You guys, this year absolutely FLEW by! Where did the time go?! 2016, though perhaps politically quite terrible (which I will not get into in this blog post because this is a predominantly positive space and goodness knows what we have in store for us), was personally pretty amazing for me. But it felt like such a SHORT year! I can’t believe Christmas is on Sunday. I haven’t even had nearly enough time to live it up at holiday parties and go in search of beautiful Christmas lights and I haven’t even seen any mistletoe, let alone kissed anyone under it! Sigh, such is life as an adult, I suppose – the clock never stops ticking.
Since I have a little extra time on my hands now, though, I thought I’d do my obligatory New Year’s post a week early! Before I’ve made the long journey to western NY for general holiday merriment with family and old friends (and of course, lost my voice to all the singing I’m about to do to my steering wheel on the way there), been harassed by my little dog-nephew/ buddy Shamrock to go on happy wanders in the (hopefully) snowy woods, and eaten way, way too many holiday treats and have to be rolled back to DC.
So here we are again – at the end of 2016 (in another week). Time to let go of the old and embrace the new. Goodbye 2016 (in another week), hello 2017! “They” say hard times allow us to take the time not just to heal, but to build ourselves back up, stronger than before. I fully believe this. Once you find the strength to pick yourself back up off the bathroom floor (where sometimes you might feel like staying forever), you find it easier and easier to put one foot in front of the other and eventually, take even bigger steps and leaps and bounds than you did before. This year was, for me, a building year. A year well-spent for sure! I find myself on the other side of 2016 stronger, happier, lighter (of heart) and much more fulfilled than I was back in January. Had I not had to endure the heartbreak of 2015, I might not be where I am now. In the long run, I think that makes the pain worth it. Even if I have not yet learned to date nicer, more emotionally available men. But let’s be real, this blog really isn’t about dating anyway. It’s about finding my way in this big, beautiful world and becoming the best me I can be. And I hope you all are making an effort to do the same, because you deserve it.
I know that many of you don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. “No one ever keeps them.” “They don’t work.” “By February, no one is even in the gym anymore.” Well, as a big fan of New Year’s resolutions because although I think I certainly think there’s high value in being in the moment, I think New Year’s is a great time to stop and reflect on your accomplishments and failures from the year, and decide where you want to go from here. We all, no matter how happy or accomplished we are, could be doing better. Right? For me, New Year’s (and birthdays) is a key time to take a moment to figure out a path forward.
So, I thought for this post, it would be fun to look back at last year’s resolutions and see if I succeeded!
2016 Goals (word for word from last year, with some new comments attached about my success level at keeping them):
- Visit at least two new national parks this year. My dad and I have been talking about going out to Sequoia National Park together this year, which is a dream of his, so I’m really hoping that happens. Other than that, I’m extremely interested in checking out Zion and Yosemite and doing some serious hiking! YES! I totally kicked ass at this one! My brother Bryan got my a national parks pass for my birthday, and I used it in SEVEN parks (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, the Shenandoah and Great Falls) – five of them being places I’d never been. And I can honestly say, ALL of them were amazing and I can’t wait to explore even more of my beautiful country in the coming year. Goal for 2017: MORE parks!! Maybe Yosemite? Grand Canyon? Arches? Smokey Mountains? Time will tell.
- Keep up with this blog. It’s been extremely therapeutic for me the past few months, and you have no idea how much I appreciate the support that you all have given me in reading it and sharing your thoughts! Please keep engaging with me! Look at me, writing a new blog post a year later! Though I haven’t kept writing every week, I have kept it up for big moments and the spirit of the blog remains alive and well in my life. And I still appreciate all of you – thanks for reading!
- Keep trying new things and working on myself. Some specific ideas I have are to try:
- To learn to crochet (this is something my mom has been working on and she got me interested). Wah wah – fail. I’d still like to learn though.
- Rock climbing. It’s something I have always been interested in but never took the time to do, so I think the time is now. AHHHH!!! ROCK CLIMBING!!! This is my absolute new favorite thing!! I met Seth, my rock climbing buddy, in February, and we’ve been climbing about twice a week since then. We’ve even gone outside a couple times. In fact, just this week we finished a new class, called lead climbing, at our gym (though we’ve yet to take the test to be certified lead climbers at the gym). Seriously, it makes me so happy. My body (and mind) love love love climbing. And I seriously think it’s brought so much new confidence to my life. New life goal: keep getting better at rock climbing. And if any of you in DC like climbing, I’ll be looking for a new buddy in the spring when mine (sadly for me, happily for him) moves to Colorado to be a mountain man/ hotel manager/ photog/ ice climber/ snowboarder/ winner at life. So let me know if you ever want to climb! 2017 Goal: pass my lead climbing test and take an outdoor class this spring! And also, find a new buddy/ more of a climbing community once Seth leaves the DC area.
- New types of yoga (today, I tried yin yoga). The small taste I have had of yoga is telling me this is something I should be doing. It’s athletic, relaxing and forces me to focus on myself and my experiences and emotions. I feel a strong pull to keep exploring this. Back in January, I joined a yoga studio in my neighborhood. It is such a wonderful little studio. Expensive, but wonderful. I’ve tried several kinds of yoga at this point and last winter, was going up to four days per week. I’ve found what I really like (dharma vinyasa) and now go about twice a week. I’d love to go more but just don’t have the time in my busy schedule. I seriously recommend yoga though for anyone going through a hard time, mentally or physically. It’s a great workout, makes your body feel so so good after, and is a great stress reliever. Bonus, you HAVE to put down your phone during, so you get the chance to really disconnect. And, yoga really preaches kindness to yourself and others, which is so, so important in this crazy world.
- To get back into Rosetta Stone Spanish. Failed at this one. But to be fair, my computer doesn’t really work and doesn’t have a CD drive, so that makes it difficult. I’d love to make this a long term goal, but it doesn’t seem feasible right now (and I can’t really afford a new computer. And that’s okay – I don’t really need one otherwise).
- Improv comedy (I start a beginner’s class on Monday!). Yay!! Improv! I’ve finished four out of five levels of improv classes at Washington Improv Theatre this point, and made so many wonderful new friends along the way. I still have another level to take, hopefully in the spring, and I hope to get my practice/ indie team off the ground and doing some performing. It’s hard to coordinate schedules with a team, but I adore improv and these people, so I hope it works out. Either way, I’ve had a blast in my improv journey so far, and it’s amazing to be back in an artistic space and have a way to express myself creatively.
- Try to get back into running, if my back problems will allow it. My back problems will not allow it, unfortunately. Perhaps in time. I did, however, successfully run the entire 5K Turkey Trot again this year though, so I feel great about that! My back hurt after, but it feels good to know I still have the endurance to do so, even without running all year. I do miss running though.
- Remember to give my time and energy to friends and family. It’s easy to get absorbed in my own life and bogged down with work and responsibilities, but I have some truly amazing people in my life, and I want to make more time for them. This is always tricky, but I think I did a fairly decent job with time management and spending time with those I love this year. I could always do better, but hey, I do try and make the effort. And I finally got my dad out to a national park this year, which I consider a big win!
- Creative Living. I’m reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert right now (the author of Eat, Pray, Love) and it’s all about this concept. It’s about following your dreams and being a creator, not just a consumer, and really taking the reins on your own life, rather than waiting around for things to happen to you. One example she gives is about her dad and how he had a dream to own a farm. So he bought one and moved the family to it and began raising goats. He didn’t quit his job, but became a farmer anyway. My parents are very much like this. Just this year, they started raising honeybees and harvesting honey. That’s exactly the kind of existence I want to have and the kind of person I want to be. This is really a lifelong goal, but I think I’m laying some good groundwork to live creatively.
- Cook at home more. Do more meal planning and spend less money eating out. Ummmmm well, I was doing really great with this the first few months of the year, aaaaand yeah, by the end I am failing. I looked at my bank statement in October and was appalled at how much money I had spent on food and drinks. Who do I think I am – a millionaire?! Someone who doesn’t live in DC where a craft beer is at least $8?! Must get back on track in January. At a recent holiday party, I started saying to the bartenders: “Give me your cheapest light beer!” I got some funny looks, but the beers were half-priced so I call that a win. Must keep that momentum going!
- Put money into savings. I did put money into savings, and promptly spent it on self-improvement, like yoga classes, improv classes, rock climbing, vacations. And of course wasted a bunch on dumb things like tator tots (delicious, but unnecessary) and beer. 2017: Must make a conscious effort to save for future adventures. So, hello to packed lunches, more metro rides (goodbye, Uber), cheaper beer and working extra events for some extra cash flow.
- Backpack more this year. Last year, I did two awesome trips: one in the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the other in Olympic National Park in Washington. So that means this year I must do at least three trips! You know, I actually didn’t backpack at all this year. I meant to. We even had the permits to do so in Zion, but the river was too high and we weren’t allowed. I did camp a whole bunch though – in Zion, Bryce Canyon, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, the Firefly music festival and good old Allegany State Park (where I’m from), and I spent most of my vacations hiking (even did some hiking in Thailand!). So I call that a win, even if it wasn’t exactly what I set out to do.
- Save money for future adventures. (I feel like if I label it as such, I’ll be much more motivated. Like if I just think, I should “save money.” Booooring. But “save money for adventures,” well, that’s a bit more exciting, eh?).
- More hiking/ camping/ adventuring/ exploring.
- Finish improv program – one class left to go.
- Take an outdoor climbing class. And keep working to improv in rock climbing.
- Take January to really focus on fitness and health. More yoga, climbing, getting back into swimming (my pool has been closed for repairs for a month), more hikes and walks, cooking at home, lots of fresh produce. Attempt dry January once again. (I find doing so is a nice way to refocus, even just for a few weeks. I love going out on the town, but it’s so expensive and then of course I find my energy drained from staying up too late and from the number booze takes on my body. This is a nice way to start the year on a healthier, more ambitious note. Gotta start working on that bikini bod after all those Christmas cookies! Summer is coming you know!).
- Read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. This book…. Let’s just say it’s been on my list for a long time and won’t be my first attempt at reading it. Recently, I even reread A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson as a distraction (really amazing, inspiring book, even the second time through). But I really want to get through it! So I will try again.
In 2016, I found some amazing hobbies, made new friends, tried online dating (blerg), acquired a sister-in-law (yay!), finally made it to Southeast Asia (which was a long time coming), got to know America a bit better by visiting our national parks and started a new job at a wonderful organization. I can only hope 2017 is as kind to me, and I plan to make moves to ensure that it is (at least the parts in my control). What about you, my friends? What are you proud of this year, and where do you hope to go in the new year?