Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: A Year in Review

Per tradition, I post a year recap close to New Years. Well, this time it is with about 20 min left of 2015 but I'm pretty sure I'll make the cutoff before 2016. 

January: I set off to make this to be the year where I would "have the courage to change the things I can." I took inventory of the things I wanted to change, things I thought would bring me happiness and I set out with a plan to change them. The year started off rough, after a high school friend suffered an unspeakable tragedy, an accident that took the lives of her two sisters, her niece, nephew, sister's unborn child and other sister's boyfriend. I can't imagine what she went through, but it set me off. I felt immense grief and hopelessness for days. It was all for her and her family and I know my feelings are a fraction of what they felt, but it made me think this year was going to be awful. That and my neighbors were getting on my nerves and I was in desperate need of a new job. 

February: As January came to a close, I took a leap and checked out some apartments via Craigslist. I saw a really tiny studio in the heart of South Philly and was disappointed because there was no way I'd be able to live there. I almost didn't look at the second apartment since the whole visit was arranged via text. But I did and fell in love. Cue a week into February and I had moved out of my tiny (but beloved) jr. one bedroom in Center City and into a nice 2 bedroom with a full kitchen, new oven, roof access and laundry blocks away in South Philly. Some friends from work helped me move, but I got really sick during it and had to be put on steroids to help me breathe. It was rough. My second goal was to adopt a dog, which didn't go as planned. The dog I was promised was adopted to another family the night before my parents and I were set to pick him up. I was devastated. It was Valentine's Weekend. 

It wasn't meant to be because a few days after that letdown, I found a dog on Petfinder. The shelter made a promise that no one else would get him if I came up on Saturday. I rented a car, drove to the Poconos and adopted Brutus (now Bronx Brutus). He was so wiggly and happy! He did back flips in the back seat of the car. Of course the drive home was during a horrible snowstorm where I had about 10 panic attacks and one for sure nervous breakdown. Bronx was left alone for 4 hours while I returned the rental car in a blizzard. He was an absolute angel! I didn't know what I'd be coming home to but there he was just sitting on his bed happy to see me. 

Bronx became a huge part of my life and soon was my therapist, hiking buddy, sidekick, running partner, cuddle blanket, comic relief and friend. 

March: I adjusted to being a dog mom. I was happy to have my new apartment and my amazing dog but it wasn't enough. I needed a new job: a journalism job. I had a few interviews throughout the year but nothing came to fruition. I was getting really discouraged. 

April: I ran my first 5K of the year with my friends Hillary and Erin, I trained for the Broad Street Run (sort of) and just took Bronx on adventures.

May: I ran my first Broad Street Run with my friend Erin! Erin ran her slowest ever so I would have someone to pace. I finished in 2 hours and 28 min! I couldn't believe I walked/run 10 miles without training. (I wouldn't recommend it). I also did Susan G Komen but I was recovering from a stomach virus so that one didn't go too well. This month I also went to Sussman Kia and bought my 2012 Kia Soul with my best friend, David! I wanted a green one but the black one felt like mine. She was in better condition and I got the internet price! I drove off the lot with a nice car loan, excellent interest rate and my first car since college. 

June, July, August: Summer was a blur. I took Bronx hiking. I went on a family vacation to the Poconos. I organized my high school's 10 year reunion. It was great to see everyone but was really stressful planning and paying for the favors. I learned the difference between expectation and reality (it was a lovely night, just I wanted more people there and it to go a different way). I did have fun reconnecting with my hometown besties, though. I think that was my favorite part. 

In August I turned 28 and celebrated with my best friend David, Hillary and my Jschool bestie Alexa. We spent my post-birthday celebration (Alexa and I) sitting on my roof talking about life. We all went to dinner and went rollerblading at the Blue Cross Roller Rink in Penn's Landing. It was a great birthday. 

During August I also became a contributor for MOGUL. They "found" me and said they were looking for trailblazing women writers like myself. I joined and have had great success writing for the international platform.

September: I was in the middle of the back to school rush at work. Shortly after, my prayers were answered. A social media job opened up at my company's corporate headquarters. I went for it, with my Executive Director's blessing. By mid-September, after my 2nd interview, I got the job! It came with a really great pay raise and I'd finally be able to use my journalism degree! I set out in 2015 to achieve 4 goals and I did it!

October: I adjusted to my new job and reconnected with an old passion of mine: Kickboxing! I signed up with ILoveKickboxing South Philly and began pounding the bags (and my butt) again. I signed on for a year and continue to work out diligently. 

November, December: Thanksgiving, Christmas, kickboxing, yoga, work, writing. This evening I spent 2 hours in a yoga transform/transcend workshop where we worked on breathing, yoga and journaling. At the beginning of the class, my mind was racing. During the class I had a headache and some things hurt. By the end of the class I felt free. Free of the drama of 2015, the things I need to let go of, the anxiety and stress and doubt. I left laughing and spinning in a circle as I walked home to ring in the New Year with my #1 man, my dog. 

I'm also on standby for work because it is my job to relay news of the 1st baby of 2016 born at our hospital to the press. It is kind of exciting, being on call for something. I'm waiting for that call. 

So how do you top a year like that? How do you top a year where you got everything you wanted? You make bigger goals. You make bigger dreams. You strive to live fully. 

2016 is going to be the year of health. Not just physical health but emotional and mental health too. I'm striving to travel somewhere new each month (including little trips like in-state or nearby). I'm striving to document 2016 to the best of my ability. I'm striving to overcome my fears, workout like a boss and beat my 2015 Broad Street time! 

So here's to HEALTH, ADVENTURE and a BRAND NEW YEAR! Happy New Year to you. I hope 2016 is the year your dreams come true. 

Until next time (and year)....

Monday, December 14, 2015

Little Moments

An end-of-the-year review is due, but I'll save that for another week or so. My blogging has been less frequent due to my continued demanding work/life schedule. Longer days, less hours to do the things I need to do and being a dog mom. This morning as I hustled to get myself ready for work, I laughed thinking how there was no way I would be able to be a functional human parent. My kids would never be on time for anything. 

To cope with the stress of it all, I've been doing yoga every other day and running. I'm noticing the yoga has improved my mindfulness. Like just yesterday as I was in the middle of the practice, I looked around my living room and noticed a few things for the first time. Like how the bottom ring of my grandfather's Irish flag was rusted or how there was a little bug, dead, trapped in my ceiling light. These things seem innocuous but I felt aware, like in the moment. That was the important thing. 

As 2015 comes to a close, I'm trying to be mindful of the little moments. Like how it feels when a breeze sneaks in my bedroom window (we've had unseasonably warm weather this winter). Sometimes I play a game. I close my eyes and just listen to everything around me and then identify the sounds in my head. I think I named them all until I realize there is a cricket chirping in the background or someone's back door is screeching as it comes to a close. The game relaxes my mind, as does the yoga. Both are beneficial considering my weekdays are days of survival. I must get up on time. I must take care of Bronx. I must be productive at work. I must eat well. I must find time for kickboxing. I must get ready for the next day. I must get to bed on time. I must get a good nights rest. 

Another one of those little moments happened on Sunday. You wouldn't think much of it, but it was a great moment. I had just finished a two mile walk/run with Bronx. He was panting and slowing down, the warm weather and the exercise wore him out. I reached down and pat him on the head. He moved it up toward my hand, smiling wide, looking happy. Sure, he was probably just panting but it was the perfect mother dog moment. I did it a second time and so did he. He looked me in the eye, tongue hanging out, mouth open wide and pushed his head against my hand. He seemed pleased. 

I plan on continuing to look for those little moments as the days of December pass by. I'm still working on my goal list for 2016. It is going to be hard to top this year, as you'll read in a week or so. All my goals were met this year, I'm not sure I can do that again. We'll have to see. 

Until next time...

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