>  Bucket Listing   >  Lookin’ Back: 2019

We’re almost a week into 2020 and I’m just now taking the time to pause and reflect on 2019. From what I’ve seen on social media I’m days late, but truth be told it was a realllly awesome year and I wanted to savor every last moment. Once the hustle and bustle of the holidays ended and I had time to sit and think about this year gone by, counting all the incredible experiences and small pleasures I’ve encountered along the way, I realized it was enough to fill a blog post and certainly a worthy subject.

I know what you’re thinking: Barf! Someone’s braggy highlight reel about their awesome year. I certainly hope it doesn’t end up coming off that way. But this year was a big one for me, and since I write this thing more for myself than for you, I’m going to have to get into it a little.

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2019 started off with a bang. On a cold morning in early February, full of fear and determination, I pushed myself harder than I ever have and checked off my biggest bucket list item to date. I ran my first marathon. And more than that, I crushed it.

My running buddy and I have run races together in Maine, Mass, Key West, Amsterdam, Singapore, and Victoria, BC. But this was both of our first time taking on a full 26.2 miles. We ran side by side, with no music, chatting and pacing and cheering each other on for almost the entirety of the 4 hours and 20 minutes. Far from dying, which was my main concern going into this thing, by the end of the race I felt better than I ever had. That elusive runner’s high I’d heard of but never truly believed in engulfed me, and with this surge of energy and euphoria, I barreled towards the finish line, smiling as hard as I was running.

Something I’d dreamed of doing for so long, that I’d put off for so long out of fear of not being capable or ready. And it was done and it was brilliant. Meagaan and I chose our first marathon wisely, noting that if we did nothing else in 2019, we had still run a marathon. It gives me chills to think about, the memory is so happy. I’m still so proud of the mental and physical work we put in, still so amazed by what this body can do. We don’t have another marathon on the docket, but I think we both know we’ll be hitting that long track again in the future.

I also began my Spanish-learning journey this year, starting with a seven-week stint in Medellin, Colombia.

Of course I didn’t just learn Spanish. I explored. I pushed myself outside my comfort zone. I spoke with locals when I felt my Spanish wasn’t good enough to hold a conversation. I took salsa classes when I’m coordinationally challenged. I went paragliding in the countryside with some people from a hiking group I had JUST met that morning. I tried new foods and made new friends from different parts of the world. I went to museums and parks and on tours alone. At the end of my time in Colombia I was able to say I’d checked off one of the other major items on my bucket list. I had traveled solo.

I fell in love with Medellin and became determined to speak Spanish. You know, like for real. Fluency will probably take me the rest of my life to achieve, but I figure if I double down my efforts maybe I can get to a level of confident conversational speaking in half that time. And why not try?

This desire brought me to where I am now, commuting back and forth to Mexico City, taking classes to improve my language skills and eating way too many spicy street foods. I’m having a blast. I love the city and specifically the neighborhood and the adorable guest apartment in which I’m living.

I count myself lucky to have found a way to live this weird, crazy, scattered life. This job I said I’d try for a year and am still gung-ho about six years later. The one that lets me work only 15 days a month and live wherever I want and travel for cheap or free on my off days. That allows me to help out my close friends to come home from Colorado a couple times a year. That lets me drop and swap my schedule as other more-important-than-work things arise in my life. That has led me to some of the coolest freaking people I could ever hope to meet and to places I never expected to see in person.

Okay, enough about work. I know this is barf-worthy too.

Skyline, Medellin, Colombia

Dia de los Muertos, Mexico City, CDMX

Zocalo, Mexico City

In addition to these big-ticket items, 2019 was chock full of smaller, but no less awesome experiences.

I had a New England Summer Week, where I took in the best my home has to offer. I went to a few of my old favorite beaches in Massachusetts, ones on the North Shore I hadn’t visited in years. I also hit the beach in San Diego and Bermuda and Puerto Rico and even the Netherlands, believe it or not.

I went hiking. In New Hampshire, Maine, San Diego, San Francisco, Colombia, The Adirondacks, Colorado, Utah, Mexico, Vermont, and probably other places I don’t remember right now.

I spent time with family at cookouts and trips to Maine and coffee dates with my dad and movie nights with my brother. I got to spend time with my nieces and nephews. The older two are tweens now, and I got to laugh at and enjoy and cringe and roll my eyes at what this new stage brings. We threw a surprise 80th birthday party for my grandmother and she had the best day and so it was my best day too.

I spent not one but TWO girls’ weekends with three of my work friends that I rarely see otherwise and both of our trips in Southern California and Vermont were so full of laughs and good times that I’m grinning ear-to-ear right now just writing about it.

I went to the gym and got my body to a level of fitness that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. It was short lived and we’re a bit squishy in the middle at the moment, but these things are like language learning. It’s up and down and some days you´re a skinny bitch and some days you´re crushing donuts, leaving a powdered sugar dusting on your fupa. As long as you don’t let those donut days stretch on for too long, and as long as you’re loving that body and treating it right, then I say you’re doing great.

I paid off thousands of dollars of debt this year and I’m a stone’s throw and a few short months away from being completely, 100% debt-free.

I dis-invited someone from my life who I cared about deeply but who would never be good for me, no matter how hard we pretended. Letting go can be tough, but so is a marathon. And accomplishing either, I’ve found, will leave you with a sense of peace and self-appreciation. Cause we really can do anything, can’t we?

In late summer, very at peace with myself and in the midst off all the self-appreciation one could possibly procure, I met a guy, under the most cliché of circumstances for a flight attendant, who happened to be not only giving and kind and open and emotionally available, but also pretty darn cute. (There is a slew of other good characteristics but again, this is not a barf post.) And though I wasn’t sure about getting into a new relationship or committing or if he was “the one,” I let myself have fun, I opened myself to the experience and to possibility, I jumped in and we gave it a try. And dontcha know we’re still having a lot of fun.

the ladies, quitting alcohol, quitting drinking, getting sober, hardest part of quitting alcohol, fab 4, drinking buddies, women, rainbow glasses, fun glasses, girls trip, girls weekend

I caught up with some old, dear friends; past coworkers that were more like my family for five years. It seems a lifetime ago that we were all working in the bar and having way too much fun doing it. But somehow when we get together it still feels like we know each other. Like deep down on the inside understanding type stuff. Making plans and actually following through for a tipsy little girls’ lunch this Summer was truly a highlight of this year for me.

And there was more friend stuff. I visited one of my best friends from high school in Colorado. Attended a private surprise Snoop Dog concert at another friend’s company holiday party for which I was a plus one. I made a new friend at work and somehow it feels like we’ve known each other for years. I have (reluctantly) started using Marco Polo, an app to record and receive video messages with friends, and it has made keeping up a lot easier and a lot more fun. I’ve cheered on my friends in new relationships looking so, SO happy. Others for getting their finances in order. For buying new homes. For kicking ass at their fitness goals. For planting beautiful gardens and giving so much of themselves for the good of others. For all the new babies and new puppies. New jobs and moves to the big city. For hustling and being absolute bosses at work. To be really real here, I’ve been cheering for all of you for these things too. I’m not trying to have a moment, but if you’re reading this, we are likely friends on social media. And if you think any of the above sounds like I’m talking about you: I TOTALLY AM.

I see your successes, big ones and small, and I enjoyed so much watching you kick ass in 2019.

2019 was also a big year for me because I launched this blog, an endeavor I had been working on for over a year, after wanting to do it for many more years. You can read more about why it took me so long here. I got a ton of help from my friend and former boss and mentor, Francis, who knows more about websites than anyone, or at least a lot more than I do. It was a learning curve, but I eventually did get the hang of it. And the biggest win of all; I’ve been writing (mostly) consistently for a year now, the reason for starting this thing in the first place. I’m under no illusions that I’ll become some lifestyle guru-travel blogging-influencer or whatever, but it’s been fun and therapeutic and I’m proud that as busy as I’ve been this past year with work and school and Spanish-learning and travel I’ve carved out the time to keep this little baby going. My baby.

It may not seem like much, but every part of it is personal. For someone who has difficulty expressing emotion but can write in her sleep, it’s been an exercise in vulnerability. For someone who’s an expert at starting and often a failure at finishing, having a reason to create consistently has been both challenging and incredibly satisfying. For someone with so much to say and a readership that seems to consist of just my mom and a couple close friends, it is also an exercise in humility, and in doing things for yourself. In taking pride and pleasure in those things even in the absence of external rewards.

And of course that’s an exaggeration, because some of you have told me that you’ve read my blog. That you liked my stories. That you keep up with me while I’m on the road. And each and every time someone mentions it I’m so surprised and so flattered and so grateful that you’d spend those ten precious minutes of your life with me, reading what I wrote.

I promise we’re not getting mushy, but from the bottom of my heart thank you.

It hasn’t been all good. I got my heart hurt and the planet is on fire and Trump is still president and we’re on the verge of WWIII. I’ve had to take a step back from politics and from always being “in the know” because it became difficult for me to simultaneously focus on so many horrors and to enjoy my life. It has made me feel a lot freer, and also pretty guilty. I’m hoping that in 2020 I can find balance. To be a more involved community-member for all the communities I support, to be a better, more active global citizen, and to also enjoy this year and this life to the fullest. (At least until global warming or the next World War wipes us all out.)

In 2020 I’m also looking forward to new beginnings. My time in Mexico will be up before I know it and I’ll have new choices to make about where to live and what I want my life to look like. Questions I couldn’t possibly answer at this moment. I love the sense of excitement, that something new is coming. That I have no idea what’s next and I have to live the day and turn the page to find out. That I’m the boss of my life and get to make these choices.

I want to spend more time creating and less time doubting myself. To trust my gut. To not sweat the small stuff. To spend time showing the people I love that I care about them. To improve my track record of tardiness. To be a better friend, daughter, aunt, sister.

I’m looking forward to untethered financial freedom. To new adventures with New Guy. To traveling this big ass world, and hopefully checking some more items off my bucket list. To finding satisfaction not just in great adventures, but also in the smaller, and even the mundane.

I’m also looking forward to seeing all the dope shit you guys are going to be taking on.

2019 will be hard for me to beat, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be great.

click on the gallery below to see of some of the best things of 2019. (Maybe you’ll see yourself!). And as always, thanks for stopping by.

Xoxo, Toni.



  • Rae Rae

    January 8, 2020

    Loved your year in review. Here’s to another great year! <3


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