12 Grapes, 12 Months and 12 things I’m going to start doing in 2015

At 5:04, I realized the champagne hadn’t been poured and the grapes hadn’t been sectioned off into groups of  a dozen yet. We’d missed Spain’s ringing in of the new year, and just like 2014 passed in a flash, amidst a flurry of giggles and general catching up, I’d failed to take notice of how fast the time was creeping along. I popped the grapes in my mouth, washing it down with a swig of champagne as my friends watched, half amused and half horrified. What can I say? I’m superstitious, and I want this year to count.

2015 has always been in the back of my mind as the year I would turn 30, and it’s already here. As my wise (and sassy) great aunt Mary Jane says, Years are like toilet paper rolls. The further along you are, the faster things run out.

2015 new year's resolutions

I’m one to reflect, and I seriously love making resolutions. Setting goals has always helped me stay on track and continue to better certain aspects of my life. My biggest goals after college were to move abroad, become fluent in Spanish and travel to 25 countries, and then eventually get a master’s degree. So what now, considering I’ve got that all ticked off my list?

This year, as I mark two big milestones, I want to make it all about me. 

In 2015 

1. I’m going to make more time for me and for more important things than working all the time.

I’ll get it out in the open right away: I’m going to be shuffling priorities this year, and maintaining Sunshine and Siestas may fall a bit lower on my list. This blog is important to me, but it’s taking up time that could be used on other things I need to get done.

Holy Cows in India

I’ll be updating once a week, minimum, but considering I have two other websites to keep at, I’ll likely be writing longer form articles and working on my Typical NonSpanish project with Caser Expat.

I’ll still be active on social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, so head there if you’re dying to know what I’m eating, mostly.

2. I’m going to make a conscious effort to write offline

All that time not spent sitting behind a computer might actually get me up on my awesome terrace so that I can jot down personal things in my life.

Who are you? Street art in Seville, Spain

I even bought a new notebook, and this list was the first thing in it. Toma, goals.

3. I’m going to drink less beer and more water.

I don’t love this reolustion, but if my altitude sickness and gut can attest to this last trip to the US, I’d be healthier and a bit slimmer if I didn’t love beer so darn much. I had to make a choice, though: deprive myself from delicious food, or  to lay off the Cruzcampo. 

buza bar beer

But I do love drinking beer on the water…

This may mean behaving during the week, swapping the beer for a glass of tinto or even just having a sin every once in a while, but my wedding will be full of craft beer, and I will gladly drink up.

4. I’m going to be better about staying in touch.

I may suffer from a mild form of reverse culture shock when I land at O’Hare once or twice a year, I am fortunate to have a beautiful group of friends back home with whom I’m still close. You know, the sort that you don’t see for to years (or even six, in Val’s case this Christmas) but never run out of topics to talk about, or college mishaps to laugh over.

All of my friends

But even with Facebook and whatsapp and a million other ways to stay in touch, I don’t make enough time for Skype and emails. I’m looking forward to my wedding as a time to have my más queridos in one place, but that’s one day when I’ll see them for a split second. And with everyone getting older, making plans and moving way (that’s the pot calling the kettle black if I ever heard it), there’s no time like now.

5. and 6. I’m going to learn something new, one of those being to learn to cook.

I’ve said I’m going to learn to cook for ages, but recently I’ve actually enjoyed making new dishes and reinventing old ones. Plus, it’s cheaper than eating out all the time.

cooking at a cooking day in malaga

I’d also like to learn a new skill, like lightroom or CSS for the benefit of this blog, or relearn how to sew. For real, 30 is making me feel like I need a lot more skills than I have. Napping is not a skill, as much as I try to make it happen.

7.  I’m going to take better care of my skin, cuticles and nails.

I am about as low maintenance as they come, and my skin and hands have suffered because of it. I have ugly nails, ugly hands and skin that should be taken better care of. This means taking off my makeup every night and getting more regular hair trims, but so be it!

8. I’m going to read more books.

Reading is one of my great passions, but TV binge watching while moving and unpacking got the better of me this year. When I did my master’s, I was still able to polish off 25 or 30 books, so I’ll be pushing for 20 this year. I’m nearly done with my first: Yo, Cayetana, an autobiography of the Duquesa de Alba and in Spanish. That counts for two, right?

vintage books El Jueves Market Sevilla

Thankfully, my sister is an English teacher and sends countless recommendations, and my e-reader comes with my to the gym, but no more TV before bed. Besides, it may be killing us.

9. I’m going to make travel more meaningful.

When I first came to Spain in 2007, I drained my bank account running around to European capitals on cramped budget airlines, staying in accommodation that was questionable and eating countless kabobs in the street, all in the name of passport stamps and ticking things off the list. Travel was fun, but it wasn’t meaningful.

India changed that.

The Colors of India - Taj Mahal

From now on, I want my money to be better spent on travel. I want experiences, not countries. Food and not tourist sites. I want to hit the streets of a new place or visit family. I’ve just been invited to Romania on a blog trip, and I can’t wait to explore the country more over Semana Santa.

10. I’m going to save money. 

A year ago, 100% of my salary was for me to enjoy, be it on weekends trips, tapas out with friends or even a taxi. Since buying a house, I’ve had to take a serious look at the money I make and how much I spend.

The last few months of 2014 were hard – I haven’t lived paycheck to paycheck for a few years – and the start of the mortgage coincided with the two months of the year I don’t get paid. Then there were the new break pads, a visiting friend, furniture to purchase. Needless to say, the money I’d worked to save last year while still treating myself is long gone, and I remember it every time I sit on our new (amazing) couch. 

European Euros money

I’m making a pledge to put away a minimum of 150€ a month, going as far as to map out my weird expenses, like insurance or the odd plane ticket. I may even get a retirement account!

11. I’m going to remember to go with my gut.

When I visited Jaipur in 2014, Ali took us to see his guru. Skeptical from the moment he mentioned it, we weren’t surprised to see that this guru also had a jewelry shop, and that he wanted us to buy. But when we went into a back office and he began to make shockingly accurate claims about our families, I decided to listen.

sunsets at monkey temple jaipur

The man told me I had a white aura, meaning my crown chakra. At that point in my life, I felt happy and satisfied with everything – my relationships, my job, and the life I’d created. The crown chakra is connected with positivity, inspiration and trust. With the big changes in my life (and the stress of planning a wedding abroad), I’m remembering to trust my instincts, make a decision and stop second guessing myself.

12. I’m going to remember that it’s ok to say no.

I had the opportunity to meet Geada Ford, a brand consultant who has worked with Martha Stuart, and have her over to my house in October. She gave me advice that I wish someone had given me when I was far younger: it’s OK to say no. As someone who likes pleasing people and being able to help when I’m asked, saying no is hard.

But it’s time to say no to people who won’t make me happy, plans that I don’t feel like making, sponsorships that don’t fit into my niche. 

playa de las catedrales galicia beach

Rather than using ‘stop’ or ‘will,’ I wanted to hold myself accountable and start the year on a positive note, despite a few small hiccups. I’m going to make my time count, my health important and my relationships worth leaving the computer for.

What are you resolutions and propósitos for 2015? I’m interested in hearing!

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. To move to Spain!!! lol
    To do good, to help others more, to write more, and to be open to all things that life brings!

    Thanks for your blog, I enjoy reading it and getting ideas for my pending move in 2015!


  2. Lynn Neagley says:

    To visit Spain again! In my case hiking in June in Asturias and it is happening!!!!!! I will be rereading your posts on your impressions/experiences of that part of the country-Gracias!

  3. Haha I just published my resolutions over on my blog as well! A lot of ours coincide too! The first new thing I’ve learned in 2015 is knitting :)
    Chelsea Alventosa recently posted..Reflections on 2014 and Goals for 2015My Profile

  4. I haven’t made any ‘real’ resolutions this year, but I found myself nodding along to most of these. I also want to start reading more, and to learn some new skills!
    One thing I continuously work on though and that I want to make a focus for this year: to live more in the moment and not to let uncertainty and stress and what have you make me feel like an 85 year old woman anymore 😛

  5. All of these sound like wonderful resolutions, Cat! I wish you the best on all of them! My resolutions this year begin with watching what I eat more. I’ve unfortunately let the numerous candy shops on my way to school in Logroño get the best of me…I’m also 100% committing myself to improving my Spanish as it’s one of the main reasons I’m here. Lastly, I want to travel and explore northern Spain since next year I’ve applied to move to Andalucía 😉
    Mike of Mapless Mike recently posted..2014 Year in ReviewMy Profile

  6. Awesome, good luck! And see you in Romania :)

  7. kelly from snowy boston says:

    Whoa!!! That is a huge list!! Go for it, girl!! :)

    I have a resolution of Exploring more. Exploring the world, exploring what makes ME happy, exploring (and learning) new things, exploring and meeting new people and so much more!!

    Happy ’15!

  8. I was thinking of giving up beer too, but already failed that (every day since coming back on Monday)!
    Kim recently posted..My year in musicMy Profile

  9. Good luck with 2015! You have some really exciting things to look forward to. I keep saying I’ll learn to cook too – maybe this will be the year for both of us haha.
    Jessica (Barcelona Blonde) recently posted..Exploring Barcelona’s Vibrant El Born NeighborhoodMy Profile

  10. Nice goals!
    I can relate to many!
    Sewing is on my list too!
    Yes to being better about saying NO! That’s a hard one for many of us women!

  11. Great resolutions, Cat! I’m looking forward to hearing your take on Romania as I know like…nothing about it at all except that it’s an Eastern European country that speaks a Romance language. Good luck on trading beer for water this year! (Maybe you could have some gaseosa here and there to help you make up for lost fizziness?)

    • This will be my second trip actually (not counting when I got stuck there with weather and grounded flights!). I loved it – the people, the food, the whole “Sure I’ll go on a trip to some random country!” thing. I’ll be there for a conference, city tours, etc.

      As for the beer…failing miserably! I won’t give it up all together, but am trying to cut down during the week!

  12. Umm, so you’ve basically written all my goals for the year, too!! I’ve been writing offline as well and it’s been a huge help to my emotional and mental well-being!
    Adam recently posted..Polish Pierogies and Beer in SzczecinMy Profile

  13. Man, why is #12 the most important but always the hardest?! That’s something I seriously need to work on this year… and every year. But all in all, this looks like a solid set of goals. Cheers to a fantastic 2015, chica!!
    Courtney recently posted..Awestruck in IstanbulMy Profile

  14. Excellent, Cat! I love seeing other’s new year’s goals. You’re a blog post-producing machine! But thinking about yourself is a fantastic priority, especially since you’re getting married…right? I share the same goal of reading more books, too. Although I’m counting in a ton of my husband’s comics to up my numbers 😉 Those are books as well! Good luck with your goals!
    Justine recently posted..I’m on a podcast!My Profile

    • I am, Justine, and this week I haven’t even gotten on my computer after 10pm – a huge departure, but a welcome one! Have a great 2015!

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