…is now over.
Effective today, I am now 45.
365 days ago I turned 44, and I started blogging at what I called Living 44, which was a way for me to write about what I accomplished during the year (including 10 specific goals). SoulSEAker morphed out of Living 44 and will be my blogging focus from today forward.
My 44th year was different in many ways. Sure, I endured happiness and sadness, laughter and tears, but we all do. It’s part of life. However, turning 44 was the first time in over a decade that I actually looked forward not only to my birthday, but to the year as a whole. I embraced each day and tried my best to be positive, albeit difficult at times. I began a Gratitude journal, which has given me an appreciation for things I formerly took for granted. I began writing again, both professionally and for myself, and I found my voice, the voice that has been missing for far too long.
I found inspiration through Susannah Conway, Elizabeth Gilbert, Mallika Chopra, and others; as a result, I aim to inspire others the way these wonderful people inspire me.
Most of all, I shared many memories with treasured family and friends. Instead of sitting at home by myself and living vicariously through others, I chose to see new places and to make memories. At times, I had to scale back and take it easy due to Lupus and Fibromyalgia. Sometimes it was tough to manage my symptoms and plug along, but I did the best I could. I still do the best I can every day, and some days are better than others. Regardless, each day is a gift, one which I value and welcome with open arms, no matter what.
I accomplished most of my 10 Things I Wanted to do While 44 (list at the bottom), and then some.
Here’s my 44th Year in Facts and Statistics:
Number of new places I saw: 42
Number of mystery trips with my niece and nephews: 6. I began a tradition of spending the day with each of my 3 nephews and niece, just the 2 of us, destination a secret. My niece’s surprise days were to Ron Jon’s in LBI and to the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island. My nephew’s secret trip was to Six Flags Great Adventure. The 3 of us went to Six Flags two more times, and we all have season passes, so next year will be filled with fun trips. Perhaps I will conquer my fear of Nitro and other big rollercoasters…we will see. On the other side of the family, I took my 4-year-old nephew to the aquarium, rides, and to dinner 3 times this year. We enjoyed our special dates very much. I have a few places in mind for each’s mystery trip this year…places they will never be able to guess!
Number of Yankees Home Games I attended: 2
Number of times I saw the Core 4 in person: 1
Number of places I went with my treasured friend C: 22
Number of presentations I gave at conferences: 2
Number of GSSPA meetings I attended: 7 plus two conferences
Number of photos I took: More than 20,000
Number of weddings I attended as a guest: 2
Number of weddings I photographed: 0
Favorite Summer Song: I Can’t Feel My Face
Favorite Toy I Bought: My stuffed dinosaur named Monk
Number of times I made work friends laugh: too many to count
Number of times I saw “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens”: 4. The best was on opening night (actually, the night before opening night) with my brother.
Number of times I went to Six Flags Great Adventure: 4
Number of Monarch Butterflies I raised from caterpillars and released: 17
Favorite Book I read: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Number of surgeries: 1
Number of things removed during surgery: 3
Most played artists on my playlists: 311 and The Cure
Number of postcards I mailed: 226
Number of postcards I received: 237
Number of Seinfeld references I made on a daily basis: At least 3
Favorite Winter Song: Adventure of a Lifetime by Coldplay
Favorite Sound: the laughter of my niece and nephews
Favorite Christmas Gifts: My Jedi Alex and Ani bracelet and my 13” Boba Fett talking figure from my husband
Town/Local Events I Attended: Earth Day Celebration, Memorial Day ceremony, Seafood Festival, Car Cruise, Xmas Tree Lighting, Chowderfest, Wings of Freedom Tour, NJ Run for the Fallen, Manasquan Offshore Grand Prix, Postcard Show
Places I Ate: Frankie’s, Shrimp Box, St. Stephen’s Green, Mastoris, Shore Point BBQ, Olive Garden, Revolution Café, Cool Beans, Applebees, Turning Point, Lubrano’s, Surf Taco, Bubbakoo’s, Five Guys, Lava Java, Wharfside, Luigi’s, Emilio’s, 709, Asbury Festahus & Biergarten, River Belle, Holiday Inn Manahawkin, Holiday Inn Clark, Toms River Hotel, IHOP, Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar, Tom’s Restaurant, The Dublin House, Chipotle, Winward Tavern, OB Diner, Brick Diner, Chef Mickey’s, Hollywood and Vine, Biergarten (Epcot), The Wave, Cape May Café, TRex Restaurant
People Who Passed Who Left Footprints In My Heart and In My Journey: Roscoe, Tom S., Neighbor Lorraine, Neighbor Mike, Melvin, Denasia, Kesse, Scott
Some of my favorite memories: Disney, Deepak with Hannah, the Manasquan Offshore Grand Prix, grave hunting and NYC with C, starting the Hawks Hall of Honor, Yankees games, eating at Tom’s Diner, picking a quart of blueberries a day for about two weeks this summer from our bushes, getting the waves around my ankle, writing Boro Kids, starting SoulSEAker, getting tickets to see The Cure this June with some pretty awesome people, spending time with family and friends, Teacher of the Year celebrations, walks with Laura, laughing with Jen, And Then LIFE Happened, laughter in the Batcave, and any time spent with the 4 most special people in my life, my niece and nephews.
Here’s a short slideshow of memories made during my 44th year. Thank you to everyone who played a part, no matter how big or small, in my 44th year. I will continue enjoying each day even more during my 45th year. My 45 list is forthcoming…until then, I am going to enjoy celebrating the 20th anniversary of my 25th birthday. This year will be like no other. 45 Alive…here I come!
Living 44: My Goal List, as published on February 13, 2015 – one day into my 44th year: There were a lot of great ideas about things to do during my 44th year, as suggested by friends, family, students, and colleagues. This is my final Living 44 Goal List and notes about each goal. I think I did pretty good.
Go to Central Park and see Strawberry Fields. COMPLETED on 12/7/15.
Go to the State of Liberty and look out of the crown. COMPLETED on 8/12/15.
Do 3 things I never did before. COMPLETED! 1: Meditation (March). 2: Yoga (June). 3: Hear an author lecture (February-Deepak Chopra).
Sit at the Inlet for a day and photograph all of the boats that come in and out. COMPLETED on July 10, 2015!
5. Get my passport stamped at least once, or have travel plans that will have it stamped in 2016. KIND OF. This one, so far, did not happen and I’m okay with it, since my husband and I went to Disney together in November, which was a surprise and time just for us. Our trip meant more to me than seeing someplace needing a passport. But wait…we DID have a passport for Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. SO I DID ACCOMPLISH THIS GOAL! 🙂
Go to a Yankees game: COMPLETED on May 9, 2015!
7. Go to Grounds for Sculpture. This one did not happen, and I’m okay with it. I have seen so many other new places this year in place of Grounds for Sculpture that I’m happy. Perhaps I’ll make it there during my 45th year.
Watch the fireworks on July 4th. It’s been a long time since I have done this. COMPLETED on July 4, 2015!
Watch a sunrise during each of the 4 seasons: COMPLETED! Spring: Completed on April 6, 2015. Summer: Completed on August 2, 2015. Autumn: Completed on November 27, 2015. Winter: Completed on January 26, 2016.
See 3 new places a month. 95% COMPLETED! New places for March: Ron Jon’s in LBI, Surf City 5 and 10, St. Stephen’s Publik House in Spring Lake. New places for April: Flatiron District in NYC, Strand Bookstore in NYC, Heritage Park in Allentown, NJ. New Places for May: The Record store in Howell, NJ, Yankee Stadium, D-Train Subway in NYC. New Places for June: Due to medical appointments, surgery, and recovery, I was unable to attain this goal for June; however, I did go to Six Flags Great Adventure on a school trip, and Jenkinson’s Aquarium and the rides with my nephew (awesome places, just not new places). New Places for July: Turning Point, Shore Points BBQ, Lava Java, Cattus Island County Park, Atlantic City Aquarium, Absecon Lighthouse, Lucy the Elephant, Panda Express. New Places for August: Monmouth Battlefield, NJ Vietnam Memorial & Museum, Smithville, Topanemus Burying Ground, Middletown Church. New Places for September: Surf Taco (Manasquan), Winward Tavern, Crown & Anchor Tattoo. New Places for October: Seaside Park Beach at 4 Street, Frightfest, Chowderfest. New Places for November: Stroudsburg PA, Hot Dog Johnny’s, Chef Mickey’s. New Places for December: Asbury Festhaus and Biergarten, Tom’s Restaurant, Central Park, Book Culture. New Places for January: Marquee Cinemas, Monmouth University Polling Institute, RWJ Hospital, Plastic Surgery Center in Shrewsbury (last 2 are due to husband’s surgery..lame, yes, but nonetheless are new places). February: Count Basie Theater, the Dublin House.