End it on a good one

I rarely dabbled in organized sports growing up, often preferring to play on my own terms with my own friends (we will pretend that my lack of coordination and fear of letting other people down had nothing at all to do with it). I always had a blast, learned a lot and made new friends. But there is one lesson that stuck with me, a quote that my eighth grade volleyball coach used to call out at the end of every practice, “end it on a good one.” We would get into position and keep pushing until we got it right for the last time of the night. It didn’t seem to matter if we failed most of the time, if practice was a complete disaster- we would always rally to find a way to end it right. I don’t know why this one little lesson stuck with me all these years later; I’m on the cusp of 30 (where the hell did the time go?) and I still catch myself saying this- at the end of a long day, at the end of a hard year- always end it on a good one.

2018 is at a close, and the fresh promise of a new year is awaiting us just mere hours from now. This year I’m not dressed up, I’m not out with a big group of friends, I’m not drinking- I’m pretty boring I guess. But the funny thing is, I’m ending the year doing exactly what I love, something I neglected more than I should have these past months. I’m sitting here writing, spilling my heart on paper with my dog curled up contentedly at me feet and the man I love just feet away playing a video game (ironically, his favorite thing to do and something he has been too busy to enjoy this past year). It’s simple and special only because it means something to us.

2018 was a mixed blessing for me. One year ago today my dad was recovering from the accident that almost killed him. I remember being so thankful for the small miracles as I sat with him and helped him recover that winter. 2018 was the year that my weaknesses helped me discover my strength. I took care of my dad while trying to work and go to school full time. I was in a car accident that left me shaken and injured myself. My car didn’t survive, but I was lucky that it wasn’t worse. Months of pain and treatments taught me how fragile and also how strong the human body can be. I struggled through anxiety attacks and a terrifying slip into depression because I wouldn’t stop pushing myself so hard. I still remember what it felt like to carry that ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach, to collapse on the bathroom floor at work as an anxiety attack stormed through me. I remember how it took months of ‘self care’ before I felt normal again.

2018 was the year of the ‘almost-house,’ when we were finally going to buy one and I was so excited. It was a dream finally coming true. It was also the year that we backed out of it because something just didn’t feel right. And one month later I thanked my stars that we listened to our instincts because Link (my dog) got hurt and lost the ability to use his back legs. The money we had planned on using for a down payment turned into the money that paid for the surgery that let him walk again. Now he’s as feisty as ever, chasing the cat up and down the stairs in the house we’re renting- seems like a pretty fair trade to me.

2018 was also the year of miracles, the year of change. As of today I am 18 weeks pregnant with our very first little one, something I’ve wanted for such a long time. My tummy is just popping, the little bulge evident under my old t-shirts that I will continue to wear as long as I can. Truthfully, those first months of pregnancy were some of the hardest I have endured, but now that I’m finally on the other side of the morning sickness and fatigue (and with a new appreciation for how amazingly tough women are), and I can look back with more gratitude than I could muster at the time. I didn’t think it would ever really happen, but here we are, about it turn another chapter in our lives. 2018 started out harder than I could have imagined, but in a matter of months everything changed.

I’ve been thinking and re-evaluating, like I do every year. And I came to a simple conclusion: happiness doesn’t always have to be hard, and sometimes the best thing you can ever do is listen to your instincts. You don’t have to push yourself to the breaking point to succeed, and the journey will always be more important than the final destination. I had a goal last year, one that I pursued relentlessly, one that I thought I wanted. But in my quest to fulfil that goal I forgot about enjoying the journey. I twisted it into something it never should have been and sacrificed my own mental health in the process. I ignored the things that I loved, telling myself I would have time later. I would have time to write, time to spend with people, time to play with the dog, time to just exist as I am. But time isn’t guaranteed and good intentions will only take you so far.

So for 2019 I am taking a step back and simplifying. I am trusting my instincts and following my heart. I am writing again, and I can feel my soul uncurling as it awakens. I am playing with the dog and making plans with loved ones; I am doing all of the things that mattered to me, all of the things that fill my soul and help me center myself. This is going to be a year of change, a year of growth, and fresh promises. It’s going to be messy and imperfect, but all of the best moments are.

Happy New Year everyone, I hope you live this next year as authentically as you can. I hope you learn, I hope you grow, I hope you enjoy the small moments and appreciate the lessons of the harder ones. And if things get rough, I hope you remember that a single day can change your whole world. A year from now you will be a completely different person; I hope you love that person and cherish every step that got you there- the ones that you danced over and the ones you fought and clawed for. You deserve a beautiful year, and I hope you get it. Until then, lets end it on a good one.

To Truly Live (A Hope for a New Year)

Happy New Years, my friends! I hope that you make 2017 one to remember fondly. I hope you walk away from this year with pride in all that you have accomplished. I hope you dare to live bravely, to challenge yourself, to find lessons in your failures as well as your successes. I hope you create an adventure that you will look back on in twenty years with a smile saying ‘I can’t believe I did that.’ I hope you slide into December 31st a little bit weary, a little bit ruffled, and with a contagious smile that just won’t quit. I hope you find joy and kindness, I hope you show the world what you are made of. I hope we all do.

I have always been a lover of New Years Resolutions, excitedly proclaiming my goals to my less-than-enthusiastic friends. I know that some don’t hold an abiding belief in this tradition, following the logic that change can and should be made everyday, not just at the beginning of a new year. And while I see the merits in their argument (I myself have decided on a random Wednesday that I had finally had enough and sought my change right them), I still can’t seem to refuse the hopeful joy I feel when that clock strikes midnight, the ball drops, and we all find ourselves collectively standing in a new time, a new day, a new hopeful beginning. It is like the first chapter in the sequel to a book you know and love. You are well aware of the pitfalls, the plots, the characters; but that does not detract from the magic of a brand new book.

There is a sparkle to a new year, a symbolic fresh start, a way to clean the slate and set tangible timelines to your goals. And while you are still the same person you were yesterday, you can look at your problem with fresh determination, even if it is only a change in your state of mind.

2016 was a year of foundations for me. It was a time for me to embrace the things I love and start tackling the maze that is the writing world. It was a year of change, of asking questions, of looking at myself in terms of my potential as opposed to my prior accomplishments. 2016 was a year of tearing down the walls that I had built, crashing through the limitations that I had set. And 2017 will be about putting on that hard hat and building on what I have started. It will be a time to view my life through a new lens, to begin answering the questions that I posed a year ago. 2017 will be a year of living and loving bravely, of baring my soul without apology. This year I resolve to take the next steps off the beaten path I have always so willingly followed. This year will be about potential.

There will be many failures; I am nothing if not deeply and profoundly human in everything that I do. I fail with the best of intentions. But this year I hope that I will not let those failures determine my path. I will struggle, and I will continue to question. I will feel discouraged and sad and wonder what the hell I am doing with my life. But my friends- that is to always to be expected. That is what it means to live a genuine life and be true to who you are. It is not an easy road, to follow your heart and your dreams. It is an unpaved adventure when you deviate from what is expected.

I have seen clearly what my life will be like if I don’t step outside of my box. I will continue to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and blearily hop in the shower to wake up. I will depend on my coffee as I drive to the same building I have worked in since I was 18 years old. I will be happy there; I have been happy there. I will bond with these people, occasionally go to happy hour with friends. I will plan vacations once a year to someplace new, saving every last penny. I will maybe have a few kids (to entertain the dog and cat). I will live a happy, ordinary life.

But when I come to those pearly gates, I will know that I did not live my life. I lived the life that was expected of me. It will be great, it will be grand; and it will be the epitome of everything I am not. I am organized chaos. I am a eternal optimist. But most of all, I am a girl full of dreams and stories that keep my head floating in the clouds. My closet is full of blazers and high heels, and yet I am happiest in my worn tennis shoes and literary t-shirts. I take pride in what I have accomplished, and yet I know in my heart that I am not living up to my potential.

We all know the dream, many of us carry it in our hearts and guard it zealously. Oh, how happy I would be to make my living with a pen in my hand and a story in my heart. And yet, I have come to a realization this past year: the outcome of my writing does not matter. If I never catch the attention of a publisher, if I never see my name on a best-seller list; that doesn’t mean that I failed. The true test is in the journey. If I keep writing, if I keep chasing that dream with wild abandon, if I still daydream about that one story I can’t get out of my head when I should really be reading the latest legal decision on that one case everyone is talking about; then I am winning, I am living my most genuine life.

This year I want to explore my boundaries. I want to re-discover what I really love and what I truly want. I want to do it for myself, not to check a box off of an ever-growing to-do list. This year I am going to be brave and start looking at the bigger picture. While I love my job, I know that I am settling by doing what I do. I am not challenged like I hope, I’ve hit the top rung of my current ladder and I am not satisfied with my view. I am capable of more than what my current task-set allows. And while I don’t think I will be plunging head-first into any new careers this year, I will start the journey to figure out what really brings me joy. I always knew that I wanted to be a writer, but I also envisioned a big glittery question mark that begged the question of ‘what else’? As I ramble down my literary road, what else out there will leave me fulfilled? I want to find out, I want to see what I can accomplish if I set my mind to it, I want to rediscover the passions that I fell in love with once upon a time. If nothing else, I will learn something new about myself and perhaps find some fresh fodder for my literary endeavors. I am forever learning, observing and soaking it all in.

These are my hopes for 2017, the dreams and adventures that I wish to look back on fondly next December as we prepare to ring in yet another year of change. While I thought about writing out my well laid plans on here with all of their lovely little bullet points and step by step directions, I think my purposes are best served with the intentions, the heart of what I am hoping to accomplish. Each month will bring with it a new challenge that I will set out to accomplish; and each task will be met in its own time.

2017 will be a year of self discovery; of learning to slow down and listen to myself, to follow my interests and desires and see where they will lead. It will be a year of taking a step back from the hold that mindless technology has taken on my brain and revitalize myself out in the tangible world. It will be a year of cultivating my mind and body, making small changes now that I will be grateful for in the future.

2017 will be a year of writing, of finishing what I started. It will be a year to explore the possibilities of publishing and facing my fear of public opinion. It will be a year to dedicate to this lovely little space that allows me to bring voice to my thoughts and feel a little bit less alone. 

2017 will be about finding myself in small adventures; whether they be as simple as the pages of a book I would normally not read or as grand as a vacation to someplace I never would have envisioned visiting. It will be about finding the good in things that I all too often spot the negatives in.

2017 will be a year of investment; exploring new cultural experiences, finding common ground with people who feel like strangers, searching for a place to fit in a world that wasn’t necessarily created for people quite like me. 

In this year, I hope to build, to grow, to look within myself and find a new perspective to color my views with. We have a world of possibilities at our feet and a choice in our hearts; to walk down the path so readily laid before us, or to take that leap and jump into the rambling woods beside us. This year I choose to live my true life; whether I succeed or fail doesn’t matter in the end. It’s going to be one hell of an adventure as we carve this road. I hope to see you amidst the trees, my friends.

A Year of Struggle, a Year of Change (goodbye 2016, I still don’t know what to think of you)

This morning I got to experience my final surprise for 2016: after six years, my little kitten finally learned how to ‘cat’ properly. By that I mean he surprised me as I was reading in bed with my cup of coffee by plopping a dead bird in my lap. I have been told that this is a cat’s way of saying ‘I love you and I don’t want you to starve, so here’s a treat I worked hard for.’ However, from what I could glean, it appeared he was more interested in using me as his table, rather than convincing me to partake of his simple morsel. Oh Oreo, you little rascal, you are full of surprises, and as much as I appreciate the thought, I sincerely hope your New Year’s Resolution does not involve regularly attempting to feed your human. As yummy as your bird looked, I am perfectly content with pizza.


2016 has been one hell of a year, I think we can all agree on that. We have seen the worst of humanity, as well as the best of it. Our hearts have collectively broken, and we have patched them back together with gold. While it has been a rough year for people in general, I can’t help but be appreciative for my personal experiences this year. I did not accomplish everything I set out to do, and yet I have still come so far. For one thing, I started this blog, which has perhaps had the largest influence on me this past year. Through this little haven I have met some amazing people and discovered a self-confidence that I was worried I would never possess in terms of my work.

For me personally, 2016 has been a year of small adventures and self-discovery. I went to Vegas for the very first time and faced my fear of heights by zip lining down Freemont street.

Made my first epic Bloody Mary (which looked better than it tastes):

We walked for MS in the summer, and in the fall we ran through downtown dressed as banana while being chased by gorillas for a smile foundation:

Spent time in nature with some of the strongest, most empowering women that I know:

Visited Halloweentown:

Tried my hand at rock hunting (a new take on geocaching where people paint rocks and hide them around town):

Tried Pokémon go (and discovered a lot of really cool places on some really long walks):

Discovered kiwi berries and chocolate ice cream tacos (do not eat together):

Finally had my name written in a cool way at Starbucks:

Glow in the dark face paint at a 90’s themed birthday party (do not get on your clothes, but if you do- hit me up, I know the trick to get it out):

Saw Neil DeGrasse Tyson speak, as well as Cavaliers Odysseo and The Nutcracker (my first ballet). Did I mention wine tasting for the first time ever? Oh yes, I am turning into a classy little lady (well, now I can pretend to be, at least):

I had my faith in humanity restored by leaving a note with a question on someone’s car at the mall- and actually receiving an answer!:

Got to dance at my brother’s wedding, to the horror of all attending:

This winter we survived an epic ice storm, rode a Christmas train, sat on a questionable Santa’s lap, and I am now the proud owner of the best Christmas Sweater in the history of life:

I started this blog:

And last, but certainly not least, I dressed up my dog…a lot (don’t worry, Link got treats everytime I made him ham it up for the camera):

So you see, the things you choose to find joy in will color your view on the past year you have lived. For 2016 I will embrace the small joys I encountered on my adventure, though there were many moments that could have crushed my spirit and hopes for the year to come. Tonight I choose happiness and hope.

This New Year’s Eve I want to say thank you to all of you, for embarking on this journey with me. I have some exciting things in store for the coming year, and I hope you will join me as we take these winding paths together. I don’t think I could have done this without the support and encouragement that I have found with you all. Not to mention the fantastic ideas many of your own blogs have inspired in me. Your creative work propels me to strive for the high bar you have set, and with that motivation, I am envigorated with the possibilities.

So tonight I will gladly reflect on a year of constant change. My wish for all of us is a happy, prosperous new year. Tomorrow I will step up and focus on those new goals (ever an optimist, I am a big believer in resolutions), but for tonight I think it is best that I appreciate the road we have traveled. We are all exactly where we are meant to be tonight.

May you all have a safe and happy New Year, my friends. I hope that the excitement of the season finds you well and ready for another beautiful day we have awaiting us tomorrow.