A look back to move forward

It’s that time of year again. The one where we all take a look around and make a list what we like and what we want to change and smile to ourselves about the great adventures we’ve had.

I started my reflection early this year. You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a bit more absent in my triathlon/endurance posts lately. It’s for a good reason, I promise. I don’t talk about my personal/professional life much beyond its link to my triathlon/endurance adventures but I’m going to change paces for this post.

2014 was a life changing year for me. As of January 1, 2014, I became not just the Planning Director but a Partner in my firm. I am one of the few women in my profession that have accomplished this at such a young age and it took a lot of guts for me to jump off that cliff. I should probably use the word confidence but I’m actually still working on myself in that department. The decision to do this did not come easy, there were a lot of factors to consider – including the fact that my husband works for a competing firm. But in the end, we decided together it was the best option, for both of us.

In February, I traveled to Tallahassee to participate in Connect Florida’s Day at the Capital. I was nervous, attending the event by myself and unsure of what the weekend would hold. I threw myself into the experience, meeting as many people as I could and talking to them about their experiences with Connect Florida. After 2 days, I was hooked. I remember that evening pacing around the Capital talking to M on the phone, excited, animated, spilling my words out so they ran together. It had been a long time since I had that feeling. Those of you that know me professionally now how passionate I am about “homegrown” economic development and urban planning, the belief that communities can change their situations by focusing on their strengths. Well, I finally found an organization that believes the same thing in its young population. It’s not the older more experienced generation that will change the great Sunshine State but the younger (and sometimes just as established) professionals with the different ideas that will. I was infected after that weekend and set to work on my application right away. In the summer, I learned I had been accepted to the 2014-2015 class! We had our first session in Jacksonville in October. It was intense, we would start at noon on Friday and not stop till noon on Sunday.Connect Florida

Our second session in December was in Tampa. I continued to get to know my classmates as well as the issues affecting the state and the region. This time there was also a deliberate focus on involvement and giving back in the local community – something clicked. I had been working over the past year to adjust the organizations I volunteer with but it became more urgent after my weekend in Tampa. I got to work. Rather than wait for 2015 to begin, I finalized my plans. My focus has shifted from supporting my professional goals to supporting my community. In 2015, I will be part of the ULI Young Professionals Organization – which close ties to my alma mater, the Gulf Coast Humane Society – our local no kill shelter, and the FGCU alumni association. I am excited to get to work, meet new people, and take on new challenges.

In the spring, I reconnected with my high school best friend. After finishing my coursework in college way back when, I took off to Australia for a semester, just for kicks. During that time Dwyer’s mom was having serious health problems and the two of us fell out of touch. I had tried a few times over they years to track her down again but wasn’t successful until this year. I remember that first e-mail and phone call, it was like time hadn’t passed at all. We still enjoyed the same things, still finished each other sentences, and still laughed till our sides hurt. Somewhere along the way I mentioned that I wanted to run a half marathon and she  wanted to tackle her second. Over the next few months, we kept each other updated on training through social media, texts, and phone calls. Finally on November 16, 2014 I made it. After three previous unsuccessful attempts, I finally made it to the start line of a half marathon, ran the entire way with my bestie, and we crossed the finish line together.

Finished St. A

group pic

Just three days after finishing the half marathon, I finally got to take my honeymoon, we were only 5 years late! M and I spent 10 days, without work phone calls or emails, in Italy over Thanksgiving. Fabulous doesn’t even begin to describe our journey. I have wanted to travel to Italy since 2004 and for one reason or another just hadn’t been able to make it happen. We walked an average of 10 miles a day, with a few days over 13. We were exhausted every night and never really adjusted to the time change but it was phenomenal!

miami

madonna

florence

We spent the last year saving time off to take this trip and decided we wanted to take more advantage of 3 or 4 days weekends to travel and explore. We are starting 2015 with a trip to Destin, FL for the 30A Song Writers Festival. The line-up has been announced and I am so excited! February will bring us to Nashville to celebrate a dear friends birthday and kick our heels up to more great music. Then in March we are traveling for a week with my family to Utah to see M’s family. His brother recently had a baby boy that we haven’t had a chance to meet yet and of course, I can’t go that close to the mountains without hitting the slopes. Winter will be a whirlwind and makes me more excited to see what spring and summer hold.

The only New Years “Resolution” I haven’t already been able to reach and resolve is the one where I balance work and life better. Each year, multiple times a year, I hit the restart button and adjust the balance of work, home, and play. I do really well for a couple of weeks/months and then inevitably something happens at the office and I spiral downward. M and I have spent a lot of time thinking/talking about this, as he suffers the same affliction. We don’t have a perfect plan in place but we are working on it together. Moving furniture around, making a home office with space for both us and purchasing additional workout equipment so we can reach our varying goals together. Will we slip and fall with this one?? Maybe, but we’ll be together

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