Thursday, January 1, 2015

As The Sun Sets On 2014...

... I find myself reminiscing on the past year and pondering the year soon to arrive.

2014 has been a rough year, just like 2012 was. I've had to trek up many thornbush-covered mountains this year; much more frequently than the few times I was able to stroll through smoothly rolling valleys. It has been a dark year, but there has been light.

I've faced a lot of challenges this year, and quite a few new experiences; probably the widest range of any I've ever seen or went through in any one year of my life.

A fantastic Scottish singer and a friend of mine - George Donaldson - passed away from a heart attack earlier this year, leaving behind a then-13-year-old daughter and his wife; and it twisted my life upside-down. This was a man whom had been a father figure of mine since 2011, because of his warmth, generosity, kindness, and gentleness. And suddenly he was just gone.

In summer, a man who had been a huge part of my childhood committed suicide - Robin Williams. And though I didn't know him personally, all those years of looking up to him and being cheered up by his antics had made me feel like I did.

There was a light side to those tragedies. A faint light, but a light all the same.

After George's unexpected death, I began to ask questions about theology that I had never asked before; I sought out answers instead of accepting whatever ones were handed to me pre-baked on a platter.

After Robin's death, I grew closer to already-close friends. In the midst of people calling those with suicidal thoughts things like 'selfish', 'greedy', and 'hellbound', those that knew the truth stuck together and comforted one another. When I was sobbing the night after Robin's death, because I had lost a man I had looked up to all my life, and because someone had basically just told me I was hellbound because I had suicidal thoughts, my friends were there. They comforted me and kept me from completely breaking down. I tried to return the favour as best I could.

And through those trials, we grew closer.

As for friends... I made some new ones this year, and - as I mentioned above - grew closer to others. I also got to see more of my friends in this one year than I have in any other (considering up until recently, I only had one or two friends that could even visit on a half-regular basis).

In March, I got to meet two of my friends for the first time and another of my friends for the second time - Matt, who visited in October of 2013. I spent an hour or two hanging out with them in Seattle; it was only the second time I had ever visited the city and actually walked around.

In April, I visited a friend and her family for the first time in years. I also got to play with their baby lizard.

In August, I got to see Matt again and we spent an afternoon in town before going to a concert, where I had the pleasure of meeting our friend Alex for the first time. This was another first - it was the first time I had ever been allowed to go anywhere with a friend without a parent tagging along. It may sound like a little thing to most, but it was a huge milestone for me.

And again in November, Matt dropped by and we hung out with our mutual friend Brenna for a while.

From November to the end of December, a friend was living in our back room for a while as well.

All in all, I got to see nine friends - some of them multiple times - this year; six are mentioned earlier. The other two I spent time with at my high school graduation.

There's another milestone of this year. Two, actually - I graduated high school and, while I've been enrolled in college since March of 2013, went to my very first on-campus classes this summer.

Those were two experiences I won't soon forget. In June, I graduated high school at the age of sixteen. It was also the first time I ever got to try a coffee from Starbucks.

My long-time buddy August - whom I saw a few months prior for a while - came to watch my graduation, and I had a blast talking to him again. Then I met a girl who was friends with another friend of mine - we hit it off great, marveling at the coincidence that we would be graduating at the same time and that she would recognise my name from our friend's Facebook page.

During my on-campus classes, I got to see lovely scenery in the hiking trails at my college, and I met two new friends in my P.E. class. Another similar milestone was that taking these classes was the first time I would spend any longer than an hour (usually four hours) away from anyone my mom knew. And it wasn't within walking distance - it was a twenty-minute drive most mornings. And I would hang out on campus and in classes by myself. It was scary, and finding my way around without having a breakdown from overload of emotions and senses was a challenge.

I guess I learned a lot - not everything, but a lot more than I did - about being an adult this year.

I had to learn responsibility for my on-campus classes. I had to arrive on time, make sure I understood the information, and turn everything in on schedule. I had to remember to keep an eye on the calendars, and I had to get up early each morning so that I could get dressed and make sure everything was in my backpack before heading out the door.

I had to learn to put aside my own desires and fears in order to help my mom through some very rough times that she is still going through now.

I had to take responsibility for the friend who moved in with us. That was a challenge - I needed to exercise patience, calmness, punctuality, and persistence. All things I have trouble showing. I needed to make sure everything they needed was taken care of, and remind them of their day-to-day duties.

And while it is not a particular skill or attribute to learn, I was allowed to spend time with friends in town by myself (without parents) for the first time ever this year. For our family, that is a definite step towards adulthood. It may sound silly, but it is.

I had to ignore my fears and insecurities during the summer and tell someone exactly how I felt about them, despite the anxiety that they would 'run away' or push me away. (They didn't. And our friendship is even stronger now because I was honest, praise God.)

I had to destroy a knot of negative emotions in order to confess to my mother and my friends the struggles I have - the fear, the self-loathing, the guilt, the shame... it all had to be obliterated just long enough to confess. And that is probably the most adult thing I managed to do all year.

I learned patience, I learned more about logic, I learned how to schedule my time better... I learned that it is wrong to judge others for their own struggles, and I learned that even the people you trust have the ability to mess up big-time... and above all - I learned from a close friend that the best way for me to be is just to be me.

All that said... what do I hope to see in 2015? What are my resolutions?

I never do fulfill my resolutions. But here are some goals, wishes, and resolutions I have anyway:

~ Fly out-of-state to visit friends; either in Virginia, Texas, Ohio, or Florida.

~ Go to Emerald City Comicon with friends.
~ Learn how to drive.
~ Write a novel for the first time in years.
~ Start some sort of project designed to help the needy.
~ Get into acting somehow; by joining a drama team if there are any nearby.
~ Complete the 365 Photography Challenge
~ Attempt to get a job.

We'll see if any of those get completed this year; I do hope they will!

Before I close, I want to give special thanks to the people who made my year so much easier to bear and made me smile and laugh, and comforted me through the dark times: thank you to Sian, Hayley, Charity, Matt, Andrew, Eli, Brendan, William, Elizabeth K., Mark, Ellen, Elizabeth A., Ophelia, Adrienne, Joel P., Jasmine, Annie, Gael, Kitra, Seth, Hannah L., Jenni, and August. I love all of you so very much. Thank you for being yourselves, and for caring about me even when I'm at my worst.

To all of you reading this... here's to a new year - may it be bright and blessed and shiny. Keep on keeping on, all of you; every last one of you is amazing and strong and so very special.

Happy New Year, everybody!

God bless,
Theodora Ashcraft


  1. Happy New Year, sweetheart. You have been and done so much this year, and have so much more that you can barely see yet. I am so proud of you. <3

    1. Happy New Year, Mama Sian. I wish I could see what I've done and been articulated away from all the negatives in my mind; but the best I can do is try to see it. *half-grin*

      And the other things I can barely see yet... I wonder if I'll ever know what those are...

      I am so proud of you too. <3 You are brave, and smart, and loyal, and beautiful, and just so amazing.

  2. I'm a couple days late. ;) I don't ever have time to read blogs, but now with my blog tour happening, I visited yours to grab the link, and basically read four or five posts and couldn't tear my eyes away. XD
    I love you. <3 I'm glad I've been of help. I'm grateful for our friendship and sisterhood and I hope it never ends. *hugs so tight* Can't wait to meet you in person someday and give you all those hugs for real. ^_^ You have such a beautiful, shining soul. Never let the world dull it. <3