The title of this blog is “the year of writing”, dating back to when I quit NHA in June 2012.  The start of this blog really marked the beginning of working without a net–having nothing to “fall back on” and just going for the end goal of finishing my PhD. The end of a calendar year always means reflection for me, and I have decided that quitting NHA was the best decision I made in 2012. And to be honest, it hasn’t even been that scary. Since I quit on June 1, I’ve accomplished a lot: revised my proposal, presented at conferences, taught 3 classes, applied for many jobs, and traveled the world. (Yes, I managed to squeeze that in as well!). Being so busy has made me forget that in just a few short months’ time, I will be facing a slew of uncertainty. Nothing reminded me more about that than the beginning of 2013. This year has lots of promise. It has the potential to be the best year of my life–the year I accomplish getting my PhD, which is arguably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The year I get a job that could be my “forever job”, the year I move away from West Michigan (?). The question marks also mean that 2013 has potential to also be truly terrifying. For the first time in my life, I have not even the slightest idea where I’ll be in a year. The beginning of 2013 has made me very, very aware of this. It’s getting closer. This is the real “year of writing.”

Every year, I don’t set resolutions, I set challenges. In 2010, my challenge was to write something every day of the year. I didn’t entirely meet this goal, but I would say I was writing 75% of the year. In 2011, my challenge was to run 700 miles and complete my first half-marathon. That one was much easier. In 2012, my friend Holly challenged me to read one fiction book a month. I was glad I met this challenge because reading fiction did give my brain a break and reminded me that reading is also fun, and something I once considered my hobby, as opposed to work. Total, I read 28 books this year– 12 fiction, 16 non-fiction/professional. Not too shabby. Maybe in the summer of 2013, I’ll have time to dust off Harry Potter again.

This year, though, I am not setting an additional challenge for myself. No diet goals, no running goals, no reading goals. I’ll diet, run, and read anyway. This year my challenge  needs to be singular, focused: GET. THAT. PhD. Write, defend, finish. Related to that: get a job. So I guess I have two challenges. It’ll be work, that’s for sure. But I am ready.

To recharge, Mike & I spend 10 days in Hawaii on a family vacation. It took a while for us both to wind down and relax, but by the end the anxiety of a new semester and the challenging year I have ahead was a distant memory as I laid on the beach at Waikiki. I came back to the snow, a bit of jet-lag, and mostly excitement to get this year going.