The first day of winter and the shortest day of the year is either today or tomorrow (every year I always get a bit confused!); in any case, the winter solstice is upon us. Christmas is upon us, New Year’s is almost here, too. I was going to come home from work today and bake some chocolate chip cookies, but as usual, I forgot to let the butter come to room temperature. Every single time! So I’m sitting in my kitchen (where I usually sit when I write), next to a little heater with two sticks of butter close at my side. Every once in awhile I press down on one gently, to see if my thumb can make a print. Not yet.
So while I wait for the butter and the baking, I’ve decided to write a post about my goals for 2016. Because it’s that time of the year, and I love setting goals and reflecting on what I want for the upcoming year.
And this year, I want a lot. I was thinking about this as I hiked the other day, and I ran through the list in my head: the places I want to travel to, the things I want to write, the adventures I want to go on, the new things I want to try. Post-Camino #2 has me in a different sort of place than Post-Camino #1 had me in. This time around, while I’m still a little anxious to figure out where the next phase of my life is going to take me (and to figure out how to get there), I don’t feel as restless as I did a year ago. Right now, it feels a lot easier to just be where I am right now, and not wish away my present hoping for something great for my future. I’m still working towards other things, but I’m also trying to pay attention to where I am now.
It’s a work in progress, and one that I hope to continue in 2016. So my mind is filled will all of the things I want to do with my life as it is, so that I can try to be living as fully as possible. Even if I’m not a published author. Even if I’m not trekking around the world. Even if I’m not tucked away in a cabin in Maine, writing and hiking and kayaking. Maybe I’ll have some of those things, some day… but right now, here are the things I want to do where I am right now (and maybe some of these things will get me to those other places? Only time will tell).
Travel: It’s always fun to have travel goals, and these are just a few places that I’d love to explore sometime soon (and just to note, there’s no way that I can do all of this in one year. But these are some ideas). My own stomping grounds are up first:
- New Orleans- This city has been at the top of my US list for awhile now, and I think it can be entirely do-able over a long weekend. Especially since I have a good friend who will be at a conference down there in March…
- Asheville, North Carolina- I hear the most amazing things about this city, and over the years, several people have said to me, “Nadine, you would love it there.” Artsy and outdoorsy, and there’s probably good coffee, too. Which sounds perfect. I have a couple of friends who live a few hours away, and I’m hoping I can combine a visit with one or both of them and a few days in this city.
- Acadia National Park, Maine- I love love love Maine, and it’s been two years since I’ve been up there. And while I’ve explored the southern, coastal parts of the state, this is a Maine-destination that’s still on my list. I dream about renting a cabin for a week and having my own mini-writer’s retreat.
And now going out of the country…
- Guatemala- To me, this sort of seems like a random choice, but I think sometimes travel destinations are a bit random. Several months ago I just happened to read two separate blog posts about Lake Atitlan, and my jaw dropped at the stunning photos. Then I started doing a bit of research and learned that there are several multi-day hikes/treks that lead to the lake and my mind starting swirling with ideas. With Central America being not too too far away, could I make this a spring break trip? Maybe.
- Camino #3- I’m not sure about this one, but I bet that no one is surprised that it’s on the list. I keep saying that if I go back for another Camino, I’d like it to be in France (and maybe, somehow, with at least a few days in Spain. Because it doesn’t feel right to do a Camino and not have café con leche and tortilla breaks). I’ll have another two months off this summer, and another Camino feels like a solid option.
- Tour de Mont Blanc– I’ve been reading about this a lot lately, and I’m excited. It’s a 10-12 day, 170 kilometer journey, and passes through France, Italy and Switzerland in a circuit around the 15,770-foot Mont Blanc Massif. There are huts to sleep in at night, and warm meals that I don’t have to cook myself. It sounds like an amazing challenge.
- Writer’s Retreat in France- If the work on my book continues at a steady pace through the winter and spring, I have a feeling that I’m going to be thick in the writing process come summer. I could interrupt all that work and go traveling, but part of me wonders if I’d like to combine the traveling/writing, and doing that at La Muse (where I stayed in summer 2013) could be perfect.
Writing: The writing goals sort of feel like the most important ones in 2016. I’ve gotten a good start on them in the past few months, and I’m hoping that I can continue just as strong into the new year.
- Write a rough draft of my book- Oh boy. Can I write an entire book in a year? It feels so daunting and impossible, and yet… in the past month, I’ve seen just what 1,000 words several times a week can do. If I’m consistent and just keep plugging away, I can have a very rough draft written, maybe even by the summer. And that is maybe the most exciting thing I can imagine right now.
- Build my blog!- Well, first, I suppose that I need to start blogging again. And then, once I get back to more consistent writing, I’m curious to see if I can do more with this. I’m not exactly sure what I’m envisioning… but maybe buying a domain and getting some hosting and working on the site design. Maybe making this a site that can be a resource (and a fun read?) to more people.
- Essays and travel articles- I’ve been working on these over the past few months, and I want to keep at it. I love writing personal-essays, and I’ve submitted a few and plan to submit a few more. It’s another way to flex those writing muscles, and it’s been a lot of fun and a great practice.
Adventures/Trying New Things/Social Stuff:
- Visit 30 coffee shops in Philadelphia: I thought up this goal when reading an article I saw on facebook the other day. It was a list of the top Philly coffee shops, and since I LOVE coffee and always talk about how I don’t get into the city enough, I thought this would be a great goal. Especially for the winter months when it’s hard to motivate myself to get outside and do anything. I have a friend who’s willing to tackle this with me, and I think it’s going to be a great way to explore different areas of my city. (Plus, since one of my goals is to blog more, I figure that I can write about some of these visits).
- Go camping (with friends, by myself): I’ve gone camping the same number of times that I’ve walked 500-miles across Spain (that would be twice). I’m still not sure how I feel about it. The Camino wasn’t exactly luxurious (not at all when staying in some of those albergues!), but with a roof over my head and a mattress to sleep on, there was some degree of comfort. I get a little freaked out when I’m in a tent- I hear one branch snap and I think a bear is about to attack. But at the same time, I love the idea of camping- being out there under the stars, your body flush with the ground, waking up to fresh air and birds chirping and a rising sun. So I think I want to get myself a small tent and try this thing out (who knows, if I love it, maybe next year I’ll be adding ‘Hike the Appalachian Trail’ to my list…)
- Run a 5k in under 30-minutes: I ran a 5k in October, and it was the first race I’ve run in my life. I did a lot of preparation for this, and I was beyond nervous. I’ve never liked running, it’s this big, daunting thing. But I did better than expected, and it was fun to push myself and to try something new. My time was just under 31 minutes and there was part of me that wondered what it would be like to train more, push a little harder, and run another race and get a better time. I think this is how most people get hooked on running! There are two races in the spring that I have my eye on, and at the very least I want to do both of them. Finishing in a better time will be a bonus.
- Do more with the local Camino group!: The Philadelphia Chapter of America Pilgrims on the Camino just formed a little over a year ago, but it’s growing quickly. I’ve gone to a couple meetings and recently led a hike, and it’s fun to start to see some familiar faces and to make some new friends. The fact that we’re all connected in some way to the Camino is just icing on the cake. There are a lot more things planned in the coming months, and I’d love to keep attending these events and making more connections.
Okay, that’s more than enough for now. The butter is soft and if I don’t make the cookies now, it’s never going to happen. So, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and happy goal-setting if that’s the sort of thing you like to do at this time of year. Share some of your own goals with me, I’d love to hear them!