2014: Year in Review

I called 2014 the Year of Foundation since I believed I would laying the groundwork for the future. Check, check and check. Things didn’t always go 100% according to plan, but overall I am happy with how the year unfolded.

Big moments of 2014:
  1. I got engaged to the love of my life!
  2. I visited five new countries: India, Morocco, Qatar, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.
  3. Ryan and I planned our big, RTW trip, and now are making it happen!
  4. I finished out my service working with an amazing NGO in Bahir Dar.
  5. I became a RETURNED Peace Corps Volunteer.

What were a few of your top moments of 2014?

Reviving the Life List

The Life List is something I’ve maintained for the past five years. Referred to as a “bucket list” by most people, this is a list of things I want to do at some point in my life.

I’ve heard the arguments against bucket/life/30 before 30 lists: that you should be living your life instead of checking things off a box. But the way I see it, the life list keeps me on track doing the things I’ve always said, “I want to do that someday.”  So I track it. Not as the sole focus of my life but as something to look forward to when things get dull and tedious. There are so many places that I want to visit and so many things I want to do, it’s impossible to list all of them. So yes, my life list is vague and yes, it could be filled by many different things, but that’s the point. It’s a guideline to living, not a blue print!

My 30 Before 30 List is likely to go unfinished by the time I turn 30 in less than 2 years. But you know what? That’s okay! I’m a different person than when I wrote this list 2+ years ago and doing completely different things. It’s not realistic to find a ballet in the middle of the Ethiopian Highlands or scuba diving in a landlocked country.

Finishing these lists isn’t the focus of where my life is heading, but it’s a good guide and reminder of the adventurous spirit I want to foster in my life.

Another reason I’m bringing this up is because of the post-Peace Corps trip my fiancé and I are planning. While looking at my life list I realized I’d be knocking off quite a few items from the list, so now would be a good time to revive and revise it.

See updates on my Life List page here or click on the link at the top of the page! After today this one will no longer be updated.


  1. Attend high profile sporting events (World Cup match, Grand Slam match,  Stanley Cup finals game, NFL playoff game, Olympic event, college sport playoff finals game)
  2. Run! (5k,10khalf marathon, marathon)
  3. Go aerial (go to space, learn to fly, go skydiving and skydive again in a new country)
  4. Learn water sports (surf, snorkel, scuba dive, sail)
  5. Do winter sports (go dog sledding, learn to ski or snowboard)
  6. Climb a mountain
  7. Swim with sharks and elephants
  8. Jump off a waterfall
  9. Experience zero gravity
  10. Ride in a hot air balloon
  11. Eat a five star restaurant
  12. Meet a US president
  13. Fly First Class on an airline
  14. Ride a camel and elephant
  15. Taste a Scotch older than I am
  16. Go sightseeing on a Vespa/scooter


  1. Visit every country in the world (9/193: Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Mexico, Turkey, United States)
  2. Visit all seven continents (North America, South America, Asia, EuropeAfrica, Australia and Antartica)
  3. Visit the 30 “global cities” of the world (New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Singapore, Chicago, Toronto, Seoul, Washington D.C., Beijing, Brussels, Madrid, San Francisco, Sydney, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, Shanghai, Frankfurt, Bangkok, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Mexico City, Zurich, Dubai, Istanbul, Boston, Rome)
  4. Take an Artic cruise in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres
  5. Take a flight without knowing the destination
  6. Visit a volcano


  1. Visit all fifty US states (33/50: Alabama, Alaska, ArizonaArkansas, CaliforniaColorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, IdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKansas, KentuckyLouisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, MississippiMissouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New JerseyNew MexicoNew York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, OklahomaOregonPennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, TennesseeTexasUtah, Vermont,VirginiaWashington, West Virginia, WisconsinWyoming)
  2. Visit all thirteen Canadian provinces and territories (4/13: AlbertaBritish ColumbiaManitoba, New Bruinswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon Territory)
  3. Visit the Grand Canyon
  4. Stand on Four Corners
  5. Road trip across the US from one coast to the other
  6. Take the train across Canada
  7. Take an Alaskan cruise
  8. Drive the Alaskan Highway
  9. Visit Easter Island
  10. Attend Burning Man


  1. Go to Oktoberfest in Germany
  2. Drink a beer in a pub in the UK


  1. Ride the TranSiberian railway
  2. Go to Carnivale in Venice
  3. Participate in Holi in India


  1. Go on a safari in Africa
  2. Summit Kiliminjaro


  1. See the Seven Modern Wonders of the World (Great Wall of China, Petra, Christ the Reedemer, Machu Picchu, Chicen Itza, Roman Colesium, Taj Mahal and Great Pyramid at Giza–honorary candidate)
  2. See koala bears in their natural habitat
  3. See polar bears in their natural habitat
  4. Go whale watching
  5. See the Northern Lights
  6. See the Pyramids
  7. See the Mojave Desert airline “graveyard”
  8. See a Galapagos Turtle
  9. See the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC

For Fun

  1. Plant a tree
  2. Bet on a sporting event
  3. Get my fortune told
  4. Wear a sequined dress to a party
  5. Open a champagne bottle with a sword
  6. Hug an inukshuk
  7. Ring a church bell
  8. Christen a boat


  1. Adopt another dog
  2. Own my own home
  3. Design my own clothing
  4. Get a tattoo
  5. Become an ex-pat
  6. Start a family tradition
  7. Don’t purchase new clothes for one year

Personal Development/Projects

  1. Learn a new alphabet
  2. Learn another language fluently
  3. Read a novel in another language
  4. Write a book
  5. Sell a painting
  6. Get an advanced degree
  7. Have a photograph published
  8. Own a digital SLR
  9. Attend Yoga Teacher Training
  10. Learn to do headstand
  11. Brew my own beer
  12. Take a cooking class
  13. Grow a garden
  14. Start a daily meditation practice
  15. Do something every day for 30 days

(updated 4/23/2014)


An easy way to sum 2012 up for me would be to call it the Year of Goals. I’m a planner by nature, keeping lists and lists (and lists) of anything and everything. But I think a better description would be to call it the Year of Change. I declared that I needed to change my life, so I did. I stopped making excuses for myself, I faced my fears head on and I lived.

Last January, I wrote:
I hope that a year from now, everything has changed. I hope that I’m debt free. I hope that I’ve travelled. I hope that I’ve lead a healthier life. But most of all, I hope that I’m leading the life I want instead of the life that I’ve accepted. I hope this year has radical changes in store… and I’ll make sure it does.

Everything changed.

The following week I started an online course that set the tone for the entire year. Jenny Blake’s Make Sh*t Happen (affiliate) is easily one of the best things I ever did for myself… leading me to reach deep within myself to figure out what I really wanted. The scariest and most difficult part was accepting that at that point, I was still “figuring it out.”

Five top moments of 2012:
  1. I figured it out. I am currently serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia.
  2. This girl (who is terrified of heights) jumped out of an airplane 12,000 feet above the ground.
  3. After discovering I actually enjoy running, I finished a half-marathon distance run (and have a full marathon in my sights someday).
  4. I paid off all of my consumer debt.
  5. I met some really cool people at #WDS2012 and the MSH Weekend of Genius.

What were a few of your top moments of 2012?

12 for 2012 Update

Just an update from my initial post last December… So how’d I do?

9/12 that I consider complete. Not bad at all.

1. Pay off debt. – consumer debt: check. student loan: deferred.
2. Complete 52 in 52. – complete 4/8/12
3. Minimalize. – complete
4. Knock five things off my 30 before 30. – complete
5. Save $ for travel. – complete. Visited Costa Rica, NYC and Portland. And Ethiopia.
6. Max out Roth IRA. 
7. Drink more water.complete
8. Practice yoga.complete
9. Work on sixteen personal commandments.complete
10. Learn French. (Does Amharic count?)
11. Create a piece of art. – complete 2/14/12
12. Be grateful every day.complete

I’m pretty happy with how 2012 turned out… can’t wait to see what I accomplish in 2013!

Against All Odds

In the past year, I’ve had a lot of new experiences and done a lot of seemingly impossible things.

  • I traveled to Costa Rica
  • I ran a half marathon
  • I jumped out of an airplane
  • I gave up meat  (for awhile) and began eating healthy.
  • I quit my job without another lined up
  • I paid off $10,000 of debt
  • I made new friends
  • I joined the Peace Corps

Most of the time I tell someone (whether old friend or new acquaintance) what I’ve done or what I have planned, that person will typically give me some variation of the following:

“That’s so cool! I wish I could do that, but…” or “Wow, I’ve always wanted to do that, but…”

But what?

In fact, I shouldn’t have been able to do ANY of the things that I mentioned above. And here’s why:

  • Go to Costa Rica? I’m not adventurous. I don’t know Spanish. Central America is dangerous. It’s too expensive. I don’t have vacation time.
  • Run a half marathon? I hate to run. I’m lazy. I don’t have the motivation. I get bored easily. It’s too hot in Texas in the summer.
  • Go skydiving? I’m terrified of heights. People die jumping out of planes. It’s too expensive.
  • Give up meat and eat healthy? I could never give up meat. It’s too difficult to eat healthy. I’m lazy. I hate to cook. I don’t have time to cook or even to go to the grocery store. Fresh food is too expensive.
  • Quit my job? I won’t be able to pay my bills. I won’t have health insurance. I’m a terrible interviewer. I have been applying to jobs for years without anything. The economy is crappy.
  • Pay off my debt? I don’t have time for a second job. I won’t have any fun. It’s too hard. Life is so unfair.
  • Go to a conference for world changers? I’m an introvert. And shy. I don’t like to put myself out there. It’s too expensive. I don’t have the time off.
  • Join the Peace Corps? I could never do that. What skills do I have to offer anyway? I have to live WHERE? I have to learn WHAT?

But you know what? I didn’t let any of that stop me. I did all of the above despite the reasons I couldn’t. I did it anyway.

What could you do if you didn’t let excuses control you?