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Highlights of 2018: Travels, Milestones & More

2018 was a big year for me.

Was it perfect? Not even close. It was actually probably the most challenging year yet. I remember thinking at the beginning of the year “This is my year!” and it totally was. But, sometimes it’s hard to remember how you felt at the beginning of the year when things don’t go how you expected by the end. I started making this list when I was down because a friend reminded me of all the awesome adventures I had this year and it really helped put things in perspective for me.

No year is perfect, but 2018 was pretty close. I pushed myself further than I thought I could go and realized dreams I didn’t expect for another few years, if at all—all surrounded by incredible people who fill my life with so much love and encouragement! I hope that when you look back on 2018, you focus on the good and all the amazing ways you challenged yourself and grew!

Skills I Learned

How to drive manual

I’ve always wanted to know how to drive manual, but every time someone tried to teach me I couldn’t pick it up. My faithful first car, Little Blue, was on his last leg this year and when looking for cars to buy, I noticed manual cars were way more affordable. I also have a friend that wanted a car that only came in manual, so she bought it anyway and taught herself! These factors helped me take the leap and buy a manual car. After four months, I now zip around town without stalling…usually.

Scuba diving Open Water Certification with my sister

My sister and I have always been afraid of the ocean and open water but strongly desired to be “ocean people”. You know, those kinds of people always doing awesome ocean activities like diving, surfing, swimming, boating etc. When we stopped at Scuba Quest for their annual blow out sale on the way to the park, I was shocked when Kristen said she would sign up for the class with me. It suddenly seemed so fitting—that scuba certification would be with my seaster and we’d be dive buddies forever.  After a panic attack each, we completed scuba school and now we’re freaking ocean people!

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Freediving Certification SSI Level 1

I can honestly say freediving has changed my life forever—I mean, it’s yoga underwater! It’s so mentally challenging in a way that’s totally different than scuba diving. Once I got past the fear and frustration, I felt total peace and calm as I swam down the line and cleared my ears with no problem. Your whole body works together perfectly and you are 100% in the moment, just being and experiencing. Your blood flows to your torso, your heart rate slows and the running your mind usually does comes to a stop. I really don’t have words to express how it makes me feel, but it’s like nothing else!group-selfie-three-women-two-men-smiling

Improved my writing and started editing

It’s so funny, I always hated writing with a passion in school, but once I started this blog I really began enjoying it. If you told me I’d write for a living when I was in high school or even college, I would have laughed in your face, but now I’m writing and editing full-time! Thanks to my amazing supervisor’s help and patience, my writing and editing is slowly getting better and better!

Finished Yoga Teacher Training and officially became a 500-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher

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Milestones

Held my breath for 2:40 in a static breath hold

On day two of my freediving certification, my instructor and I headed to the pool at Sayab Hostel for static breath hold training. She told me to go to my “happy place” or imagine something that brings me total peace. I can’t remember exactly what I was thinking of, but I know it was about home and Mango. My time honestly didn’t cross my mind at all, I was just trying to hold my breath as long as I could since I had an instructor right there for safety and I know I have more oxygen inside than I feel like.

I did two static breath holds, and after the second one, my instructor from Amancay Freediving said, “How long do you think you held your breath for?” and I said, “Maybe a minute?” and then she said, “Two minutes and forty seconds!” I was in complete shock—mainly because while it was very mentally challenging, I felt relaxed and at peace in my mind.

Went down to 16 meters (52 feet) freediving

Fell in love

Camped in the Negev Desert under all the stars

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Ever since someone told me about camping in the desert where there’s no light and you can see the Milky Way, I’ve dreamed of doing it. On my September visit to Israel, it was the one thing I wanted to do and it all came true in the most magical way. I haven’t done much camping in my life, but it was so much more fun than I imagined—I really could see all the stars. Plus, in the Negev at night, it becomes the perfect temperature—nice and chilly.

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Surfed on three continents: North America in Coco Beach, Florida, Europe in Strandhill, Ireland and Australia in Bondi Beach, Sydney

Surfing goes right in with the whole “wanting to be an ocean person” I mentioned with scuba diving. And now that I’m mostly over my fear of sharks, surfing is part of my life! Unfortunately I don’t live near waves, so I only get to practice when traveling. Surfing in each place was fun, but my favorite had to be the first day I went out surfing in Ireland. The sky was clear blue and sunny and there was a rainbow over the ocean…it was so Ireland.

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Scuba dived the Great Barrier Reef and Palancar Reef

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Floated in the Dead Sea

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Visited the oldest rainforest on Earth, the Daintree Rainforest in Australia

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It looked exactly like Tarzan and it absolutely poured rain.

Visited four castles in Germany & Ireland

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Visited Auschwitz Concentration Camp

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Bought a car

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Quit my first job

Quitting the cush marketing job that I started right out of college was challenging, especially because so many people thought I was crazy for leaving a hip company with perks like unlimited PTO, extravagant parties, flex time and snacks galore. Though, the feeling of relief that swept over me when I put in my two weeks was undeniable. This led me to become a…

Freelance worker

until I…

Got my dream job at Beach.com!

More on this in an upcoming post. 😉

Worked remote while traveling (aka achieving my digital nomad dream)

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Went one week without Instagram  (HA)

Decreased my wardrobe by half

Kissed men from eight different countries……it wasn’t a goal but so what 🤷‍♀️

Wouldn’t it be funny if I put up a picture of each one 🤣

Places Visited

Australiawoman-posing-on-hill-in-front-double-cresent-bay

Coco Beach, FLwoman-standing-in-surf-shop-turquoise-wall

Czech Republicwomen-peace-signs-over-eyes-in-front-lenon-wall-prague

Germany

I celebrated the new year going into 2018 in Dresden, Germany and visited Munich a few days later. Walking through the park in Munich on the way to see the surfers was totally magical—I even grabbed a beer to add to the fun! I met two lovely girls from Argentina on a free walking tour I did earlier that day, so the three of us explored together.woman-standing-on-river-holding-glass-bottle-munich

Hungary

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Overlooking the Danube River in Budapest

Israel

I visited Israel for the first time the first week of 2018, with just over 48 hours for exploring. It’s insane how many places I fit in with such little time, thanks to a very organized tour and minimal sleep. Of all the places I’ve traveled, Jerusalem felt like a place you only here about in history books. Seeing it up close felt surreal.

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Ireland

My mom and I took a magical road trip through Ireland. We hit every place we wanted, ate the most delicious food every day and had seriously interesting Airbnb experiences. My favorite part was walking through the heaven-like garden at Blarney Castle on my mom’s 30th birthday. We made such sweet memories and didn’t kill each other❣

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Cliffs of Moher

Mexico

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Sunrise in Tulum

Poland

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Graffiti in Krakow’s Jewish Quarter

Right after walking through the Jewish Quarter I went to an awesome thrift shop called Flamingo that an Aussie guy I met the night before recommended. It had donuts on the checkout counter and I picked up two of my now-favorite tops.

Philadelphia, PA

I spent an amazing long weekend with my grandparents in Pennsylvania this December. We had so much fun just driving through town, watching movies and eating delicious food. Main takeaways from my Pop Pop this trip:

  • “There’s a lid for every pot” (in regards to finding a partner in life)
  • The “golden years” suck
  • The perfect Wawa coffee consists of: a dash of French Vanilla creamer, a little ice, a little S’mores coffee, a little Mocha Wake Up coffee and the rest Winter Blend coffee.

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San Francisco, California

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Sweet Little Additions

My roommate

Her name is Amber, her style is celebrity hood, she likes Sprite but only from the fountain and staying up past 9 pm is gonna be a no. And we’re perfect for each other. 🖤

women-wearing-sombrero-smiling-margarita-gift-on-tableTiming is seriously everything. It’s a given I needed an Amber Ale in my life and it just so happens everything went to shit with my current roommate right when Amber needed a place to live in Sarasota. Thanks to the all-knowing book (Facebook) we found each other. After Facetiming for an hour, it was a done deal.

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A surprise birthday party for my 25th, lovingly put together by my best friends and sister

I was SERIOUSLY surprised by this party, and it just happened to be the night before my final checkout dive for the Open Water Scuba Certification. Moriah, Jaymie and I planned on having dinner for my birthday, so I didn’t eat beforehand. When Jaymie said Moriah wanted us to come up to her apartment for a minute when we arrived to pick her up, I didn’t think anything of it. We opened the door and it was dark and everyone said “SURPRISE” as the light came on. My first instinct was to wrap my arms around myself I was so shocked and then…inevitably cry 🙄.

Almost all my closest friends were there and I felt so loved. I seriously have the best friends and family.

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The only problem was I never ate dinner and we ended up heading to a bar and drinking until close. I miraculously survived my checkout dive with my sister the next morning at the crack of dawn, but for the next two days, I was in so much pain I actually thought I had an ulcer or something. Thankfully I didn’t and everything was okay, but lesson learned. Food first, then partay.💃group-men-women-at-bar-smiling-drinks-table

Threw our first house party for Friendsgiving

I haven’t thrown any parties since I moved in my house, and Amber and I thought it’d be perfect to throw a Friendsgiving shindig. We sent out the invite and put up a banner that said “Cheers & Beers!” One of my favorite parts of the party was this game called the Secret Sticker Stalker or something where everyone gets a sheet of stickers when they arrive and the goal is to put them on people without them noticing until you use up your sheet. If someone notices you putting a sticker on them, they get to put one on you. The game basically ended up with people covering everyone with stickers…including me without my knowing. My other favorite memory of the night is probably when we got kicked out of an Uber on the way home from downtown, but that’s a story for another time…

Oh, and I was peeling stickers off every surface in my house for a month.two-women-standing-house-party-people-in-background

Spending my sister’s birthday in Bokeelia, Florida

Growing up, we’d spend my sister’s birthday at this big beach house in Bokeelia, Florida that my grandma would take care of every August. We’d stop at the fruit stand on the drive there and get star fruit, pick the fish out of Phil’s bait net and eat cocktail shrimp on the dock for Kristen’s birthday dinner. We have so many memories and photos of staying up late fishing and watching my grandma read on her float alongside the dock.

We haven’t been back in probably ten years, and I have to say, it’s bizarre when you relive something from your childhood and literally nothing has changed. This year my dad, mom, Kristen, Micah and I stayed in the beach house with my grandma and Phil. There was no fishing, but we ate star fruit, kayaked, played Settlers of Catan and, of course, had dinner on the dock. I use the word ‘magical’ often, but this weekend was true magic.

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And last but, of course not least, baby Mango!

This little guy brings so much joy and light into my life. Watching his tail swing like a clock, playing fetch and feeding him water from the sink…some of my favorite moments in life.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Love,

Tara

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