As the year comes to an end, I am beginning to reflect on 2019.

I rang in the new year on Dec. 31, 2018, with my family, specifically my grandmother, who just 29 days later passed away. She had a blast on New Year’s Eve, playing games and laughing and had even remarked how this would likely be the last “party” together. She knew she was close to the end of her life, and I am grateful that we were able to spend the last day of 2018 together.

The first concert I saw this year was Metallica in February, and the last concert was Sum 41 in December. The first book I read this year was “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the last one, which I just finished up on Saturday, was “The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood.

According to my FitBit, I walked 1,643.84 miles this year (not counting Dec. 30 and 31 since the paper deadline was before the end of the year). Many of those miles I walked with my trusty side-kick, Caesar, and I hope in 2020, we find ourselves walking even more.

Speaking of Caesar, we went on tons of trips together. We visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park several times. We hiked Glenn-Helen in Yellow Springs and many of Columbus’s Metroparks. We also took a trip to Tennessee and hiked several days in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Of course, we also took trips nearby and often to Fort Wayne, Decatur, and Paulding to hike, in addition to local trails here in Van Wert.

This year I started my own website, www.takepawsandrelax.com, where I frequently write about myself, my dogs, and dog-related tips.

I filled out my final student loan form and began taking Latin, which is my only requirement left before graduation in the Spring of 2021.

The year was not all sunshine and rainbows, though. I spent nearly $2,000 on Caesar for various health reasons. At the beginning of the year, he chipped a tooth on a bone that then needed to be removed. In the fall, he somehow obtained a costly kidney infection. It’s surprising and astonishing how costly a dog can become, especially as they age, but I’d pay anything to keep both Caesar and Jeter happy and healthy.

While Caesar may have had some health issues, I was thankful to remain in good health and still overcome many mental and emotional obstacles that came my way through the year.

Overall, 2019 was not a bad year, but it went by too quickly. Each year seems to go faster and faster. Now, here we are, ready to welcome 2020 in – a new year and a new decade. Interestingly, I began this decade as a junior in high school with one year left, and I am ending it as a junior in college with one year left.

Tonight, on New Year’s Eve, I will ring in 2020 after a Komets Hockey game at my sister’s house with my family. I hope that the new year will treat us all well and bring us new rewards and new challenges that we become stronger by facing.

I’m positive, though, that the new year will be whatever you choose to make it – I hope you make it the best year of your life so far.