Writer’s Block: High hopes for the new year

I have always delighted in list making and for me, November, December and January comprise prime list season.

Olivia Koester
Olivia Koester

During the flurry of the holidays, increased entertaining means frequent and lengthy grocery lists.

It’s essential that I map out what to pack when I travel home – even when I do, I always seem to forget pajamas.

I record the slew of parties and potlucks that accompany the season on my calendar.

The traditional Christmas list is fun to draft, as is the list of packages I plan to wrap up for friends and family.

I track expenditures to keep finances in the black.

My very favorite list to create is a New Year’s list. I catalog the past 12 months, documenting standout moments, my highs and lows.

Facebook tries to do it for me, but I think I have a better handle on my life than Mark Zuckerburg.

2013 was a big year for me and 2014 will be right up there.

The beginning of 2013 held a lot of lasts as I wrapped up my college career at St. Olaf.

In March, I made the most of my last spring break, traveling to sunny Los Angeles to visit my cousin. I pretended to be Julia Roberts on Rodeo Drive, lazed on Santa Monica Pier and posed in front of the famous Chinese Theatre.

Two months later, I graduated with 700 other Oles, some of my best friends, and sobbed as I drove away from campus for the last time, moving boxes in my back seat.

Becoming a full-time Minnesotan was a lot more work than I thought it would be.

Summer and fall were busy as I joined a gym, obtained a library card, opened a new bank account, found a church and adjusted to a new grocery store.

Though I’ve been driving since age 16, I studied pretty thoroughly to take a written test for a new license at the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles. I passed!

I landed my first full-time job at ABC Newspapers and my independence grew when I asked my parents to drop me from their health insurance.

I can now talk 401(k) contributions with the best of them, though I would prefer not to because my first student loan payment was due this week, so I’m not preparing for my future as much as I probably should be.

October brought joy and despair: My boyfriend of two-and-a-half years became my fiance and my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.

There are so many little things that I could include in my year-long review, but the list would be miles long if I counted up every delicious meal I ate, amazing book I read and fantastic movie I saw. (But go see Disney’s “Frozen” as soon as possible.)

I’m amazed that new experiences continue to confront me almost daily. I hope that never changes.

This month, I went snowshoeing, tried Brussels sprouts and made quiche for the first time. I won’t feel compelled to eat another Brussels sprout as long as I live.

The year ahead holds so much for me and my family. We have two weddings on the calendar and three babies’ due dates penciled in.

I can’t wait to marry the man I love, honeymoon in Hawaii and move into our first apartment in 2014.

There will be tough times, too. My mom will continue her treatments and have surgery.

Hopefully, she will be cancer free when I draft my New Year’s list next year, healthier and happier, though I’m not sure it’s possible for her to be happier.

Her first comment to me upon diagnosis was “I’m so excited for all of the new people I’m going to meet.” She is the most optimistic woman I know.

I’m with her. I think 2014 is going to be the best year yet!