2016 Reflections

I’ve always liked getting ready for the new year. I enjoy thinking about the past 12 months and making resolutions for the next 12 (even though I know I won’t last long in keeping them). The new year feels like wiping the slate clean and starting anew.

This past year was a really great year for me and my little bubble, my little world. My husband, Kenneth, and I are both feeling settled in our new jobs (which we started November 2015). I work full-time now, which I haven’t done since 2014 and have been a little scared to take on again… but it’s going well so far.

We are also settling into our new home. In August we bought our first house! We spent the summer looking and agonizing over different houses. Our main issue was that I fell in love with every house we saw, which made it difficult for my practical husband who thought about each house instead of just how it made him feel. The one we finally decided on is in a cute little neighborhood within a short drive of both of our jobs. I’m in love with our bamboo floors, the open floor plan, and our new backyard. I have my own yard and we will be starting a garden in 2017! We’ve already cut down a Bradford Pear from the front yard (they’re non-native, invasive and the flowers stink like a junior high boys locker room) and planted two Redbud trees and two fruit trees to replace it.

I also worked on two fears I struggle with. My fear of needles and my travel (mostly flying) anxiety. I worked on my needle anxiety by getting a tattoo (yes, a real, permanent one!) and I worked on my fear of planes with three trips (which totaled more than three flights with layovers and connecting flights).

I will be writing a whole blog post about my tattoo experience – which was far less scary than I thought it would be (I even want more tattoos!). I will also be writing a blog post about each of my trips: Atlanta, Georgia; San Antonio, Texas, and Seattle, Washington. I’ve decided to change the format of my travel blog posts since this is an Ohio-focused blog; travel posts will be highlights of the entire trip rather than a post for each restaurant, park and museum visited.

I have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to in 2017. But I know that for many people, for my community and for the world, 2016 has not been great. The dumpster-fire analogy I have seen on social media seems to be an accurate way to describe this past year. There were so many lives lost, dreams dampened and hate and intolerance spread.

It feels wrong to celebrate the good in my life when there is so much pain and hurt in the world. The genocide in Aleppo, Syria, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the violence against black men, the violence against police officers and the entire 2016 election (yes, I am #stillwithher). All of the brilliant, talented artists who passed from our world and on to the next. It feels like this year has given us a collective beating and when we were down and almost broken, 2016 stole the people who helped make us feel better; the artists, musicians, and writers who made us laugh and cry, the scientists who made us wonder. It’s been a really rough year for the world.

Because 2016 has been so rough to those outside my bubble and because I feel I have more than I need right now to keep my soul afloat, I am setting an intention to spread joy and warmth in 2017.

I’m changing the focus of this blog and starting a new project. My blog will focus more on my writing and will host my new project. The project is called Share + Give 2017 and I will be sharing a blog post with details very soon.

Stay bright. Stay warm. Stay healthy. Have a safe and happy new year.

– Courtney

Short Hiatus for This Ohio Life

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Hello Readers! This Ohio Life will be taking a short break for the next few weeks. Our little family is moving to the Dayton area! We’re excited to be closer to family and friends, but sad to be leaving our friends and the Queen City. I’m busy packing, cleaning and job hunting, with little time to left to post here.

I’ll be back in a little while, well before the end of the month. Have a wonderful October – read something spooky! 🙂

Hello 2015: Meet Your Blogger

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My inspiration board. Ideas for stories and projects as well as artwork that I love.

I started blogging in April 2013 as a way to help me develop a writing habit. I want to be a children’s book author/novelist/freelance writer someday and at the time I wasn’t doing anything about it. I was working my day job as an environmental educator and jotting down notes about books I would write “someday.” I picked Columbus as my blog focus and wrote about restaurants, museums, parks and events I attended (and loved, there are no negative reviews on my blogs). I also did a year-long daily photography challenge because I also want to be a professional photographer, someday.

When we moved to the Cincinnati area in May last year I decided to start a new blog but with a broader focus (Ohio), just in case we moved again. I kept blogging about restaurants, museums, parks and events. I like blogging about local places and events like this – it’s fun to share what I’ve been exploring in my area with friends and family. But I actually had a hard time writing about my experience. I could describe what we ate or research when the museum was built and by what architect, but I didn’t really write about what I thought. Or at least not very much. I started writing less because I didn’t really enjoy the writing part of my blog.

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After a month or two of posting very little, but reading a lot of other wonderful blogs, it hit me. My blog can be whatever I want it to be about. I don’t have to limit myself to reviewing places I’ve eaten at or enjoyed a hike at. I can write about… me. My writing, my life, my goals and dreams. My struggles. It might be just as difficult for me to write about myself as it was to try and write about what I thought about a recent visit to the museum, but I think writing about me (or whatever I feel like writing about that day) will be more authentic in the end. And hopefully it will get easier.

So that’s what I’m trying to do this year. I thought I’d start with a little “about me” post. I really like the “About” sections on several blogs that I read, especially the one on A Beautiful Mess and Bookmark to Blog. They are where most of my ideas for this post came from. These are some fun facts about Courtney, your blogger here at This Ohio Life.

Kenneth and I, Christmas-time 2013.

Home Life: I share a little apartment with my husband, Kenneth, and our three adorable cats. Kenneth and starting dating in high school and have been together ever since. We got married in 2010 at Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm in Dayton, Ohio. We both volunteered at Aullwood and I worked there as an intern and a summer camp teacher during college. We adopted Olivia, our fierce and sweet black and white tuxedo in 2008, she’s six years old. Emma, our always hungry black cat with bright green eyes, came into our lives in 2009, she’s five years old. Amelia found us in 2010. She’s our spunky and squirrely little brown tabby cat.

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Favorite color: Green. All shades of green but especially “obnoxiously-bright” green.

Spirit Animal: African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) which is the ancestor to today’s modern domestic cat. I am a loud, proud crazy cat lady.

Favorite foods: Coffee. Pizza. Tacos. Chocolate. Dessert. Not always in that order, but coffee is always first. Coffee is also my drug of choice and the nectar of the gods. I’m not me without at least one cup of coffee in me. At least not a version of me that wants to talk to you.

Guilty pleasure: I enjoy long showers. I know it wastes water, but it’s sooo warm!

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Mock-ups of Amelia I painted when working on Kenneth’s 2014 Christmas gift.

Non-blog hobby: I love to bake, paint, draw, read, sew, craft and make DIY projects. I also enjoy hiking, yoga, birdwatching and gardening.

Childhood hero: My favorite children’s book author is Jan Brett. My parents read her beautifully illustrated books to me when I was little and I still look for her latest creations in bookstores and at the library. Her books are gorgeous and extremely detailed. Reading her books is what first made me want to be an author!

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Favorite writers: Jane Austen, Alexander McCall Smith, Amy Stewart, Shirley Tallman, Angela Carter, William Dietrich, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Favorite artists: Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Andy Goldsworthy, Brooke Shaden, Aurora Robson, Hong Mao and Geninne D. Zlatkis.

Favorite movies: Into the Woods, Pride and Prejudice (the 1995 BBC mini series, no substitutes), How to Train Your Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon 2, the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World’s End (2013)) and Tim Burton films featuring Johnny Depp and the lovely Helena Bonham Carter. I’m a bit of an anglophile, in addition to my cat and coffee obsessions.

IMG_6040Favorite music: The Civil Wars, Norah Jones, Mumford & Sons, Coconut Records and Of Monsters and Men.

Celebrity crush: Martin Freeman, Colin Firth and Nicholas Hoult (see above about being an anglophile).

Celebrities I wish could be my BFF: Mariska Hargitay (I named my cat Olivia after her character on L&O SVU six years before Taylor Swift did it. Six years Mariska!), Mindy Kaling, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. I also think I’d get along really well with most of the folks working at Buzzfeed. I think Kenneth and I could be best ‘couple friends’ with the Weird Things Couples Do couple.

Favorite season: Not winter. I’m trying really hard not to think about the temperature for the next few months. Instead I’m focusing on layering my clothes and blankets, which is not really not thinking about the freezing temps. 🙁

Nearly two years after I began my foray into blogging and I am finally starting to feel like I’m making progress with my writing. I’m writing short stories, emphasis on short. My stories are flash fiction, which are typically around 300 words in length. It’s a small start, but it’s somewhere (and I’ve had three of them published! check them out on the NEAT mag website and in the Fall 2014 issue).

Welcome to This Ohio Life – I hope you enjoy the changes I’m making to the blog this year!