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Monday, December 31, 2018

A Year in Review - 2018

I don't believe in resolutions, in setting unrealistic goals for a new year, a "new you".   What I do believe in is reflection, in taking a minute to look back before you look ahead.  There is something magical about really sitting down to reflect on the year you've had.   This post, that goes live at the end of every December is my chance to look at all the beautiful places I've been, reflect on all the awesome people I've met, celebrate the things I accomplished and take some time to acknowledge the things I have to work on.   Year in review 2017201620152014.

My tribe at the summit of Mount Hunger

If I had to pick one word to describe this year, it's "challenge".  This year challenged me in ways I would have never imagined.  It challenged me to grow, to move, to get out of my comfort zones, to make big decisions, to challenge the way I thought and the way I acted.  Plain and simple, this year was a challenge.  Some challenges I embraced head-on, with courage and stamina.  And other challenges were spent crying into my whiskey on my couch.  I was challenged emotionally with relationships, financially with buying this house and taking over all my horses bills, and physically with diet and exercise (and a little too much beer). 

Olive and I at Mt. Moriah in the Whites on our first backpacking trip

I learned to embrace some loneliness and waking up on the holidays alone.   I learned to budget as financial burdens increased.  I learned to take my health even more seriously, and held myself accountable for my actions.  This probably isn't the happy uplifting way to start my review you were imagining but man, transparency is my new love language.  I know right now I am in the middle of it (well, end of the year) and that I am going to look back in ten years and laugh.  Laugh at how life has changed and how many new challenges I have had to overcome, maybe even challenges that will make this year look like a cake walk.  

But this is just another reason why I love writing this post.  When I feel like I am in a slump, it is so therapeutic to look back at my year.  In full disclosure by the time I finished writing this post and looking at all the amazing people and places that made up my 2018, I instantly felt better.  Grateful.  Happy.  Thankful.  Perspective is key and it's hard to see the picture when you are in the frame.  So, let's go back through 2018 outside the frame and reminisce on the good, the bad, and the breweries.  

Wine at the rooftop deck of San Sebastian

- January -
The year started with lots of traveling.  The year started up with our Dive Club's Annual Frozen Fin Dive in New London.  The first flight and actual "trip" of the year was off to St. Augustine, Florida.  Don't be fooled by the word "Florida", it was a chilly trip (50s...) but it was packed with fun stops including wineriesdistilleriesfortsalligator farms, and swimming with manatees (bucket list, check!).  Later in the month, the club had our annual holiday banquet at the Mystic Aquarium.  Between the traveling and events, there were a lot of brewery trips (New Park, Alvarium, Foolproof, Buttonwoods, Bucket Brewery, and The Guild).  There were some beachy winter walks at Napatree Point and some winter strolls through Stonington Streets.

Swimming with Manatees in Crystal River

Fun at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine 

- February -
February was a fun month, and an important one at that.  The month started with some local hiking and a Stonington Borough Bourbon Tasting where we sipped bourbon and played in the Borough.  This was also my birthday month and there was a 30th birthday brewery tour with friends before I headed north (City Steam, Counter Weight, Front Porch, No Worries, and Beerd). I turned 30 on February 18 and I had a big trip to Banff, Canada planned.  I wanted to spend 30 somewhere unique and boy, did I!  On February 18th I hiked along dreamy snowy trails to frozen waterfalls and charged into 30 on the back of a dogsled on a perfect cold winter day in Banff National Park (another bucket list, check!).  I also did a lot of skiinghikingeatingsnowshoeing, and exploring.  I watched the olympics from cute and quiet bars tucked into corners of Banff's Elk Avenue.  Banff was magical and it set the tone for charging into this new decade of my life, full force (and some mornings, -20). 

Birthday month in Banff National Park, Canada

Turning 30 in the mountains 

Skiing at Sunshine Village

30th Birthday Dogsledding

Snowshoeing along the Icefields Parkway

Local hiking in Rhode Island

- March -
I was excited to go somewhere warm after a week in Canada for my birthday in February.   March delivered with a trip to the desert, Scottsdale Arizona to be exact.  I stayed at a gorgeous golf-focused resort and went ATVing in the Sonoran Desert.  I went to a western bangwagon dinner and  watched a desert sunrise from a hot air balloon (yet another bucket list, check!).  As far as local fun, you guessed it, another brewery!  Outer Light, mountain biking at Bluff Point, Portuguese Club Fish and Chip Fridays, a trip to New Jersey for a dive conference, a winter hike up Talcott Mountain, and a trip to New York City to see Lunasa and Natalie Merchant.  

Hot Air Balooning in Arizona

ATVing in the Sonoran Desert 

 - April - 
April is that time in New England where you start to see some warmer days.  Unfortunately, most of them are wet.  I found some sun in April and went to my first horse show of the season.  There were plenty of borough walks before I prepared to move out of my beloved town, a lot of time at the barn, and the hellish torture that is trying to buy a house on your own.

Olive in the Borough


Olive and I 

Bradley at a horseshow

- May -
May was the beginning of the end of disposable income to go traveling.  I bit the bullet and bought my first home in a coastal Connecticut town.  This meant May was everything home ownership, knocking down walls, painting, and tiling, oh my!

Olive and I the day I bought my house 

 - June - 
June started off strong with a trip camping at my favorite spot on Squam Lake in New Hampshire.  I was feeling strung out and exhausted after spending so much time working on the house and this was the perfect retreat and reset to start June.  I also made it to Elmont New York to watch Justify win the Belmont and in turn, the Triple Crown.  I embraced summer in New England and did some clamming here in Guilford, and trail riding down in Old Lyme.  I joined my dive club for some scuba diving at my favorite spot in Stonington, Connecticut.  I spent afternoons at my secret little beach here in Guilford with Olive and enjoyed the start of the warm weather.

Camping on Squam Lake, New Hampshire 

Clamming in Guilford 

Watching the Belmont 

 - July - 
July is that time in New England where the days are hot and humid and you happily retreat to the water or the mountains, or if you are lucky, both.  July was spent floating in the pool with girlfriends, summer picnics, scuba diving and wandering around the northeast.  For the Fourth of July, I convinced my parents that we should head to the Adirondacks, and we spent four days relaxing in the mountains and lounging by the lakes.  I hiked Indian Head, we checked out Ausable Chasm and the local brewery, and spent a day biking (and boozing) around Burlington, Vermont.  I also did some wandering around Connecticut and saw the cows and tasted the cheese at Cato Cheese and took a trip to Noank to enjoy some seafood at one of my favorite spots, Fords Lobster.

Girls day in the pool

Picnics with Ashley 

Hiking Indian Head in the Adirondacks

Hiking Indian Head in the Adirondacks

Brewery tasting at Ausable Brewing Co. 

Rafting through Ausable Chasm

 - August - 
August started with a girls weekend in Stowe where we hiked Mount Hungerswam in waterfalls and spent some time in the barstools at one of the local breweries, Idletyme.   There were lots of boozy beach trips with Olive after work to watch the sunset and enjoy the beach and longer days.  I spent many weekend mornings on the Guilford Green at my favorite coffee shop and even made it to a few of the Sunday concerts on the Green.  I met the girls in Jamestown, Rhode Island to dive one of our favorite spots and a new (to me) spot at Fort Wetherill.  The month ended with a trip to the Catskills with Rob and Rogie to hike Overlook Mountain and yes, a few breweries were frequented on the way home.

Beers at Idyltime in Stowe, VT

Bingham Falls, Stowe, VT

Concerts on the Green with Olive 

Popup Dinner with my sisters 

Scuba Diving at Fort Wetherill Jamestown, RI with Corey and Maile

Hiking Overlook Mountain in the Catskills with Rob and Rogi 

- September -
September was a good month.  I am still dreaming of these September adventures and those warm days and cool nights.  The first few days of the month were horse show, good friends wedding, and a seal dive in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  I rode my horse, danced and drank with friends, and swam with the most adorable seals in the Atlantic.  September, I was smitten.  I organized our dive club's annual International Coastal Cleanup, celebrating one of my oldest and dearest friends with a "baby dinner" in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, and went on my first ever overnight backpacking trip in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Ryan, Olive and I hiked over 22 miles in two days, up and down several 4,000' summits in this gorgeous part of New England.  The month ended with a trip to Utah to experience Carbon County.   September, you were good to me.  

International Coastal Cleanup with SECONN Skin Divers 

Scuba Diving with Seals, Gloucester, MA 

A good friends wedding with a good friend 

Baby Ceces beach dinner 

Backpacking trip in the Whites, New Hampshire 

Backpacking trip in the Whites, New Hampshire 

 - October - 
October started with my Utah trip.  I flew out to Salt Lake City to experience Carbon County.  I started the trip outside, hiked Mt. Aire and went to some of my favorite spots in the City (Spitz and Red Iguana) before driving south to pick up Amanda and make our way to Price, Utah.  In Price and Helper, we went on a 60-mile ATV ridehiked out to a waterfall, did some mountain biking, and explored a quaint historic little art town.  Back home in New England, fall was in full force.  I attended an Oktoberfest party with friends, met my friends baby girl for the first time, and headed north for some mountain biking at Kingdom Trails.  I also made my way over to Stowe to bike the rec pathhike Stowe Pinnacle, I drank some cider, and stopped at some of my favorite places.  At the end of the month, Chris from Bold Nomad stayed with me for a weekend and we spent a day drinking and galavanting around the beautiful state of Rhode Island.  I ended the month with some clamming at the local beaches and dressing up as Mary Poppins, singing sea chanteys at the Griswold Inn.  October was all fall and fun.  

Bruin Point, Utah 

ATV Ride Carbon County 

Mountain biking Goodwater Rim Trail 

Hiking Gordon Creek Falls, Utah 

Hiking Stowe Pinnacle, Vermont 

Dinner with best friends 

Oktoberfest party 

East Beach Beach Walk

Rhode Island beer tour with Chris from The Bold Nomad

Clamming at Shell Beach in Guilford 

Mary Popping at the Griswold Inn 

Mountain Biking Kingdom Trails, Vermont 

Scotts Farmstand in East lyme, Connecticut 

- November -
November started with a trip up to the Quiet Corner of Connecticut.  We walked through private school campuses, hiked up Kent Falls, drank delicious beer at Kent Falls brewing, strolled through Macedonia State Park, wandered through bookstores in Kent, and had a lovely dinner in Litchfield at The Village.  There was also an overnight trip to New York, with time spent snuggling and watching Frazier, walking Central Park in the rain, and eating around the city.  There was also a lot of trail riding, a lottttt of apple pie, and two Friendsgivings with some of my favorite people.  The year ended with a casual Thanksgiving with family, loaded with lots of good food and a winning game of Pictionary.  

Kent Falls Brewing 

Kent Falls 

Grand Central Station, New York City 

Ragged Mountain, Berlin 

Afternoons with Bradley 

Trail riding with Bradley and Jay 

 - December - 
December I went right into that holiday spirit.  Olive and I cut down our own tree in Guilford and turned Joyce Street into a holiday wonderland.  I celebrated a friends 30th birthday, spent a lot of time at the barn, and went on a few local hikes.  I went to New York City to experience the holidays in the city and even got Day 1 of skiing and drinking in the books with Rob at Okemo.  I checked out two new-to-me breweries, Tribus and Bad Sons, and did some local hiking to a quiet waterfall up in Paugussett State Forest.   I ended the month with a trip up north to a house up in the Adirondacks.  There was a lot of sitting by the fire, driving through quaint towns, waterfall viewing, and snowy walks in the woods. 

Skating Rink New York City 

Skiing Okemo, Vermont 

Waterfall Hike, Connecticut 
Olive in the Adirondacks 

Day drinking through small New York bars 

2018 you were a challenge.  A beautiful, messy, New England wandering, brewery hopping, home ownership, relationship challenge.   I learned a lot about myself, a lot about what I need and what makes me tick.  I learned happiness is something you chose and somedays are harder than other.  I learned a new sense of independence and to truly appreciate the amazing relationships with family and friends around me.  Life is good and I am forever thankful for another great year with my health and the people I love.  I'm spending New Year's Eve at a house tucked in the woods next to a river at the foothills of the Adirondack mountains with a roaring fire, snow on the ground, several dogs, and someone who makes me smile.  I feel happy, happy in a way I haven't felt in a while.  2018 was a challenge but I have a feeling 2019 is going to be a wild adventure.  

Thanks for reading and for letting me have this corner of the internet where I can share my thoughts, my struggles, and celebrate the triumphs.  I hope you all find time to reflect on your year and if you find some struggles in there, know you aren't alone.  Embrace the challenges and look forward to the fresh start of the New Year. 

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