New Year's Eve 2014/15

Looking Back on the Year Ahead

Reflections on 2014 and what's to come in 2015. Happy New Year!

Celebrating New Years Eve party 2014 - 2015


After writing my last post, after writing out a list of resolutions for this coming year, I went back and looked at what I wrote last year at this time. And I realized that I wrote the exact same damn thing.

Exactly the same.

After a year of feeling at a standstill, I made a list of resolutions, hoping to move forward in 2014. Only to look at them now and realize that I went nowhere.

And so here I am, again, listing pretty much the same things I did a year ago. In hope that, maybe, I can live the life I want to live. Be the person I want to be.

So here is my list of resolutions, goals, for the year ahead. It is a big, ambitious list, I know. But I don’t care. Because I’m tired of feeling like I’m not moving forward…


Find an apartment.

First and foremost I need to find a place to live. It kind of sucks looking right now because fewer people move during the coldest months of Chicago, so there isn’t much available. It’s also hard to accept that I can’t afford the place of my dreams in a good location.

When you want a 1 bedroom, not a studio. When you want to live as close as possible to an el stop. When you don’t want a garden apartment. When you have a small budget. It’s hard. But I want to live on my own.

I’ve realized that if I want something with a bit more room, I have to move a bit further east and a bit further north than I wanted to. I think my option is pretty much from Uptown to Edgewater. But hey, if I move close to Argyle Street I’ll at least be surrounded by all the Vietnamese food I could ever want.


Lose Weight.

I’m not even going to disguise this under the guise of “get healthy.” No, I want to lose weight. I want people to stop offering me their seats on the train because they think I’m pregnant. I want to stop having to angle down all my selfies to make it look like I don’t have a double chin. I want to feel comfortable in my body again.

I may not look that fat, but I am. I just have really skinny bones. And most of my weight goes to my stomach. So it’s one of those things where you might think “that dress makes her look pregnant,” when really, no, it’s my giant fat roll that makes me look pregnant.

It wasn’t until college that I broke 100 pounds and that number has been climbing steadily ever since, except for a brief time in Asia where I was the lowest weight I’ve been in my adult life.

I tend to lose weight when I travel. It’s a lifestyle of constantly moving and not snacking.

I have too much of a abusive relationship with food. I’m an emotional eater who turns to food when I’m depressed, who turns to food when I’m happy, who turns to food when I’m mad. I eat when I’m bored. Which, at home, is pretty much constantly.

It’s not that I eat terribly unhealthy, I just eat too much. I’ll make giant portions and suck them all down. If there is a snack in front of me, I have no willpower to stop. I’m addicted to white mochas at Starbucks, to Cokes, and I can eat a carton of ice cream in one sitting.

And I’m not very active.

So my goal is to eat better. To eat less. To snack less. To savor food, eat slower, so I don’t overeat so much. To eat more vegetarian because then if I overeat at least it’s all vegetables. To not just eat because I have nothing better to do. And, to exercise more. Or, to exercise, I suppose.


Stop Biting My Nails

I’ve always been a nail biter. And, yes, I realize that it’s something I should have probably grown out of long ago. I did once actually manage to stop biting my nails for a decent period of time. But then I was assigned a two and a half week jury duty and shit went out the window. Have you ever served on a two and a half week jury? There’s nothing much to do but listen to the same testimonies over and over while biting your nails.

In the brief period of my life that I had nails I realized that the only way to stop biting them was to keep them perfectly manicured. I would paint them twice a week to make sure there were no chips. Because once there was a chip, I couldn’t be trusted. I’ve actually been doing this since just before Christmas and it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve bitten my nails. They’re not long yet by any stretch of the imagination. But they’re there. I just need to keep this up…


Learn to Budget

I am terrible at budgeting. Really, truly, terrible. I mean, people ask all the time how much I spent on my ’round the world trip, or how much I spent month to month, and I could never answer. Truth is I just don’t pay attention. If I want something, I buy it. I often don’t even think of the costs adding up.

I go to Starbucks when I could just wait and use the Keurig machine at work. I go out for lunch when I could just make something, or eat leftovers.

This year, though, budgeting is going to be crucial. I’ll be paying more for rent than I’ve ever had to before. I need to buy furniture. And I want to still be able to travel. So I can’t just frivolously waste my money. I need to be mindful.


Get a Tattoo

I’ve had ideas for at least four tattoos, but I’ve been putting them off because I want to find the perfect artist to do them. I want to get at least one this year.


Waste Less

I feel like I waste a lot. I go to the store forgetting a canvas bag and come home with way too many plastic bags (because I swear every time I take a paper bag it falls apart halfway home and I have to carry everything awkwardly in my arms the rest of the way). I get paper cups for coffee when I could bring a reusable tumbler. I never finish the food in the refrigerator before it goes bad. I want to be better at not wasting so much.


Read More

I go through phases where I read everything in site for months and then just stop. Last year I was on a roll for a few months but then read nothing the rest of the year. Nothing. There are so many books I want to read and so many books I should read. I need to get in the habit of reading more and staying with it.


Write More

I never write for myself anymore. I write for my blog, but I’ve stopped writing anything else. I want to be a writer, but not one of those writers who writes top ten lists for blogs about places they’ve never even been. I want to write creative non-fiction. I used to say that my blog was for first drafts, for ideas, that I would revisit and expand and write more on. But then I just write a post and move on. I’d like to get back into writing outside of what I write here.

I’ve also been working on writing a web series. And by that I mean, I keep saying I’m writing a web series. But I actually want to write it. And then film it. And that is a huge priority for me this year.


Work on My Blog

I have some big changes coming ahead on my blog. Both on the design and branding and the content. As I’ve moved back home, the content will change as I no longer will be talking so much about travel. I’ll be writing more about life at home, Chicago, cooking, personal development.

I’ve been writing this blog for nine years. Nine years. It’s gone through a lot of transition in that time. And it’s still no where near what I want it to be. I still haven’t really found my audience, at least not in mass numbers. Really, not many more people read this today than did in 2006.

I have so many ideas of what I want to do here and where I want to go. But I never put the time or effort into it. I have a lot of ideas swimming in my head, I just need to focus.


Work on my Other Blogs

I have another blog, about roadside attractions, that has become totally neglected. And I always say that I’m going to retool it, but never do. I don’t think I’ll be focusing on it too much, or creating too much new content for it (after all, I no longer have a car so I can’t road trip easily anymore), but Id like to organize it better and bring back some of the traffic that it lost just sitting there.

And I have another blog. That is awesome. But no one reads it. But I’m still not ready to tell you about it… But I need to focus on that one a lot.



Because I’m fucking tired of being single.


Truth is, there are so many things I want to do this year. I promised myself that I could have just as fulfilling of a life at home as I did when traveling. I want to do yoga and take dance classes and learn guitar. I want to eat at all the best Chicago restaurants. I want to meet new friends and be more social. I want to find a way to travel even though I’m broke and have to abide by my limited vacation time.

But I also want to feel like I have time to breathe.

Ever since coming back home over two months ago I’ve shut down and felt overwhelmed. All I’ve wanted to do is binge-watch Top Chef on Hulu. I had signed up for a jewelry-making class thinking I wanted to go gung-ho into a new Chicago life and then stopped going after the first class because I just couldn’t get myself out of bed that day. And I’ve hardly seen any of my friends, I’ve hardly done anything.

I think it’s going to be a while before I feel totally adjusted and I need to ease myself in.

And so I have all these goals, but I’m not forcing myself to jump, head first, into anything. Not just yet. I’m going to take my time, and slowly, purposefully, make small adjustments.

I’m still determined, but also determined not to wear myself out and forget about them. 2015 will be a good year. It will.

Happy New Year to everyone out there! I hope your year ahead is productive and meaningful, in whatever way it can be to you. Here’s to taking steps towards living the life you want to live, no matter how big or how small. Have a good year. Have an amazing year.


Appetizer spread on New Years Eve party 2014 - 2015

Roast chicken dinner at New Years Eve party 2014 - 2015

Dump cake and Apples to Apples - New Years Eve party 2014 - 2015

Heather, Jeremy, and cat - New Years Eve party 2014 - 2015

Toasting New Years Eve party 2014 - 2015


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What are your biggest goals for 2015?

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.

  • Tammy
    January 2, 2015at11:30 am

    Hey Val! About the tattoo… Have you looked into James Eastwood at Insight Studios? He did a very pretty tattoo on my foot. He has excellent line work and is willing to go through 50 drafts to make sure it will look the way you want it to look. I also really love Insight Studios because they’re really clean 🙂

  • Tessa Olson
    January 2, 2015at4:27 pm

    Hey Val! I work for a property management company here in Chicago, Crescent Heights. We have two properties close to the “el” and really great prices on one bedrooms. Please don’t hesitate to reach out, I would love to help!

    Tessa Olson

  • Priya
    January 2, 2015at9:48 pm

    Sounds like a great list. But don’t be so hard on yourself about some of it.

    I have two tattoos in mind that I want, but I have a really bad fear of needles!

  • runawaybrit
    January 3, 2015at6:11 am

    This list is almost identical to mine, if I had written one. The resolutions about losing weight, budgeting, reading, writing and blogging more would definitely be on my list too.

    I wish you luck with all of these things in 2015 and look forward to seeing your progress.

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