Dreams, Inspiration, Life

Reflecting on my 36th Year!

Two weeks ago, tomorrow, I turned 36, and if I was concerned about 40 being around the corner last year, I really have a reason to be concerned this year. But, I’m not. I’m in a new head space, guys!

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Last year I made three (attainable, can be cross off a list) goals and the truth is, in 365 days, I never once looked at it again (I really need to change that)! This is what the short list looked like and crossed off are what I managed to accomplish:

  1. Move into my own place.
    • I’ve moved into my own apartment (from the house I owned and shared with my whole family)
  2. Make swimming a regular part of my life.
    • This is only half accomplished; I made it a part of my life, but regular hasn’t quite happened (esp since the move)
  3. Travel to at least 1 new continent, at least 2 new countries, at least 3 new cities and at least 1 new US National Park.
    • 3 out of 4 isn’t so bad, right?
      • countries: Finland, Jamaica
      • cities: Charleston, Savannah, Portland, Bangor, Huntsville, Hensinki, Nova Scotia, Ocho Rios
      • National Parks: Crater Lake National Park, Grand Canyon National Park (even though it wasn’t my first time visiting the park, it was my first time traveling THROUGH the bottom of the canyon for 8 days!)

I set some specific goals for myself this year and if you’d like to check it out, click here. So, I don’t want to make yet another list on this post. Instead, I want to take a moment to reflect on the last year. Some big things happened in my life this past year, some good, some bad but all substantial. I don’t know if I really stopped to reflect on any of it because the year has been a massive GO GO GO for me. So I figured, today, nearly 14 days after my birthday was as good a day as any to look back at the 36th year of my life.



I moved forward.

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There’s no other way to say it. I moved, physically, and as a result, it was important to move emotionally and mentally. For a good part of the year, I prepped for the act of moving. I knew it was coming but I wasn’t quite sure when or where. I spent a few months here and there looking for a new place. But when push came to shove, I finally searched aggressively. I can’t say I physically looked at very many places (2 to be exact), but I did research and call quite a few place.

When I reluctantly came to see my now current apartment, it was in the most unlikely of places. Far from just about everything I knew and wanted to be around, I almost didn’t come in for my appointment. But I am so grateful that I did, because upon driving onto the complex and just looking at the model apartment, I knew this was it. Despite being in a part of the state that made no sense apart from being close to work, it just felt “right”.


I bought a new car.

I’ve had my Nissan Cube, Ariel, for nearly 8 years and I put in a good 241,000 miles on her. And one day, she just wouldn’t accelerate and I knew the time to replace her was coming up, and while I was passively looking, I didn’t actively do anything about it. I really needed to get through the year without another huge expense. Once again, push came to shove and I had about 3 days to find myself a new vehicle (car died Christmas eve, I picked up my new car the day after Christmas). Much like my home hunting experience earlier in the year, I test drove exactly two cars and walked away with Jasmine, my Toyota Rav4. It was stressful, I know for a fact I did not get the best deal, but I did get the best customer service experience and given what I had to work with, this is the best I could have hoped for at the time. After 26 months of no car payments, it’s back to the grind.

But I now have a brand new car, which I really needed and I love my car, which is an added bonus.


I stayed in a glass igloo, high above the arctic circle.

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This may seem a bit out of place given no. 1 & 2 above, but trust me, this was an important occurrence of my year and deserves its spot on this list. Ever since I discovered Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, I have been dreaming of someday going there.  And when I say dream, I pretty much mean that. Staying in an igloo, this far up north in Finland, a very expensive Scandinavian country, are just not things that come together in the life that I lead. Don’t get me wrong, I am very fortunate to be able to travel as much as I do and have, but still, the arctic resort was something that would happen in the distant future, not in 2017. But it did. To cut a long story short, I wound up in Finland with my business partner for Spirited Navigators and it was the trip of a lifetime. If staying in a glass igloo wasn’t dreamy enough, I got to ride a horse through the snow covered forest, just like in the movies! I went on a sleigh ride that was pulled by REINDEERS, went dogsledding at night through the forests in search of northern lights, ice floated in a semi frozen lake, went to Santa’s village and MET Santa (I know I know), AND if all of that wasn’t enough, I had the most epic Finnish sauna experience — solo, which included a private wood burning sauna to myself and a frozen lake with a hole just big enough for me to jump in, sans clothing! Without a single person in sight, this was the absolutely magical closing to my wonderful week in Finland.


I rafted down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon for 8 days.

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Massive, massive milestone for me! I never thought I would survive a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon for 8 days! In fact, I trusted myself so very little that it took 9 years to make the trip happen! My only consolation was that my friend, Ana, would be coming along too. We signed up during the summer of 2017, giving us just a little over a year to prep and train for it. As the months progressed, and the emails kept pouring in as to how much we should have trained by that point in time, we were left feeling more and more nervous and incredibly unprepared to go on this adventure. The trip sneaked up on me so quickly, and I hadn’t trained and was by no means in the best (or any shape for that matter) of my life. So, I knew this was a semi disaster waiting to happen. Between the snakes, bugs, heat and general lack of hiking and swimming skills, I couldn’t figure out how I would come out the other side. I only had one thing going for me: determination. If there is one thing I can count on, it’s my sheer ability to get through anything. I would have to put that to some serious test on this trip and to cut yet another long story short (the details will be up in a massive 3-part post on our travel site, part 1 is already up and can be found here), I survived (we both did) and it was life-altering, but I didn’t realize the direct impact of it until now…several months later.

All I can confidently say is I tackled several of my biggest fears in one adventure and I did not fail.


I became brand conscious.

To be fair, I was always very brand conscious, not in a snobby kind of way, but I-naturally-have-expensive-taste kind of way, not sure that sounded any better. Either way, this year my choices in clothing stores as well as beauty products took a swerve in the higher quality direction. Now, don’t get me wrong, I will still walk into a H&M, Target, or Old Navy for a seasonal sweater, leggings or pair of pajama bottoms, respectively, because they make decent quality products given the price point. But, if I am shopping for dresses, shoes, handbags or important accessories, I am much more drawn to the Nordstroms, Bloomingdales, Ann Taylor and Everlanes of the world.

For beauty products, I’ve tried and tested them ALL, the drugstore and the high end and recently discovered that what works best for my skin is Sunday Riley and La Mer, neither are what I consider to be “affordable”, but now in my mid 30s, the best is what I seek for my body, even if it means giving up other little luxuries of life to make it happen.

Priorities.

I’ve found what works for my body and taste, and I am enjoying shopping accordingly… far less frequently as well might I add. Since the quality in my clothing pieces & beauty products have gone up, the number of times I hit the mall or (online) retail stores has significantly decreased.

So….Everyone wins!


I became a minimalist.

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Photo by Philipp Berndt on Unsplash

The move from a 4-bedroom house to a 1-bedroom apartment meant serious downsizing and in the process, it gave me the perfect chance to move to a more minimalist lifestyle. I have been so FREE and happy since making the decision to get rid of anything and everything I no longer needed, wanted and boxes/things I haven’t reached for in years! Doing this took a lot of effort, time and physical and mental strength, but once it was complete, I felt so LIGHT! Since the move, I have not gone into a furniture buying frenzy, nor have I done anything much to the apartment. I’m buying 1 piece every 2-3 months, and carefully choosing to decorate the apartment with items that can be used all the time and /or have multiple seasonal purpose; no more one-off items. I have invested in key pieces only, things of true quality and need. Gone are the days of show pieces around the house, pictures hanging from every empty space, magnets on refrigerators.

No.

I have a different approach to design now that I have a space to call my own; and I’m loving it!

This doesn’t stop at home decor, I’ve become a minimalist when it comes to shopping for clothes, grocery, knick knacks, and anything and everything in between. If the principles of minimalism can be applied to an aspect of my life, I do it!



I would say, 2017 was a year of lot of growing up and big changes. Both were necessary and although some changes were immensely difficult, they were essential to a better 2018. I feel much more in control of my life and am just beginning to feel like I can finally see a path to the future I’ve been longing to create for years now.

So, cheers to 36! Looking forward to the next 12 months of what is undoubtedly going to be an adventurous roller coaster ride.

Thanks for reading!

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