Journeys: As a New Year Begins

A short reflection on resolutions, travel, and Minnesota

Photo courtesy Gracie Ballalatak

I always find New Year’s a little odd. Not as a holiday since I’m all about toasting champagne to another year gone by. It has more to do with the feelings and nostalgia that accompany the day.

It’s New Year’s? Again? Didn’t this just happen like a month ago? Where did the year go? And probably the most concerning question: What the heck did I do with my time?

Something had to have happened right? Yet, at first, my mind draws a blank. I worked. I hung out with friends. I traveled occasionally. After some thought, I finally decided my 2018 was a year of transitional experiences—moving, changing jobs, and renting my first-ever an apartment with friends were big ones along with trying new hobbies (like beertending at a brewery!), learning how to manage my time more efficiently, and thinking before committing to every event, opportunity, and request that comes my way.

This next year is looking a little calmer, thank God, but it’s my hope that I continue to learn new things in 2019 (do you know how to properly fold a fitted sheet? Because I don’t, and it’s on my list). Overall, however, my new year’s resolution is to love and explore Minnesota in a way that I haven’t before.

I have lived in Minnesota my whole life, growing up just southwest of the Twin Cities. Yet, I’ve only been to Duluth once. I’ve never been to Itasca State Park. I have mastered the art of the day trip, but what about exploring Minnesota’s many state parks or camping somewhere else up north? I have a list of places I want to go and by this time next year, I intend to have more than half of them crossed off—although I guess we’ll have to wait for the next new year to really tell. Some of them are bigger (spending a weekend in the Boundary Waters) but others will be small (actually buying flowers from the Farmer’s Market in St. Paul on the weekends). Some require patience (watching the sun rise at my parent’s hobby farm) while others will require a lot of effort (how does one actually get better at paddle boarding? I’m going to find out). I have every intention of taking the time to visit some of the restaurants, breweries, parks, and lakes that make Minnesota the wonderful state it is instead of sticking to the easy, convenient spots I’ve come to lean and depend on. I’m even going to make a renewed effort to love the snow that covers the ground for basically half the year, go on walks (yes, outside), and appreciate the snowflakes as they fall from the sky.

I want to do all of these things with intentionality. I want my traveling to be very purposeful and I want to experience these places with my favorite people. What better time to start than right now?  So, without further ado. *quickly grabs a glass of champagne* Here’s to the great state of Minnesota, with its distinct seasons, breathtaking nature, iconic symbols, the (sometimes too nice) people, and 10,000-plus lakes. Here’s to the exploring and traveling that 2019 holds. Cheers.