Starting Over


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The time of year for fresh starts, fresh beginnings and New Years Resolutions has come and gone, and like the last half of 2013 I’ve fallen behind.

After I graduated, I told myself that I wanted to take the summer off to recoup. I moved, had two jobs and wanted time to enjoy life instead of living the structured routine I created for myself.

Memory Jar

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The last couple of weeks I had a negative outlook on 2013. Looking at my memory jar, it looks like I hadn’t done anything with my life since May, and to be honest I hadn’t kept up with my jar of accomplishments either. I wanted to start blogging again, but if I hadn’t done anything since May what could I talk about since I clearly failed at completing goals I had set out to do.

In reality though, I accomplished a lot.

I started the year off traveling to the Middle East, where I fell in love with the Middle Eastern spices, and was enraptured by how beautiful rocks and sand can be. In the ten short days I was there, I created not only a strong bond with people on the trip, but with my host family, the Abazas.

I graduated at the top of my class in the Division of Communication & Creative Media, the largest division at Champlain College, and thus began working six days a week between Champlain and Shelburne Vineyard.

Since it was now the vineyard’s busy season, we had a whole new crew, and very quickly I had new friends. I got really close to some of the girls at work throughout the summer and we began our quest to become members of the Wine Century Club (which I’m halfway there.) To help, we started Wine Club, which was really an excuse for girls to get out of their houses once a week, drink wine, catch up and have a potluck.

wineclubThrough Wine Club, I did things I probably never would’ve gotten around to. I explored the south end of Burlington at the South End Art Hop, an annual event that I had yet to go, and I attended my first red carpet event. Granted it was a fundraiser for the U.S. Olympic Luge Team, but there was a red carpet nonetheless.

Wine Club and the vineyard made me realize how much I love wine and that I want to become a certified wine specialist and eventually a sommelier.

That brings us to 2014. For Christmas, I got some of the necessary training tools to start studying, and hopefully by the end of the year or next summer, I’ll feel prepared enough to take my first exam.

But wine is not my only focus for 2014. I’ll write about my goals in my detail later, but here are just a few:

  • Go on Birthright: Every Jew from the ages of 13-26 has a chance for a free trip to Israel. I had multiple questionnaires and a phone interview and was accepted into the program, but I was waitlisted for the culinary-focused trip I wanted to attend. With luck, in 2014 I’ll get to go, and make a stop in Jordan to see my Jordanian family.
  • Become a member of the Wine Century Club, a not-so-elite club where members try 100 different grape varieties to enter.
  • Ski enough times to pay off my ski pass, and I’ve already gone once.
  • Read at least forty books, and I finished my first one for the year today.
  • Learn how to crack an egg with one hand.

What do you want to accomplish in 2014? 

Set the Goal Sunday: What comes after Graduation?



In a week, I will be a college graduate. After 16 years, homework is over unless I take classes in the future, which there are some travel writing and copyediting/indexing courses I’m looking at. I’m ready to focus on my writing and a couple part time jobs until I find work full-time instead of balancing class, work, and homework. I want to be able to put 100% of my life into what I love, and I’m hoping that will be an achievable goal now that school is almost over.

In the last four months, I’ve really thrown myself in to trying to accomplish as many goals as possible as part of my capstone project. I was using Chasing Dream Balloons as my big final project for my major, expanding my audience through various social medias, and creating a writing schedule. Keeping the schedule and seeing people actually view my site was a goal in itself, but I did other stuff too. I went to my thirteenth country, and got to sleep in the desert, ride a camel, explore Crusader ruins, float in the Dead Sea, experience a Turkish bath, and walk through Petra. I also made an amazing connection with my host family, and I’ve been sold on trying to do a form of a homestay in my future travels.

I got pretty good at making applesauce, and attempted snowboarding. I’ve sung karaoke twice now, and went to a concert. I also got a job in my field, and even though it’s part-time, it’s still something I am excited about. Some of my bigger goals won’t be accomplished until next week when I walk across that stage on Saturday and graduate with a BS in Professional Writing, hopefully with a summa cum laude honors.

But in a week, some of my goals are going to have to get bigger. I worry that within a year, I still won’t have a full-time job and I’m going to do everything possible to make that happen. I’m worried that even if I do get a full-time job, it won’t be in travel writing, and it will prevent me from doing my true passion: traveling. I know a lot of jobs have very little time-off, making it hard for even a weekend getaway. I love Vermont, but I’m worried that living here will also narrow my possibilities of becoming a travel writer, and that I’ll have to move to a big city to see any dream happen.

I know that I am not alone with my fears and dreams, so for my final presentation, I asked the senior Professional Writing class what their fears and goals were post-graduation. Most of the fears my classmates had revolved around success in life, whether it was in their chosen field or being able to support a family. Some people are afraid of being broke and stuck in a rut, that their “grown up” plans will fall through, Another big thing that was a little more time relevant was the fear of having to go back home and living in their parents’ house. That is a big fear for me because Maine has even less of a writing industry than Vermont.

Here is a list of some of the fears and goals my classmates gave me:

  • welfare
  • being broke
  • being stuck in a rut
  • not being able to set myself up for a career in a big city later if I stay in Burlington now
  • I’m afraid I’ll never be able to commit successfully to a relationship
  • not getting a job
  • losing sight of the thing I love to do the most: writing
  • not being able to manage a family and be a writer at the same time
  • Move far, far away and try to create a life full of things I love
  • Become more confident
  • Lift “hella” weights
  • retire early in the Irish countryside
  • Be the shit– believe in what I do & who I am, and actually accomplish something
  • create a character that people can take home with them, and change and envision how they’d react to different situations
  • to write for a music festival
  • see the Hagia Sophia
  • to make someone in the world feel with my writing.
  • to teach enough to change a life
  • to change people’s perspectives of themselves & reality

By writing about my fears and dreams, I feel like I’m holding myself accountable, and, hopefully, my classmates. I’m telling the world at large what is going on in hopes of setting small goals to achieve these dreams. So how can we accomplish them?

Bloggers, bucket list writers, future grads, how can we hold ourselves accountable and make sure we get the best out of life and all the situations it throws at us; how can we believe in what we do, who we are, and actually accomplish something? Is it as simple as saying we can do this? When we’re little, we’re told, “if you set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything!” but will I be able to make my dreams a reality within a few years after graduation?

For all of you living your goals, how did you get there? Do you have words of wisdom to share with the Class of 2013?

Set the Goal Sunday: Searching for the Purpose



Where it all began

Ever since I was little, I’ve been terrified of dying. Now I know most people are, but this went beyond normal. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, crying from nightmares, and they only got worse when my mother, Allison, was diagnosed with stage four melanoma in 2000.

On November 9, 2011, I dreamt that my mother died. It was so powerful it woke me up and I ran into my parent’s bedroom to check on her. I felt silly and went back to bed, without checking on her. The next morning I woke up and went to check on her. Her stomach was inflated, stopped forever mid breath intake, hard as stone. There was an orange line where her teeth met her lips, already showing death working its magic. Even her hair seemed to have lost its life. My crying woke my father up. I was 11, and my fear of dying only intensified. Continue reading