This year has been a wild ride. It actually makes me dizzy to think back on everything that has happened. But despite the ups and downs, the highlights and the stressful moments, it has been an incredible year. And somehow, I knew it would be.
My birthday falls inside the first week of the new year. As I was staring down 30 last year, I was unusually excited about the milestone, and incredibly optimistic about life. I was in an unique place personally and felt confident in my ability to rock this year. And while there have been a boatload of challenges, both personally and professionally, I can honestly say I feel like I crushed it.
I think it is important to review and reflect as we approach the new year. It’s good to review what has happened; The highlights and amazing memories that should be remembered, as well as the tough lessons learned and the growth experienced. It’s equally important to think ahead to the coming year and set some goals. These could be couched as New Year Resolutions, but I prefer to think of them as simple goals that I want to accomplish for my own benefit or pleasure. And I try to be realistic, if still challenging.
According to my records, my goals for 2018 included developing a consistent yoga practice and becoming 100% Plant Based in my diet. Neither one of these things happened unfortunately, but it hasn’t been a total failure.
Yoga has always been a goal for me but never one I have achieved. I’ve done a decent amount of yoga this year and even dabbled in some meditation. I’m not consistent but I’ve done about a dozen yoga sessions (via Yoga with Adriene) in the last 2 months alone. Which is an improvement overall! She usually does a 30 Days of Yoga challenge at the beginning of every year and it is my goal to join in that challenge in January. We don’t have any travel or other unusual plans that month, so I should be able to maintain a daily routine.
I’m not eating a 100% plant based diet at this point, but I’m still going strong and am about 90/10 in my breakdown now. 90% plant based, and 10% vegetarian or pescatarian (seafood allowed). There are several reasons for this success and failure. The failure, if you want to call it that, is due to my location and family practices. Idaho is known for being a meat and potatoes type of place, and we are definitely mostly rural. Boise has developed a stronger hipster vibe and some cultural diversity, but unless you are willing to venture into it’s heart (I’m an hour away on a good day), you aren’t likely to find a lot of vegan friendly restaurants. And most are hardly vegetarian friendly. So unless you are willing to stick with a side salad and fries for your meal, eating out can be a real challenge. I also married into a very carnivorous family; My hubby cooks for himself most of the time because we eat such different things. Christmas Day food traditions include Eggs Benedict and steak or Prime Rib for dinner. Most sides include butter, cheese, or other dairy. The food is amazing, but if I want to stick with my plant based diet, I have to bring my own food. Or make exceptions. I do enjoy seafood, so I usually allow myself that when we are out to eat or with family/friends. I try to limit dairy, but will allow some butter or cheese if absolutely necessary.
The success is due to allowing myself to eat a few processed vegan alternatives, among other things. There are some foods that I have found more challenging than others to eliminate entirely, so allowing myself the available vegan alternatives to help ease the transition has been very beneficial. I have tried the brand of vegan cheese that my tiny local grocery store carries, which has allowed me to partake in pizza night without adverse side effects, and has helped eliminate cheese cravings almost entirely. And I recently tried some Earth Balance vegan butter, which is gonna be a game changer, let me tell you. I did watch a few more documentaries recently that rallied my resolve, my family has gained a better understanding of my diet choices and restrictions (though they appreciate when I make pescatarian exceptions), and I’ve recently purchased a few vegan e-books from YouTubers I admire to help with recipe inspiration and food prep. And while the restaurant scene is still a bit grim, on the rare occasion that we do go out for a family meal, we usually do make our way into Boise, where vegetarian eating is becoming so much easier.
**Side note – we went to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse earlier this month to celebrate some birthdays, and one of the seasonal chef specials was a cheese-less vegetarian option of marinated portobello mushrooms over mashed potatoes with various steamed veggies. It was really good and I was so excited to find a truly vegetarian meal option available at a chain steakhouse.**
I also discovered that there is a growing trend for something called Veganuary (Vegan January) in which even non-vegans challenge themselves to eat entirely vegan for one month. I’m thinking of pairing this with my yoga challenge and see what I can make of it. I also think it would be interesting to go raw vegan for a month sometime in 2019, just to challenge myself to it. Maybe during the summer when I’m already eating a ton of raw or cold veggies.
Regardless of the current reality, I know I’ve grown immensely in my journey to become vegan and plant based, and I’ve learned a lot along the way this last year. It’s a journey, like many things, and while some people go cold turkey overnight, some of us take a longer journey. So I’m planning to observe Veganuary and continue to work towards becoming a dedicated plant based eater.
Looking back, this year has included some amazing memories and really hard challenges. Some of the best memories include moving to a new house, getting married, and travelling abroad for the first time. I also spent some amazing times with some of my favorite people. One of my best friends came to visit me for my birthday back in January, and we went to see him in Portland in May. My sister was here in July for her friend’s bachelorette party and spent some time with us as well. Another of my best friends was here in April, and I went to see her in Seattle at the end of October. And of course all of my family and friends were here at the beginning of October for the wedding. We went scuba diving for the first time – didn’t go super well for me, but still fun. I saw my favorite artist in concert. I got dreadlocks, which is still the greatest decision of my life. February will mark my first Dreadiversary and I’m stoked! We discovered our favorite cocktail bar and are planning to spend New Year’s Eve there helping them celebrate their first anniversary. We went camping and fishing. We tried out the Pedals and Pints bike bar tour in Boise to celebrate a friend’s birthday. We went boating during the summer. The list goes on. Such great memories and such amazing experiences.
Work was a bit of a beast this year, but I don’t particularly feel like recapping that for you all. Suffice it to say, it was a challenge the first half. The second half has been awesome, and I look forward to the coming year with my team.
I’ve also managed to complete my 2017 New Year’s Resolution this year of becoming 100% cruelty free, and almost entirely all natural, with my home, beauty, and bath products. This took a while, both to run out of existing product and to find the right cruelty free alternatives to meet my needs. I think I’ll do a current bath/beauty products post here pretty soon to go over what all I’ve found and am loving.
For my new 2019 goals, I plan to refresh my yoga goal and add to it a meditation goal. I posted a Routines blog a while back, and I’m sad to say it only lasted for 1 week before travel and other happenings upended my sense of routine. However, for that one week I was feeling really good. So while I don’t anticipate sticking to that exact schedule on a regular basis, I am hoping to incorporate some of those things into my regular routine and find a balance with the other things in my life.
I also hope to read at least 12 books by the end of the year. I’m still using Book of the Month, though am thinking I might skip a few months as I am around 9 books behind in my reading due to extra purchases, and plan to do a full book swap with my sister in February. She also uses BOTM and tends to pick different titles than I do. And we got my mom a year-long membership for Christmas, so will include her in book swapping as well.
I’m also planning on doing 3 months of No Spending here at the beginning of 2019. This is a TED Talk on the subject that I enjoyed, but there are so many YouTube videos about this concept, and blogs I’m sure, so if you’re curious I recommend a good binge session. The concept is sort of to cleanse yourself of any bad shopping habits or addictions you might have by limiting your spending drastically for a period of time, and consequently limiting the things you accumulate. I’ve discovered this concept as I’ve explored minimalism in 2018. You are essentially limiting yourself to only the things you absolutely need; i.e. groceries, gas, utilities/bills, etc. This can include setting budgets for the essentials, but I’m focusing more on just cutting out all of the things I spend unnecessary money on – shoes, books, essential oils, streaming services, random Amazon buys, etc., that aren’t absolutely necessary. I will keep track of things I feel I strongly want or need, and at the end of 3 months evaluate the item before deciding to allow myself to buy it. Minimalism isn’t the absence of all but the essentials, but rather cultivating the habits and mindset of only keeping or buying what you need, use, and/or strongly love.
Finally, I’m launching a rather big project in the new year that will take a lot of time and effort, and comes with it’s own set of goals for the year. I won’t share it just yet, but look out for a post in the next week or so announcing it. I’m really excited for it and hope some of you will help support me in this new venture.
In the meantime, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and that your New Year is festive and enjoyable. I’d love to hear about your 2019 goals or resolutions, so leave me a comment below.
Currently drinking: a Whisky Sour and lots of water
Currently reading: Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Hello! I'm Whitney and this is my home for all things food and life.