Happy Birthday cake (Susan Kambalu) / CC BY 3.0

25 was a good year. Since I turned 25, I’ve traveled to eight countries and spent time in more than 30 cities or towns. Before I return to the US, I’ll have added at least 4 more countries to that list. I’ve learned a lot and have forged a lot of friendships along the way.

Yesterday was my 26th birthday. I realized that Christmas isn’t the only holiday I’d never spent away from home; my  birthday is another (Yes, I realize it’s not a holiday for everyone). So here are some goals, both personal and professional, I’ve got for 26–it’ll be easy to check around this time next year to see how many goals I can strike off the list…

14 Goals for my 26th Year, in no particular order of importance:

  1. Write a series of city guide posts for Tucson. This is something I’m going to work on in the next few months, but I was inspired by a recent post I was working on for Trekity.com that will be out soon (don’t worry, I’ll link to it!). As I was going through all the “Best place to XYZ,” I realized it took me so long because Tucson has SO many places to eat/things to see/adventures to have. The series I was doing a while ago, Tucson Yum and I Heart Tucson/Awesomeness in Tucson, were all precursors to something like this…Plus, being away from home for so long has made me long for a number of Tucson-y things, and I’d like to share those things with you, and hopefully inspire you to check out the Southwest, my stunning desert home.
  2. Floss more. This is an annual goal that is never met. Maybe 2013 is the year!
  3. Pick up my yoga practice. Before I left Tucson, I regularly attended classes at my favorite Tucson yoga studio, Yoga Oasis. Other than a bit in Italy, I’ve woefully fallen off my yoga wagon and I want to get back on!
  4. Submit my creative writing to more literary journals. This is similar to Goal 1, but challenging in a different way.
  5. Brush up on my Spanish. I love traveling in Italy, and am so glad that I’ve had enough immersion to become an advanced Italian speaker. Every time I go back, though, I realize the Spanish that I once had is eroded more and more. I’m working on this right now by reading the Harry Potter series in Spanish. These language skills may prove useful for some of the traveling I”ll be doing in 2013…but more on that later.
  6. Travel to a continent I’ve never been to before. This year I had a lot of ideas for where I wanted to go, and although I’m glad I’ve been able to spend so much time in Europe and still have tons to see here, I also have the rest of the world!
  7. Keep reading. One of the biggest perks of this year has been the opportunity to catch up on all the reading I stopped doing while I was teaching full-time. Yes, I got through a number of new books while I was teaching, but a lot of it was young adult fiction (I can highly recommend the Percy Jackson series and The Hunger Games). Since I started traveling this year, I have read a fine balance of easy-to-read bestsellers (11/22/63 by Stephen King was quite enjoyable, and when else would I have been able to zip through all five Song of Ice and Fire books?) and classics (Slaughterhouse Five and The Count of Monte Cristo have also both been good travel inspirations)!
  8. Learn how to cook more local dishes of the places I travel. I plan to start this by taking a Turkish cooking class in the next couple weeks! Stay tuned for that…
  9. Get more travel writing published! I’ve loved writing for Go! Girl Guides, and I’d like to branch out. I’m working on pitching a couple articles a week at various online publications. If you’ve got any leads, let me know! 🙂
  10. Stop biting my nails. Another annual goal that promptly dies…
  11. Get better about charging my phone. This will be less of an issue when I’m actually using it at home, but it’s my text messaging medium (I heart WhatsApp) and I miss so many messages because I leave my droid uncharged for days at a time…Sorry, guys!
  12. Watch less TV. This is a reluctant goal, but a goal nonetheless. Currently, I keep up with American Horror Story, New Girl, Parks & Recreation, and 30 Rock, and the boyfriend & I recently got on the Breaking Bad train. I’m also a few seasons into How I Met Your Mother, and I”ve been meaning to watch The Wire…and when Game of Thrones comes on again, I’ll have that, and although I’ve already seen all of Downton Abbey, whenever the next season of that is on I’ll watch it…You get the picture. Less TV, more reading, writing and exploring!
  13. Learn some harmonized songs! Some of my friends are fantastic singers, and once in awhile a handful of buddies and I get together and jam. We call ourselves the Nu Moveables, and our signature song is “Wagon Wheel.” One of the songs that a couple girlfriends and I want to be able to do is this one, by the local sirens, Silver Thread Trio. I have such a girl crush on these ladies.

14. Improve Bumblings of Miss Button! What with the pressure of finishing graduate school applications and finding every manner of procrastination technique to do so, I’ve been bad about working on this here site. Although I don’t expect to be making moolah with it anytime soon, I still want it to be a source of information about my travels, practical, educational and anecdotal.

What are your goals for the new year?