29th Year Check-In

 I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. I do, however, believe in committing to positive changes in your life no matter the time of year. If your goals and plans happen to coincide with a new calendar year, fine, but don't make up BS resolutions that you're not going to follow just because of some "New Year, New Me" social media trend. *Steps down from wine box soap box*

PC: Amelia Campbell Photography
The epitome of us; Goose is asleep, Fran just wants this to be over, Zuzu is watching for a squirrel all while I try not to fall over the dogs, almost do, so throw in a "Ta-Da!" for the camera

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about goals. I know I know, pot meet kettle, however my life conveniently began at the start of a new year, and now that I'm 359 days from my 30's, I feel like there are some things to take stock of and what better place to do it than my public blog. Some of these are ongoing from what I've been working on already, some are new but important. Some are kind of arbitrary in terms of timeline, but hey we all have to start somewhere, right? 

2020 was a journey, and I don't foresee 2021 being any better. The way I see it, nothing is going to get better until we make it better. While I can't make the world a better place overall (but I try to do my part every day), I'm using this time where the world is supposed to be paused to get my shit together. 

Us, needing to get it together

Last winter, even before COVID hit, I was in a funk. I felt like I'd hit a wall in more ways than one and I was sick and tired of myself. I don't know a better way to explain it than that; I was just annoyed at what I wasn't doing, frustrated with what I was doing, and needed to make some changes. Conveniently, this aligned nicely with lockdown and my best gift from 2020 was time. I had time to work on myself and commit to making changes. I had an abundance of time to exercise, meal plan, and work on my mental health. I had time and sound reasoning to prioritize my health, safety, and needs above all else, which didn't include going to bars and breweries in the middle of the pandemic, thankyouverymuch. While lines of people wrapped around buildings and tables far too close together in CLT breweries and restaurants, I worked on my condo, played with my dogs, and explored my neighborhood on foot. Eventually I started riding my horse again when I deemed it was safe enough and I hiked, did yoga, and journaled. Interestingly enough, I felt my mental health coincided with my physical health and I've become a happier person as I've become stronger. I'm still a ball of stress sometimes and only mostly bitter towards humanity, but hey progress is progress. 

That's a trend I want to continue, simply continuing to make progress. I have ongoing fitness goals, but with no timeline attached. I'm actively logging and working towards them and that's good enough for me, as long as I'm doing something outside of just saddle time. With riding, I want to spend as much time as I can with Goose. Whether we're heading off for more adventures or just wandering around our farm, I want to enjoy every minute with him. He turns 17 in March, and while I know that isn't that old I just have a gut feeling I'm on borrowed time with him. Bizarre and a little macabre, sure, but worst case scenario I'm very wrong and still enjoy every moment I can with him. He's been great, I'm keeping shoes on him this winter in hopes some plans pan out, and I'm dying to get him fit in the spring so we can do some jump lessons and school XC if the opportunity should arise. With Goose, whatever he is happy doing is what I want to do, for as long as he is happy doing it. Some areas of focus for me are my riding mental health, aka not curling up into a ball every time we leave the property, jump fun things without feeling like I can't do it, and ride some other horses when possible to build confidence there too.

Fitter + happier = less fetal position

Outside of career goals, which are fully on track but not something I'll write about, the other area I want to start seriously focusing on is my home. I live in a 900 square foot condo in Charlotte, and I'm proud to say I've owned it for two years now. However, my life looks so much different now than it did when I bought it and had to stay close to the city for work. I'm just a few miles from uptown, Charlotte, and a hop skip and a jump from my office, which is the commute I prioritized rendering the barn around 20 miles away. These days, the office will be forever optional (put simply for sake of blogging) and I no longer need to be close to the city for an easy commute. After nine months of working from home, the walls are closing in on us and I need to get out. While I absolutely love this city, I haven't fully taken advantage of where I live and, honestly, I never will. I'm simply not a city girl and this small, beautiful city that feels like a small town just isn't enough for me. Give me a yard and some space, please and thank you. 

I know it's a Christmas photo, but my condo is super cute even when it's not seasonally decorated. Potato Fran for scale though - not enough room for 2+ dogs long term.

Zuzu and Franny are the two most important beings in my life, and I want different for them and for me. They deserve to have space to run that is their own and damnit, I deserve to have space for them to run so they don't drive me nuts on days we can't go to the barn and our walks just aren't enough for busy lab brains. I also need space for any potential additions to the furmily. My condo is super cute, fairly spacious with excellent storage and closets and a nice little deck, but it's just not enough for me and 2+ dogs anymore. Luckily, my friend and barn manager is a kickass realtor in the area and we're going to work together to come up with a plan of attack and a realistic timeline for selling the condo and buying a yard. I don't care as much about the house as long as I have the yard, which is why we'll be looking outside the city. With recognition that this may end up being an 18-24+ month plan, at least I can be making moves to make it happen and have incentive to save as much as possible, pay off debt, and cross every single finger that the stars align and I'm not in this condo any longer than I have to be. It's going to be work, but it will be worth it.

We need a yard for outdoor bite club

And to have more furiends over (also don't judge me for their coats, we had an outdoor fire at my parents' in NJ and my poor Carolina dogs were FROZEN).

As I enter the last year of my 20's, I want to not only look ahead to where I want to be, but also to look back and see how far I've come. I graduated college nearly seven years ago. In that time, I've worked for two companies, one of which is a place I love to work, fully believe in, and can see myself staying with for the long haul (four years and counting next month!). I packed up my life when I was 25 and drove 10 hours south to a city I'd never been to, where I knew no one, with a little black dog who was a ton of trouble and a whole lot of fun. I've been through hell and back with Goose, with bowed tendons, crazy skin flaps, compound fracture of a splint that required surgery, melanoma surgery on his penis and then subsequent treatments, choking, and finding our second barn down south where we've now been almost three years and absolutely love. I bought a condo right before Christmas when I was 26, and brought the Potato Fran home a mere three months later. I've been able to give my dogs a life full of adventures at the farm, dock diving, hiking, and traveling. I've spent four years building a life in a state I always wanted to live in, have supported me and my animals, and have some of the strongest friendships I've ever had, both from up north and down here. 

At the dock, this dog is literally known as "The Flying Potato" and I adore it.

There's been loss, worry, and hardship. But there's been so much accomplishment too. In the age of social media, I find it difficult to not compare myself to others and what they have or what they've done. No, I don't have the fanciest horse, or my own rig, or a big house and huge yard or the newest gadget, nor do I travel the world at the drop of a hat. One of the best things I've done for myself, though, is cut out social media. Not completely, please I'm not a cavewoman, but I scroll for a few minutes a day, smile at the dog and pony photos that make up my instagram feed and watch friends' and family's lives from afar. But the less time I spend scrolling, the less time I spend comparing myself to others. Social media doesn't make me happy. The way they are presented on social media (outside of watching professionals etc), fancy horses and their seemingly budget-less riders don't make me happy in the way that spending time with my goofball Goose does. Absolutely nothing brings me more joy than my two girls always looking for the next adventure when I load them into the car, so why should I stare at adventures on a tiny screen when I could be out there living those adventures? 

Possibly my favorite pic of 2020.

In 29 years, I think I've done alright. I'm not scared of my next birthday, nor do I dread it. I do, however, think it's a great opportunity to realize that a decade of my life is about to pass - have I done everything I want to? Have I made the most of my time? Realistically, what should I start prioritizing for my health, happiness, and future? 

"Plz prioritize us, there is room for more doggos in this bed" Fran and her black-hole-sister,
Susan, probably.

Goals and timelines are great, but if horses have taught me anything, it's that plans can get derailed and we simply carry on with what we've got and make the best of it. I haven't yet found something that I haven't been able to get through, and that's the mentality I'm taking into this next year of my life. I can get through it and make the best of whatever comes my way. 2020 was a shitshow, and 2021 will likely piggy back nicely on that theme, but our lives don't have to stop as completely as the pandemic would lead us to believe. No, we absolutely cannot be in public spaces pretending the world is fine. Yes, we have to wear masks, and stay home, and limit our social circles. But it's always a good time to work on ourselves. For some of us that may mean accomplishing something as simple getting out of bed that day, taking a step to do anything when we may feel like we can't. For me it's taking the time to refocus, work on things that I've "never had enough time" for. Through it all, no matter where are are as individuals, we will carry on and get through it however best we can, keeping in mind that success looks different to everyone, and making it through 2020 in one piece is as big a success as they come. So cheers to 2021 and my 29th year, may it be at least slightly less shit than its predecessor.

PC: Amelia Campbell Photography

PC: Amelia Campbell Photography
Also it is SO HARD to get all animals perfect at once. Sigh.


  1. "But the less time I spend scrolling, the less time I spend comparing myself to others."
    That was a really important takeaway for me in 2020, and also liberally using the unfriend/mute/unfollow features for people spreading disinformation and outright cuckoo conspiracy theory crap. I try to limit my "doom-scrolling" and just post the occasional positive thing that I know will make me smile down the road when it comes up in my memories.

    Great post! I hope this last year before your 30s is one for the record books :)


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