2014: Making Plans and Setting Goals

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Where has the time gone?  Sometimes I still don’t believe that I graduated from college last May and am living in a tiny flat in Paris.  Whenever anyone ever asked me about my post-graduation plans, I’d shrug, and this blurry picture of living and writing in Europe would waver in my mind, but I never fathomed it would or could happen.  Since moving here, I’ve quite enjoyed letting spontaneity guide me.  My life has always revolved around strict deadlines and aspirational goals, most of which I have set for myself.  For the first time in my life, I’ve allowed myself to just breathe and enjoy what can happen when we stop planning.  However, the Type A in me could only handle this lackadaisical attitude for so long.  Now, with deadlines approaching and a looming visa expiration date, the familiar itch to plan and set goals has returned.

So, as opposed to New Year’s Resolutions, because, whoops, it’s already March, here are my 2014 goals.

1. Write a second book

For those of you who don’t know, I wrote a book entitled Memories and Cherry Trees this past summer.  A little gothic (in the traditional literary sense), a little bit about growing up, and a little bit about loss, the story follows Maggie as she grapples with the death of her grandmother and the consequent family lies that begin to unravel.  It dabbles in magical realism, a genre I’d like to continue to explore.  Have to get crackin’ though!

2.  Explore more of France

Carcassonne, Mont St. Michel, the coast of Brittany, Nice–these places have been calling me for months.  How have I not traveled more?  Granted, I’ve seen some beautiful places, but time has swallowed up my grand plans to explore the countryside of France.  Now, I don’t waste my time on regrets.  Every weekend I didn’t stroll along the coast of Brittany or step through the ancient castle walls in the Loire Valley, I was too busy living my life in Paris.  Too busy letting myself fall in love with people and the city, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that love wraps itself around your mind, fogging up the corners so that your peripheral vision is just a little skewed.  Paris does that to you.  Or at least, it has to me.  It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life but sometimes I wander through the curved (aka nonsensical and confusing) streets in the quiet corners of the city and see everything through rose-tinted glasses,.  It’s as if the city makes all of life’s stress disappear because you’re too busy laughing with friends or stumbling across another adventure.

While I can go ahead and blame Paris, I’m also partially to blame.  Despite my love of adventure, I’m a stickler for routine.  It’s a strange combination, really.  See, I’ve always thought I’d make the quintessential hobbit (I’d have to be a Baggins though).  Adventures, although sometimes frightening, are exhilarating.  And just…liberating.  I am entirely myself, discovering the world far away from my sheltered home in Wisconsin.  Yet at the same time, despite the rush, the adrenaline, and the images of sword fights and heroic quests, adventures become wearisome and tedious, and at the end of the day, nothing makes me happier than a pot of tea, a good book, and a cozy nook with ample blankets and pillows.  I’ve allowed my apartment in Paris to become that nook.  Granted, it helps that my apartment is 10 meters squared and I sleep on the mattress on my floor.  It’s “cozy.”  I’m very grateful for the homey feel that I’ve discovered in Paris but I would like to balance that with more traveling.

3.  Balance

Just started yoga classes!  My mom would be proud.  Newsflash, I’m terrible at yoga.  Absolutely awful.  It’s actually a little embarrassing.  My problems are not with flexibility or strength.  No, I just can’t sit still.  Halfway through my last yoga session, I had this urge to leap off my yoga mat and sprint around the block.  My jittery nature does not lend itself well to calming exercises, which, in a frustrating twist of fate, is precisely why I need them the most.  So.  Every Sunday.  Yoga.  It’s on.

(And hopefully I won’t ruin the calming effects by accidentally ending up in the café across the street afterwards).

4.  Blog once a week

…I know.  People have chided me for not writing enough so I’m hoping that by making a public declaration about it, I will ACTUALLY write more.  Keep reading and you’ll learn all about riding camels in the Sahara Desert and hiking in Wales.

5.  Master the French language

This is a constant work in progress.  Fortunately, I’m finally mingling with the locals more, so the French I speak on a day-to-day basis isn’t limited to conversations with four-year-olds.  And umm, excuse me, but sometimes they’re just like American four-year-olds and they Make. Up. Words.  When your French isn’t 100% superb, you go around all proud of your new and improved vocabulary, entirely unaware that you might as well be saying “flaffinlapindo.”  And then people raise eyebrows in concern.  Not that I’ve ever personally experienced this.

6.  Finalize plans for this summer and next year.

Although number 6 on my list, this probably deserves the most emphasis.  Unfortunately, given the uncertainty of it all, I can’t say too much yet.  I can, however, describe how bizarre it feels to live adrift.  With nothing but a vague dream of becoming a full-time writer in my head, I’ve never really known which stepping stones to pick or which route to take.  Honestly, I doubt I’ll ever know.  I always thought that if I were to make an important decision for my future, it would mean too much; I couldn’t handle the commitment.  Now, however, it feels more like a natural progression to apply for grad school or choose a job.  The act of making a choice doesn’t suffocate me the way it used to.  The real question is: where?  While I can’t give you a definitive answer quite yet, I can promise you that I’m not finished traveling.

Stay tuned for more!

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