17 in ’17!


2016 was very good to me – you might even say it was life-changing – and I’m hoping to build on those good experiences and have even more fun in 2017.

So without further fanfare, I present my 17 things to do in 2017!

  1. Pay off my mortgage super-early and figure out what to do with taxes and escrow. Thanks to paying almost triple what is due every month, I’m down to about $5,000 remaining on my house that I bought in July 2008. I plan on paying off the remainder of the mortgage before I reach 9 years on my 30 year mortgage.
    Update: Completed 4/21/17!
  2. Build my savings up to the secret amount that I’ve been working towards. I won’t put the number on here just yet (I tempt fate enough with leaving my door unlocked overnight half the time; don’t need to go around telling people how much money I have socked away), but it’s a rather substantial number I’m working towards.
    Update: I’m contributing more than $2,000 a month to my savings, and if I continue at this rate, I’ll reach my unspoken goal in no time! Or, well, in a few months. 🙂
  3. Go somewhere I’ve never been before. An oldie, but a goodie, and this one tends to get me out of my comfort zone time and time again. Bonus points if work pays for it and I manage to finagle some free time.
    Update: Birmingham and Hoover, AL in March and Dallas, TX in June!
  4. Watch a Kung Fu movie. I don’t think I’d enjoy them, but I’ve never seen one to be able to say for sure.
    Update: My friend Tony lent me a movie, but I just haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. So, not complete, but this goal was kind of started. Sort of.
  5. Figure out how to roll over 401(k)s and Roth IRAs. I had both at the job I left 4 years ago (wow, time has flown by!), and I still don’t know what to do with them. I keep earning interest on them, but I’m also being charged fees. And if there’s one thing I hate, it’s being charged fees for keeping my money somewhere. #cheap
    Update: I totally failed at this one. I still have those accounts from my last job open, and I don’t know what to do with them. I think I might need to consult a pro at some point.
  6. Volunteer with Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, or a similar organization. Nearly all of the work I do with the Red Cross is a product of other people’s devastation, and that bothers me a little bit. While we do a lot to get them back on their feet and to help them out on one of the worst days of their lives, I want to experience more of the positive side of community involvement and volunteering.
    Update: I also completely failed at this one. Between Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh and Team Rubicon, I’ve had a Facebook feed full of other people doing great deeds, but I haven’t managed to volunteer for either just yet. I think I’d like to keep at this, simply because I really do think there’s a lot more I can do beyond what I already do.
  7. Go to a church – any church/any denomination – at least once. I know of some friends who would be happy to invite me to theirs, and I have two in mind that I’m considering trying. Like I’ve said multiple times on here, I’m not a religious person, but I’m also working on figuring out what exactly I do (and don’t) believe. It’s a work in progress. I may go and absolutely hate it, but I may go and love it. I won’t know until I try.
    Update: Completed 12/17/17.
  8. Learn how to make summer rolls. This doesn’t go very well with the grain-free lifestyle I’ve been leading (rice wrappers), but I’m allowing for special occasions. Summer rolls have always intrigued me, but intimidated me – they’re so pretty and so delicious! I’ve been meaning to try my hand at making them for a long time, but I’ve been too afraid of messing them up and wasting ingredients.
    Update: Nope, didn’t do this one, either.
  9. Expand my role with the Red Cross. Pretty self-explanatory, but serves as a reminder to continue some discussions I’ve had over the past month about where I’m going, what I want, and what I can do. I have a lot of ideas, and some other people have ideas for me, and I want to ensure that we’re all on the same page.
    Update: Became our Regional Lead for the 28 counties in Western PA!
  10. Establish a regular weight-training routine. I’m fantastic at going to the gym on a regular basis and knocking out an hour + of cardio at a time, but I’ve gotten lazy with the weight-training stuff. I was doing really well at it for a while, but vacations ruin everything. 😉 I hope to figure out a schedule and a method that works well for me in the long-term, and that’s sustainable through work trips and vacations.
    Update: If anything, I did the opposite this year – I was going to the gym on the regular for a long, long time, but then I just stopped around the time I was deployed to Texas for the hurricane. I’ve gone back a couple times since, but I’ve drastically fallen off the exercise wagon.
  11. Establish a regular yoga routine. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the weight-training thing – I did it for a while, but then I stopped. I don’t necessarily want to go somewhere for a class – though I belong to like 5,000 gyms and almost all of them offer classes – but I’d like to incorporate more quietness and flexibility into my regular schedule. Besides, I’m kind of a basketcase and a disaster junkie; I need some way to shut off my brain. 😉
    Update: See above – total failure.
  12. Continue my Big Brothers Big Sisters relationship. At least until our year is through; at which point we’ll reevaluate and decide if we both want to continue. It’s too early to say at this point, but I fully intend to stick with it for the full year-long commitment.
    Update: My Little quit. 😦 It was out of my hands, and I was assured it wasn’t because of me or anything I did or said, but it still stung a bit. 
  13. Figure out long-term charitable giving. Once I pay off my mortgage, I’m going to have some extra money every month (even with building up my savings). I’d like to set aside an amount every month to give to charity – likely different charities every month. I’m still figuring out how this will work, and if it’s something I really want to blog about, but it’s definitely something I want to do.
    Update: I haven’t totally figured it out, but I do have some ideas. Still, the goal is incomplete for the end of 2017.
  14. Watch 5 movies (any 5) on the AFI’s 100 Greatest American Films list. I’m notoriously bad at catching up on pop culture, and I’m a little ashamed I haven’t seen such films as Casablanca, Raging Bull, Singin’ in the Rain, and Gone with the Wind (among many others). 5 movies doesn’t sound like much, but considering I’d need to find them streaming online or else borrow them from friends, plus the added challenge of carving out a couple hours at a time… trust me, it’s not going to be easy.
    Update: Nope.
  15. Step out of my comfort zone more often. This one, like the “do more good things” in 2016 task, isn’t easily quantifiable. However, I refer back to these lists often over the course of the year, and this will serve as a reminder to me to do more things that scare me. Examples include taking on additional responsibilities at work, taking on additional (and/or completely different) responsibilities volunteer-wise, or just putting myself out there in public more often. Case in point – I don’t enjoy dating (hate it, actually), but maybe I should say Yes more than I say No. Very little bad ever happens when you step out of your comfort zone, right?
    Update: I totally did this, in a bunch of different ways. This should probably be on every list, forever.
  16. Be receptive to receiving help when it’s offered. This is another one that’s not easily quantifiable, nor easily blog-able. It’s a well-known fact that I’m always more than willing to help other people, especially people I know and like; I’ll even go out of my way to do so. But when it comes time for me to ask for help, I can’t, and it’s really hard for me to accept help when I could really use it. The perfect example of this was 2016’s volunteer holiday gathering – a friend offered to pick me up and take me home and it took a full-on argument and intervention from our program specialist to make me allow her to pick me up. Even then, I didn’t want her to take me back to my car, because it was completely out of the way for her and her husband. Luckily, another volunteer lives somewhat close to where my car was parked, and I was happy to accept a ride home with him. But really, when someone insists that they want to help you and you argue with them, even though you would absolutely do the same thing for them, that’s kind of a problem.
    Update: I’ve gotten a lot better at this, but it’s still really hard for me. For some reason, I always feel like I’m walking through this world all alone… and then someone will tell me to shut up and remind me that I do have people. This is going to be a life-long goal; it’s not something that can just be completed and then forgotten.
  17. Be more open with the people I care about. This one is the one that’s going to kill me; it’s the most personal by far, and it’s going to be the most difficult. It kind of matches up with the one about receiving help when it’s offered, and like that one, it’s also not very easily quantifiable/blog-able.
    Despite the fact that I share part of my life online via the blog, I’m actually a fairly private person. I carefully pick and choose the parts of my day and my life that I put on the blog, so you’re rarely (if ever) getting the full story. Sometimes I feel the need to be cryptic, but that’s to protect either my safety/privacy or other people’s; that’s not going to change. This task in particular relates to people I know in real life and how I interact with them, which is different from how I interact on the blog and on social media.
    A simple conversation is what kicked this task into gear. I was enjoying some one-on-one time with someone in the volunteer office, and this person is pretty open about some health challenges she’s faced in the past. Somehow the conversation steered in that direction, and I finally let loose and told her that I’d been dealing with the same thing for years. I don’t think I’d ever talked to anyone other than a doctor about it – aside from telling my immediate family simply because I had to thanks to surgeries and the like – and I’d certainly never talked about how it made me feel or how awful the treatment was. I left the office that day feeling lighter and unburdened, and I think that letting someone know about what had been bugging me (and is still bugging me to this day) and sharing that experience was most of the reason why. I remember telling her I was surprised that she was so open about it, and she explained it like this: we may not think the obstacle in question is a big deal, but family and friends see things differently, they can offer a different perspective, and they almost invariably want to do everything they can to help. Plus, by trusting people and opening up to them more now, it’s easier to avoid that awkward encounter when the problem in question can no longer be hidden or covered up and people feel betrayed that you didn’t trust them enough to let them in when the problem started.
    This is not to say that all of my friends are going to know every little detail about me ongoing – hardly. But the serious things, the things that I’ve otherwise kept quiet about, and the things that I might need help with – these are the things that I need to start being more open about (especially with my family). Considering there’s a decent chance I might meet my healthcare deductible in January for the first time ever, and the fact that I’m apparently at my lifetime max for radiation (there’s that stuff I don’t talk about on here!), things are going to come out sooner or later. May as well rip the band-aids off as soon as plans become finalized, right?
    Update: Meh. I definitely did get better at this with some people, but there are a lot of things that I could or even should talk about with people, and it’s just so darn hard to start the conversation. This is another one of those goals that needs to be ongoing.


Wish me luck in crossing off all 17 items in 2017! 🙂