a look back on 2016

As I read Facebook statuses and Instagram posts, I see tons of content talking about what a miserable year 2016 was. In politics, celebrity deaths, police brutality, global acts of terrorism, and Florida Gator football, I can agree – it was a rough year. But personally, I had one of the most wonderful years of my life. And the best part? It was completely unexpected.

I started off 2016 with a few goals, which I shared here. With the exception of writing a book (still working on that), I think I did a great job with seeing my goals through – particularly the travel, snail mail, and podcasts.

So, where did the year wind up? I’ll list some highlights:

  • February: I met (in February, in San Francisco) my wonderful boyfriend, Scott. As a matter of fact, I am in a terminal in St. Louis now writing this post, as I travel to visit him for New Year’s Eve! Our meeting was unlikely (he’s a Colorado guy living in California, I’m a Florida girl living in Tennessee) but I am so completely grateful that it happened.

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  • March & April: I visited New York City and Orlando to celebrate the bachelorette party and wedding for one of my dear friends, Mara! It was such an honor to be her bridesmaid, and it was such a joyous couple of months celebrating she and Mark.

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  • May & June: I took a couple of fantastic girls’ trips! My BFF of almost 20 years, Taylor, and I went to Savannah and Tybee Island, GA for a Cinco de Mayo getaway. In June, I rented the Bachelor mansion (pretty much) in Ft. Lauderdale with all my best Nashville gal pals. We had such a good time!

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  • September & October: Scott and I had some great visits! First he came to me in September, and I showed him the best of Music City. Then I went out to San Francisco in October, where he outdid me and took me on a getaway to Big Sur (one of my ultimate dream travel destinations)!

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  • November & December: Lots of family time toward the end of the year! I got to go to Atlanta for Thanksgiving, and Pensacola for Christmas. I also turned 25, which felt like an exciting milestone!

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I ended the year, as I mentioned, by heading back to California! I can’t think of any place I’d rather start my 2017 than with my boyfriend in the Bay Area. I’m so excited to see what lies ahead for 2017 – I kind of can’t believe it’s already here!

new year, same me

1935470_10154609999312715_9146527296301029446_nThis year, I have resolved to do more of what makes me happy.  I’m sharing my “resolutions” (though I hate calling them that because of the connotation so let’s just call them goals) here for accountability to myself, and in the hopes of perhaps inspiring you to set a few goals for yourself this calendar year.  It’s never too late to start doing more of what you love!

  1. Prioritize travel.
    • Travel has been a huge priority to me in the past, and I’m off to a good start with it for this year, too.  I’m headed to San Francisco next month and New York City in March!  I’ve also got a trip to Orlando on the agenda for a very special wedding I’m in during April.
  2. Spend more time outdoors.
    • I’m trying to be intentional about getting outdoors, and got off to a good start last week with a hike at Percy Priest Lake with Alli!  My (rough) goal is to seek out one outdoor activity a weekend, whether that be a long walk around my neighborhood, a hike or something more adventurous.
  3. Continue to send snail mail and be a good pen pal.
    • Mail brings me joy, period.  I love stamps and stationery and the post office and my mailman and everything about it.
  4. Read a lot of books.
  5. Listen to a lot of podcasts.
    • I adore podcasts!  I’ll be posting soon about some of my favorites.  They’re great for passing the time on a road trip and helping keep focused (I spent a lot of time in the car in 2015 so I can really vouch for this).
  6. Write a book.
    • I haven’t shared much about my desire to write a book here, but it’s on the 101 in 1001 list that I created about a year and a half ago.  I love to write and read, and this is the ultimate challenge for myself – to see if I can combine those passions into one creative project!

I have others goals, of course, that are practical and ongoing, like developing consistency in my exercise routine again, continuing to push toward long-term financial security, establishing clear career goals, etc.  However, the six goals above are the ones that bring me true joy and are for pleasure rather than practicality (like the goals I just mentioned).

What are your goals for this year?  I encourage you to write them down formally and share them with someone.  The act of doing so makes them real and is (in my opinion) the first step toward making them happen!

happy friends for a happy life

I mentioned in my last post that over the last year, I discovered who I want in my corner – people who build me up, make me smile when I see their name pop up on my phone, encourage me and support me…that is, the people who make me happy.

These are people like a former boss, a mentor in West Virginia, a really amazing guy in Utah, my grandparents…the list goes on.  Well, it doesn’t go on too much.  That would defeat the point, which is this: working more than 40 hours a week while trying to focus on overall wellness (including prioritizing healthy sleep, eating and exercise habits) makes it hard to keep up with the hundreds of friends I made in college.

While I do thrive in having a large network and keeping in some sort of continued contact with about 100 folks (whether by snail mail, Facebook, text messages or phone calls), that’s not sustainable in everyday life.  The person I call to seek advice on a problem at work, the person I call when I’m walking from my car late at night…those are my people. The ones who make me happiest and the ones I should, therefore, invest the most in.

I’ve always had such a hard time letting friendships and relationships go.  I felt like a failure when in reality, two people just simply grew apart (usually for good reason).

I now know that having peace with letting people go is not admitting defeat or failure.  It’s not saying I don’t care about them or their happiness; it’s just realizing that our relationship might no longer be a part of their (or my) happiness equation.

One of my other goals for 2015 was to be debt-free, and that became a reality today.  Now, I think I’ll call one of my people – my happy friends for a happy life – to share the good news.

auld lang syne

This year has been a whirlwind.  Doesn’t everyone say that?  In fact, I would bet that December 31st sees more use of the word “whirlwind” than any other day of the year. Here’s a look at some of my best memories of 2013.

Spring:

In January, I traveled to New York for the second time with my Cicerones mentor Jordan to see the fabulous Mara.  While there, we saw The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Jersey Boys on Broadway.  I also (finally!) saw the High Line in Chelsea, which quickly became one of my favorite spots in the city.  We went ice skating in Bryant Park, saw the Columbia campus, rode bikes in Central Park, marveled at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, saw a Zac Efron movie being filmed, sat on the steps of the Met (Gossip Girl style), and got mistaken for Broadway stars in a piano bar.  (And that’s not even all of it!)  To say this trip was memorable is a vast understatement.

During February, I went with Cicerones to a CASE ASAP District Conference in Atlanta.  This is where ambassadors from all different universities in the southeast come together!  From the lip sync competition to giving a presentation about recruitment with Noah and Kate, I enjoyed this conference even more than the first one I got to attend the previous year in Auburn.  I reconnected with old friends, celebrated Appalorida (our Florida/Appalachian State alliance) and made new friends, one of which I keep in touch with often and who even reads this blog!  (Hi, Sam!)

I spent spring break in March with about 40 of my friends in a beach house in Hollywood, Florida.  This was probably the most typical collegiate thing I’ll ever have done in my university career.  I’ll leave it at that.

In May, I saw many of my close friends graduate from the University of Florida.  I am both thrilled and terrified that it will be me walking across that stage in just a few months.  I also went with the 2012-2013 Cicerones executive board to Islands of Adventure this month.  We drank butterbeer, rode rides and ate dinner at a classy Italian restaurant; it was perfect.

Summer:

I interned, beginning in May, at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.  I spent much of my summer inside this office or at Chamber events, learning not only more about communications but a good deal about small business, startups and local government as well.

I traveled to Nashville about halfway through the summer with my friend Molly.  We went during CMA Fest, so we got to see lots of live music all over the city.  We also went to a Darren Criss show at the Cannery Ballroom, during which I fangirled to his cover of “Teenage Dream” and after which we found ourselves driving directly behind his tour bus.  While in Nashville, I got to spend time with two other amazing ladies: Alex, who was interning at a record label, and Anna, a musician who’d moved there herself just weeks before.

I met up with my family in Seaside for a few days at the beach in the second half of summer. We shopped, swam, rode bikes and soaked up the sun. I’m so lucky to have grandparents who invite me to their beach house vacation every summer!

Fall:

I got a new job as a waitress, watched my beloved Gators suffer a humiliating football season, grew closer to teachers in my college, and completed half of my goals for senior year (post coming soon).

One of the coolest parts of my semester was the number of concerts and shows I went to. Alex loves live music as much as I do, so I always had a buddy whether it was for Ben Rector, The Icarus Account, Landon Austin, Selena Gomez, Capital Cities or just a local Gainesville jazz quartet.  We are already planning the shows we want to see in 2014!

Another special thing was having Mara in Gainesville this semester.  Although she graduated in 2012 (and has been living in New York since then), she returned to care for her brother who is being treated for leukemia.  While the reason for her move wasn’t positive (although, praise the Lord, Christopher is doing very well), I relished having her here for half of my senior year (along with Jordan, Mary Grace and Coleman, the other members of my Cicerones family).

The last big thing this year, which I mentioned in a previous blog, was being a bridesmaid for my mentor Jordan’s wedding just a few weeks ago. I was so honored to get to stand by her side on the big day!  Being a bridesmaid also meant that I got to help host an amazing bachelorette weekend for the bride and her favorite girls at Epcot!  We got special treatment all day in our “Team Bride” shirts; now we just need someone else to get engaged so we can re-wear them and go to a different park!

I’m entering 2014 as a 22-year-old college senior with just a handful of months (and only two classes left) in my University of Florida career.  I’m eager for the adventure, changes and travels that lie ahead.