As 2017 winds down, like many others, I find myself thinking about everything that’s happened during this whirlwind of a year.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re unhappy, time seems to creep by; but when you’re in the right place, doing the work you’re meant to be doing, it can feel like time is slipping through your fingers faster than you can grab hold of it? This year, time flew by at a pace so fast that I need to take a moment to reflect on everything that’s happened.
So here’s my year in review–leave me a comment and let me know what your biggest accomplishments and favorite memories have been this year! Keep reading for insightful New Year quotes and inspiration for 2018.
2017: My Year in Review
In 2017, I traveled more than I ever have before–and I loved every minute of it.
In January, we drove north to Quebec City. This was my second visit to the Ville de Québec–the first was in February 2011, when my husband and I kicked off a lifetime of traveling together. Everyone we met told us that we’d chosen the wrong time to visit–the Carnaval de Québec, the city’s annual winter celebration, had just ended the previous week, and they were all so sad that we’d missed it! Six years later, we came back for Carnaval with my sister in tow. Though the temperatures were frigid and the snow fell all weekend long, we stayed warm with mulled wine as we explored every inch of Vieux-Québec, illuminated by Christmas lights for Carnaval. (I hope to share my pictures with you this winter!)
In April, we packed our bags and flew to California. A few months earlier, we’d made a wine-fueled pact to take a trip with one of my best friends and her boyfriend. They live in San Francisco; and since I hadn’t been to California since I was four, we decided to visit the city for the week, then spend a weekend in Napa Valley together. I fell in love with a number of things about California, from the Mission architecture to the breathtaking ocean views; but most of all, I loved getting to see my friend’s favorite city through her eyes. I can’t wait to go back!
To explore Northern California with me, check out these 6 posts:
- Exploring San Francisco: Haight-Ashbury & Mission District
- Exploring San Francisco: The Presidio, Sunset District & Sea Cliff
- Exploring San Francisco: Russian Hill, North Beach, Chinatown & Fisherman’s Wharf
- Day Trips Near San Francisco: Muir Woods & Vista Point
- Exploring Napa Valley: How to Maximize Your Trip – Part 1
- Exploring Napa Valley: How to Maximize Your Trip – Part 2
New York City
In August, I spent a week exploring New York City on foot. I wandered through nearly every neighborhood, walking a total of 72.3 miles (141,624 steps!) in a single week. I took the time to traverse every area that intrigued me: Greenwich Village, Chelsea, the West Village, SoHo, Tribeca, Little Italy, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg, and more neighborhoods that I’m certainly forgetting. I loved exploring the city until I understood its geography like the back of my hand.
This was the first time that I’d spent so much time in a new place on my own, and there were parts that I enjoyed–like getting to take as many pictures and wander down as many scenic streets as I wanted–but it was definitely challenging, too. I was lucky to be able to get dinner with my sister every night to break up the solitude. I loved certain parts of the city (especially the West Village–I was in love!)–but the crowded, hectic atmosphere definitely left me happy to go home to Boston at the end of the trip. I can’t wait to share my pictures with you in 2018!
At the end of a long week in NYC, I spent a weekend in the Poconos with my family. Skytop Lodge was the perfect place to (literally) put my feet up after walking 75 miles in the hot sun, read a good book, have some champagne, and catch up with everyone.
Visiting Paris in October with my husband, his cousin, and my sister was one of the highlights of my year. I had been dying to get back to my favorite city ever since we visited for our honeymoon in 2014. We spent a week returning to our favorite restaurants and sights from our previous trip, plus adding new favorites to the list. I hope to share my pictures with you soon!
Other Big Events
Boston Women’s March
In January, I attended the Boston Women’s March, in spite of the anxiety I felt about the massive crowd. Even though the event ended up being even bigger than I ever could have imagined, I wrote: “I would compare standing in a crowd of 175,000 women to standing in the ocean: Powerful, passionate, and omnipresent; yet deeply supportive, positive, and calm. It was breathtaking.” (You can read my blog post about attending the Boston Women’s March here.)
Like so many others, I’m still struggling to balance my desire to make a difference in today’s troubling political climate with the need to protect my own mental health. I initially filled my newsfeed with political updates and seriously considered running for office; then I removed all political news from my feed in an effort to safeguard my sanity. Now, I’m trying to find a happy medium, where I’m effecting change in any way that I can, while also looking after my own needs. It’s a daily challenge, as I’m sure it has been for all of you, too.
Another way that I faced my fears head-on in 2017 was by getting into a plane–not a commercial jet, but a tiny propeller plane flown by none other than my own husband. He’d started taking flying lessons over the summer, and I had always told him that I was too scared to ever accompany him. In November, however, I bit the bullet and went up with him–and to be completely honest, I was so enthralled with the view that I forgot to be scared!
2017 Resolutions: How Did I Do?
- Taking walks every day during my lunch break at work was one of my main 2017 New Year’s resolutions. In December 2016, I was taking an average of 2493 steps per day. As of November, that number has shot up to an average of 10,165 steps per day. Taking a long walk helps me to be more alert and productive at work–but it also helps me to clear my head and reset my mood. I take photos for my Instagram account, listen to podcasts, and explore different Boston neighborhoods every day–as long as it’s not raining! This is a habit that I’ll definitely keep up in the future.
- Getting 8 hours of sleep every night has continued to be a priority for me. It makes all the difference–I’m really not myself unless I’ve gotten enough sleep. I’ve also been cutting back on screen time and reading instead–something I haven’t had time to do in far too long. Some of my favorite books that I’ve read (or re-read) this year: The Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert), Turtles All the Way Down (John Green), Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden), and Braving the Wilderness (Brené Brown).
- Cutting down my blogging schedule was a decision that I grappled with all year long. In the beginning of 2017, I was spending all of my free time scrambling to pull a weekly blog post together and promote the previous week’s post. As the year went on, I decided to decrease the frequency of my posting schedule to once a month rather than once a week. Frankly, I missed having free time–and I had lost sight of what I was trying to achieve. Was I trying to turn my blog into a business that would fail if I wasn’t posting every week? Nope. So I’m going back to writing on a schedule that feels more natural and allows me to have a life outside of my blog, too.
- I took 4 weeks of vacation time in 2017–compared with just 3 days in 2016. This year, at a new company with unlimited time off, I vowed to travel and relax more, which definitively made me a better person in every sphere of my life. At the moment, I’m capping off the year with a full week off between Christmas and New Year’s to spend with my family–the first time I’ve ever taken time off for the holidays–and I couldn’t be happier about my decision. Taking time off has given me much-needed rest and perspective in order to be the best version of myself, both at work and outside of it.
- My job was one of the highlights of my year–a huge shift from 2016, when my job hijacked my mental health and free time. I started a new job at the end of 2016, and it was everything that I wanted and needed it to be. If 2016 was about losing my identity in my job and fighting to get it back, 2017 was about building myself back up again. I took on a number of projects that pushed me to grow more than ever before in my career. I’ve been surrounded by leaders whose belief in my talent and commitment to honest, vulnerable leadership have inspired me every day. I’m exactly where I need to be, learning everything I need to be learning for the next stage of my career, and it feels wonderful. (You can read my post on finding a company that values work-life balance here!)
Goals for 2018
There are some big changes to come for me in 2018. For one, by this time next year, I could be a parent! Knowing that my life is about to undergo a drastic transformation is motivating me to get my life in order–for example, focusing on paying off debt, and making sure that I’m in a job that I love at a company that supports families.
Besides that, I’m also hoping to spend more time on writing–which might be surprising, considering that I’m a professional writer and part-time blogger. When I was setting my resolutions for 2017, I wrote about my tendency to procrastinate by spending too much time preparing to write. Many writers have trouble getting into the right state of mind to produce their best work–it’s harder than you might think to gather your inspiration and escape distraction in your day-to-day life.
But what becoming a full-time writer has taught me is that sometimes, you just need to get sh!t done–and this makes inspiration, preparation, and perfection somewhat irrelevant. At work, when I’m up against a tough deadline and need to push out quality work fast, I’ll put on noise-cancelling headphones and quarantine myself in a closet-sized conference room until the project’s done. It’s not about waiting for the muse to strike–it’s about perseverance, determination, and hard work.
The reason that this is on my mind is because I’ve been feeling the urge to try my hand at a different kind of writing lately: Writing my first novel. I’ve always known that my obsession with the concept of soulmates would inspire my writing for the rest of my life, but I was unsure of the form that it would take. An idea finally came to me this week that I’m incredibly excited to flesh out in the new year. (You can read my posts on soulmates here: Do Soulmates Exist? and 4 Dangerous Misconceptions About Soulmates–and How to Think About Love Instead)
I’ve been convinced that I was unqualified to write a book for so long–how would I know how to weave a cohesive, compelling story across so many pages? But a conversation with a writer friend of mine helped me to realize that the crafting of the book is secondary to the writing of its individual components. When I’m feeling inspired to write a certain piece of the story, that’s the perfect time to write it. It doesn’t need to be written in order for it to ultimately come together–and like everything else in life, a thousand-mile journey is nothing more than a series of individual steps. I’ve essentially been writing this book piece by piece for years–so there’s no one more qualified to tell this story than me, right now.
To help me to unlock my creativity this year, I’m going to try to leave more room for boredom and silence in my life. This is an idea that I got from Note to Self, one of my favorite podcasts. I developed a habit of filling empty spaces with podcasts and TV shows to stop me from getting into cycles of anxiety and rumination. But what I didn’t realize is that by stopping my mind from wandering, I might be preventing my brain from undertaking its most creative problem-solving. What really brought this idea home for me was the fact that I came up with my idea for this novel during a single hour that I wasn’t listening to anything else, for the first time in months–and if one quiet car ride was all that it took to come up with the plot for an entire novel, what else have I been missing? (You can learn more about the Bored & Brilliant challenge on the Note to Self podcast here!)
11 New Year Quotes for an Inspired 2018
New Year Quotes – #1: Hillary DePiano
“Life goes by so very fast, and taking the time to reflect, even once a year, slows things down. We zoom past so many seconds, minutes, hours, killing them with the frantic way we live that it’s important we take at least this one collective sigh and stop, take stock, and acknowledge our place in time before diving back into the melee. Midnight on New Year’s Eve is a unique kind of magic where, just for a moment, the past and the future exist at once in the present. Whether we’re aware of it or not, as we countdown together to it, we’re sharing the burden of our history and committing to the promise of tomorrow.”
New Year Quotes – #2: Neil Gaiman
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”'Make glorious, amazing mistakes, next year and forever.' More inspiring New Year quotes on #featherandflint! Click To Tweet
New Year Quotes – #3: G.K. Chesterton
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”
New Year Quotes – #4: Ellen Goodman
“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.”
New Year Quotes – #5: Peggy Toney Horton
“Each New Year, we have before us a brand new book containing 365 blank pages. Let us fill them with all the forgotten things from last year—the words we forgot to say, the love we forgot to show.”
New Year Quotes – #6: Rainer Maria Rilke
“Let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious, and great things.”
New Year Quotes – #7: Dominic Riccitello
“I went into the new year loving myself a little less, but a little more where it actually mattered. It was then that I understood things I hadn’t. It was then that I understood people I hadn’t. We work in ways where sometimes we don’t align because our intersections lead us elsewhere. We like things and people who are bad for us and that’s fine. It’s fine because it’s life. It happens. They exist. We exist. We all exist together in this world where nothing seems to make sense. Where everything is nothing but what we imagine it to be. Life is what you make it. How you exist is how you exist. We take every new year and give it a theme because we’re scared of how it could be. You change in the moment, not by years. Becoming is something which frightens people. Take this new year and question it, because questioning is how you gain from it.”'Everything is nothing but what we imagine it to be.' More inspiring New Year quotes on #featherandflint! Click To Tweet
New Year Quotes – #8: Craig D. Lounsbrough
“It’s not about the elimination of fear. Rather it’s about the elimination of the feeling that the elimination of fear is necessary before we take the next step. An exceptional future can only be built on the transformation of the mess I’ve made, not the elimination of it. What I would be quite wise to remember is that ‘pieces’ are not the end of what was, but the beginning of what is to be.”
New Year Quotes – #9: T.S. Eliot
“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice. To make an end is to make a beginning.”
New Year Quotes – #10: R. Joseph Hoffmann
“It is easier for the year to change than to change ourselves. But we believe that somehow, magically, one will lead to the other.”
New Year Quotes – #11: Elizabeth Gilbert
“It feels to me like we are collectively pulling the year toward us. Like we are hauling it across the night sky like it’s a massive fishing net, brimming with all our unknown destinies. And what a heavy net it is, indeed, carrying as it does all the births, deaths, tragedies, wars, love stories, inventions, transformations and calamities that are destined for all of us this coming year.”
What have your biggest accomplishments been in 2017, and what are your goals for 2018? I’d love to hear all about them!
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P.S. Here’s my New Year’s Eve dinner party playlist. I hope it forms the perfect soundtrack for all of your wintry festivities!