Goals For the Season

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.”

MARK VICTOR HANSEN

Four years ago today, I sat overlooking the Rocky Mountains on an afternoon trip to Estes, Colorado, with one of my best friends. We spent the day hiking around the lake, driving through Rocky Mountain National Park, touring the Stanley Hotel, and photographing our journey along the way. I held my mother’s film camera tightly—just like I had in London, Paris, and Italy, right before this trip to Colorado. I still didn’t understand aperture, f-stops, or what to set my lens speed to, but that didn’t stop me from snapping through a film roll. I had always wanted to understand the rawness that film captured, and at the time, I was learning to love the light leaks and imperfections my processed photos held.

Right before this trip, I had let go of my biggest goal of the season and focused on what would come of grad school and writing. Around this time, the idea for my first novel came to me in the parking lot of the Elementary school where the kids I nannied each day attended. That idea later manifested into my fascination with the love that hangs in the words of a handwritten letter and how that interest and prompt would then become the thesis for my master’s degree. When I spoke about grief this time in September four years ago, I had no idea that later I would experience my grief more than ever before.

At the time of this photo, I was in a brand new relationship with its issues. I struggled each day to see the longevity of that love. At the time, my trustfulness gave power to the process of just following what felt right. I knew little of my callowness, but I later would learn that I did know something—I was trying to navigate the same raw and imperfect emotions that I would one day learn to love. I did everything I could to make the view come into focus for photography, but I needed my personal view to focus on what I was experiencing.

What I needed to improve on in 2016 sometimes feels like the same thing that I need to improve on in 2020—allow myself to be imperfect. 

For the first half of 2020, I began setting goals and then painstakingly laid the foundation of who I want to be and where I want to see myself in 2021 and 2025, and 2030. These goals became my benchmarks for recognizing change within my life. This included goals like “make two new friends,” “get a job,” and “start paying down student loan debt.” I have kept track of these goals in my 2020 planner—something many believe was the worst purchase of 2020, but for me, it was one of the best investments because it set into motion the process of becoming the person I most wanted to be.

My planner allows space for me to track my goals and to feel productive with my time. I feel best when my day is full, where I am productive, and I am working towards who I want to be. I hold myself to this standard because I know how good I feel when I get up early and tackle the day. At the end of those days, I feel tired and sleep better than any other day. At the end of those days, I look back at all the little red checkmarks and believe I made something of myself.

But because of that, the biggest challenge I face is allowing myself the space to be imperfect and making room for error. I look at an empty week in August and wonder what happened? Where did the desire to be productive go? Why wasn’t I proactive for my future? 

My negative self-talk can be all-consuming. Sometimes, I get angry at the girl from 2016 who was learning to love raw and imperfect emotions. What happened? Where did your desire to be productive go? Why weren’t you more proactive? Why didn’t you think of me, our future, and how your impulsivity brought me heartache?

I knew I would curse that Hannah for years to come. How disappointed I was in her for just rolling over on one of our goals and forging through the warning signs that she ended up internalizing. But something I am learning to understand is just how important those decisions in 2016 were for a growing me.

What I was learning in September 2016 is the same goal I am setting for myself this autumn. The goals I have set for this season include focusing on how I spend my time and allowing myself the space to learn from the past and what I deem as “imperfect traits.” 

Journaling and tracking my days are just some ways where I feel like I can take control of what I want for my future. I have found that I lose track of time quickly—weather it is scrolling aimlessly, binging the next season of a Netflix series, or cleaning all day while I put off what I really should be doing. A goal is to spend shorter intervals of time on tasks and breaking them up into sprints instead of marathons. And with that goal comes the responsibility to allow room for rest days.

This trip to Estes feels like a lifetime ago, but it was one day that put my future into focus. When you overlook the world’s vast beauty, it changes the way you view how small the imperfections are in your life. At that moment, I didn’t think about what I should be doing to better myself for the future; I was thinking about how beautiful a moment could be. So here’s to finding the beauty in imperfections and setting ourselves up for futures we sit in awe of when we set out dreams in motion.

Ten Hours in New Paltz,​ NY

This week, my partner and I made a day-trip upstate; trading the height of the buildings for the tops of mountains. Although I love the city, it definetly has its perks and downfalls. I count myself lucky to live here because there is so much to find within the boroughs, but there are also three significant airports within reach, Amtrack stations throughout the island, and busses that will take you all over America. But with so much within reach, it’s hard to not need “an escape” from it all.

For over a year, my partner and I seem to try and get out of the city each month. Because of the opportunity to explore is so plenty, we often find ourselves catching a train or bus just outside of the city limits to try and explore more of New York State and the surrounding Northeast.

This time, we made our way to Port Authority Bus Terminal, where Trailways, a charter bus service, had regular trips to New Paltz. The small town south of Kingston in Ulster County, situated on the cusp of the mountains to the north, is a quaint mountainside town. It’s weird to think that roughly 85 miles from downtown are cities like New Paltz which nestle in the Catskill Mountains that overlook rivers and lush green worlds.

The ride took about an hour and a half, and the first stop is New Paltz. The bus drops you off in town, and it’s a quick ten-minute stroll along Main Street where you can find the bustling spots for a bite to eat, relaxed coffee shops, and boutique stores. IMG_3768

As a reader, I had to check out the bookshops in the area. Inquiring Minds and Barner Books are across the street from each other, and both offer great new and used the inventory to add to your own shelves at home. I spent a lot of time perusing Inquiring Minds, which offered cozy nooks for both adults and children to spend an afternoon reading. Plus, next door is a local chocolate shop and a cafe serving up to twenty different varieties of cereal. Yum!

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From there we headed to Historic Huguenot Street; a National Historic Landmark that is comprised of 30 buildings dating back to 1687 when Dutch settlers purchased land on Wallkill River to build homes and establish their families. During the summer, the preservation efforts offer guided tours every 30-minutes where you will get additional information on the history of the area as well as access inside the buildings.

Because it ran for about an hour, we opted to us the free-app and explore the area for ourselves through their interactive map and history snippets. Running alongside the historic street is the Wallkill River, Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary, and New Paltz Gardens for Nutrition. The grassy path is mowed regularly for leisurely walks around the pond and bird watching. IMG_3695 2.jpegIMG_3691.jpegIMG_3700.jpeg

Off in the distance, you can see the shadowed mountain ranges, cascading in elegant shades of navy across the baby blue sky. If you don’t have your own car, call an Uber to Mohonk Preserve, a fifteen-minute drive out of town and visit the all-inclusive Mohonk Mountain House. The stunning castle-like hotel overlooks Mohonk Lake and ridges in the distance. If the nightly price range is out of your budget for a stay, the Reserve offers a day pass that allows hikers to enjoy the preserve on their property.

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For a small town, New Paltz shows off its spectacular beauty in such a relaxing way. Even if hiking isn’t your forte, there are three breweries in town and numerous restaurants that show off the antique and rustic charm of the city. My favorite stops were Clemson Bros. Brewery and Schatzi’s Pub & Bier Garden of New Paltz. We had a little difficulty getting back down the mountain with Uber since it was a little out of the way from the few drivers in the city, but luckily one woman made the trip out and gave reccomendations of other places to visit upstate.

Before our bus left at 8:00pm, we grabbed a locally brewed beer and headed to dinner where we enjoyed a relaxing night on the patio sipping a German beer that catapulted us back to our last summer spent abroad. Although there is nothing quite like Eibsee Lake and being in the shadows of Zugspitze, something is charming about this little piece of European grandeur in New York. If I could do anything differently, I would definitely save up and stay at the hotel for a few nights, and come back in the autumn when the leaves are changing, and the crisp air hangs over the mountains in the distance.

The Mountains are Calling

In 2012, my father suggested I looked into universities in Colorado when we were there for a family ski trip. I had spent my entire life on the sandy shores of the Gulf Coast, all my friends I had made were staying in-state (for the most part), however, I kinda always had an inkling I would move away from the beaches I had grown accustomed to visiting. 

Every year I looked forward to heading to the mountains. I loved the snow, outdoor activities, and chill in the air. When my father suggested looking into the University of Colorado and the University of Denver, I signed up for informational sessions and tours. When we landed in Denver we headed straight to University of Colorado-Denver campus. It was a gray cold day and the clouds hung low over the gray buildings. I had loved the time I spent previously in Denver, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t moved by the campus. 

The next morning we spent the afternoon at the University of Denver. It was all that I was looking for in a school, except for a football team. The campus was gorgeous, the faculty and students were kind, I found myself gearing up for the application process. We left early from the orientation to make it to the CU-Boulder session. I was ready to sign up to be a member of the 2013 freshman class, but then I saw the foothills off the highway on our drive on 36. 

We parked and sat through a lengthy informational setting, and then took a tour around campus. I think it was the first steps onto the quad where in my heart I knew, this is where I need to go to be my happiest. 

I spent three years at the University of Colorado-Boulder as a double major in psychology and sociology, where almost every day walking to class I snapped a photo of the foothills that were the backdrop of my campus. Seeing them peak out above the football stadium made losing not so bad, but winning even better. Every season painted the mountains with breathtaking colors, and I never got over how lucky I felt to be a part of the school.

Although I traded the mountains for over industrialized skylines, I still find myself craving the mountains. Even a trip upstate means me gawking out the train window to grab a glace at the Catskills. Any chance I can get to heighten my vantage point, I do it. This past summer I traveled to Eibsee, Germany. After sitting it the shadows of the Zugspitze for a minute, I knew I had to see the view from the top. 

We all loaded in the gondola and I glued my face to the window to see the sights. Stepping off I breathed in the cool air and a calm feeling came over me. I looked over Germany, Austria, and Italy, and knew I was where I was happiest. 

Happy International Mountian Day! Check out what the UN has to say on why #MountainsMatter.