New Year

Goal-Setting for 2014 - Part II

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It's been a great first week of January!  I had a chance to spend some time this week really thinking about my goals for 2014 and planning for what I'd like to see happen.  Here's where I am:

Based on the things I learned in this post (I even added a few things to the list since I published it - take a look!), I decided to choose goals that are a little more broad - lifestyle ideals rather than things to attain or cross off a list.  I want to live a purposeful life this year.  I want to spend my time doing things that are meaningful and add value to other people's lives.  I want to be intentional about the things that get my time and attention.  I want to live a life that reflects peace and joy.

So without further ado, here are my goals for 2014:

SMARTER BUSINESS

Schedule more emails (thanks, Boomerang!) / No checking email after dinner / Streamline the workflow of my business / Start a new mini blog series / Read The $100 Startup

BETTER TEACHING

Less planning before lessons, more discovery in lessons / Set monthly goals for the studio - things to focus on in each lesson / Think of ways to send formal communication home to parents at the end of year / Plan a year-end recital

PROFESSIONAL

Present my research at Eastman / Finish my course work and pass my qualifying exam / Teach two workshops / Find ways to add value to others through writing or mentoring

LIVING

Take intentional time off on weekends (and times off of social media) / Plan adventures and trips with SD / Plan 90 minutes of intentional exercise per week / Read Margin / Write more / Create an Artifact Uprising book for our first five years together

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JANUARY GOALS

Finish reading Entreleadership and choose a new book Research online invoicing and workflow organization Research and donate to a birthday party mission organization Plan studio goals for January + February Create presentation and materials for my first workshop! Set new budgets + investment plans

This is a work in progress, y'all.  I may edit or add to this list as the year progresses but for now, this is where my head and my heart are.  Each month, I'll be sharing a few of my more action-oriented goals, to keep me accountable and to help bring this list into a living reality.

What are your goals for the year?  Feel free to post them in the comments below or, if you blog your goals somewhere, please share the link - I'd love to read them!

Here's to a wonderful 2014!

Goal-Setting for 2014 - Part I

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Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you decide to purchase through any of them, I will earn a small commission. This helps support the blog and allows me to continue creating free content. Thank you for your support!

Happy New Year, friends!

This has been such a peaceful week for me - back home after a week of traveling, time with good friends (old and new), cooking, and yes, doing a little planning for the New Year.

I must admit that goal-setting has been a little bit more challenging for me this year than last (read more here, here, and here). I started off 2013 super motivated and ready to take on my ambitious goals (not that ambitious goals are a bad thing...). That lasted a few months but once summer came around, and the pace of life slowed a little bit, my action-oriented goals felt a little more like things on my ever-present to-do list. By the time fall came and school picked back up, I barely looked at my goals.

Granted, I did make progress. A lot of good things happened, in part as a result of setting thoughtful goals at the beginning of the year. But before I set standards and expectations for what I want to see happen in 2014, I want to make sure I spend time reflecting on the things that worked well and the things that didn't work last year.

This is how we learn, right? We try things, we experiment (like that vegetable casserole I made for dinner tonight, right, SD?), but it's only in the reflection that follows that true learning really takes place. Here's what I learned:

Things that worked:

1. Rest and space on the weekends. This made such a difference for me this year. It gave us something to look forward to each week but I also felt like my working hours were more productive.
2. Setting professional goals. I made significant progress on my degree this year, in part due to some goals I set for myself early in the year.
3. Goal-setting in January. In general, this was a great way to start the year with focus.
4. Blog calendar. I started using this free printable in November and loved it! Thanks, Em! Planning to use it again this year.
5. Monthly duty days. I first read about "duty days" here and loved the idea. Now, I use part of the day the first Friday of each month to catch up on paying bills, depositing checks, and miscellaneous home and business to-dos.
6. Afternoons to work at home. I am such a home-body that taking time to occasionally work from home for part of a day is actually refreshing. I can't and don't really want to work from home all the time right now but every once in a while, it's a good thing.
7. Getting up on time. Yay me! We did fairly well with last year's goal. I'm not much of a morning person but my day always feel more productive when I get a lot done in the morning.

Things that didn't work:

1. Lack of monthly action steps for goals. I lost motivation over the summer when my schedule changed and it was hard to get back on track with my goals come fall.
2. Letting distractions in while working. Especially checking email and social media.
3. Complaining. Especially to people who couldn't help! This is fruitless.
4. Writing on two separate blogs. I decided to do all of my writing on this blog in the coming year.
5. Comparing myself to others. As Lara said, "comparison isn't just the thief of joy, it's the thief of everything."
6. Choosing goals that became more things to do. Trying to come up with a better way to choose and write goals that are meaningful, things that center and focus my life rather than adding to my schedule.
7. Consistent exercise schedule. It's always the first thing to go when things get busy. I walk to school most days (a mile each way) but I want to find a more consistent time to exercise in addition to that a few times per week.

Good things that happened:

1. This post pretty much sums it up but here are a few others:
2. Started teaching piano at Harley
3. Traveled to new places with SD
4. Made time for 30+ runs in 9 months
5. Had my writing featured on the Clavier Companion website
6. Received two grants
7. Wrote a hymn arrangement
8. Recorded two songs for SD
9. Made time for writing (outside of academic writing - blogs, poetry)
10. Read four books: The Go-Giver, 7, The 4-Hour Work-Week, and EntreLeadership (almost finished!)
11. Got all of my inboxes to zero
12. Purged negativity from my social media feeds
13. Started volunteering with RAIHN, a hospitality organization for homeless families
14. Paid off one of my student loans ahead of schedule
15. Invested more in our Roth IRAs than past years

I really have so much to be grateful for. 2013 was a good year, a fun year. I am ever grateful for God's "immortal love, forever full" (one of my favorite hymn texts) and His grace that covers all. I am so grateful to be married to SD and for the blessing of our marriage. I am humbled by the people I work with at Eastman and am honored to be part of such a community.

Y'all, I love our little neighborhood - our daily walks (when it's not 5 degrees outside), cozy restaurants with waitresses that know what we want before we order, and happy hours on the roof overlooking the city.

I am grateful for people who truly listen and love extravagantly. I am grateful for opportunities to make music and share it with others in meaningful ways. I am humbled by the ways God provides for us. I love our everyday adventures and the joy that we find in the little things.

I am thankful for intentional rest and quiet days to be home. I am grateful for opportunities to do new things with SD (like bowling!). I am grateful for the promise that each new day holds because of His great faithfulness.

2014 is going to be a good year.

2013: A Year in Review

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For the past few years, New Year's Eve day has been, for me, a time of looking forward to the promise of the New Year but also reflecting on the year past: remembering the good, acknowledging the challenges, and feeling immense gratitude for all that we've been given. 2013 was a fun year!  Here are a few of my favorite memories:

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Skiing in Utah

We went skiing in Utah with SD's family right after the New Year.  Highlights include part skiing/part walking down an Olympic Women's Downhill trail (I thought I might die), learning to ride the Poma lift, and seeing a tiger at the zoo.

IMG_1625 Niagara Falls in March

We spent a weekend in Lewiston, NY and took a day trip to Niagara Falls (don't let our smiling faces fool you - it was freeeezing!).

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Musical Pairs concert

We organized a concert at church in April called "The Art of Song: Musical Pairs".  SD and I performed two settings of "Mondnacht" (Schumann and Brahms) and we invited a few friends of ours to choose, present, and perform a pair of songs that had something in common (composer, text, theme, melodic material).  To tie the whole thing together, we played our game of "Musical Memory" (first seen in the 2011 WCMW!).  Great fun!

lilac_festival Lilac Festival in May (yes, May)

We attended many of Rochester's festivals this year - the Lilac Festival, the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, the Corn Hill Arts Festival, the Festival on the Green, the Park Ave Summer Arts Festival (on our street!), the Rochester Fringe Festival, and the Hilton Apple Festival (with the largest apple crisp I've ever seen - 5' in diameter!).

Junaluska Lake Junaluska, NC

We played music together, cooked together, and vacationed together this summer and enjoyed many-a #weekendadventure.  One of the highlights was our week at Lake J with dear friends.  Here we are cooking dinner on the grill one night (I actually just stepped in for the photo - the boys were the real chefs!).  We also enjoyed our share of barbecue, fried green tomatoes, and hush puppies.

IMG_2013 The Bean in Chicago

I presented a research poster at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy outside of Chicago in July - it was my first time in the city!

IMG_1960 Dinner at Frog Pond in Rochester

We shared spontaneous dinners out at our favorite places (like the above picture snapped one summer evening at Frog Pond), leisurely strolls through the neighborhood at dusk, and lots of time up on the roof (watching the city fireworks show on the 4th of July was definitely a highlight!).

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Apple-picking in Upstate NY

We traveled around New England, ate lobster, saw the horses race at Saratoga Springs, and went apple-picking (followed by an afternoon of pie-baking!).

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Handbell choir planning

We became the Interim Handbell Choir directors at church and led a group of seven (ages 9-81!) for a fun six-week session with everything from how to pick up a bell to playing together in worship (read more about our adventures here, here, and here).

Ashley Danyew | 2013 "This World Alive" at Nazareth College

My parents came up for a weekend visit in November.  We were all thrilled to attend a performance of SD's new wind/film consortium project, "This World Alive"!

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Outtake from our Christmas card shoot

Somebody may have turned 30 this year.  Just sayin'.

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Thanksgiving weekend

We spent Thanksgiving in CT (SD's parents hosted dinner for the first time this year - we were responsible for the stuffing, cranberry-orange relish, and corn pudding).  On Friday, we drove down to NJ to visit my grandparents and spread a little Christmas cheer.

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Dinner in NYC

We spent Christmas in VT (including a brief walk through our favorite town - Woodstock) and enjoyed seeing both sides of SD's family.  We took a day trip into the big city with SD's parents and brother to see "Once" (amazing!), M&M World, the big tree, and the original P.J. Clarke's (in that order).

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Our Christmas card picture

2013 - the year that brought me new professional and teaching opportunities, the year SD received not one but two letters of acceptance from publishers, the year I learned how to make deviled eggs, the year the President stopped and had lunch across the street from our apartment building, and the year I learned (again) that I really am a terrible bowler.

Happy New Year!

Previously: 2012 2011

Making Things Happen in 2013 - Part III

We had a wonderful holiday adventure in Utah with SD's family - we skied five days out of seven! Now, we're on our way back across the country to our home, sweet home. After thinking on Lara's Goal-Setting Steps 1-9 and writing out my answers (read Part I and Part II), I began writing out my goals for 2013. In addition to writing the WHY with each goal (why I want to spend time on this in the coming year), I used the following guidelines from Dave Ramsey's Entreleadership (recommended here):

1. Be specific. 2. Have a timeline. 3. Own them. 4. Measure them. 5. Write them down.

I spent a few days mulling everything over, sketching out some initial thoughts, and then finding ways to make them measurable and meaningful. Boy is it tempting to turn this into another to-do list! A word of advice if you're working through the process yourself: Your goals should mean something to you. Good goals should inspire you to take action. Think about those things you wrote down in your vision. Is there a discrepancy between the life you're living now and the life you want to live? Start there.

Here are my goals for 2013:

PERSONAL

1. I want to stay healthy and get more physically fit this year. I want to run 2-3 times per week with SD and increase our route from 1 mile to 2 miles once per week.

2. I want to find ways to give to others each month because it's a way of serving those in need and making love into an action word.

3. I want to make more time for pleasure reading (this ties in with goal #6) because it's a way of being intentional with rest, it encourages me to focus on what matters, and it inspires me to make better business decisions. This year, I want to read six new books in twelve months.

4. I want to study the Word actively because it is wisdom, Truth, and inspiration for my life and it strengthens my faith.

5. I want to be more intentional with starting my workday on time and being productive during working hours. Starting this week, I want to get up at 7:30 a.m. six out of seven days a week.

6. I want to be intentional with rest because it will allow me to take a step back and refocus, it will inspire my work, and it will make me more productive during working hours.

7. I want to live a life of gratitude all year long - not just during the month of November. I want to start this year by making a list of things that we are grateful for to display in our home. I think this will be a powerful reminder to focus on the things that matter most and to count our blessings every day.

8. Going along with goal #7, I want to focus on inspiring influences and purge negativity from things like my Facebook newsfeed and my blog reader. I want to focus on the positive and things that will inspire my work, not detract from it. I want to learn from others rather than comparing myself to others. I want to feel more content.

9. In 2012, we started buying almond milk instead of regular milk, organic eggs instead of regular eggs, and we started eating more vegetables in place of meat. This year, I want to eat more whole foods because it will keep us healthy, it will give us more energy during the day, and it goes hand-in-hand with goal #1.

10. I want to find ways to add value to others - to make an impact. I want to give and invest and encourage this year.

BUSINESS

1. I want 2013 to be the year I get published (or at least get something in the queue). This not only will move me forward in my degree but it's a way to share my research with others in the field of Music Education.

2. Goals #2 and #3 are somewhat related - I want to become a better musician in 2013 than I was in 2012. I want to write a hymn arrangement this year and make good use of my keyboard skills class because I know it will inspire my creativity and make me a better listener.

3. I want to get back to my instrument and spend more time in the practice room. I want to become a better improviser. I want to sightread and sightsing on a more regular basis. I want to learn five songs in twelve different keys.

4. I want to create a blog schedule so I can be more consistent with my writing. I want to be authentic, share creativity, and build relationships this year.

5. I want to make a few mini updates to my website because I want it to grow and change with me throughout the year and reflect the things that I am currently doing.

This list inspires me to GO and DO (unlike a to-do list, which I admit is often met with dread). In these final days of holiday vacation, I'm working on the step-by-step process for making each of these goals happen this year - with a timeline. 2013, let's do this!

Love, Ashley

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Making Things Happen in 2013 - Part I Making Things Happen in 2013 - Part II

Making Things Happen in 2013 - Part II

"Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least." Y'all, thank you for sharing such encouraging responses to my last post! I have been so inspired by this goal-setting process this week - I can't wait to apply these steps to aspects of my professional work.

I left off last time with my progress up through Step 5. Step 6 is writing out a vision for 2013, reflecting on where you see yourself in 50 years and what you consider to be your personal mission statement. Here's my vision for 2013:

Content, grateful, and present. Gracious. Saying "yes" to things that matter and basing my priorities and decisions on that. Doing more of what fires me up! Giving freely. Making love an action word. Speaking with intention. Working with passion and living a life of gratitude, love, and grace.

This was the most reflective step for me. These questions really make you stop, think, and evaluate your life in a whole new way. What is important in the long run? What kind of person do you want to be? I found I really had to quiet myself for this part of the process. What a wonderful way to prepare your heart and mind for the New Year! Steps 7 and 8 are designed to keep you accountable for living your vision this year: Make a list of things you are saying NO to this year (because they detract from your vision or keep you from being the person you want to be) and make a list of things you are saying YES to this year (because they support your vision).

This year, I am saying NO to: 1. Social media distraction 2. Selfishness in relationships 3. Greed - holding onto things we don't need, buying things we don't need 4. Worry and fear of the future 5. Not being a good listener 6. Working without passion 7. Negative influences 8. Complaining 9. Making excuses to myself 10. Judging others 11. Multi-tasking, not being fully present or focused 12. My iPhone during time with SD 13. Selfish rewards 14. Trying to live up to others' expectations 15. Carrying emotional baggage 16. Having unfair expectations of others 17. Comparison - trying to be too much like others 18. Not taking/making time to rest and be inspired 19. Talking negatively about others 20. Laziness in work, marriage, and personal life

This year, I am saying YES to: 1. More impromptu date nights with SD 2. More prayer 3. An established exercise routine 4. Giving time in service to others 5. Being grateful and counting our blessings 6. Simplifying our life 7. Giving away things we don't use or need 8. Building relationships 9. Getting up on time 10. Making healthy food choices 11. More focused, productive working hours 12. Fewer distractions when I'm home with SD 13. Becoming a better musician 14. Taking time to rest and be inspired during the week 15. More study of the Word 16. Being honest and authentic in what I do 17. Inspiring influences 18. Reading for pleasure 19. Encouraging others 20. Resting in the security of grace 21. Solitude 22. Walks 23. A balanced day 24. Living freely and giving freely 25. Letting go

Everything seemed amazingly clear to me after I made these lists - I even refined my vision statement. Have you ever taken the time to vocalize or write out the things that you want less of in your life? It's freeing, friends. Do what matters and forget the rest. I'm going to post these lists above my desk so that I can be reminded of them every day.

Step 9? Review Steps 1-8. Refine things, add to or change things on your lists, get feedback from someone close to you. Make a note of any key ideas/goals that emerge as you do this.

The final step is writing out purposeful, accessible goals. Yes! I love what Lara said about this part of the process: "The idea here is for you to SIMPLIFY your life, not to give yourself a new to-do list of random things that sound good. Be very specific and careful about what you decide to spend your time on this year." Use the following as a checklist:

1. Will this goal help my 2013 Vision? 2. Does this goal also help other people? 3. WHY would I spend my time on this goal? Write out your answer next to your goal.

I love this. I'll be sharing my progress on this last step and my list of goals for 2013 with you later this week!

Love, Ashley

// Making Things Happen in 2013 - Part I

Making Things Happen in 2013

Happy New Year, friends! As I write this, I'm 38,000 feet in the air in Delta seat 42A headed to Utah for a Danyew family ski trip (my first!). We've had a wonderful holiday adventure so far, including three Christmases, three states, and a harrowing six-hour trip (that should have taken two) in the midst of Winter Storm Euclid. You could say that we're making the most of the holidays/Winter Break. In between all the traveling, skiing, and butter cookie-eating, I've been reflecting on 2012 and setting goals for 2013.

Don't you just love this time of the year? I do. Everything feels fresh and new with the calendar change and though I'm not one for making resolutions, planning thoughtful, meaningful goals and setting up ways to achieve them fires me up to live the life I want to live and do my work with passion.

Raise your hand if you've jotted down a short list of goals at the last possible moment on New Year's Eve (in order to make the magical January 1st deadline). Raises hand. When you look back, how many of those goals did you accomplish? How many moved you forward? No more! I want to set authentic, purposeful goals that I can actually attain.

This week, inspired by Lara Casey's Goal-Setting Steps, I've been doing just that. Guys, the process is so important to setting real, attainable goals. Think about this past year. What did you make happen? What worked well? What didn't work? I spent an afternoon last week pondering these questions and writing out my answers. Beginning with the positive, Step 1 is making a list of things you're grateful for and things that worked well in 2012. Here's what my "worked well" list looks like:

WCMW // the organization and planning, the community support, the quality of the music, and the overall experience PhD at Eastman // I love the work I am doing, the things I am learning, the opportunities and experiences, and the people I work with Living in Rochester // city + country + lakes + beach + mountains, culture, dining, separation of home/work, people our age Setting boundaries // more productive during working hours and able to enjoy time away from work Making decisions // better at getting through emails, taking risks, being confident in my abilities, taking an active role instead of a passive one, and making things happen New website/brand // represents me as an artist, a teacher, a writer, and an entrepreneur; better way of staying in touch with professional network Musical growth // recitals, musicianship, learning new things, surrounding myself with other musicians Giving // helping those in need, living with less, compassion, living "Love Does" Grace // living it in action (calm, patient, peaceful, joyful) Traditions // making new traditions with SD while honoring the old, living in the present and focusing more on what matters Healthier choices // exercising more, eating less meat and no milk, buying local, drinking more water Reading for pleasure // read three books since summer; inspiring, motivating, refreshing

Basically, this comes down to three points (skipping ahead to Step 4): 1. Never stop learning. Be honest and authentic in what you do. 2. Continue striving for musical excellence. Share this with others. 3. Work to live. Set boundaries, know your priorities, and focus on what matters.

Likewise, there were several things that didn't work well last year. This is Step 2. These are learning opportunities for the year to come:

Taking work personally // investing too much of myself into work Worry // about what others think, about finances, about the future, about relationships Lack of boundaries // separating work and personal life at home Lack of inspiration // teaching full-time without being refueled, without rest, and without being inspired Selfish intentions // in decision-making, in marriage, in giving, in relationships Taking things for granted // thinking that newlywed life should be bliss, not focusing on what matters Wrong priorities // paying too much attention to things that don't matter

Again, three basic points (Step 5): 1. Invest yourself in your priorities. Give with intention. 2. Do more of what fires you up. Be inspired. Take time to rest and be filled. 3. Give thanks and be grateful every day.

Step 3 is making a list of what inspires you, invigorates you, and fires you up. Make a Pinterest board for inspiration and to keep yourself on track this year - see mine here (in progress!). Y'all, this was eye-opening for me. There it is, in black and white, exactly where I am today, how far I came in the last year, and the things that inspire me most. Amazing! Now I can begin thinking ahead with purpose (Step 6). Where do I see myself in 50 years? Why do I do what I do? What is my vision? I spent a little time during the flight reflecting on these questions and sketching out my initial responses. More to come as I continue the refining process. In the meantime, please feel free to share your goals for 2013 (if you have them already) and/or your reflection on what went well/not so well this past year in the comments below. Looking forward to sharing more of my goal-setting process with you in the days to come!

Love, Ashley

2012: A Year in Review

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Happy Holidays, friends! I hope this finds you off celebrating with leftover Christmas cookies, mugs of hot chocolate by the fire, and good conversations with family and friends. For me, New Year's Eve is a time to not only look forward into what the New Year holds but to reflect on all the memories of the current year. Here are a few of my favorite moments: DSCF2491edited Image credit: personal

I applied to two doctoral programs in December of 2011 and at the end of January, we took a trip to Rochester for doctoral interviews (five in all). It was a whirlwind 48-hour trip!

I started teaching a new-to-me class at Fitchburg State in January - Commonwealth of the Arts. I continued teaching two sections of Class Piano, which brought my total number of students to over 45. What an honor!

DSCF2540edited Image credit: personal

Steve and I presented our first-ever Children's Concert in February to children ages 2-5. Originally, we were told to expect 8-10 children. About a week before the program, we found out that 35 were signed up to attend! The morning of the event, however, 56 children plus parents and teachers crowded in to find a seat. It was a great experience and "Saxophone Steve" was a bit hit! Read our recap post here.

lecture recital_cropped Image credit: personal

We presented an informal lecture recital for the community in March called "The Art of the Spiritual." See video excerpts of this program here, here, and here.

triple_4 Image credit: personal

We planned a quick 36-hour getaway to Maine at the end of March - shopping and dining in Portland, cliff walks along the ocean's edge, and visiting Stonewall Kitchen. Also, the President and Snoop Dogg were there. No big deal.

1920_ESM_Panorama Image credit: Eastman School of Music

I got accepted into Eastman's PhD program in March and signed the final papers in April to enroll in the fall. I was over the moon with excitement!

DSCF2615 Dr. Susan Conkling leading the WCMW Community Sing in May 2012. Image credit: personal

Our second year of the Westminster Chamber Music Workshop was a great success! We organized four larger concerts, one each Saturday night in May. See video clips here, here, here, and here.

mwaw_1 Lake Junaluska, NC. Image credit: personal

We spent two weeks on the road in June - apartment hunting in Rochester, a visit with my parents in GA, and a week at Music and Worship Arts Week at Lake Junaluska, NC (read more here). Also, eating as much southern barbeque as possible.

We spent July teaching and packing for our big move - July 29! Thanks to the help of some very able-bodied friends, everything went very smoothly. Naturally, we spent August unpacking and establishing NYS residency. Steve picked back up with work and I began studying for placement exams: counterpoint and Renaissance music history.

IMG_0662 The beach at Lake Ontario. Image credit: personal

We took the opportunity over Labor Day weekend to explore the Finger Lakes - wineries one day, beach the next!

IMG_0958 Image credit: personal

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in October with a day trip to Letchworth State Park. It was gorgeous!

We spent Thanksgiving in CT with Steve's parents and friends of the family and came back to the first snow dusting of the season. It was magical.

advent_dual Image credit: personal

We prepared for Choral Sunday at church on December 9 - Vivaldi's Gloria and three Advent hymn arrangements by SD and got our first Christmas tree. Then, on December 14 tragedy struck at Sandy Hook Elementary School, devastating the quaint community, Steve's hometown. Our hearts just broke at the magnitude of this loss and for all the families who were affected. We sent heart-shaped messages of love and support as part of Hearts of Hope. Join the project here.

I finished the first semester of my doctoral program on 12/21, just in time to celebrate with SD and pack for our big holiday adventure - five states in two weeks!

So here it is - the last day of 2012. This year gave me new teaching opportunities and professional experiences and time to visit new places. I got accepted into Eastman's PhD program, SD and I made the move back to Rochester, and we celebrated our first of hopefully many sweet anniversaries. God is good and we are blessed. Here's to 2013!

Happy New Year, y’all!

Previously: 2011: A Year in Review

2011: A Year in Review

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I'm starting a new tradition: a newsy recap post highlighting the biggest and best moments of the past year. I thought 2010 would be tough to beat: final semester of grad school with papers and projects galore, Eastman graduation, interviewing and getting a new job, relocating to a new state, experiencing my first semester as an adjunct professor at a college, and getting engaged to the handsome SD. Well, what do you know - 2011 turned out to be quite the year, as well! Here's what I've been up to: Engagement shots by Nicholas Garofalo We set a wedding date and jumped head-on into all the planning! We wrote up a budget, booked venues, booked a caterer, sent out save-the-dates, made lots of lists, and began all of the DIY projects (yes, SD and I did all of the planning and projects together). Read through more of my wedding planning posts here.

The interior of the Sumner. Image Credit: personal

We visited our reception venue for the first time during a short holiday weekend getaway in February. It was so perfect for us!