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Jen Vennon: Looking Back & Looking Forward

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

The New Year isn’t just a time to reflect back on where you’ve been. It’s also a time to look forward with aspiration.
Looking back over the past year it’s hard to believe all of the amazing things that have happened in my life. Andrew and I bought a house. We got a dog. I turned 30. I went on a trip to both Mexico and Spain. And, most surprising of all, Andrew asked me to marry him. It’s hard to imagine that so much can happen in just one short year. I never would have predicted that as 2013 began I’d be sitting on a couch in a house I own, cuddled up with my dog, wearing a huge rock on my finger. Turning thirty was inevitable, but all the rest, that was just surprising. As I reflect on all of those life changes I can’t help but think “Wow”. How did all of that happen in what felt like a pretty normal year? What does it all mean and how have these changes changed me?
Up until this year my life has always been sort of up in the air. Not counting the six-months I lived in my van, I’ve lived in a total of eighteen houses/apartments in my life. No house ever felt like “home” because every house was temporary. I always enjoyed knowing I could pack up and go if I needed to, but until now I never really understood how much I was missing by not committing to a home. The comfort and security of a place to call your own, the freedom to paint walls, hang pictures and change fixtures, and the burden of dealing with a leaking hot water heater, are all things I enjoy. They are all things that help me feel grounded.
Then there’s the dog. We got Brooklyn when she was twelve weeks old. She was a tiny little puppy and both Andrew and I loved her from the first moment we met her. I’ve had pets in my life, but I’ve never loved anything as much as I love that dog. She’s always happy to see me and I’m always happy to see her. She’s even begun sleeping in my bed. It’s not very comfortable and she takes up all of the room, but I love having her there.
Andrew and I have dated for about seven years. That’s a pretty long time to be with the same person. However, much like all the temporary houses I’ve had in my life, I could never quite trust that Andrew and I would be together in the long run. I was constantly worried that he didn’t love me as much as I loved him. Or that he would all of a sudden realize I wasn’t the right person for him. None of these insecurities have ever had anything to do with Andrew or his actions. They are my insecurities with myself and have always been with me. I’m not sure how a ring has changed those things about me, but I feel that somehow it has. I spend way less time worrying about my future and a lot more time looking forward to it.
Maybe its the combination of having a home for the first time in a long time, and having a dog who depends on me and who I’ve grown to depend on as well, and having a fiancé who with one simple gesture said “you are perfect for me just the way you are”, that has helped alleviate some of my insecurities. Maybe it’s all of those things that are allowing me to feel settled and content as a New Year dawns.
I always think about the concept of contentment. The concept of being happy with what you have and finding joy in who you are. I love the idea of being content, but I’ve always been wary of the actual act of being content. Does contentment lead to laziness? I’m content now, does that mean I’m there, it’s done, it’s time to just revel in this wonderful glow I’ve accomplished.
It’s kind of like when you’re projecting a climbing route. You work and work at it. You put in countless hours, days, weeks, and often times months. The route is all consuming and leaks into your conversations, thoughts, and even dreams. But then the day comes and you send the route. It’s done. You’re beyond elated because you’ve been working for it for so long. In that moment you’re content. But then that moment leaves you and it’s onto another project and another obsession to achieve something.
No, I don’t think I’ll ever be perfectly content. I think contentment is something I’ll spend the rest of my life striving for. I’ll always want to be a better climber, friend, wife, teacher, daughter, skier, biker, cook, swimmer, thinker, trainer, PERSON. But just because I’ll never be completely content, doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of happiness and joy to be found along my path and in the moments I spend striving.
So, as I sit cuddled on my couch, reflecting during a temporary moment of contentment, I have a few aspirations for 2013:
1. Keep striving for contentment
2. Find happiness in the moments.
3. Don’t take it all for granted.
4. Focus on one thing at a time and don’t forget the things that matter most.
5. Climb. It’s important and fuels the soul.
6. Be patient.
7. Be loving.
These are big and lofty aspirations. Things that I’ll often lose sight of and never completely achieve. But then that might be the whole point, having something to strive for. Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2013 is the best year yet.
~ Jen Vennon, prAna Ambassador
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