Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017: A Year in Review

It's that time of year again...

Time for my annual Year in Review. 

So at the beginning of 2017, I set out to lose weight so I could skydive for my 30th birthday. I wanted to lock down my finances and maybe make moves on buying a house. I wanted to build my social circle and travel more. I wanted to PR in the Broad Street Run. I wanted to be healthy. 

None of those things happened. I'm serious!

I did not lose the weight so I could skydive, therefore I did not skydive. I did not lock down my finances and actually had to make steps to budget better. I decided against buying a house. I did sort of beef up my social circle a little bit but I didn't travel much. I matched my PR time to the second in the Broad Street Run instead of beating it. But dammit, it was a pretty epic year. I spent NYE 2016 cleaning my apartment. I was cleaning out my closets and decluttering my living space on New Year's Eve. I wanted to enter the new year with less junk, less emotional baggage and a healthier mindset. Let's take a look at the highlight reel:


January I did WHOLE 30! I blogged about it here as well. I went 30 days eating only whole foods. I found out that I didn't crave sweets or booze as much as I thought I would, but in fact missed dairy and condiments the most. I'm considering doing it again this year. I lost 18 pounds in a month and felt pretty good once I figured out that digestive enzymes are your friend in the Whole 30 journey. 

After successfully completing Whole 30, I went on to do another streak: the RUN215 Run Challenge. You had to run/walk one mile a day for every day in Feb. I got the flu! I still did it! It was difficult but I made it. It felt good to complete another streak. I couldn't believe I got the flu even though I had the flu shot! 

March proved to be a very busy month. I attended my best friend's cousin-in-law's 30th birthday party, the Philadelphia Flower Show (butterflies landed on me and I got a little tipsy at the Wine & Spirits tasting) and was really dedicated to running. I visited my parents at the beginning of March for their birthdays which was nice. I rounded out the month at my old work's 30th anniversary annual gala. I thought I looked pretty good that night! We also got really good PR for the event so it was a job well done. 

One of my all time favorite memories of 2017 was the day I took Bronx to Sea Isle, New Jersey. Dogs are allowed on the beach during the off season. I wasn't sure how he was going to react. He doesn't like water very much. This little day trip proved to me that this dog is indeed my dog. He LOVED it. He liked digging in the sand and enjoyed running along the water's edge. He kept running into the water and back out. He's a beach dog! It made me so happy. I got a sea shell off the shore and wrote the date on it to always remember B's first beach trip. Also in April, I ran my second annual Run for Clean Air 10K. After the race, there is a very generous free beer tent. I was happily enjoying a breakfast beer when I ran into my friend Maura who I met at the breakfast beer tent the year before! We were supposed to hang out but never did. I'm really glad that happened because we DID hang out many times after that race. Breakfast beer friendship for the win! I continued to train for the Broad Street Run with my weekly Bridge Runs. It was great to see all my friends from last year's training set. 
There was already a lengthy post about this, but I ran the Broad Street Run for the third year in a row. I set out to PR but instead matched my time to the exact second which is a pretty rare thing to happen. I felt like I enjoyed the race a lot more this year and really stayed in the moment. I took an epic race photo dabbing and it went viral on RUN 215's social media. I loved it! In May I attended the Pennsylvania Ballet for the first time! It was a great experience. My best friend and I went. He was teasing me because after the show we went over to Wawa and I ate a hot dog. "You could only be classy for 2.5 hours, MA," he said. He was right. Around the end of May, I met up with some friends I met earlier in the year at a Drink Philly Wine and Chocolate social. I got to experience Philly Bloco for the first time, an amazing Brazilian funk band. I danced so much that night and would later win tickets to their Halloween show! 
June marked the first time I got a photo with the Philadelphia Beer Week Hammer of Glory. I also attended Young Professionals Night at the Barnes foundation with my friend Kailah. Afterwards we went to Skygarten and got to see the city from the rooftop sky deck! Kind of amazing. We ended out night at McGillans ale house, singing along with bar patrons and eating nachos. Around this time my kickboxing gym was closing and my favorite instructors were going off to create their own gym that I would join around July. I would soon have access to not only kickboxing but at 24 hour gym WITH a pool and roof deck!

July was truly epic! Everyone knows my favorite holiday is the 4th of July. My favorite Philly tradition is watching Rocky on the Art Museum steps. David and I went this year and there was a raffle. The winner would win a seat for themselves and a friend in these cushy leather armchairs at the very front of the screen. They called one ticket and a woman won. They called the second ticket and David goes, "Wait, isn't that you?" I looked down and sure enough it was. We won! I was so excited. We got to walk in front of all of those people and camp out in these nice big recliners for the duration of the movie. No numb butts this year. It was pure dumb luck but I was pretty happy about it. July was also the month when I participated in Yoga in the Outfield with Maura and her friend Sharon. We got to do yoga on the Phillies outfield. Afterward we went to Xfinity and met alumni ball players. I got John Kruck's autograph for my dad! Then in mid July, I went down to Virginia for a week long camping trip with my parents and pup. I rented a stand up paddleboard and practiced it every day. 
August was the absolute best month of 2017. I mean it. The absolute best. I had finished reading "You are a Badass" by Jen Sincero and that book made me realize a lot of things about my life. In an effort to stick to my passions and truth, so to speak, I registered to attend the 2017 Writer's Digest Annual Conference in New York City. August kicked off with a really fun Goo Goo Dolls concert. THEN an Atlantic City bus trip with a friend and her friends. After that, I finally crossed something off my bucket list: performing in my first First Person Arts Story Slam. I didn't win but I got to tell a story and be on stage for the first time in years. It was so fulfilling! THEN I went to the Writer's Digest Conference. It was one good thing after another. From a free breakfast brunch at the swanky Hilton ( a nice lady gave me her voucher), to meeting the incredible title sponsors, Round Table Companies (and later getting a job offer with them that led to a part-time job of my dreams) to pitching my book idea and have five agents request more information...I mean wow. It was my first time staying at an Air BnB and I had an excellent experience. I was the happiest I had been in a long time that weekend. I made so many new friends and got a new job out of the trip. Money well spent! And it started with that Badass book. 

I returned from my conference high ready to celebrate my 30th birthday in style. I did "Mary Anna's Favorite Things" on my actual birthday. I got free pancakes from Ihop, a pedicure, free Starbucks, took Bronx to Spruce Harbor Park, took B to a favorite bar and we shared some ice cream and then I got "Be Bold" (my mantra) tattooed on my wrist. Fresh ink in hand (pun intended) I went over to Penn's Landing and rode the Ferris wheel. After that I got my free birthday shot at Ray's Happy Birthday bar. Then I went to my favorite bar of all bars for dinner (Wrap Shack). I ended the evening ordering two pieces of cake from my local diner, getting three and having to pay for just one. Bronx and I ate cake together on my kitchen floor. The day after my birthday I organized an amazing party at a bar/restaurant in center city. I invited my friends, had door prizes, goody bags, an open bar and buffet dinner. It was spectacular and a great way to celebrate my 30th. Way better than skydiving. 

That's not all. A few days later I ran in the Philly 10K donning my tiara and sash. I PR'd!

Labor Day weekend I got sick (AGAIN). Little did I know that this illness would last nearly two months. It started with a cold and manifested into a cough that would not go away. I had a sinus infection too. It was rough. I didn't let it stop me though! I tried Ariel Yoga for the first time (very challenging). I launched my podcast: Owning Your Awkward (stay tuned for a reboot in January). I attended Xfinity's Oktoberfest and drank all the pumpkin beers. I learned that I really like Xfinity, actually. It is a glorified sports bar but they have excellent food and really fun events like silent discos and contests and things. 


Still sick but October turned out to be pretty damn good. I got to reunite with my Redeemer Ministry Corps cohorts for a weekend of fun and nostalgia. I attended a Black Violin concert. I ran the Fishtown River City Festival 5K with Bronx. My friend Maura (breakfast beers) and I went to New Jersey to participate in GOAT YOGA where you literally do yoga with baby goats. One peed on me. A story that will never die. David and I went to Fright Fest at Six Flags. I saw Philly Bloco perform FOR FREE. David and I went on a massive hike in New Jersey. It is called Mt. Tammany and it sits on the PA/NJ boarder. That damn mountain almost killed me. LOTS of rock climbing and a steep incline...and the same going down. It was the hardest hike of my life but the views were worth it. Bronx was part mountain goat the whole time. We rounded out October with Eastern State Penn's Terror Behind the Walls ON Halloween! 

November was the month of concerts. Epic. Unbelievable. Concerts. I saw Imagine Dragons at the Wells Fargo Center. In the middle of their set, they hopped off stage and traveled to a surprise acoustic stage right in front of me! They performed several songs at that stage and I got amazing photos and video. Such an energetic concert. A few weeks after that, I saw Macklemore in concert! He was so close I could almost touch him. That was another excellent concert. Also in November I ran the Rothman 8K instead of the Half Marathon. I didn't do too badly but I had trouble breathing. I went home for Thanksgiving and got to meet my friend Heather's daughter! We also did some Rodabaugh shooting in the back yard. I have a lot to be thankful for. 


Kicked off December with a super fun trip to New York City with my friend Maura (we really hung out a lot this year) and her mom, brother and brother's girlfriend. Running through the streets of New York during Christmas time with an Italian family is a ball. On the way home from that trip, I met a girl on the Bolt Bus. We really hit it off and just recently went out for drinks. I think I found a new friend! Yay! I need friends! 

I also attended a dear friend's final vows, Sr. Kim Kessler! My best friend and I relished all the Christmas festivities the city had to offer. We did the Christmas Village, the light shows, Kennett Square Christmas (did you know that Kennett Square is the mushroom capital of the world? I had no idea) and Longwood Gardens. Then I got sick (AGAIN). This time with a stomach bug. At least that is what I thought, until three days later when I was in extreme pain and had not eaten in several days. I checked myself into the ER. One IV bag, four medications, two tests and five hours later I was diagnosed with colitis, an inflamed colon. The meds helped and I felt better after receiving an IV bag of fluids. I slowly went on the mend as I prepared to go to Virginia for Christmas.

Miraculously I healed in time for the holiday! I had dinner with three of my four hometown BFFS and we drove to the town where the fourth one lived to get a photo with him. It was so much fun reconnecting. Then I had a great Christmas. My parents surprised me with a Food Saver for Christmas! Also, Bronx had fun helping everyone open their presents.  

So here we are. What a year. I tried a lot of new things. I experienced a lot of incredible concerts. I followed my passions as best as I could and landed my part-time job with RTC (I'm a staff writer and writing coach for this beautiful company. I applied in 2014 and was rejected but due to fate, love and following my heart, I ended up hired by them in October and work for them on the side. I love what I do!) I was sick a bit more than usual, so hoping 2018 is a healthy year. 

For 2018, I won't make a resolution that I can't keep. I will say I'll be working on health, particularly mental/physical health (skin care) and weight. I am also hopeful that this year leads to fruitful writing adventures as well as becomes the year I dip my toe into stand up comedy. I'm already committed to competing in the next Story Slam in January. Here's to new friendships and hopefully a little more travel this year. I can't wait. 

Until next time...

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