Every year I like to compile a list of things that made that year particularly good. The rules are simple – it had to make me happy in some way, and it can’t be on a previous year’s list. Putting “my dogs” on the list year after year is pretty much a given and makes the list seem stale after awhile. So I get creative. Beyond that, anything goes. Books I read, TV shows I watched, people I met/visited, places I went to, things I did – the options are limitless and nothing is too big or too small.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane day to day. When everyday life is go to work, come home, lie on the couch, watch TV, repeat, it’s easy to forget the good things I got to do. I can’t recommend this exercise enough. It fills me with so much gratitude and reminds me that, despite the routine, life is actually pretty great.
I started the year off in Cuba with Maggie. This trips was something of a dream come true, as I’ve longed to visit the Caribbean nation since I was a kid. We spent 10 days exploring Vinales, Trinidad and Cienfuegos, and rang in the new year in Havana. It was a great way to start 2017 and exactly the tone I wanted to set.
Shortly after coming back from Cuba, I had surgery on my shoulder. The injury stems from a softball game five years ago, throwing a runner out at home plate from left field. I got the ball there, but tore the labrum in my right shoulder in the process. Surgery isn’t necessary for it to function, but it doesn’t generally heal on its own. After months of physical therapy, both right after the injury and prior to the surgery, I decided enough was enough, I’m sick of not being able to do things like pour milk or wash dishes without pain. So I bit the bullet and scheduled the appointment.
I stayed with my parents for three days after surgery and took 10 days off work. It took several months of physical therapy and healing, but today my shoulder feels so much better than it did. It will never be perfect, some things still hurt, but the overall lack of pain has me really glad with the choice I made. Plus I had ALL THESE DOGS keeping me company!
Cooking with Blue Apron
I love to cook, but I greatly dislike meal planning and I haaaate grocery shopping. I have been known to avoid the store for so long I exist off cheese sandwiches and Cheerios. So what’s a girl with a healthy appetite to do? Sign up for Blue Apron of course! Not only does it take the guesswork out of deciding what to eat for the week, I’m trying foods I never would have considered cooking with, and I’m learning so much more than I expected. I can’t speak to other home food delivery services, but I assume they are similar. I can’t go on enough about how glad I am that I tried this out.
Completing the Emerald Bike Ride and Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic
This year instead of climbing mountains, I decided to try my hand (legs?) at cycling. I’m not entirely sure why as it’s not something I’ve ever really been in to. But it’s new and different, and a change of pace is exactly what I was looking for. Of course, I never just ease myself into an activity, I pick some ridiculously hard challenge and go for it. At least this time I did a warm up ride, the Emerald Bike Ride, to get used to riding with other cyclists.
While the STP wasn’t physically or mentally the hardest thing I’ve ever done (that honor still goes to Mt Rainier), it was possibly one of the most painful. Holding your body in a hunched over position, sitting on a bike seat craning your neck up to see where you’re going for 10 hours is a lesson in pushing through the pain. Then having to do it all over again the next day? Oof. But I did it, and I’m so proud of what I accomplished, especially when I consider that I never thought I’d ever do this in the first place.
Improving my Diving Skills – Nitrox and Rescue Diver
Scuba diving is one of those activities I usually reserve for my travels. But why should I? The Puget Sound has some wonderful diving and it’s right in my own backyard. Sure, it’s cold and the water can be murky, but as they say, if you can dive here, you can dive anywhere. So when the dive shop a couple blocks from my house had their Diver’s Fair this summer, I stopped by to sign up for some courses to improve my skills, and motivate me to get out more. Not only am I now a certified Nitrox and Rescue Diver, I’ve added another eight dives to my log book and met some awesome diving buddies. I can’t wait to get out in 2018 and explore even more.
Road Tripping Through Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Montenegro
A sneak peak at photos from my recent travels to the Balkans. This trip was so much fun – I learned so much about the war that happened in the 1990’s and got to explore a part of the world I’ve long been wanting to see. A month was not nearly enough, I could easily have stayed for a second. Another week in each country might have been enough. Maybe.
Certificate in Photography From the University of Washington
I’ve always had a fascination with photography from the moment I was given my first camera. But I never realized it could be something I could make money from. Other people did that, not me. But why should that be the case? I love taking pictures, and I have gotten much better over the years. I still have a lot to learn though, especially on the business side, so I signed up for a certificate in photography at the University of Washington. I’m so excited to be taking this course, and once I’m done, I should have some real credibility in the photography world. I have two more quarters to go before graduation, and I can’t wait to see what we learn next!
Volunteering with Emerald City Pet Rescue
Earlier this year I decided it was time I start giving back to my community/the world in some way. I’ve been given so many wonderful opportunities in my life, I need to be better about helping out others. The problem is, I’m not much of a people person. However, I am an animal person. My friend Amber works at the Emerald City Pet Rescue, so I looked at their volunteer opportunities and signed up. Now for an hour every weekend, I head down to the rescue and cuddle dogs for an hour. Best gig ever? Best gig ever. And it’s good for the dogs, too! I mean, mainly.
Most of the dogs at ECPR come from southern California and the high-kill shelters they have that are overloaded. Seattle is very adopt-friendly when it comes to animals, and we don’t have much of a homelessness issue (for pets – people are an entirely different matter) so it’s a great setup they have going. They also have cats, horses, rabbits, guinea pigs and more. If you’re in the Seattle area and looking for a new furry best friend, come down to ECPR! There are plenty of cuddly animals looking for a new home.
As much as I wish I could gather all my friends in Seattle and keep them here forever, this isn’t a reality in today’s world. So instead I have to visit them where they live. It’s the next best thing, after all. Back in August I drove down to Salem, OR to visit Emma for a long weekend. We explored Silver Falls State Park, went wine tasting around the Willamette Valley and took a relaxing float down the Santian River.
In October between leaving my old job and starting a new one, I flew to Boston for an extended weekend to visit Maggie. We spent a few days working in her garden (an activity I really enjoy) and a few more exploring New England in the fall.
On top of that, I got to meet fellow travel blogger Erica at As Her World Turns! I’ve admired Erica’s travels and especially her photographs for a couple years now, so getting to meet her in person was an absolute delight. We geeked out on our shared love of travel and photography while she showed us around New Haven, CT.
Thank you Erica for the photo!
Starting a New Job With the City of Seattle
Rounding out my year of new beginnings, after 12+ years at my old company, I was finally able to turn in my two weeks notice and start fresh at the City of Seattle. It’s been a long time coming and I can’t tell you how good it feels to be working somewhere new. It has meant giving up working from home every day to come in to the office, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. My coworkers are great, and while things have been a bit slow as the year comes to a close, the work I’m doing is interesting. I’m excited to see where this goes!