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It’s unreal how the symbolic turning of the calendar gave much such immense gratitude, but truly I was so glad to welcome 2018.  I might have cried at midnight.  If you want me to explain why, I will not be able to.  I just needed to let all the emotion that has been welling up inside of me out.  I did, and I was ready for January 1, 2018.

journey of doing - welcome 2018P I N I T

The beginning of a new year is always marked by college applications, and this year is no exception.  It’s been moreso than usual since I’ve been the college advisor at one of my schools.  IN the six years that I’ve been doing this, colleges have moved their deadlines, which helps prevent the common application from crashing, but it also creates more deadlines and makes the application process longer for me.  Typically, by now, most applications (but for January 15 deadlines) would be done, allowing a bit of respite.  No such luck this year.

Yet, in spite of all the work, I’m feeling good-ish.  I was finally able to leave the house this week.  I went to a HIIT class and a yoga class.  I started a new calendar.  And, I finished my 101 in 1001 list, thanks to encouragement from Brianne and Stephanie.  Since I don’t journal the same way I used to, I don’t make resolutions.  I tried to do something different last year and choose a word of the year, and it lasted three months.  Still, I liked the intentionality of it.  (No pun intended.)  The word that kept coming back to me for 2018 was balance.  I initially laughed at myself for even entertaining that idea.  I’m terrible at balance, and I think everyone who reads here knows that.

Yet, at some point this week, I realized that balance isn’t achieving the perfect life.  It’s living by one of the quotes I loved in college.

“You have to take the good with the bad, smile with the sad.

Love what you’ve got, and remember what you had.

Always forgive, but never forget.

Learn from your mistakes but never regret.

People change, things go wrong, but just remember life goes on.”

So, all of these things (acknowledging that days come with highs and the lows, recognizing that we’re all perfectly imperfect, and that sometimes the best and only thing we can do sometimes is try), is part of balance.  To that I say…

Welcome 2018

(may you involve balance)

(In the spirt of balance, my 101 in 1001 list is divided up into sections and oddly ended up fairly balanced itself. This wasn’t intentional  First W of the year?  I’ll take it.)

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  • Bri @ My Life As... - Yay! I’m glad you made a list. I really like yours!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - YES to the 101 list, so glad you were able to finish it. I know you’re going to kick ass in 2018ReplyCancel

  • SMD - Here’s to a great year!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - I honestly didn’t even think about resolutions this year either because they just tend to be the exact same thing year to year. I love the idea of using a word for the year to focus on and balance is so perfect! That’s definitely something we could all focus on!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel G - Happy New Year to you! Balance matters in life, that’s for sure, and sometimes we only realize how much it does matter when we are WAY off-balance!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - You finished your 101 in 1001 list?! That’s so awesome! Congrats! I still have so far to go and only a year and a half left to complete it. 🙁 I was doing good when I first started…

    I like your quote on balance. I think that’s what I need to find this year. At the very least, contentment. Things are always going to go the way you hope. Sometimes you just have to be happy with the way things did go.

    Happy 2018!ReplyCancel

  • Kate - LOVE that quote! I’m not a resolutions person either, but I love the idea of a fresh start and some good attainable goals. Cheers to an amazing 2018 girlie <3
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Annette @ A French Collection - I’m loving your 101 in 1001 list. You are very brave to be so transparent about your desires for 2018 – well done. Balance and acceptance is so very important and I am going to love following your blog for your perspective on this through out the coming year. I look forward to reading more… Annette xReplyCancel

For More Siena postcard photos

(and other Tuscan Tips & Tricks):

One Night in Siena, Italy, Side Trip to Pisa

Romantic Getaway to Florence, Italy

Fiesole Postcard Photos

journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy
journey of doing - Siena Postcard Photos; photos of Siena, Italy

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As I look back on my 2017 wrap up post, I can’t help but feel disbelief at everything that has happened this year.  In some ways it’s gone so fast and in others, it feels so slow.  This year might have been my most challenging from a professional stand point.  It was marked by personal, professional accomplishments as well though.  The word of 2017 was deliberate, and while that sounded good… I’m not sure how well it worked out.  Let’s see, shall we?

2017 Wrap Up

(Thank goodness it’s over!)

January

This was the first year where we didn’t have the Gates Millennium Scholarship staring us down mid-month.  Given the political climate and what it felt like in our schools post-election, I don’t know that I could have stomached the essays from our kids this year.  It was a hard month as we navigated hard conversations with DACA students, the Travel Ban (and how it affected students vying for scholarships), and remembered the stories from years past.  January also brought around my lofty, deliberate intention for my organization.  Despite the Italy postcard photos, January was HARD.

journey of doing - living with deliberate intention for 2017P I N I T

February

February was the first moment when I realized that 2017 was going to be a big year professionally.  Advisory boards, campus visit programs, conference proposals accepted, and traveling with students – if it was related to work, it happened in February.  I spent most of February on the road (meeting Katie!) in Michigan and Indiana.  In the first month post-inaugration, I desperately tried to just. be. happy.  (I also booked a two week trip to Italy and bought new dresses, lol.)

Albion College in winterP I N I T

March

After being on the road so much in February, I tried to focus on being healthy.  My moods continued to oscillate as quickly as the President because of the lack of urgency from adults and the overwhelming urgency from our students.  We married off one of our staff members, celebrated my brother-in-law’s change of command, and I tried to place as many kiddos as possible.

P I N I T

April

I spent 25 days on the road, swapping out suitcases at the airport three times… the first weekend being in Cinque Terre, which gave me the first opportunity to decompress from the first quarter… and eat a lot of gelato.  We ended our two week vacation in Florence where I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all the incredible things that have been worth the wait in my life.

journey of doing - Worth the WaitP I N I T

May

I found out I that I lost all the photos from our December trip with my mom.  Sorry Mom, no Mother’s Day surprises there!  My first high school class started graduating from college!  We lost a student to senseless violence on his graduation day.  I finished decorating our guest bathroom and spent an extraordinary amount of time wishing I was planning a trip to Cinque Terre.

A collection of Riomaggiore postcard photos capturing the beauty of this small Italian village along the Ligurian coast from the early morning until sunset.P I N I T

June

I don’t even know what I would have written about June (leadership, apparently – lol), but it’s not a month that I want to talk about.  Apparently, I shared a lot of about planning a trip to Venice.  Oh.  We also got featured in the Chronicle.  For the first time.

P I N I T

July

The subsequent month of wallowing.  By the end of the month, after a long weekend in London and a wake up call from one of my friends at the AP National Conference, it was time to snap out of it and be a glow worm.

winston churchill - on glow wormsP I N I T

August

My husband played West Wing on repeat trying to get me to rally for the new school year.

September

We spent our 4th anniversary in Venice and Prague after finding a cheap ticket.  The morning after arriving home, I left for NACAC where I co-presented with two amazing women and heard the best mic drop moment with “Wealth doesn’t equal knowledge.”  (THE mantra for 2017-2018!)  I also was quoted in The Atlantic on a piece that would later result in the testing agencies doing the right thing (next year).

Journey of Doing - Just be meP I N I T

October

I discovered an energizing facial routine that could give me my second wind when I needed it.  I briefly experienced fall in Williamstown, MA and drove across the entire state to do law school apps with my kid.  Eric Hoover wrote another story about our kids in the Chronicle, and I dropped the mic at College Board Forum and made people cry.

Sponsored by Smile Brilliant, I decided to give at home teeth whitening a try ! This was so easy and fit into my busy lifestyle perfectly!P I N I T

November

After a glorious day of self care, a work trip that included plenty of friend time, and spending the second anniversary of my dad’s passing surrounded my students, I came home to Dallas to take over a high school when someone walked off the job.  (Newsflash: I’ve been there ever since.)  I spent my free time on instagram wishing I was at the best European Christmas markets.

P I N I T

December

There was a lot to celebrate at the beginning of the month.  Questbridge matches.  Two by two acceptances.  Two to Harvard, two to UChicago, two to Yale, two by two by two.  There were a lot of recipes shared.  I was asked to join another advisory board.  We went to Austin for a wedding before finishing the semester three days before Christmas Eve.  An Alabama special election (and black women, specifically) surprised me in the best possible way and brought hope for 2018.  We will likely end the year in Dallas as I finish applications with our students.

Oh, and I ended the semester in Chronicle, for the third time.

2017 Wrap Up

Usually when I look back at these posts, I feel so much good (like I did with the 2016 wrap up).  This year, however, it is exactly what this year felt like – tumultuous, anxiety-ridden (apparently I’m not the only one), and stressful.  I’m not sorry to see 2017 come to a close.

I will say that I could not have made it through 2017 without reading Steph’s consistent posts about the state of the world.  She helped me feel that I was not alone in my rage, in my frustration, or in my feelings.  She found ways to mobilize humans, encourage the goodness of humanity, and give words to issues that I could not.  She’s one of my very favorite bloggers – and that has been the only constant for 2017.

2018, we’re coming for you.  #Resist.  

P I N I T

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  • Bri @ My Life As... - 2017 certainly has been a weird year. It felt both long & like it flew by. Not to mention the roller coaster I feel most people have been on politically & personally. Here’s to hoping 2018 is nothing like the past couple of years have been!ReplyCancel

  • SMD - Aw, thank you for the kind words. We’re all in this together.

    This has been a tough tough year. You are on the front lines for a lot of it given the nature of your work. It is so fucking hard to see it up close.

    I still can’t get over your loss of photos from your December trip.ReplyCancel

  • cara - I always love these types of posts! I must admit 2017 was definitely a crazy year, and i’m looking forward to 2018!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa @ Loving Life Moore - I think 2017 has been a crazy year for everyone, but I think it’s the gateway to massive change in 2018. Wishing you all the best!ReplyCancel

  • Kate - Absolutely amazing year for travel, but hoping the stress will subside more in the coming year. Get it girl <3
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Lauren - This is a great little year in review! Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year!

    xx
    Lauren Elizabeth
    Petite in Pearls ReplyCancel

  • Biana - What an amazing year professionally for you and so much wonderful travel – especially to Italy 🙂 Hoping you have a lot more travel planned for 2018 xo, Biana –BlovedBostonReplyCancel

  • Christine Keane - It looks like you had some up and downs in 2017 but you got to travel to some amazing places! I love love all your pictures from Italy! Absolutely gorgeous! Happy New Year!!ReplyCancel

  • Emily - Found your blog through Helene’s link up!

    I think 2017 was hard for a lot of people. There’s so much going on I
    in the world… I get overwhelmed when I think about it, but we #resist and you still seem so positive in spite of it all all!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - It sounds like you’ve had a really full year, and by that I mean full of pretty tough stuff! I imagine you’re still trying to catch up to yourself. I’m glad Steph’s posts have helped you, they’ve definitely educated me. Here’s to a better 2018 all around.ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I’m sorry 2017 was so stressful for you, Sara. Hopefully, the tide will be turning in 2018. :-/ On the upside, it was fun getting to look back on your adventures from 2017 in pictorial form. I’m especially envious of all the time you spent in Italy this year. Is there a “secret” you use to find good flight deals?

    Also wanted to give you some encouragement for the work you do helping kids get into college. Granted I don’t know all the ins and outs of it, but it sounds like you put your whole heart into it, and I know the kids you are able to help will be better off because of what you do. 🙂ReplyCancel

For More Fiesole Postcard Photos

(and Florence tips & tricks):

florence postcard photos – 2015, florence postcard photos – 2016

arno postcard posts, fiesole postcard photos

romantic getaway to florence,

best bistecca in florence

florence travel guide, st. regis florence honeymoon,

st. regis florence river view, pizzale michaelangelo, & honeymoon in florence

ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T ourney of doing - Fiesole Postcard Photos; photos of Fiesole, ItalyP I N I T

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  • Kasie - Okay, you now have me wanting to book a flight to Italy, ASAP! These are so gorgeous, Sara! I hope you have a fabulous New Year!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Florence and the surrounding areas of Italy are on my bucket list. I love how your postcard series just transports your readers to wherever you’ve been. 🙂ReplyCancel

journey of doing - Minted gold foil Christmas Card-1P I N I T

journey of doing - Minted gold foil Christmas Card-1P I N I T

journey of doing - Minted gold foil Christmas Card-1P I N I T

journey of doing - Minted gold foil Christmas Card-1P I N I T

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Thanks to Ksenia for our lovely Christmas card photo and to Minted for making it easy for me to send them out.  The last two months haven’t been easy as far as work goes, but Minted’s envelope addressing service comes in clutch (again).

See our other cards here: 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017

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  • Bri @ My Life As... - Merry Christmas!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - What a beautiful card! I need a Christmas card mailing service; I didn’t send any this year :/ Happy Christmas and I hope work is much improved next year!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I love the gold foil lettering on your cards. Minted always does such a good job. I haven’t done Christmas cards in years, and I don’t really regret it. In the past, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into making cards and since we didn’t really receive many cards in return, it never seemed worthwhile. I guess if I had gorgeous images from Italy, I might consider using a service like Minted, though. 🙂ReplyCancel