2019

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I definitely ride the January bandwagon. So full of hope and promise at the beginning, but fully slacking off by month’s end. I was recently talking with one of my best friends about the art of the follow through, and she mentioned a New York Times article that discusses this very idea, and how to make resolutions that stick around for the long haul.

The key is to make your resolutions SMART. That is, to set specific, measurable, attainable ways that you can achieve your goal within a certain timeframe (side note: getting sudden flashbacks to strategy planning classes during my grad school days). For me, one of the joys of a new year is being able to hit the reset button and take a fresh new approach to different areas of my life.

There are so many things I want to do this year; below is just a small sampling. It’s very ambitious, and to be honest, these are more dreams and aspirations rather than SMART goals, but I’m so excited about what 2019 holds!

Get better at fitness & healthy living

  • Work out 3-4 times a week, mixing activities like Orangetheory, yoga, spin or taking my dog on an extra long walk.
  • Find the joy in cooking. I love baking, but cooking is much more of a chore than it is fulfilling. My goal is to find a solid rotation of meals that I not only enjoy eating, but enjoy cooking as well.

Read at least 19 books this year

  • I love reading, but lately it just hasn’t been a priority. Now that I’m not in grad school, working several jobs or in the middle of a move anymore, I’d like to devote more of my free time to reading. Plus, my local library makes it easy to get books on my Kindle with its ebook program. Help keep me accountable by following me on Goodreads!

Explore more of the world around me

  • I just moved back to Charlottesville a little over a year ago. I love this town, but since I was a student the last time I was here, I need to spend some time relearning it and experiencing it as an adult. Totally different lifestyle.
  • I travel to the DC area a lot. I’d like to leverage these trips in 2019 even more, by making sure I try more restaurants and go to more events.
  • One of the best things I did in 2018 was travel to Europe. I hope to add a lot more travel to my list this year, both domestically and internationally.

Pursue passion projects that spark joy

Whether it’s volunteering, decorating, photographing or just going down the rabbit hole on the latest Boston Globe Spotlight piece or a new investigative podcast, I want 2019 to be full of new and creative endeavors that broaden my horizons.

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2018 was an amazing year full of so many highs: I went to Europe for the first time, attended my five year college reunion, watched some of my best friends get married, and really began to make my house feel like a home. I’m ready to take this momentum into the new year, and can’t wait to see what comes next. Cheers to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2019!

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WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE GETTING A DOG, VOL. I

I adopted my cutie rescue pup, Lexie, this year (you can follow her on Instagram: @MissLexie_chi). Prior to that, the most dog experience I had was with my friend’s two huge lab mixes. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, here are five things I wish I knew when I started the process.

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#1 All dogs, no matter the age, will need some training

Lexie was five years old when I adopted her, and I figured that she would not need much training. While she is a great dog and I really lucked out on some critical things (she was essentially house trained when I took her home), I discovered quickly that we needed to work on a few traits, like leash reactivity. No dog will ever be perfect in the training department. Part of me hoped that I would find a dog who already knew all the important commands, was totally house trained, didn’t beg, loved people, and greeted dogs with a friendly smile instead of endless barking. In the end though, I had to select which qualities were most important to me in a dog and understand that I would need to work on the rest (pro tip: use lots of positive reinforcement).

#2 The adjustment period is very real

I thought that Lexie and I would both quickly settle into a routine once I took her home. The first few weeks turned out to be some of the toughest, which I was not prepared for. I figured all the research I had done before taking her home would mean that I could settle in much faster. Yet, I had to get used to a new life of waking up earlier, going on frequent walks, and being completely responsible for another living creature. Lexie had to get used to a new environment, a new person, and new rules. But once we got through that adjustment phase of learning about each other, things became much smoother.

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#3 Explore different adoption options

By this, I mean both breed and rescue organization (or breeder, if you are going that route). Northern Virginia is great because it has so many rescue options. This meant that I was able to take time to research and figure out what I wanted my adoption experience to be. And trust me, I took my time! This was years and years worth of research in the making (partially because I have a really great ability to talk myself out of life changing decisions).  When I was finally ready to adopt, I started out at one agency that wasn’t a good fit for me, but turned to Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation and found Lexie pretty quickly. For those of you in the DC metro area, I’ve listed a bunch of rescue organizations at the end of this post.

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#4 It takes a village

I had this crazy expectation that I could handle it all on my own. Yet I quickly discovered how wonderful it was to have friends who would come over to watch her when I was running late at work, supportive siblings who would walk her on days I had class, and fabulous parents willing to dog sit her when I had to go out of town. Having this support system is crucial. Of course, there are services you can use for dog sitting (such as DogVacay) or dog walking, but either way, having your village makes life so much easier. Dog ownership is no joke, but it is totally worth it.

#5 It will all work out in the end

The time, research, and money will pay off once that little fur ball comes home with you. Lexie, who is quite possibly one of the weirdest dogs you’ll ever meet, makes me laugh every day, and has been there for me during some challenging times. I’m so glad I took the time to find her instead of rushing into doggy ownership.

Tell me, what are your tales of doggy ownership? What do you wish YOU knew?

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A SAMPLING OF RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS IN THE DC METRO AREA

CATCH A WAVE

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Hey. It’s been awhile, but there’s been a lot going on. I’m finally settled into my new job (woohoo!) and am starting the final semester of my graduate program. Between that and going through a massive reality check in life and love, getting this blog off the ground has taken a seat on the back burner. But here we are. We’re back.

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I recently returned from a beach trip with my family. Every year we rent a house in the Outer Banks. We’re a pretty low-key family when it comes to our vacation activities – we mostly just like to read on the beach, sip a bubbly beverage of our choice and come back to the house to eat dinner and watch a movie. It’s a lot of family time, which definitely has its pros and cons.

But what I like most about our beach weeks is that it’s one of the few times a year when I have an (almost) uninterrupted space to think about my life, my goals and my future. This year, I set a goal for myself to travel more over the next two years. From the two major Portlands, to San Francisco, to ATX ,to Italy, my list has me seeing more than just the country roads of Virginia that I travel when going to my Alma Mater.

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There’s also something about watching the ocean waves that really gets you to think. In my case, this year, I thought a lot about acceptance. What it means to truly accept. Whether it’s accepting others just as they are, accepting consequences for a bad choice, accepting credit for something well done. What it means to accept that, despite what’s happened, you are in control of your future, of how you choose to react to people or situations that have wronged you. What it means to accept that there’s a greater future.

Because after all, aren’t we all a part of something bigger? Isn’t there some larger happiness to be found in taking life as it comes, in loving people for who they are, and in letting go and moving on when the time is right?

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I don’t pretend to know how to achieve this. But I do know that I can choose to practice kindness, and to try my best to live in the present instead of dwelling on the past. And that no matter what comes, there’s always the beach with those beautiful ocean waves.