I still have a lot of California adventures to share with y’all from my vacation over Christmas break, but I wanted to break up those posts with a more reflective variety of the past year and the upcoming one. I haven’t done any of my normal “end of year” posts since late 2014/early 2015, and I won’t be doing them this year either. When 2015 ended, I wanted nothing more than to shut the door on that tragic series of events and move forward. I know that most people have touted 2016 as the worst year ever, but for me that hasn’t been the case. Sure, a lot of celebrities kicked the bucket and he-who-shall-not-be-named got elected, but Bill Murray survived and no one in my immediate circle of family or friends died. I’ll take it.
If I wrote any reflective posts about 2015, they would have simply said “this year can go suck a dick.” I don’t feel the same about 2016, and though I’ll be reflecting and looking forward in a different way than I have in the past (because I’m a different person now) I think there is value in doing that this year.
This is a long winded way of saying that I want to look back on the things I feel good about in 2016, because my mind is currently clouded by a lot of the mistakes I made (more on this in a different post).
Buy My House
Though I put the offer in for my current home in 2015, we closed in early January last year. My life is a giant question mark right now, and the future is very unknown but I love my house. It has given me something to focus on, and my own space to maintain and improve in the ways that I can. Plus, living there has allowed me to get two awesome roommates that make my life fun and interesting in ways it wouldn’t be living on my own. Owning an old house can be a pain, like the plumbing I’ve had fixed on multiple occasions or the giant mod 60’s sliding glass door I have to figure out how to fix in the very near future, but I don’t regret a penny I’ve spent on the house.
Not Sell Simon
I don’t think many people know this, but a tiny part of my brain was considering selling Simon in pursuit of my hunter dreams. Finding what I wanted on my small budget proved difficult, and I was worried about being financially responsible for two horses long term (more on this in my upcoming mistakes post). I briefly weighed the pros and cons of taking what I could sell him for and adding it to my horse search fund, but I just couldn’t do it. I had a hunch back then, but I know not for sure – Simon is priceless. He’s my heart. He’s not going anywhere.
Say Yes When People Invite You to Visit
This has always been my philosophy, but I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone last year and did more traveling solo or with friends than I had done in the past. I was able to visit Amanda in Vermont (which I think I still need to blog about… bad me!), go to Taos and San Diego to name a few places. It’s so much easier and certainly a lot more fun to see the world when you have great people to visit, and I’m glad I took advantage of the kind offers I was given!
Make Smarter Choices With My Money
I’ve never been super financially savvy. I think there’s a stereotype that widows are automatically wealthy from giant life insurance policies associated with their late husbands, but without delving into my financials details I can assure you that things don’t always work out like that. I’m okay, but I’ve had to be a lot smarter. I’m still a work in progress, but I’ve developed a lot of habits and life hacks to help me with money in the past year. I utilize Digit for micro-savings, which has allowed me to pool up a sizeable amount of money without even realizing it for my upcoming trip to Japan this year. Additionally, I use Acorns which is a micro-investing app, which grows a small account at roughly 1.5% (this fluctuates). I’m not going to get rich from it, but it provides an additional emergency account. I’ve also put all major purchases on an Airline card, and (over the course of years) have saved up enough miles to fly on previously mentioned Japan trip. Basically I could go on because I’m starting to geek out on financial stuff a little, but I’ve gotten a lot smarter in this category with additional room for improvement regarding spending (cough, cough two horses cough).
Take More Care With Personal Appearance
I used to always be the kind of person that rocked a minimalist, some might say sloppy wardrobe. Though I knew how to dress nicely, I rarely did. Tim even accidentally accused me of looking like a hobo way back when – you can guess how well that went over. I’m not sure why I waited to care more until after he died, but in the past year I’ve taken a lot more time to tend to myself. I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping my nails painted nicely. I get regular haircuts instead of the once a year “oh wow my long thin hair is gross and needs tending to” salon appointment I traditionally did. Last year I only made one New Year’s resolution, and that was to wear high heels like a boss – which I do now! I wear makeup daily, and for special occasions will even gamble with some minor contouring. Some days I still look like a hobo, see my outfit today of somewhat ratty jeans, a NCSU shirt, pony tail and cowboy boots… but more often than not I delve into the strange and mysterious land of layers and accessories. The truth is, it makes me feel better about myself in a time where I need every single self-esteem boost I can muster.
I’ve always been a voracious reader, but it’s something that falls to the wayside unless I make an active plan to read. Let’s face it – it’s much easier to zone out and watch re-runs of Parks and Recreation before bed than it is to open a book. In the later half of this year, I’ve made reading a priority. I keep a huge wishlist of books to read on Amazon, and typically buy 1-3 a month from that list. Santa brought me a stack of memoir for Christmas, and when my life feels particularly complicated I like being able to dive into someone’s story that is so much worse than mine. Misery loves company? Oh yes, yes it does.
Dabbled With Dating
This blog is not and will never be the place where I spill all the details about my personal life in this area. Despite writing quite publicly about my successes and failures, I’m an exceedingly private person when it comes to this area. I hate being asked about if I’m dating, and I take the “need to know” approach when it comes to this subject. If you need to know, I’ll tell you. Most don’t. That being said, I’ve gone outside of my comfort zone and dived into literally a whole new world to me. It’s be hilarious. It’s been hard. It’s been hopeful. It’s been all of those things and more. No regrets.
In early 2016 I signed up for a memoir writing class on a whim. That has turned out to be a catalyst for a lot of what I hope to be important changes in my life. Though I don’t know exactly what will happen with my writing, I took last year as the time to turn myself from someone who casually writes a blog and claims to be a writer into someone who dedicates a large amount of time to serious writing. I am more satisfied with this development than I am with anything else that happened in the past year. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I’m cautiously optimistic about my future in the world of creative nonfiction.
Big life transitions are hard, and they only get marginally easier over time. I still thoroughly consider myself in the transition phase. As someone who is traditionally very hard on herself, it’s important for me to take a little time and recognize what I did right. There were “teachable moments” which I’ll blog about in the future, but all things considered – I did pretty okay in 2016.