A Year of Sizzle & Pop

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines…and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.” – Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines


Many of you are slaving away, tediously scribbling your notes for a new year, maybe feeling a little exhilarated or nauseous at the magnanimity of all there is to do. To you Resolutionary soldiers I say, calm it down. No doubt your holiday lights have already been neatly packed and replaced with next year’s Fourth of July banners. You might already be printing recipes and collecting craft projects for 2013’s epic Thanksgiving feast. Stop Spring cleaning, tape your anxious little hands to your lap, and listen here, child.

This life is going to get on just fine without the lists.

    There’s much to be said for setting goals, chasing dreams. What I used to start with were papers filled with potential, great expectations, large hope for the coming year. What I’d so often finish with were papers filled with checks, goals chased down and crossed through, dreams realized in the nick of time because there was still that one unfulfilled bullet point glaring at me.  I’d list and re-list harder, sure that the fancier the cursive, the more weight my wishes would carry. I neatly itemized life and spent a year marking through items. 12 months, some 365 days pass and maybe all I’ve seen or noticed is a To-Do list, a worn-through sheet of paper or mental note. Competition oozed from angry eyes and I was scorned  realizing that I’d come in 2nd, a First Place Loser, because I’d yet to accomplish Goal #32.75: Stop & Smell The Roses. We are so busy living by these life lists, it seems, that we miss the living part.

Probably for the last time, this is my issue with resolutions. Any more would be beating a lazy, unmotivated horse, and I don’t have the energy for all that. Instead I can show you one version of 2012, one small life in one small nook of the world, one small blogger who for one year decided to stop planning. Without self-imposed deadlines for weight loss or habits broken or  mountains climbed, I kept wide-open eyes and enjoyed a wide-open year filled drop-by-ounce with whatever came my way.

A Free-Range 2012 

This year I gave up planning with such a fierceness that I let you, dear bossy readers, plan my whole wedding.


This year I wore a white dress, lightning did not strike, and I played Bride.


This year Bride stood beneath a waterfall of ribbon, reached out and touched tender letters sent from real people, envelopes smudged with air from Japan and Ohio, Kentucky and Australia.  


This year I glanced at a picture of the ocean and later marvelled at the shore of it, pleasant photographs blown away by real-to-the- touch splash & awe.

This  year I met a blogging friend for the first time on my wedding day, realized with much relief that people are so often even better than we can imagine.

The real Kathy McCullough
The real Kathy McCullough

This year The AntiCraft got crafty, glueing and stitching and staple gunning nothing into something. I only burned four limbs.

Birthday 2012 029

This year a young and flimsy thing sprouted into something big and strong, firm as a tree trunk, iron-willed. He announced he was “FREE!” as we celebrated his turning three.


This year some benevolent force let me at long last get some kind of grip on parenting.

This year some cruel force told me to loosen that grip immediately upon getting it, and the purpose of my parenting went off to day school.

This year I accepted that I am inherently ridiculous.


This year you accepted me this way, too.

This year my mother wrote more, and I was given small snippets of another her, the gift of seeing our parents as real people.

Birthday 2012 160

This year we moved, and I discovered my propensity for being the weird neighbor knows no bounds or county lines or subdivision gates.

This year  I learned Spanish from a kid’s puzzle.

This year I sustained bondage wounds attempting to understand The Fashions.

blog 016

This year I bit my lip and only always moaned about high gas prices and groaned about those damn kids with their damn boom-boom-hippity-hop music.

This year I was the first 92-year-old to turn 25.

This year I lost a friend.


This year we learned that love makes no sense.

april 003

This year I was thankful for the mystery.

This year your Tiny Sparks lit a fire of empathy and understanding and hope.

c/o Paige Creations by Paige Foster Del Rio
c/o Paige Creations by Paige Foster Del Rio

This year I hurt for strangers, childless mothers, the cruel way we cannot fix the most broken things.

This year I yelled furious, ugly prayers.

This year I watched my country yard burst high and green, fade slow and orange, shiver bare and cold, and something told me to have faith that the thaw would come.

This year I cried grateful prayers, thankful that we get to be new.


This year I sat at typing in quiet, morning hours. Relishing your words and this time alone to write my own, I stopped to hear a hum buzzing through the silence.

This year, below mountains of diapers and dustpans, amid grocery runs and sick days,  I lived an electric life.

Tell me the best bits from your 2012.

Wishing you all wide-open eyes, wide-open lives, and a 2013 that sizzles and pops!



58 thoughts on “A Year of Sizzle & Pop

  1. In 2012 I made a point of seeing my friends more. Even if I had to drive and stay overnight to do it. It was the best gift I could give myself.

  2. This year I tried to stop saying yes to everything to focus more on things I really wanted to do instead of all the things I have to do.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean some hair out of the shower drain.

    (I did say I tried, right?)

  3. This year I wanted to do 3 things: have a baby, run a half-marathon, and take my blog to the next level. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad – especially since the baby one sort of kicks the stuffing out of the other two. The blog can continue to languish in tepidity for a while longer.

    1. Baby trumps all. That’s a big, breathing human, accomplishment, man! And your blog? Maybe it was the brilliant custom sheets marketing, but I wouldn’t say its struggling 🙂 I am creepily excited for your 2013. I remember looking at Tom once Thomas was around 1 and saying “Shit yes. NOW this parenting thing’s gonna get fun”. Something about them learning to hold their own head up and use a spoon takes the pressure off 🙂

      1. That’s kind of my thought – “Well, the baby pretty much whups everything else’s ass.”

        And you’re right – she’s juuuust starting to be able to hold her head up, and it’s a huge relief.

      2. Yes! My friends would come to the house bragging about new cars or jobs or trips or abs and I’d just hold his goofy smiling self up like “But check out this baby”.

  4. This year, I tried hard to grasp the meaning of life, instead of just trying to keep up with it.
    A beautiful retrospective Tori, Happy New Year to you, looking forward to more ramblings of wisdom in 2013.

    1. I don’t know about wisdom. Haha! I don’t want to mess you guys up 🙂 The keeping up with life is the biggest part. It has a tendency to just zoom on without giving water breaks or breathers! I’m always a little behind, but the chase is fun, right?

  5. This is wonderfully written. You’ve had quite a year, and I admire your free rangeness. Best bits of 2012 for me? Umm…every damn minute! Seriously, I’ve been blessed in a way that is incomprehensible. Every moment was wonderful. And ’13 promises to be even better!

  6. What an awesome recap!! You let your readers plan your wedding? Woah! I guess 2013 really will get on without our lists.

    Best bit for me this past year is that I healed from a miscarriage, physically, emotionally and spiritually, even though the road was long. 🙂

    1. I’m so sorry you and your family had to walk that long road. Sorry doesn’t seem to cut it, but I am sorry nonetheless. Wishing you relief this year, a year of peace after a year of hurt!
      The wedding somehow turned out perfectly. That might be the magic of blogland: a couple thousand strangers from all over the world plan one wedding for two people they haven’t met and the comment we got over and over from guests was that the wedding was so true to who we are. We had a small wedding, but I felt surrounded on that day, each of my sweet readers cheering us on from far away. Most people thought the idea was bad and crazy, but I will tell you it was the best bad decision I ever, ever made 🙂

  7. I got something in my eyes while reading this. The same will undoubtedly happen the next time I read it, and the time after that, which readings will happen. I am so filled with hope as I look at the almost-old year and the new year through your eyes.

    1. I tell Tom it must be my glitter eye shadow, making a sister’s eyes water. Then he points out that I’m not wearing makeup 🙂 This year has been more of EVERYTHING than I could’ve imagined or planned for myself. Hope is the perfect word for how I look to 2013. What amazing things we get to see and live and do!

    1. My sister went around telling everybody about my “Vera Wang” and I laughed and laughed. Vera Wang did a line of dresses for a discount chain of bridal stores. Even those were too expensive, so we found this one (half-off of half-off) and I got my bargain bin Vera 🙂
      And Kathy? There are not words for how wonderful she is. I saw her as I walked down the aisle but didn’t get the chance to actually speak to her until later. By the time we “met” she and Sara had become part of the family. It was one of my favorite memories of the night, seeing them chat and laugh and hug my crazy relatives.

  8. I love that quote! It sounds like your year was full of belly-laugh worthy moments, and congratulatory ones! My best moments? Hard to pick. I had another baby, a girl this time, so I’m flush with ribbons and ruffles. It’s pretty great.

    1. Oh I am JEALOUS. My house is all boy all the time which is to say every square inch of floor in covered in Matchbox cars, mystery dirt handprints dot every wall, and there’s always the faint smell of pee coming from somewhere I can’t find 🙂 Enjoy the sugar and spice and everything nice! Have mercy and post about all the girly fun on your blog so I can read about it!

  9. You’ve had a great year, overall (I remember most of the events you referenced…I can’t believe it!)

    My year was a lotta awful, so I won’t recap here! To keep afloat, I really had to focus on the blessings of the little things. Together, those little things made the gigantic worries bearable. Hope you have a safe and happy new year, Tori!

  10. It looks to me you’ve had a very fulfilling year! Sorry about your friend! 😦 They always take a piece of us with them. You have the memories! But here’s to a bright and prosperous New Year! (You looked fabulous in your wedding dress!)

    1. I didn’t realize how much life crammed itself into that little year until I sat down to write the post. It’s pretty amazing all the good things I’ve got to see and hear and do in such a short time. Excited for another doozy of a year and wishing you the very same!

  11. I was going to say something all deep and meaningful… or… you know… try to do that… but then I became distracted, because… because… is that an ORGANIC boot?! It’s strangely… hYpNoTiC!
    Anyway, a very happy new year to you and your family, Ms. N! That’s the direction I was hoping to go in with all this, anyway.

    1. Hahaha. Technically it’s a Craigslist boot, spray painted, with some fuzzy foilage sticking out of it, but ORGANIC sounds fancier, so we’ll go with that 🙂 I was told by crazed brides-to-be that every wedding MUST have a theme, so we went with Bargain Bin 🙂
      Happy New Year to you, dude. Thanks for being a happy spot in the blogosphere and brightening up my wee little comment section 🙂

  12. This year, I stopped trying so hard to control everything to make things perfect and decided to just try my best without worrying about the outcome. And I so agree with you about making resolutions. Let’s all just sit back and enjoy what comes without too many bits and bobs planned.
    Happy New Year to you and your family! I have no doubt you will continue popping and sizzling well into the future. 😉

  13. This is SUCH an amazing post. I absolutely LOVED every single part of it! What a year you had…I have no doubt that 2013 will bring you even more happiness! 🙂

  14. Wonderful. This year my husband and I let go of guilt and took the kids to the beach instead of visiting family over the holidays. It was a highlight of my year. Happy 2013!

    1. Ahhh! I’ve struggled (still do) with doing what we want to do and doing what will please the familial masses. It’s tricky, but having that special time with just your chunk of the family tree is important. Plus, a beach setting never hurts 🙂

  15. My 2012 was a year of numbers. My marriage turned 20, I turned 50, I posted 45 posts to my shiny new blog, and I met one fellow blogger, a fantastic and funny guy from, of all places, Ohio! 😯
    And I doubled the number of gorgeous, talented related ladies I read from your family.. And I didn’t even have to get drunk to see double! 😀
    Hope you had a great New Year, I hope to be caught up soon!

  16. Lady, do you realize that 2012 was also a year you ROCKED some seriously awesome calves?! Look at that last picture…..and I am more than just a little jealous that your little man got that close to a giraffe! Those giant brown eyes with giant eyelashes steal my heart every time. I hope your 2013 is twice as awesome as your 2012!

    1. I had a moment of extreme fear on New Year’s Eve thinking that 2012 was so good, so big and full and bright, that I might never get another year like that. Like the high school quarterback realizing his glory days are gone. I guess if I have to be scared this is a great thing to fear, that my life feels so right that it can’t keep itself this way forever.

      1. I totally feel ya, sister. I have nothing to complain about in 2012. I think we can always hope for better. Like winning the lottery better would totally be acceptable on my end, lol!

  17. Loved reading this- made me laugh. Love your wittiness! 🙂 hears to your 2013 being just as great or better than 2012!!

    Visiting from MamaKat Writer’s Workshop!!

Ramble on, little rambler...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s