Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Out with 2016, In with 2017

Happy New Year! Another 365 days in the books....already? Pretty sure hot summery busy July was just like yesterday and now there's snow on the ground and it's January. Hope all of you had a superb New Year's Eve celebrating. More than twenty of my best friends and I rented a vacation condo up in the Wisconsin Dells for the weekend and it was a grand time. What did you do for New Year's? Sing a little "Auld Lang Syne" and pop a few bottles? Yesterday on January 1, I led a guided #FirstDayHike at the state park I work at and we had 85 people show up! And a few dogs! We hiked a combined 275 miles throughout our state forest land. These hikes take place across all 50 states at county and state parks. Big thanks to the American Hiking Society for their continued advocacy for getting people outdoors and on to our nation's trails.

When looking over some website traffic numbers, it seems like these personal posts I've written with the category tag 'thoughts' have been getting a lot of views. That's kind of the fun thing about blogging, having an outlet to open-up and share what's going on in your world. I've always believed in the healing power of writing, whether on-paper or by depressing a row of keys. The past four years I've kept a few journals that I cherish significantly. When things in life seem like they're flying by at a million miles-per-hour, sometimes I just need to pause it all and reflect. Picking up a pen and scribbling away brings me some much-desired sense of peace. Good things, bad things, ideas, rants, sketches and drawings, quotes. It's therapeutic and immensely helpful for my own personal growth. Whenever I'm out on some adventure, I bring a tiny notebook in my pack that gets its pages filled each night around the campfire or by headlamp in my tent. Even when I'm driving, I like to have that notebook sitting on my passenger seat with pen at-hand, so I can jot observations and lines of text down. I love writing. It gets me excited. A friend of mine asked me once, "Robby how do you come up with such clever writing?" I eagerly explained how there are times where I'll just get excited and think of phrase or two of words, (it might while I'm at the grocery store, hiking, or out at a bar) and then figure out a way ASAP to get it written down on a napkin, in my journal, a voice recording or even shoot myself a text. I urge you to keep a journal and maybe make a resolution for 2017 to write a bit more.

When December 31 rolls around each year, I take time to ponder on what went well this year, what didn't. What worked, what failed and what can I do better this next, new year. So 2016 was a pretty solid year for me. For the professional side, it was legendary. After years of trying to find employment worth sticking with and bouncing in-and-out of seasonal positions- I landed a job in my dream career field, outdoor recreation, working full-time between two state parks in Wisconsin. January 12 marks my one-year anniversary with our state's Department of Natural Resources and gosh I'm proud to say that there has yet to be a day where I don't want to go into work. When you work a job, everyday in a field you're passionate about surrounded by others (I have the best co-workers) who share that same passion, it's wonderful. I get to be outside nearly everyday, use my skills knowledge and love for outdoor recreation and get paid for it. But what I really dig about the job, is that I can get other people excited about getting outside. That's crucially important to me. It's also an insane relief to know that this is the career field I feel comfortable in and plan to stay in till retirement. Though the latter probably won't ever happen haha. Pretty sure I'll be working until I'm underground.

The biggest down-fall this past year? In June I got hit by a car at work, when a guy blew through a stop sign by our ranger station and I couldn't get out of the way in time. I flew up on the hood when his SUV slammed into me at around 20mph, came down and shattered my right knee. He was apologetic and admitted to looking over his shoulder and not forward. An inattentive driving ticket for him and a hospital visit for me followed up by months of continued appointments with my orthopedic surgeon. There's zero cartilage, tons of fissures/cracks and a chunk of bone missing from my right knee or in other words- permanent damage. The accident has put a huge damper on a lot of my outdoor rec hobbies. I can't run anymore and when I'm rock climbing it's become frustratingly difficult to do some maneuvers with my right leg. I'm supposed to get surgery, again, sometime this next year after a wave of different types of medicine and shots have just acted as temporary band aids. But you can't let a busted-up knee kill your vibe completely.

My tent got quite the use this year. I spent a humongous amount of my past year on the road traveling both here and abroad. I was able to cross more Wisconsin state parks and forests off my bucket-list, pull a few backpacking overnighters, get my fix of kayaking in and bike on some cool trails. I bought a new mountain bike! In March, I flew out and spent a pro-longed weekend seeing some of my closest friends and skiing up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. 2016 marked the centennial celebration for our National Park Service so earlier this fall, I loaded up my station wagon and explored five properties in the Dakota Badlands and Black Hills; Devil's Tower National Monument, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site along with Theodore Roosevelt, Wind Cave and Badlands National Parks. It was a purely amazing adventure. There's something about the west, I tell you. Get me bacccccckkkkkk stat. My last grand adventure of the year took me to Iceland for two-weeks. After years and years of anticipation I finally decided that I was going to make a dream a reality and buy a ticket to Reykjavík on Icelandair. It was the best traveling I've ever done and it's the most beautiful place I've ever been. Those fourteen days I spent in Iceland taught me so much about myself and allowed for me to discover what I'm truly capable of, when I'm out on my own. It was also a chance to to see nature at its pure raw form. Just an incredible country. Make sure to read-up on all my adventures over there and see some jaw-dropping photos. I'm already toying with the idea of going back in a year or so.

2016 was personally a year for growth. I'm not ashamed to admit that I think my biggest weakness is my mountainous lack of confidence. Whether it be in social or professional situations, for whatever reason my self-esteem and own confidence is always hiding. I don't know exactly why, but in past year's I've found it difficult to sometimes break-out of my own shell and just be me. Maybe I just hold on to unfortunate events, past-jobs, relationships or inner struggles that happened in the past that I'm too shy to put behind me. Almost like I'm worried they're going to affect or put a damper on anything new I go into. I have made tremendous progress the past two-years in terms of standing up for what I believe in and living my own life without questioning if others will judge it. And it's made me a happier person, giving me a chance to accomplish and achieve more and more. In 2016, especially about half-way through the year, I decided to just pause and reflect on what I'm going to stop diverting energy and focus to things that aren't building me up. Figure out what I can do to eliminate some stress and stray away from anything and anyone that would just make me feel negative. I was becoming way burnt-out and drained from committing to too many things and too many people that it was distracting me from caring about myself. My own personal life had started to crack and needed to be put back together. Post mid-summer 2016, the changes I've made have made a big difference in my day-to-day life. I'm glad I finally halted things and went in a new direction to improve me. I'm so looking forward to 2017 and continuing on this higher path.

So now on to resolutions! Instead of blabbing on, I'd rather make a brief list of new goals I have for the hobbies I dive into constantly:

  • Flash a 5.12 route in rock climbing
  • Buy a new, bigger kayak equipped with gear storage
  • Volunteer with an outdoor stewardship organization
  • Go on an overnight, kayaking trip
  • Put more miles on my mountain bike 
  • Check-off as many state and national parks on my adventure bucket-list as possible
  • Hike as many segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail as possible
  • Buy a new project or classic car to work on 
  • Get back into autocross racing
  • Shoot more 35mm old-school photography
  • Continue freelance writing 
  • Blog, blog, blog and blog!
Thanks a ton for following-along with my blog for another year. I do very much appreciate it! Stay tuned because there's some cool content coming here soon. I also picked up a few recent freelance writing gigs that I'll post some links to. Have a stellar start to your 2017.