And I resolve.

My New Year's resolutions for 2016.

Hello 2016. Hello.

And Happy New Year to you all.


Time for first big change for the new year was dying my hair red.

Time for change…my first big change for the new year was dying my hair red.


I wish I could say I was one of those people who doesn’t see New Years as a turning point, as a chance to start everything new, but I’m not. I wish I could say I was one of those people who shuns New Year’s resolutions, who thinks they’re pointless, but I’m not.

I’ve always loved the symbolism of January 1. A day when everything can change. A day with a clean slate. A day when you can get a fresh start. And I need a fresh start.

Coming home after three years of travel was harder than I thought it would be. This past year was harder than I thought it would be. I spent most of my time either at work or in bed, unable to bring myself out of this funk. I hardly blogged, I hardly wrote, something that used to give me more pleasure than anything else in the world now seemed like a chore.

I need a fresh start.

I laugh looking back at my resolutions from this time last year. I made an ambitious list, determined to not succumb to the shock of being home permanently:

Find an apartment.
Lose weight.
Stop biting my nails.
Learn to budget.
Get a tattoo.
Waste less.
Read more.
Write more.
Work on my blog.
Work on my other blogs.

Of those, I found an apartment.

I didn’t lose weight. In fact, I gained weight. I went through spurts with pretty, long, nails. But then I’d hit a bought of extreme stress and there they’d go. I put way too much on my credit card. My arm is still bare (having no extra money to spare…). I certainly still throw out too much from my fridge when I find it’s developed mold. I read a few Baby Sitters Club books, and only a handful of others. While I did redesign my blog I’m still working on all the finishing touches and I have hardly written in it. And I didn’t go on one date.

I think this is why people don’t like New Years resolutions: you start out the year with such high hopes only to end it in failure.

But I wouldn’t exactly call my year a failure. I did find an apartment that I love. I did start decorating it how I’ve always dreamed. I do have a beautiful new blog waiting for ripe content. And I can look at this list and know exactly why none of it was accomplished. And I can look ahead and think, “what can I do differently this year?” And I can look ahead and tell myself, “Val, it’s time to break out of this rut.”

So, here we are 2016. With a brand new list, with many of the same goals. And that newfound determination only the changing of the year can bring on:

Lose weight.

I joined a gym last year. It’s way too expensive but just down the block from me. I could have joined a cheaper gym but reasoned with myself that I would never go if I had to go out of the way for it. But I still hardly go despite the fact that I have to pass my gym at least twice a day. Some of that was beyond my control. Just as I started going I threw my back out. And then just as I started going again I was hit with bronchitis that lasted for over a month. But it’s time to start going back. So, yes, I will be one of those people who crowds the gym come January.

This has been the one goal that’s effected me the most, that’s effected other goals the most. I’m pretty fat right now. Maybe it doesn’t look it so much because I take all my selfies from above to stretch my face and hide my neck. And because all of my weight goes to my stomach. I look pregnant enough that people offer me their seats on trains on a weekly basis. And then I go home and cry over chocolate. Because that’s a healthy way to deal.

I have closets full of pretty dresses, pretty tops, but I only fit into about 4 dresses I own right now. Going out depresses me because I want to wear something else but can’t. And because even in the clothes I fit in, the ones bought because they kind of make it look like the dress makes me look pregnant, not my stomach, I don’t feel cute. So I never want to go out.

And let’s not get started on dating. Because I think about meeting men but then don’t want them to see me like this. And I certainly don’t want anyone to see my naked like this. And so I avoid going out and I avoid meeting men. And I want to be one of those people who is comfortable with their weight. But I’m not. Especially knowing I can be thinner. I was barely over 100 pounds when I graduated from college. And after a year in Asia I had shed all my extra weight. Only to gain it back and then some when I came hone.

I’m not comfortable in my body and so incredibly self conscious right now. So, I suppose, it’s to to start doing something to turn that that around. It’s time to seriously hit the gym. It’s time to seriously stop turning to food to heal my emotions. And it’s seriously time to stop getting 10,000 calorie drinks from Starbucks…


Stop biting my nails.

OK OK. So this has probably been on my list of New Years resolutions since I was born. If I really put my mind to it, I can stop. That involves being both very conscious of doing it and keeping my nails perfectly manicured at all times. The last time I was able to grow my nails I had to set aside the time to groom them at least twice a week. Because even the slightest chip could lead to disaster. I had managed at the beginning of last year to not bite them for a couple of months. But then moving, the stress along with the physicalness, ravaged them and I haven’t caught my stride in it again. Maybe this year will finally be the year I stop for good?


Pay off my credit card.

There are many things I would love to do this year. Travel more. Finish decorating my apartment. Go out more. Eat at all those restaurants I’ve always wanted to eat at. But first, I need to pay off my debt. I put a little too much on my credit card last year and now I am, quite literally, paying for it. So as much as I’d love to say I plan to have a crazy fun year, right now my plans are to be boring as hell for the next few months. I even skipped making plans for New Years because I couldn’t afford to do anything (I actually ended up going to my friend’s restaurant, Taco in a Bag to watch zombie movies and drink wine). I’m consciously trying to not buy anything unless I need it, not impulse shop, cook cheaply, pack my lunch, and make my own coffee. Because I can’t do much else until I am back on track financially.


Write more.

I feel, sometimes, like I’ve become disillusioned by blogging. I get sick of seeing badly written blogs only posted for the money. I get sick of seeing top ten things to do articles from people I know have never done any of the ten themselves. I get sick of click bait. I hate that I get 15 new followers a day on Twitter yet my follow numbers never go up, a result of people following and unfollowing only to grow their own follow counts. I hate that people who just started blogging get 20 times the traffic of my ten-year old blog.

But I mostly get sick over the fact that those are the blogs that make money, that get readers.

I feel like part of the reason I’ve hardly written lately is that I spend hours, weeks, pouring my soul into posts, and no one reads it. And then I start thinking, “what’s the point?” But that used to never bother me. That used to not matter. Blogging was for me. Blogging was my therapy. But when I started blogging it wasn’t a thing that people did for money. It wasn’t a thing that made money. It was just fun. But now there’s all this pressure to write to be found on Google or write to get clicks or write to get shared. And I just want to write whatever is in my head. But it’s also hard to put yourself so out there only for no one to read it.

I want to get back into writing regularly. And not caring that I may not be writing something that will be on the first page of Google. That I may not be writing the next viral sensation. That maybe no one will read it. But that I’m writing something honest and true and therapeutic to get of my head or something that I really just want to share (for instance, I really can’t wait to begin more posts about decorating my apartment…). I need to write for me again.

I also have another blog, another side project that I’ve been working on for a while. Honestly, that blog gets about 15 hits a day, but it’s incredibly fun to write. I want to find the time to write more consistently for that and for it to evolve into what I dreamed it to be in my head. Vague much? Yeah, I know. But I’m not quite ready to reveal myself…



I really do need to put myself out there more this year. It was easier when I was traveling because there was no pressure. I’d meet men knowing there was a good reason I might never see them again. But at home, especially since I’m so busy with everything else in my life, I feel like I don’t want to waste my time unless it could be something. But then I feel so fat and depressed that I don’t want to meet men who it could be something with. So I meet no one. And I go on no dates. I have to remind myself that it’s just coffee or drinks or whatever and if I agree to meet a man I’m not agreeing to marrying him.

I didn’t go on a single date last year and I hardly even talked to anyone. Part of it was my weight. Another part of it was this constant feeling that I have too much to do. The thought of taking time out to spend time with someone I don’t know when I don’t even have time for my friends felt ridiculous.

And I know, that’s ridiculous. Because I would like to meet someone. Because I’d like a boyfriend. And yes, some day, I would like a husband. And no, I suppose that will never happen if I never leave my apartment…

Side note: And seriously, why are like half the men on Tinder in open/poly relationships? Nothing against it if that’s what you’re into. But I’ll thoroughly admit that I am a) the jealous type and b) the selfish type and could never imagine being in a relationship where I had to share. #EndRant


Work on my skill set.

I would like to travel full-time again. Or, at least, I’d like the option to travel as much as I’d like. I’ve wanted to get more into web development for a while now. I’d like to be able to take on larger-scale design projects, and do them on my own schedule. But, while I’m confident in designing for myself, doing it for others is another story. When it’s just for me I have fun manipulating code for hours until things look and function exactly right. Doing it for others? It takes way too long and is just plain frustrating.

I’ve been taking an online WordPress development class over the last couple of months. Part of it taught me that I already know way more than I thought. And the other part has been teaching me all the things I don’t. I want to continue taking development classes and getting more comfortable with responsive design and back-end functionality, either online or at one of those code bootcamp places (there are a few in Chicago), so I can continue to develop my skills. I want to start taking on more freelance work and developing a portfolio. My main goal in life right now is to become location independent so I could work from my apartment in Chicago, the Starbucks, another state, another country. Wherever I feel like being.


Find balance.

Balance. Oh, balance. It’s a word I use a lot around here. It’s something I’ve said over and over and over again that I hope to some day achieve. I keep a full plate and I just keep piling on more and more. I have a full time job. I have an apartment with all the cleaning and dishes and organizing that comes with it. I have that gym I neglect. I have friends. I want to take more web development classes. I want to take guitar lessons. I want to take on freelance work. I want to date. I want to travel. I want to blog.

I want to sleep.

I want to breathe.

I am the first to admit that I take on a lot. And I am the first to admit that in taking on so much I sometimes forget to put fun first. I neglect going out with friends because I have photos to edit and an apartment to clean and a blog to write. But then I neglect everything I want to be working on because I’m too stressed from work.

Balance, Val. Balance.

I need to find a way to work, to work towards my goals, to work on my passions, to work on my figure, and to have a life all at the same time. I’m sometimes not even sure if that’s possible and sometimes am sure it is. So we’ll how this goes…

Welcome to 2016.


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Do you make New Year's resolutions? What do you hope to accomplish in 2016?

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Katie
    January 1, 2016at1:12 pm

    This is pretty much my list too – I could’ve written half myself, especially the parts about weight, blogging and dating.

  • RunawayBrit
    January 1, 2016at11:43 pm

    ‘Write more’ is my resolution too. I stopped writing last year for the same reasons as you: “I feel like part of the reason I’ve hardly written lately is that I spend hours, weeks, pouring my soul into posts, and no one reads it. And then I start thinking, “what’s the point?”. I also resent the badly written blogs that get all the traffic. I hate this time of year when all the big bloggers write their ‘Bloggers to watch out for in 2016’ posts only to promote all of their friends (exactly the same people they promoted last year and the one before that).

    This year I am making one resolution only. I WILL go to Norway 🙂

    Good luck with yours!

  • Caroline
    January 4, 2016at2:28 pm

    I read your stuff! 🙂 I know exactly how you feel when it comes to blogging and weight. EXACTLY. In fact, I just wrote about both too. Haha. You’re not alone in feeling like that – hope that helps and hope 2016 rocks for you!

  • Ali
    January 7, 2016at1:17 pm

    Goals are tough. I think you need a plan, and you need to be really specific with the goals. (When I say “you” I mean “anyone.”) I can totally relate to taking on too much and losing that balance. The last few months of 2015 were incredibly stressful for me. I felt like I was always working and somehow never getting anything accomplished. But I’m trying hard now to focus most of my energy on the one big/new project Andy and I are working on, plus the work that actually pays me. Weight gain…ugh, I can relate to that too! I finally started losing weight last year when I switched to a not-so-strict Paleo diet, which I did for health reasons and then, wow, I’m losing weight from this! Not that it’s for everyone, but it’s amazing how effective cutting out the starchy stuff can be, even if you don’t cut it 100%. Blogging…yes, so annoying to pour yourself into a post and then feel like no one cares or is reading it. But it’s also important to remember your goals with blogging. If you’re blogging because you enjoy it, then try to find ways to enjoy it. If it’s a site you created with the purpose of making money, you have to approach it differently. I don’t think many people read Ali’s Adventures, but I enjoy sharing my travel stories and photos there, so I keep doing it, even if it’s not super consistent. Travel Made Simple gets tons of traffic, mostly search, and earns me some money, but even still, I hardly get any traffic on new posts, just a core group of 10-15 posts. But it’s enough to keep things going, and I have a different attitude towards that site. And I’ve cut way back on reading other blogs. I just can’t. Too depressing, too infuriating, too exhausting, and really, not worth it. I mostly just read blogs from people (like you!) I’m friends with and actually care about what’s going on in their lives. I wouldn’t read a home decor blog, but I enjoyed your post about your apartment. (There was some storage space above a door…so cool.)

    BTW I love love love the new hair color!!!

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