(Wow, the year was so overwhelming for me I wanted to skip right over it and go into the best and worst of 2018).

I’ve heard from quite a few people I know well and people I don’t know at all about how bad 2017 was. I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t the best for me either. But there were some truly enjoyable moments mixed with the scary shit. I guess it’s always all about balance.

The best thing about a new year is getting to write lists. Me and lists go way back. So, here’s my lists of the best and worst for me in 2017. I want to reiterate that what I write is personal for me. I don’t wish to discount anyone’s experiences this year. For example, while I know quite a few people who were affected by hurricanes Irma and Harvey, they didn’t make my list because I experienced other things a bit more personal for me. But I don’t want to discount that hurricanes are getting more powerful, more frequent, and more devastating.  What is on this list are my personal feelings about the reaction and action we are taking to combat things like stronger and crazier hurricanes. Enough, let’s get down to it.

  1. Worst of 2017: Climate change deniers. Can I say climate change deniers can go fuck themselves? Well, I just did. It’s my blog. This year became more evident than ever we need to take drastic action to combat the human made effects we are having on this planet. We are experiencing the sixth mass extinction event, only this is the first time an extinction event was caused by a single species. Coral reefs are disappearing due to coral bleaching, a result of global warming and the drastic increase in ocean temperatures. Glaciers are melting. Areas are experiencing severe drought and are more susceptible to wildfires (I’ll get to that a little later). Other areas are experiencing once-in-a-lifetime flooding events, only they are getting them twice, or three times in the past five or six years. But all this still isn’t enough to convince a large population in the United States that climate change is a pressing problem. Never mind that scientists have an over 97% consensus. Never mind that EVERY OTHER COUNTRY ON EARTH has said climate change is the most important problem of the planet. Trump once said climate change was a hoax by Chinese and these people have been hanging onto that presumption ever since. What do scientists know about CLIMATE change? There’s a business man who claims it’s just a hoax. He must know everything about the environment! Let’s take stock in him and ignore all those pesky scientists with their degrees and experiments, and research.

 

  1. Best of 2017- I am not alone. As much as I experienced pushback about climate change, I can attest all those interactions were online. I don’t know a single person personally in my life who doesn’t agree finding solutions to climate change is more important than ensuring coal miners are still working destroying the environment. It’s not just about environmental issues. I have good people in my life who helped me get involved in attending protest marches, political town hall meetings, and events around the island. It’s heartening to know even when there are still a depressingly high number of idiots out in the world, I have a huge number of good friends who will continue to fight, and encourage me to never give up my fight.

 

  1. Worst of 2017: Wildfires. Hurricanes took center stage this year, and I don’t want to dispute whose natural disaster was worse, but the wildfires in Oregon and British Columbia hit a little close to home for me. Literally and figuratively. When I heard a teen had started the Columbia River Gorge fire from a careless prank, it broke my heart and made me lose a lot more hope in humanity. The Gorge is one of those rare and beautiful spots on earth. It is easily accessible and has so much to offer nature lovers. What was destroyed in the following weeks while firefighters fought to contain the flames will take generations to rebuild and that makes my heart heavy with grief. But that was our old home. Our new home felt the effects from the fires in British Columbia with incredibly poor visibility and horrible air quality. On a selfish note, it made it harder to workout outdoors, which pretty much killed off a lot of workouts later in the summer for me and Chris. There was a fire ban all summer, with good reason. But it was still disappointing to not cookout on the bonfire. And if we could feel the effect from British Columbia fires hundreds of miles away on Whidbey Island, I couldn’t imagine how devastating the effects were on Vancouver Island. Makes me want to do a charity fundraiser for them…

 

  1. Best of 2017: Visiting Florida. Because of our nomadic life, I have moved across the whole country from many good and dear friends. Ironically, all these friends decided to have their kids AFTER I moved, which I’m not sure what kind of statement that is about me, but being as far away as I am, it is often long periods of time between visits. But I decided after my friend Jeff beat cancer, I wanted to go see him. Getting to spend time with Erin’s kids, hang out with Jeff and Erica, and even get a beluga squishy was well worth the three thousand mile journey, I’ll say. I just hope it isn’t quite seven years before I visit again.

 

  1. Worst of 2017: Loss of motivation and focus. Okay, this is one part pity-party, and one part smackdown on myself to get my shit together. It seems to me every time I would start to progress, something dragged me down a little. Or more appropriately, I ALLOWED something and used it as an excuse to drag me down a little. Poor air quality. Can’t work out. Family visiting. Can’t eat healthy. A bad critique on my writing. I suck and I can’t write anymore. Chris doesn’t feel like working out. Oh, I guess we can’t go. See? Pathetic excuses, but I let them drag me down. I even started a Whole 30 eating challenge and was gung ho until, well, we’ll talk about THAT in a little bit. But it wasn’t even ME, it was CHRIS, and I let that as an excuse to falter on my own program. My own challenge. I don’t want to say I suck. But I sucked this year at letting excuses dictate my success. I don’t want that to happen again.

 

  1. Best of 2017: Family. The next three are all positives because I want to focus more on the positive and show there are always more positives than negatives in the world. Family is always a positive for me each year. But this year was very special. My mother-in-law came to visit for over a week, and my husband and I were able to show off all the wonderful things which brought us out to the Northwest, and what keeps us in the Northwest. It was a special visit because we have been living in Washington for eight years, and we haven’t had a visit from his side of the family in that time. We get it. They live in Kentucky and it’s not so easy to fly out, but we do miss them, and having this occasion to visit with family was very special to us.
    I also consider many friends to be close family, so I will briefly mention names and special occasions- Blair getting married, visiting Stephanie in California, and getting to know Erin’s kids a little better.
  1. Best of 2017: Sloth Army- one of the best things to happen to me this year was starting up a “running” club through parks and recs called Sloth Army. I placed the word running in quotations because it was a really loose term. I didn’t call ourselves Sloth Army for nothing. We ran. We were slower than a herd of sloths stampeding through a batch of peanut butter, but we ran. I met several fantastically great people, and I had huge motivation to get out of the house at least twice a week to do something remotely active and healthy. I enjoyed our outings, and I’m doing it again for 2018.

 

  1. Best of 2017: Toastmasters- one thing that I surprisingly enjoyed even more than Sloth Army was Toastmasters. At the end of 2016, I had a revelation about how Toastmasters could help me become a better writer as well as a more comfortable speaker. It did take an epic fail of a talk and a comeback speech to see the benefit, but that failure was necessary. I decided to have a little fun with my next couple of talks, and started sharing stories about working with animals. They were such hits I began interweaving my book The Zookeeper’s Guide to Fitness with these stories, and those became popular hits as well. After that, my writing began to flow a little more and I felt good about my book. If you have a goal to change the world someday, I really couldn’t recommend checking out Toastmasters and seeing how they can help. They’ve done wonders for me and I am eternally grateful to them.

 

  1. Worst of 2017: Kidney Disease hits a little close to home- So, I know I’ve got a book in the works with this one somewhere, but right now it’s a little too raw and disconcerting to think about how to write it. In October, my husband called while I was on vacation in Florida. He never calls. He only texts. So I knew it was something important. His important news was he needed to go to the hospital for tests because the doctors said he was in kidney failure.

Fun fact- you can lose up to 90% of your kidney functionality without one symptom. Which is what happened to Chris. We didn’t know it, but Chris has had chronic kidney disease and was steadily decreasing until recently, when we got him on medication for high blood pressure and cut out basically all his meat and protein. Chris now is living with his kidneys functioning at only 11-12%. He needs a transplant. But even that is just the beginning. Since this all went down in October, everything is still really new and scary and overwhelming.  I am trying to keep things positive but it really feels we are living in the Upside Down World and our lives are really never going to be the same.

 

1.Best of 2017: Finding my tribe on Whidbey Island- Sloth Army, Toastmasters, the best damn landlords in the Northwest, what else am I forgetting? Oh, of course, my peeps from North Sound Writers. We are a very small organization just getting started and getting our feet wet. But since I found my tribe on Whidbey Island, I have helped orchestrate not one, but two monthly library meet-ups, a regular social writers’ event at a local brewery, helped publish our first anthology, and have big hopes for 2018. My friends keep me sane and somewhat motivated (I only say somewhat because a few spaces up I stated how unmotivated I’ve become, and I want to assure every single one of you five who read this blog that it is NOT North Sound Writers’ fault…like, at all). If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have written nearly half as much as I have this year. I had a pretty good year, too. Over 256,000 words written. That includes rough drafts, edits, blog posts, and special projects (like speeches and presentations). And they helped me get my essay book on stupid questions written too. I have a lot to be grateful for on Whidbey. I hope we blow 2018 out of the water with commitment to success.

 

And because I love to make long blog posts even longer, here are some of my great hopes for 2018.

  1. ZooFit Program
  2. 100 queries each for Zookeeper’s Guide to Fitness and What Do You Do With the Dolphins When it Rains? or as many until I get an acceptance.
  3. Perfect Conservation Fitness Program Guide and self-publish for marketing and conferences
  4. Self-publish Reuse, Recycle, Reduce Your Waist for marketing and conferences
  5. Join Nerd Fitness, Whole30, and Yes Fit
  6. Get certified in a different fitness certification preferably MovNat.
  7. Attend AAZK, AZA, and possibly IMATA and ABMA as a vendor. Most important aspect of this ambition is to have things to sell as a vendor.

 

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