2015 was my Epic Year. Now What?

Are you the kind of person that needs something to look forward to?  I am.

Every year, after the holidays, I have a dip. January hits, and the lights come down along with my mood. I love Christmas and all the festivities. I love decorating, family time, and all the celebration leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth. I look forward to it  every year. Then New Year’s comes. I love it. Then, after the holiday’s pass, life returns to normal and all the excitement is gone and I  feel sad. Except for last year.

Last year, at this time when the lights came down, I had something to look forward to. Steve and I were planning a trip to Spain and Portugal at the end of February. As it approached, my excitement was off the charts. I was planning the trip, I was buying clothing to wear on our special trip, I was exercising and losing weight. I was giddy about this honeymoon experience with my husband of 24 years.DSC_6793DSC_6944After that trip, I had my birthday to look forward to where I saw some other friends who turned 50 with me.DSC_0582Then I had our summer century bike ride to look forward to, and then our “Great Grace Road trip to Nashville” to look forward toDSC_1468…and so on and so on. Then we moved into a new house (which wasn’t planned, but very exciting).DSC_1560

I went into 2015 with a goal to make it an epic year. It was my 50th year of life, and I didn’t want it to be normal or boring. I spent my year living with excitement, filled with amazing experiences.

But how is one supposed to follow a year like that? How do you keep up with yourself when you are the Jones’?

This year, I don’t have that epic trip to Spain to look forward to. We don’t have any family vacations to exotic locations. In fact, we are on a trimmed budget with a child in college (who is using our frequent flyer miles to fly back and forth from Nashville), another child getting married and another planning for college in a couple of years.

I do of course have many trips planned with my job at Compassion. January is Burkina Faso (which will be amazing), February is Tanzania and Kenya, April to Haiti, and so on. Epic right? When your work is travel it is amazing, however, travel isn’t always glamorous. It most often means being away from family, and jet-lag, long hours on a plane, and unexpected situations that can lead to stress. Yes, the amazing experiences are there, but I often long to share it with the people I love the most. Though I love the travel, I miss home in the midst.IMG_9310IMG_9252So I ask myself, how does one deal with life when the excitement is gone or the vacation is over, the epic year has ended, the holidays end, the main event is over?

As I reflect back on 2015, I have learned a valuable lesson. You have to take time to create, plan and make epic moments in life.  You have to plan special events with your family and friends. If you don’t schedule in those special moments with your loved ones, chances are, you will get too busy.

I have also learned its not about what you can or can’t afford. Yes, this year was full of spectacular experiences for us, which cost us some money. Yes, having more resources allows for more choices in activities. However, some of my favorite moments this year were on a budget and near home. Just because these experiences didn’t involve global travel, didn’t make them any less important or valuable. In fact, sometimes it’s nice to have a grand experience and come back home to your own bed at the end of the day.

To sum it all up, 2015 was indeed an epic year full of fantastic fun and amazing events. However, 2016 doesn’t have to be less, it just will be different. I am drawing up my plans now and I am excited about this next year. Super excited.

Here are some of my favorite things to do near home that don’t require much budget. This year, I am looking forward to more of these kinds of experiences. Especially with the people I love the most.

  1. Make an epic meal. I love finding a good recipe and trying it out. Even a good mac and cheese recipe can make for a fun dinner. I like lighting candles, putting on some good tunes and inviting some favorite people over.
  2. Hike to some place beautiful nearby. Here in the northwest we have lots of beautiful trails nearby. If it’s cold, we just dress warm and go out anyway.
  3. Train for an athletic event. I never dreamed I would do a century ride, but in my 50th year, I managed to finish a 100-mile bike ride. I found much value in having a goal, and it was a great accomplishment for my health. In the training, we went on some beautiful bike rides through out spring and summer. This year, I won’t do another century ride, but am planning to do some other cycle events and enjoy more riding.
  4. Plan a picnic dinner, or lunch. Steve and I love to grab some French bread, some good cheese, fruit, salami, and sit at some beautiful place for a picnic.
  5. Take a road trip for a day. We just went to Astoria last week in the pouring rain, with 60 mile an hour winds. Despite the weather, we had fun being together.
  6. Go visit a local museum. Isabel and I ventured to the Portland Art Museum this year. I hadn’t been there for years. We found all sorts of treasures to enjoy. I felt like I was in Europe and was amazed at how lovely the museum was. (It was free for her because she is under 18 years old).
  7. Go to happy hour. Many restaurants offer happy hour food menus if you go early enough. We have found this to be a way to have cheap dates with good food. We continue to try new restaurants in our area.
  8. Make a big breakfast. Who doesn’t love a big breakfast on a Saturday morning? We love us some waffles and goop (hot vanilla cream sauce which is a family recipe).
  9. Find a hobby. This year, I got into birds. I inherited bird feeders from the previous owner of our house, and it’s pretty awesome. I have learned all about birds.DSC_1543
  10. Trying something new. Over the last few years, Steve and I have been trying new recreational activities. Last year we rented paddle boards to see if we would like them. We got into cycling. We started playing golf several years ago. We have tried hard to find activities that we can enjoy together. I even did a cooking class in Thailand too, which I enjoyed very much. Groupon often offers discounts to fun activities, that otherwise we might not have tried.

What are your plans for 2016?

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One Comment on “2015 was my Epic Year. Now What?

  1. When I heard about the attack in BF, you were the first person I thought of. I came to your blog to see if I could tell where you are and I see you have a January trip planned. I’m praying for you

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