A Reflection: 2016 Edition

Image via Odyssey

This year started in a desperate circle of chaos. I was feeling tired and drained. With my family in disarray after an unexpected divorce and complications in my own relationship, I was ready for a new start. I began a new diet and exercise regimen hoping to get healthy again. I listed off goals that I wished to complete by year end but no surprise here, as most new year’s resolutions go, many of my goals went unfinished.

Last year, I made the following resolutions. In the red, I will tell you how I did:

  1. I will complete ten chapters of Our First Taste of Poison, my first novel. Nope. I didn’t even touch my novel.
  2. I will begin to learn the guitar. Unfortunately, this goes on the list for 2017 again, as I did not take it upon myself to learn.
  3. I will travel: Ohio, Denver, San Diego, anywhere the wind takes me. Surprise! Did I ever travel! Countless cities, countries, and U.S. states!
  4. I will begin the journey to become pescetarian and start a healthy workout schedule. Pescetarian went out the window in March, but I did start a healthy diet and work out schedule that works for me.
  5. I will build my savings for the house that I love. Decreased my savings in order to travel the world, but wow. Was that ever worth it!
  6. I will start saying no when I need to take care of myself instead of other people. I’ve gotten better about this, but it’s still something I can improve upon.
  7. I will graduate my masters program and become an M.A. I think this was one I just wanted to check off this year. I graduated. 🙂
  8. I will do better with cleaning. Definitely. My apartment is no longer a mess!
  9. I will make new friends and get involved in my community. Friends? Yes! I’ve met several new people I never interacted with before, but I need to work on volunteering.
  10. I will keep the same job for the rest of 2016. Now this is a story in itself. No, I decided to take a six-month hiatus and travel the world instead. Sowing my wild oats.

Given these successes and failures, I want to reflect on what did happen in 2016. Caution… The following is my pursuit of a new novel. Just kidding. BUT it does give me a reason to feel guilty for not working on my current book. 🙂

In January, I got to be a part of my best friend’s wedding in Cleveland, Ohio. I was so honored to be a bridesmaid for Jessie’s wedding and had a great time watching her say “I do.” We spent the evening before her wedding playing bridal games and drinking sangria. That same weekend, I got to see another best friend, Megan, who gave me a quick tour of CLE before my flight that evening. These two people have been there for me through all the ups and downs and I’m so glad I got to spend some much needed time rejuvenating with them.

In February, Blake surprised me for Valentine’s Day with a game for us to complete. We were tasked with going to five spots where we shared some of our favorite memories and taking a photo. We spent the day on a scavenger hunt for photos and ended it by reading love letters to each other and reflecting on our relationship. We went to Maggiano’s for dinner that night and ate until we were beyond full. That was the best Valentine’s Day of my life.

In March, I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona for the first time. Part of a business trip, I was the emcee for our sponsorship dinner, Fire and Ice. Between my duties, I went exploring. I made it out to the trails in Phoenix to take pictures and on the last day, my high school friend Josh and I went on a road trip to Sedona. We hiked Red Rock and I got my first taste of real Mexican cuisine.

In April, Blake and I decided to part ways. It wasn’t the right timing and it completely shattered my heart. Deep down I knew it couldn’t be the end for us. I knew that we were going to be together one day. I also quit my job in April. With all the pressure of my parents’ divorce, Blake’s moving out, and desperately trying to finish my Master’s degree, I developed intense anxiety. I sought help from a therapist and was prescribed medication to help manage my hormonal imbalances.

In May, Megan flew in to see me. We went to Universal and pretended to be kids again, got amazing seafood on the beach, shopped in the local boutiques downtown, toured the Dali, and went out in DTSP. I needed her more than ever then and I’m so glad she chose to visit me on her vacation. That same month, I visited Ohio again. On this trip, I went home to see my grandparents and managed to see my friends in Athens too. I spent time with my best friend Ashton drinking Jackie O’s beer and eating at all of our favorite restaurants. I went to lunch with my favorite teacher whom I told of my plans to travel the globe in the coming months. I spent a day with Jessie in Athens, drinking Donkey Coffee and reminiscing about all of our Athens adventures. I also got a pint with JB and sang karaoke at the Skull. It was the perfect trip back home.

In June, my mom and I embarked on a cross-country road trip. In the spur of the moment, we decided to hop in a car with Luna riding shotgun and drive to Colorado. On our way up, we stopped in Georgia for Lane’s Peach Orchard and bought every peach concoction you can think up. We made our way through Georgia and stopped in Chattanooga for the night, where we went underground to see Ruby Falls. The next day, we drove through Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri, where we stopped to go up and see the view at the Gateway Arch. That night, we stayed in Kansas City, Kansas. The next day we stopped in a small Oz themed town and bought some wine after we visited the Wizard of Oz Museum. We arrived in Denver that evening, where we would stay for the next two weeks.

In July, we took a different route back. We stopped in Dallas where we saw the JFK Memorial and ate some BBQ. The next day, we made a two-night stop in New Orleans and tasted the best Cajun food I’ve ever had. We got beignets from Café du Monde, toured Jackson Square, the French Quarter, St. Louis Cathedral, and drank the infamous hand grenade on Bourbon Street. We were back in St. Petersburg before I knew it. Later that month, I presented my capstone project to my professor and graduated with honors, receiving my Masters of Mass Communication.

In August, I traveled the world. I left on an airplane headed for London and almost didn’t come back. During my trip, I visited countless cities on a European road trip that opened my eyes to new cultures. You can find more on my adventures from my U.S. and European road trips on previous blogs here:

The Year I Traveled to Find Myself (Part One) – U.S.

The Year I Traveled to Find Myself (Part Two) – Europe

The Year I Traveled to Find Myself (Part Three) – Europe (Coming Soon)

In September, I traveled to California for the first time with my dad. I had business to conduct for my freelance writing, but mostly this was a father-daughter vacation. We flew into San Diego and experienced countless sights, all of which you can read about in another blog as well:

SoCal Dreamin’: The Last of My Travel Adventures – San Diego, L.A. (Coming Soon)

In October, I started my new job. I absolutely adore this company and my co-workers. I think I’ve finally found a place where I can belong. I feel like my ideas matter and that I’m an influential part of the team here. Also, it helps that everyone realizes that you’re human. I am extremely happy that I chose to work here. This month, I also reunited with Blake. He conquered his addiction and I conquered my anxiety. He’s been sober for six months and I’ve figured out how to deal with my circumstances. We started a long distance relationship with plans to move in together again soon.

In November, I spent the first holiday with my mom since the divorce. We celebrated Thanksgiving together and watched OSU vs. Michigan. I also spent time with my dad a week before the holiday. It was nice to spend time with each of them over the holidays this year. I’m really glad that we’re figuring out a way to work around this new family dynamic.

In December, I’ve got time to rack up the details. I do know this much. I turn 25 this year and will be celebrating with my friends this Friday with a beach bar crawl in St Pete. Blake is flying in to see my on my birthday. Mom is visiting before Christmas and dad is going to be here over the holiday. This month will definitely be busy, but I’m so excited to see what it brings.

This year was my turn around year. I really believe that. While I’m sure there are other curve balls headed my way, I know that I am prepared to handle whatever life throws at me. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that I can be okay anywhere that I choose to land. If Florida ends up not being my forever home, I’ll be okay. No matter what, I’ll be okay. Everything has a way of working itself out. That said, it’s time for my 2017 personal development goals.

My 2017 Resolutions:

  1. Grow Professionally – I would like to stay at this job for a long time. I want to develop my skills through conferences and certifications, but I would also like to better myself in my work place. I would like to advance in my career upon my one year review, whether that be a raise based upon performance or more leadership responsibilities.
  2. Continually Build My Relationship – Blake and I have been friends for a long time now and we consistently work on learning more about each other. When we move in together again this year, I want to work on the aspects of the relationship that I can improve upon to continually grow our relationship in a positive direction.
  3. Lose the Weight – I would like to be healthy again. While I’ve already started this process and lost 15 lbs along the way, I would like to work toward and keep my 50 lb goal. By summer, I want to be proud of the body in the bikini I choose to wear.
  4. Read More – I’m vowing to read one book per month instead of binging a new Netflix series. This is not a difficult goal, although it may at first seem like a feat given how busy I am used to keeping my schedule.
  5. Pay Off My Credit Card and Rebuild My Savings – I went into some debt travelling all around the world this year. I want to pay off my credit cards and rebuild my savings by December 2017.
  6. Learn Guitar – I want to learn to play. I’ve been wanting to learn to play for years. It’s about time I put this in my budget and just start doing it.
  7. Write My Novel – While I know myself and I know I won’t finish it this year, I need to dedicate time to write it. I started this journey and now I need to fulfill this promise to myself.
  8. Continue Promoting My Freelance Business – I still have the same clients, but I would like to introduce new ones to my business. I want to be more consistent with my Writer’s Ink blog and social accounts as well.
  9. Volunteer – In a shifting political economy, I want to be part of the change that emboldens our communities to stay strong and keep fighting for their rights.
  10. Learn Something New – I started learning code because it’s at the core of what my new company sells. I want to continue this process until I understand one language (Java or HTML5).





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