Why 2018 was great for me.

(12/27) Why 2018 Was My Most Fulfilling Year Yet

Another year over, another year won.

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2018.

A year like a lot of others. Sort of like the past two years. However, I think this year was better received by the media than last year. I'm not sure why, maybe they were tired of repeating themselves.

However, when I say 2018 was a good year, I mean it. It was a good year for me personally. I feel like this is the first year since 2015, where I have made a lot of things happen. I feel like a lot of things are different for me now in a positive way.

Here are all the things that have happened to me in 2018 that added to my fulfillment, and have caused me to use the beautiful mountain sunrise as my cover photo for this article.

Speaking of articles, my Odyssey career has really kicked off this year. Even though I started writing here in October 2017, I feel like I have gotten way better at writing articles, and am actually writing about things I care about. I have written about a lot of different things as well, and have gotten a lot of views on my articles. I have also tried out submitting some of my poetry for The Odyssey, and think I will submit more in the future.

I have also experienced a lot of amazing things this year. If you've read one of the articles I wrote in March, you'll know that I got to go to a talk given by former Vice President, Joe Biden, at my university. It was honestly one of the greatest days of my life to get to see such an extraordinary person talk about their life and their thoughts on our country's current issues.

In addition, I got a taste of what it was like being a real journalist. I got to write an article for a local New Jersey newspaper, The Morristown Green. In order to write the article, I covered a town meeting on a potential development happening in the area. I had to take two different forms of public transportation, take really fast and detailed notes, ask total strangers to follow up with me the next day, and hope they actually did, try to figure out what to include, and have it in by a deadline. And this was on a Thursday night in February. It taught me a lot about what it means to be a professional journalist.

Speaking of working, if you've read my September article, you know that I had two jobs over the summer. You also know that I didn't really enjoy them. It still taught me a lot about having to do things you don't want in order to make money. I also made a lot of money, which is always a good thing.

I also took a lot of classes that I enjoyed very much. This semester, I took a poetry workshop, which encouraged me to start writing poems again, a feminisms on film class, which was very interesting, and a really fun dance class; however, there was a lot of show tunes, which was grating. Last semester, I took another exciting dance class, a women's & gender studies class, and a journalism class.

This year, there were a lot of small amazing things that happened to me. I will now list them for you. I found a lot of new podcasts to listen to, and listened to several. While I didn't go to Taylor Swift's reputation tour, I saved a lot of her tour videos on my Instagram, and they were amazing. I also cannot wait to see her tour documentary on New Year's. RuPaul's Drag Race, Big Brother, and Survivor are all having amazing seasons. Alyssa Edwards is on Netflix.

So yeah, my year was pretty good.

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6 Major Health Benefits Of A Crazy Road Trip

Take that sick road trip you've been wanting to go on, it's actually super good for your health.

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We all have a crazy adventure planned, that we live out solely through our Pinterest boards. It wasn't until recently, when I myself took the trip of a lifetime with two of my best friends, that I realized how good road trips can actually be for both your mind AND body.

Driving = Hippocampus Expansion

Taylor Kellogg

Driving, especially long distances, helps your brain with spatial reasoning. A Sunny Afternoon explains that driving actually helps this region of the brain make calculations and increases brain power. Kinda like sudoku... but on wheels.

New places, faces and experiences = MENTAL WORKOUT

Taylor Kellogg

Think of all the cool things you will see, the hundreds of different people you could meet, and the awesome places you'll explore. This overload of new information to process will help your brain build its capacity.

NATURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Taylor Kellogg

Fresh air and sunshine is the key to bettering your mind, which leads to bettering your body. Not only do your lungs get a break from pollution-filled air, but the sun boosts the Vitamin D levels in your body to put you in a better mood.

Good company = good mood.

Taylor Kellogg

Choose your travel buddies wisely. Yes, you'll be stuck in the car with them for a LONG period of time, but they also can help with your mental health. The happier you are and the more you laugh, the bigger boost your serotonin levels will get.

You (most likely) will get a lot of good exercise.

Taylor Kellogg

OK, hear me out... I know being cooped up in the car on a road trip isn't very good exercise. It's so important to pick a place that features some sort of physical aspect (I just took a hiking trip to a few national parks in Utah) so you can stretch those legs.

Your mind will thank you for finally going tech-free.

Taylor Kellogg

We're all obsessed with our phones (you are... admit it). Going on a road trip is the perfect way to go unplugged and give your eyes/mind a rest. Less smartphone/email/social media time means less stress.

If you need some backup for convincing your parents to let you go on a road trip, show them this article. You're welcome and travel safe!!!

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'Chaos Walking' Should Be Your Next Book Series Obsession, And Here's Why

"It's not that you should never love something so much it can control you, it's that you need to love something so much you never be controlled. It's not a weakness- it's your best strength..." - Viola Eade, "Chaos Walking: The Ask and the Answer"

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Friendship. Love. Loss. Perseverance. Survival. Hope. These are the words that come to mind when I think of the "Chaos Walking" series.

I've always loved reading, so I made it a goal of mine to read as much as possible this year. After finishing my 2018 with such an empowering self-help book ("You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life" by Jen Sincero), I decided that I wanted to get back to my love for fiction whilst completing more of the book challenge I've been trying to complete for two years now. By randomly choosing the category- "A book by an author you've never read before"- combined with the fact that I had interest in this series before, I finally chose the next book (which turned out to be an entire book series by Patrick Ness) that would take up an entire semester.

Being a big Tom Holland fan already, I knew that he had a new movie set to release this March titled "Chaos Walking," in which he would star alongside the current leading lady of the "Star Wars" franchise, Daisy Ridley. This concept intrigued me so much so that I looked up the source material and the plot wound up intriguing me, so I made it my mission to complete the book by the time the movie was supposed to come out.

To summarize the plot in the most vague and simplest of ways that I can, the book revolves around a young boy, Todd Hewitt, who is the youngest citizen in his home of Prentisstown. Not only is this the only place he's ever known, but this is set far into the future on another planet that humans were able to inhabit; however, the planet seems to cause something called "Noise" from the men- where everyone's thoughts are heard as clear as day from everyone else- and it seems as though this very "virus" killed off all women. Thus, Todd is raised by two of his late mother's best friends- Cillian and Ben- on a farm with his dog (and only friend), Manchee.

Life doesn't seem all that fun for young Todd, who is nearing officially becoming a man with his thirteenth birthday coming up. One day, though, he comes across a void in the Noise in the woods by his farm and he is forced to grow up all at once when he starts to discover that the world he's always known isn't what it seems at all. Before he knows it, he is on the run with Manchee and comes to find a girl in the woods who looks like she just survived a spaceship crash.

This girl is none other than Viola Eade, a thirteen-year-old girl who has only known life in the confines of a giant spaceship whose sole purpose is to inhabit this planet. While her family was exclusively chosen to reach the planet first, a tragic accident happens and she is left to be the only survivor. She soon meets Todd in the woods, but he finds it hard to communicate with her because she is still in a state of shock where she cannot speak (as well as the fact that this is the first girl he has ever known to come in contact with).

Adventure ensues for these two young-ins on-the-run with a "talking" dog as they try to find the place of peace, so-called New Haven, before Mayor Prentiss and his army gets a hold of them first. All the while Todd learns about the world around him that he's been sheltered from all his life while Viola learns the same whilst trying to live with the Noise; an unbreakable bond ensues, and these children experience more obstacles than they could ever imagine.

The front of the book says,"A read-alone, stay-up-way-too-late book," and of course I thought this was another silly quote that they try to put on the front of books just to make you want to read it more- but boy, was the Chicago Tribune right. I found myself reading on the weekends for hours and even bringing the book to school sometimes just so I can know what happens. This, of course, led me to reading the two other books in the series afterward, and as dense as they were, I found myself glued to every page. As it turns out, the movie's release date got pushed to next year and they even shot re-shoots while I read the last book, so it all worked out in my favor after all.

The style of these books definitely reminded me of the young adult sci-fi dystopian novels by the likes of "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent" that I grew up with in my tween years, but this series was written in a much more darker and realistic tone. While Todd and Viola are meant to only be twelve and thirteen in the novels, I kept picturing them to be in their late teens, at least, because of everything that they go through. It's definitely a graphic read, but it's so interesting and insane that you can't not put it down.

There are so many aspects of this book that I love- from the whole concept of Noise to the local species of the planet called the Spackle. Just the idea of having humans inhabit another planet and start life all over again under these conditions is simply mind-boggling. But what kept me most invested in the series, though, was the main characters.

Todd and Viola both prove to be strong individuals on their own (especially for them being so young), but the relationship they found with each other is something you don't see, nor experience, all the time. From the get-go, you are curious to see what kind of friendship these two kids will have, but the situation they find themselves in and being on the run together forces them to have to trust one another. By the end of the first book, you are rooting for their friendship whole-heartedly (and maybe even something more than that for them).

Their relationship is easily one of my absolute favorites that I've been able to read and see the progression from total strangers to inseparable individuals. I won't spoil the rest of the series, but Todd and Viola are now two of my most favorite characters in any book or movie I've seen or read (and that says a lot).

It's a relationship I wish I could read for the first time again, but at least I have those pages to look back on whenever I want to reread it; not to mention a full-length movie is coming out based on it featuring some of my favorite actors! I can honestly picture Holland as Todd, and I had a different idea of Viola in my mind but I can totally see Ridley killing it on the big screen with her character. Since the movie is set to release sometime next year now, I am so ready to just see one of my favorite book series now come to life with actors who will do Todd and Viola justice.

Just like how the people on Viola's spaceship wanted to travel to a whole other planet to make a new life, take a leap of faith and try out "Chaos Waling" for yourself- you never know what kind of story you'll become invested in.

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