The desktop wallpaper on my computer is a picture of my 2.5 year old nephew, Nipote, that my sister sent to me recently. He’s on the floor of my mother’s kitchen, looking up and cocking his head to the left a little while making his “Cheese” smile at the camera, while pushing his new little wooden train, filled with little wooden people and his Brutus, the OSU mascot doll. It was taken the day after I’d left Ohio, where I had spent 10 days visiting for the holidays, mostly as a result of moving my sister and Nipote from Washington State to Ohio, right after Christmas.

My sister lived in Kitsap County for just more than a year. She and I hadn’t lived within driving distance of each other for years. The last time I remember sharing a living environment with her was 1998. That made it 15 years since we’d lived in an area where we saw each other on a regular basis, much less the same house.

Bottomline: After living in the PNW for 10.5 years with no family nearby, I spent 2013 with my sister and her family. Aside from work, mountain rescue training and missions, and the occasional social gathering, I saw the family 2-3x a week. A lot of people thought that was excessive. I thought it’s what you do when family lives close, especially when you know that they are only here temporarily. And it was no secret that I struggled with that balance. That said, I don’t regret a second I spent with them, and probably regret a few times I didn’t spend with them, but life isn’t about regrets.

I exposed them to my friends, my forests, my foods, my hobbies, my lifestyle, my choices. I tried to brainstorm things we could do that involved a toddler (it was hard at first but I think I got better over time). Not everything took (I didn’t expect it to)  but it did two things: 1) it further proved to my sister I was a definite treehugger in her eyes and 2) we found some social commonalities. It was lots of fun to reconnect and realize how much we are similar (sense of humor, cooking) and different (hobbies, problem solving). It was awesome to be a part of Nipote’s life and watch him develop from a scrambling 1.5 year old babe-in-arms to 2.5 year old sprinting toddler. He and I became best buds – we colored, cooked, built forts, danced, learned to read, learned to say Zia, walked the dog, played in the sandbox, went on hikes, learned how to make the sound of every animal imaginable, and found just about every tractor and train ride we could in Kitsap County. I saw the world through different eyes – and learned that I’m a lot like a toddler. I like to do stuff and always be doing stuff.

But now we’re in 2014 and life feels like it’s come to a shuttering halt. Kinda like when Nipote doesn’t want us to do something or we need him to stop, we yell “RED LIGHT!” at each other and throw out an open hand, much like we’re stopping traffic. 

RED LIGHT, indeed, 2014.

I suddenly find myself back to my selfish single hippie, homemade granola eating, jumping the ferry whenever, carseat-less life. My weeks are open to play in the mountains for six weeks in a row or work on the house for six weeks in a row. I already have a few things lined up for this first week I’m back, but my calendar, it seems, is blank for the first time in a long time. I’m not saying it’s a good or bad thing. It’s just a little sad to know that there’s no longer a highly energetic 2.5 year old in Silverdale waiting for his Zia to come over and play. So, I don’t know, I guess I feel kinda empty inside. 

I think I just feel the need to bring my life back up to where it was in 2012, before The Year of Family. But when I look back on that year and the year before it, and the year before it, it all goes back to my March 2013 post

I was pretty busy. And pretty tired. And pretty tired of being pretty busy.

I need to find some focus in 2014. I need to narrow down goals. I have areas I want to explore and things I want to do. At the same time, there are some areas of my life that need some desperate motivation and new energy.

I guess this is a New Year’s Resolution post. At least a place to write down The List, but also remember to give myself a RED LIGHT when needed. Some things are huge, some are small, some are vague, some are specific. But my friend at The Wandering Gourmand made a good point – make them achievable. 

Learn to play the ukulele

Make the big mirror frame and coffee table.

Make/Buy a vanity for the bathroom. 

Take a weeklong road trip down the 101. 

Climb Mt. Baker and Glacier Peak.

Dedicate a week in May to mountain rescue training. 

Finish another component of my yard.

Buy a calendar to plan all this.