Look Closely: 2014 in Review

2014. You are finally coming to an end. You were no longer than any other year. No better. No worse. You were a learning experience as every year often is. I met some incredible people with you. I went on a few epic adventures. My heart was cracked and mended and cracked again, but it came out a bit wiser in the end—as it always does. I listened to some fantastic music, read a few great books, saw a few great films and the world amazed me, as it always does, with its beauty. 2014. You are over and done. 2015 is quickly rising, but as I have these last few hours with you I think I’ll share some of the highlights.

Best bits of advice I carried with me:

“When you find things you genuinely enjoy, don’t let anyone else make you feel bad about it. Don’t feel guilty about the pleasure you take in the things you enjoy. Celebrate them.”

–Austin Leon (http://austinkleon.com/2014/02/12/guilty-pleasures/)

I came across this post rather late in the year, but I loved this idea. Why do we so often allow ourselves to feel guilty about the things that we love? The things we love are a part of the people we have become. They are the things that make our eyes glow with passion as we describe them, and that fire should not be hidden. And if you check out that post, be sure to peruse the rest of his blog!

“You are a taste for a refined (not synonymous with mature) palate. You are to be appreciated rather than obtained. You are to be accompanied rather than possessed. A person that understands these points and those related will make you feel extremely special in a very regular way…Not everyone can handle the full magnitude of a person’s personality. I say, nor should they have to. Sometimes we are just too (insert characteristic) for some people or sometimes they are just too (insert characteristic) to handle us. Compromise comes when I am willing to dial back my personality to allow someone to be more of themselves and congruence is achieved when that person recognized my compromise reciprocates, and creates an ebb and flow of personality magnitude that allows for us both to experience each other in various magnitudes. Always be yourself, just be conscious of the intensity. It is okay to turn your volume down, but don’t’ ever change the channel.”

–Capt. Muse

This sage advice came from a co-worker. He reminded me of my individuality while helping to find a new form of confidence all my own. Do not get too wrapped up in the words here if they do not fit you, but hold onto that last bit? Be yourself, and also, be aware of those around you.

“When you get into your comfort zone and just do what’s comfortable you get so comfortable that you never move beyond that which you already know. If you want to truly be strong you have to be brave. You have to be courageous. You have to find those places inside of yourself where you’ve never been before.”

-Kino MacGregor (http://www.kinoyoga.com/strength-lessons-in-yoga-from-a-circus-trainer/)

One of the greatest journeys I have been on this year came a bit late. I am taking it into my new year as my overall theme. That journey is one to true strength and it came about in an odd way. I started to be a bit more intentional about my yoga practice, and I found this fantastic website (www.codyapp.com) with brilliant instructors. I worked through many of their courses, but the one that impacted me the most was Kino’s Strength I class. One morning in the midst of the lesson she said the above quote. I stopped and listened again. I listened again. I listened again, and I wrote it into my journal because the best words need to be heard again in your own hand. Perhaps it was the Gryffindor in me that was drawn to this idea of courage and bravery being tied into strength, but I realized it was something that would translate into every portion of my life. It mattered to me.

The television shows that occupied my time:

-Doctor Who series 7 (with a re-watch of 1-3)

Okay, this one is a bit of a no-brainer for anyone who knows me. I was skeptical about the new season. Matt Smith was my Doctor, but I love Clara. I connected with her in ways that I had never connected with a companion on the show before. As always Moffat left me terrified, excited, and in tears.

-The Walking Dead seasons 4 and 5 pt 1

I’m still not ready to talk about it.

-Game of Thrones season 4

See above statement about The Walking Dead and ask me later why I torture myself with these story lines!

-Downton Abbey.

I actually boarded this train quite late, but I have blown through seasons 2 and 3—actually on the season 3 finale right now! I don’t know why I love this show, but consider me addicted! Update: I hate television…….

The movies that I loved:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Fun fast paced great characters. What’s not to love?

The Hundred-Journey

I saw this movie on a whim with my roommate and I do not regret that decision. It was heartfelt and beautiful. I laughed. I cheered. I wanted to shake a few characters back into their senses 🙂 It was a great journey.

-Fury

Wow. Talk about character development!

Interstellar.

I wanted to see this movie simply because I could find no middle ground. People either adored it or absolutely hated it. I loved it, but I am a firm advocate of the unknowable power of love.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Another expected addition to this list, but I can safely say that I loved this movie. I will always be happy with journeys to middle earth because there I am always reminded of what true friendship and loyalty look like. Also this 

Honorable Mention: I haven’t seen Into the Woods yet, but I expect it would have been on this list if I had!

And the books that shaped my heart:

As of this very moment I have read 43 books this year. You can see my full list here.  Every year I read a few books that simply change me. It’s impossible for me to review each book that I have read this year in one post—and I doubt that anyone would read such a long post, but these are the ones that left their greatest mark.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Oh, this book. There really are few words that I can use to describe how I felt about it. It is like eating a peanut butter sandwich. Comforting and stubborn. In the way that it sticks to the roof of your mouth, this story clung to my heart and I have no desire to wash it down. Jane taught me so much. She taught me the importance of being true to oneself above all–because really if we aren’t ourselves then who could we possibly hope to be? She taught me the value of love and how often when you truly love someone you do have to take a step back. I laughed, I cried, I raged. There is a part of me that wishes I had read this book sooner, but I think part of the appeal of it to me is that in this exact moment of my life this was not a book that I simply wanted to read. It was a book that I needed.

Favorite Quote: “I am not an angel,’ I asserted; ‘and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me – for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which I do not at all anticipate.”

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

In years to come, I will look back on 2014 and say, “That was the year that I read the Fountainhead. That was the year it all shifted.” I adored Howard Roark, but more importantly I greatly appreciate Ayn Rand for writing this book. It was given to me as a Christmas gift by a friend which meant I went into the reading of it with great caution–I never want to like a book simply because it was recommended to me by someone I admire. I was blown away by the concepts, by the audacity of certain characters, by the misguided state of humanity, but most of all I was surprised to see how much it related to my life as a whole. This book, to me, is very important. I love the notion of coming alive to oneself in order to truly be a member of society. The shunning of collective thought versus the individual in order to find yourself fully. I would recommend this book to almost anyone. If after the first few chapters you are not hooked, set it down and wait until the right moment to read it again. You’ll know when the time has come

Favorite Quote: “To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?”

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I adored this book. It was charming and sweet. The exact remedy I needed for my reading funk. Putting it down was a chore (I apologize for the angry looks I gave to anyone who forced me to take a brief intermission!)Were there things I did not like about this story? Certainly. No book is perfect, but I do not want to focus on those things. I want you to discover what you love and what you dislike about this book on your own. What I will say, though, is that this book is for readers. It is an absolutely beautiful tale that will touch the heart of anyone who has a heart for reading (And I have a sneaking suspicion that if you took the time to read this review you are one of those people?)

Favorite Quote:

“We are not quite novels.

We are not quite short stories.

In the end, we are collected works.”

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer M. Rilke

This was also the year that I fell in love with Rilke. His poetry, his writings…he fascinated me and this book fell into my lap at the exact perfect moment as all of the best books tend to do. It taught me to love my solitude. To live the questions without hope of the answers, and to never stop writing.

Favorite Quote:

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present, you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Sometimes whilst reading a book you find that it reads you in return. Revealing both your inner darkness and your hidden light. This was one of those books for me. I cannot promise that it will be the same for you, but I can tell you this. Post-apocalyptic books are everywhere these days. Understandably so. One look at your local news and the idea of the world quickly coming to an end is not farfetched at all. What made this book stand out for me was that it dealt not with corrupt politics or some great feat to overcome. It focused primarily on humanity and the struggles within. Our ability to grow and survive and the realization that in the end mere survival will never be sufficient

Favorite Quote: “She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”

Honorable Mention: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I joined a book club at the end of the year. We are reading through Jane’s works before I move away on my life’s next adventure. This was our first book, and while I’d read it before I was particularly struck by Elinor’s ability to let silence be her greatest argument. Some things simply were not worth words. I think that one of my greatest flaws in life is that I often allow my pride and securities to keep me from knowing when silence is the best option. I hope I learn that art in the coming years.

My friend Megan and I had lunch the other and discussed which words we wanted to carry us through the new year. I chose the word “Strength”. I have never seen myself as weak, but I know that I am not strong. It is easy for me to simply accept things. To give up. To not strive to be wholly myself and if I have learned anything in 2014 it is that who I am is enough. So here I stand. On the edge of 2014 ready to leap into 2015. Armed only with a spirit of adventure, a desire to be stronger, and a bit of wisdom from the years behind me.

“The lesson I am learning now is to never quit, never give up, no matter what happens or how intense the situation is. The strength I need is the strength to find meaning in suffering, the strength to become the hero of my own life story and the strength to see hope out of the ashes of disillusionment. I need the strength and determination to never waver no matter how arduous the journey may be.”

-Kino MacGregor

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s