Another year older

This week I turn 32. It is hard for me to believe I am in my thirties, because I still feel like I am in my early twenties. I have a hard time understanding the fact that I am a Real Adult (or at least I am old enough to be). I am not yet at the phase where I hate getting older, though I think it’s probably going to hit in the next few years. I would love to stay in this age range forever. Old enough to have gained wisdom, but still young enough to make discoveries.

I have a lot to be happy about this birthday. I am a lucky girl and thankful for all 32 years of my life.

Themes for a new year

Resolutions and goals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, which I can understand. It is daunting to sit and write a list of things you want to accomplish (and will probably forget about before January is over and life after the holidays sets in). One thing I have seen people doing instead is choosing words, phrases, or themes to represent how they want to approach the new year. Even though I love goals, the writer in me loves the idea of using words to set the tone for my life in the year ahead.

Here are the themes I have chosen for 2012:

  • Be passionate. I am a passionate person by nature. When I love something, I throw myself into it headlong. I have noticed that in the past few years, I haven’t been as deeply invested in the things I love as I used to be. I got burned out by life and am probably still recovering a bit, but I want to reclaim the passion I know is still inside me. That will translate into real creative accomplishments for 2012.
  • Be kind. Even though I feel like I am inherently a nice person, I have a quick temper. I judge too quickly and probably too harshly. I notice that I sometimes keep score when I should do things regardless of someone else owing me in return. I need to slow down and make sure that kindness is always my first response. I also need to be kinder to myself. I am overly critical of my own shortcomings, and I have a tendency to ignore my own needs. It isn’t a selfish thing to take good care of yourself, and I need to remember that.
  • Be present. My mind often works overtime and doesn’t let me just be still. I feel like the year passes me by in a whirlwind. I want to enjoy every moment. I need to slow down, experience, and savor instead of looking ahead to see what’s coming. Sometimes it is nice to pull back out of the details and enjoy looking at the big picture. I also want to capture the moments that I experience so I have a record of wonderful memories.

What do you want your year to look like? Do you have any themes for 2012?

12 Things in 2012

I feel like 2012 has the potential to be a great year. I ended 2011 on an uptick, with my amazing new job and a great time with family for the holidays. That positivity at the end of the year makes me really look forward to accomplishing a lot and really enjoying life in 2012.

I don’t like to make resolutions as much as I like to set goals for myself. For 2012, there are 12 things that I want to do:

  • Get organized. One of the reasons I am so excited about moving to a house is that we will have PLENTY of space to organize our life and our possessions. I feel completely unorganized with everything at home these days, and I think that utilizing all our new space and taking the opportunity to get super organized will make my life so much better. It will make our house so much easier to keep clean, too.
  • Create things. I can’t wait to have my own dedicated space in our new house. I have a lot of craft supplies that I really want to use but don’t have the space for now. This year I want to take advantage of that. I want to knit more, start sewing again, and make more jewelry. If all things go to plan I might even make some handmade gifts for Christmas. I also want to start refinishing thrift store finds to furnish my home on the cheap.
  • Make a beautiful home. I have gone a little crazy on Pinterest saving pictures of the things I would like to do in the various rooms of our house. I am looking forward to choosing paint colors, buying new furniture, hanging the artwork I have been collecting, and making the place our own. I want our house to be a place I am proud of and enjoy coming home to every day.
  • Learn. When we went to France this year, I realized how much of my knowledge of the language I have lost over the last 10 years. I want to brush up on my French skills and possibly even start learning Italian. I am a member of the site Livemocha, which offers tons of different languages to learn, and they were running a special on their yearly Gold membership that I could not refuse. I also want to focus on learning at my job, because the constantly changing marketing world always has something new to offer me. Another thing I embraced in 2011 was the podcast, and I subscribe to some really interesting educational podcasts that teach me new things in every episode. My favorite is Stuff You Missed in History Class…check it out!
  • Read. I managed to meet my 2011 Goodreads reading goal of 100 books (I clocked in at 108 total) and I want to up the ante. I read a lot of fun books last year, and there are plenty out there that I am looking forward to tackling in 2012. But I also want to read more nonfiction…specifically history, biographies, and random subjects that interest me.
  • Cook more (and try new things). I love to cook but I haven’t expanded my cooking horizons in quite a while. I want to cook more, so that we spend less money on restaurants, and I want to master new recipes and cooking techniques. I know this will make my food-loving husband very happy!
  • Be more intentional and goal-focused with money. I want to start saving in earnest…for a down payment on our house should we decide to buy it in a few years, for a new laptop, for a vacation, for a new car for Shawn. We have been better with money in the last year, but I want to get us on an even stricter budget so that we can save as much as possible towards the things we need and want. However, I also want to leave us room to do things like have a date night once a week and go out to a really nice dinner once a month.
  • Make music. I miss singing on a regular basis. I want to pick the guitar back up, start recording with my awesome MIDI keyboard setup, and maybe even find a band to be in. I am also thinking about possibly auditioning for a local arts chorale, which means I will have to brush up on sight-reading and vocal work. Music was a huge part of my life for a long time, and I am starting to feel the void where it used to be.
  • Be more healthy. I feel best when I exercise on a regular basis. I am terrible about exercising on a regular basis. I walk more during the day, but that is only going to supplement an exercise routine. I have mapped out the routes to the new gyms (near the house and the office) and I intend to start making working out a habit. I also plan on taking my lunch to work as much as possible and, of course, riding my bike more!
  • Spend more time with my husband. It’s hard to get quality time in when he is in school in the mornings and working until late every night. We need to be intentional about taking time to be together. I want to try to have a date night once a week that is something more than sitting on the couch together.
  • Go somewhere new. I met my goal in 2011 of going to three places I had never been before. I went to France, a place I had dreamed of going for more than half my life. I went to Nashville for a business trip. I went to Round Top, Texas for the bi-annual antiques and junk fair. This year I want to go to at least one more place that I have never been before. Three seems like it is probably too much for this year, so I will leave it at one.
  • Write. Complete. I have already set specific writing goals for the year, but my overall goals are 1) creating a writing habit and 2) completing a project. I have a number of writing projects that I have been working on for quite some time, and I just want to finish them. The goal of building a habit will help me attain the goal of completion. My writing follow-through in 2011 sucked. Time to change that.

Strange Days

It’s been a strange 38 days. I haven’t had that many days to myself, with no work or school obligations, since I was old enough to get a job. That was fifteen years ago. The first couple of weeks held some freelance work, but ever since then I’ve been pretty footloose and fancy free. Even in the summers in high school and college I didn’t sit at home idle, so I have barely known what to do with myself from day to day.

My unemployment thankfully seems to be drawing to a close, but despite my stress over finding a new job and the possibility that it might take a long time, the break has been kind of nice. I almost hate to admit it, but it’s true. I wish I could say I’ve been super productive and cleaned my house from top to bottom, made amazing meals every day, and written an entire novel, but I can’t. I have let myself relax and do as I please. I’ve spent time with friends and family, read books, watched a lot of TV, applied for a lot of jobs, gone on interviews, written, slept, and generally remembered what it is like to not be a ball of stress who dreads going into the office. Like I said before, I think it was a blessing in disguise that I was laid off, because I really wasn’t happy. It opened me up for the amazing opportunity ahead of me that I feel will really utilize my talents and help me to grow.

I’ve been lucky to have amazing family and friends surrounding me and supporting me through it all. They’ve made it so much easier on me. 38 days isn’t so bad, considering that the average unemployment length is about as many WEEKS. It hasn’t been a cakewalk, but I am glad in a way that I had time to clear my palate, so to speak. I feel refreshed and energized. I’m ready to pick back up on all our plans…moving, decorating, enjoying Christmas and New Year’s and my birthday. I’m ready to move on.

Muddling Through

It’s been a crazy month. There are some days where I feel excited about what the future holds, there are others that I feel stricken with despair and worry.

I lost my job at the very end of last month. That’s never happened to me before. I wasn’t fired, and I wasn’t exactly laid off either…the official line is that “my position was eliminated.” It wasn’t because I did a bad job, or because they didn’t like me, but that was cold comfort. I truly enjoyed my job and the people I worked with, and it was hard to say goodbye. They tried to find a place for me elsewhere in the company, but nothing materialized. It wasn’t meant to be.

I’ve been very blessed in the meantime by a nice influx of freelance work that will keep us going through at least the end of the year. That has been a great comfort in my mind, knowing that we will be okay for a little while after my severance runs out. It gives me extra wiggle room to find a new job. I would love to do freelance full-time, but that is the plan for a few years out when we have a nice chunk of savings built up and Mr. Velo is out of school. Right now, freelance is just too uncertain to count on.

I have applied for a number of jobs so far and had one interview. It would be an amazing job at an amazing place that I have long admired. It was a great experience that I hope bears some fruit. I’m applying for new jobs every day. I’m trying to keep my search parameters within what I truly want to do rather than all the things I’m capable of and good at doing. I’ve come to realize over the past five or six years that while I am good at a lot of things, only a few things make me truly happy and fulfilled in the workplace. If it comes down to it, I will take a job that isn’t The Right Job to make sure that I take care of our family, but until that time comes I am determined not to settle.

November is typically a month of extreme creativity for me, because I participate in National Novel Writing Month. I love the project I am working on and have been trying to write it in different incarnations for about six years, but my heart and mind have not been in my writing. I have so much to think about, so much to worry about, and quite a bit of freelance on my plate. I am not going to stop writing it, but I don’t think I’m going to “win” National Novel Writing Month this year, and that makes me sad.

I am also bummed out about Christmas. It is my favorite time of year because I love getting presents and I love giving them even more. All our extra cash is going to have to be saved in the event that I don’t find a new job soon, which means that we may not be able to buy gifts for our families or for each other. Part of the joy of the season for me is buying just the right thing for someone and seeing their face light up when they open the gift. I am hoping that we’ll at least be able to do some handmade things to give people in the event that I’m still unemployed. I was also looking forward to a nice, leisurely vacation around Christmas and the new year. I guess I’m on vacation earlier than planned, though it’s anything but nice and leisurely.

Our move is going to be pushed out by probably a month, which isn’t a big deal. We’ll be there in February instead of January. That will give us time to help make the estate sale happen, clean the house thoroughly, do some painting, and hopefully have the money to pay movers. With my back problems and general clumsiness, I really don’t want to try to move large pieces of furniture down stairs ourselves.

It sounds like I’m pretty upset about all this, and the truth is that I am, but I’m not. Some days are great, some days are awful. In general, I’m looking at everything that is happening as an opportunity for even better things in my life. I genuinely feel that things happen for a reason, and that things will turn out just as they are meant to. But it’s hard sometimes to keep up a positive attitude. I am lucky to have an amazingly supportive husband, family, and friends who are keeping me afloat. I’m muddling through, and I’m going to be okay. I just hope it’s soon.

Home Sweet House


September managed to redeem itself in the last week…it was a crazy one at work, but my husband and made an important decision and started moving forward on our plans for moving from our sweet little urban apartment to a house in the suburbs.

The house development was sudden but welcome. I have yearned for more space, knowing that in our current area of town it comes at a premium we just cannot afford right now. When the opportunity to lease a lovely home at a reasonable price fell in our laps, well, we’d have been fools not to take it. The best part is that our landlady is one of my favorite people in the entire world–my amazing mother-in-law.

Let me tell you, I love that lady like she was my own mom. If I had hand-picked her I couldn’t have done a better job. Knowing that this situation benefits us all, having a beautiful house to decorate and make into a home, and making her happy and just a little richer is really the best situation ever. I really am quite lucky on the in-law front…Mr. Velo’s dad and stepmom are also amazing, and I consider my brother-in-law to be among my closest friends.

We will be living in a home that was built the year my husband was born, one that has already seen a lot of memories and love in the family I was lucky enough to become a part of. If we stay in Dallas after Mr. Velo graduates, there is a very, very good chance we will buy it and be there for a long time to come.

Needless to say, I have been on cloud nine for days. The prospect of decorating an entire home has sent me into a frenzy of brainstorming on Pinterest, my addiction. I got in on the ground floor of the service and I am loving all the activity now that it has opened to the public! I’ve snagged a ton of ideas from it. I’m dreaming of paint colors and vintage cake stands and new couches. I even have a list of must-haves that I tackled in Round Top, TX today with my best friend from college and her mom.

Round Top holds a huge antiques, craft and junk fair twice a year and they have been going forever. I have never managed to make it down with them until this weekend and it was amazing. I spent very little considering what I came home with. My kitchen is now even closer to being outfitted in adorable vintage splendor. I can’t wait to post my great buys!

October holds great things–packing, cleaning, saving up for our move (no way are we NOT hiring movers, and they’re expensive!) and the start of the holiday season in my mind. It is my favorite time of year and I can’t think of a more joyous way than the start of another sweet chapter in our life together. Mr. Velo and I have been married for almost five years, together for almost eight, and I feel like this is a huge, momentous step into our future. I am so excited!

Is It October Yet?

This has been a rough month for the Velo house. We had some surprise expenses, including a very pricey car repair, so money stress has been through the roof. Mr. Velo is still getting used to his grueling new work/school schedule, and I have been trying to de-stress by cleaning out my closet and doing more laundry than a laundromat.

We have also still been having issues with our AT&T Internet, which has been a pain in my side since June. I regret ever switching from their DSL to the U-Verse service just based on the customer service alone. Internet is sadly a necessity for me, over and above things like cable TV, and having unreliable service makes me a little crazy.

There is good stuff on the horizon though. It is almost October, which means it is a fresh month and the start of my very favorite time of year. Temperatures are cooling in Dallas finally and we have had some beautiful weather. I am looking forward to getting down out of the 90s completely and wearing jackets, sweaters and boots again. Mr. Velo is acing his classes so far, which I never doubted but I know relieves him greatly. I have been productive if not less stressed. And we might have some really awesome news after today.

I just have to keep reminding myself to breathe, and to enjoy what I can even when it feels like the whole month is plotting to break me down.