end of every year I do an exercise to identify the values I want to focus on in the coming year. I won’t elaborate on these because their specific meanings are very personal, but my core values in 2020 are:

Grace | Warmth | Faith | Balance | Teamwork

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