It’s Kentucky Derby Day – the annual event that heralds the coming of spring with a sea of hats, bowties, mint juleps and preppy swagger.
As a Yankee who attended a college devoid of a Greek scene, the Kentucky Derby was a new phenomenon for me when I first moved to DC.
I had no idea that Kentucky Derby parties were a thing.
My previous exposure to the race was mostly through Hunter S. Thompson’s famous portrait of the 1970 race, The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.
But through the years, Derby Day has been one of the ways I’ve marked time in DC – each year spring seems to circle back to a particularly memorable celebration that day that offers me the opportunity to reflect on the last 365 days, what I’ve accomplished, and where I’m going.
While horse racing * still * isn’t my thing – it’s hard to miss in DC.
First, there are the parties. Second, it amusingly almost always coincides with the Walk for the Cure.
Which, by the way, leads to the best metro people-watching of the year, as the train cars are equally filled with women in pink walking to help combat breast cancer – and the aforementioned yuppies dressed in bow ties and boat shoes – or spring hats and heels.
It’s a lovely study in contrast.
Note: This year was different. The 2017 DC Race for the Cure (fighting breast cancer) was postponed until September, but Derby Day still gave us the Race for Hope (fighting brain cancer).
I know I published a personal reflection on Q1 2017 less than a month ago, so revisiting such navel gazing so soon is self-indulgent.
But assessing one’s progress over 90 days is different than doing so over a fully year – the timeline’s longer, the brush broader.
This year, as I approach (gulp!) 40 years old, I’m proud of my progress.
Personal accomplishments over the past year?
1. New apartment.
This time last year I was still splitting an apartment with a roommate. Since October I’ve lived alone for the first time since the 1990s.
It’s been interesting, but mostly in how it’s streamlined my life.
For the first time in years, not having to deal with another personality means I’m consistently challenged to make good use of that extra time and emotional bandwidth.
2. New job.
I started a new job last week with Qorvis MSLGROUP. I loved my nearly three years with Dale Curtis Communications, but it was time for a change.
I’m already exhilarated by the complexity and scale of the new office and clients.
3. I’m writing.
I launched this blog on Dec. 27, 2015 – as one of my 2016 New Year’s Resolutions.
While my positing frequency has waxed and waned, I’ve now built a solid portfolio of more than 120 posts.
My writing’s gotten better, my analytical skills have improved, and I now see new potential posts everywhere.
Also, as I discovered while interviewing, it’s vastly increased my professional credibility as a PR consultant.
4. I’m in shape.
Lifting is hard – and boring.
Running is boring squared.
And the worst part? The diet.
McDonald’s is probably my favorite restaurant chain.
And I could write a proper sonnet on my love for Dunkin Donuts (their donuts and coffee alike).
But I’ve made a concerted effort to improve my diet, lift and run this past year, and it’s paid off in spades.
Today, I’m officially in the best shape of my life – able to run a 5k fairly easily and at near personal records on all of my lifts.
While I’m still not able to bench – or squat – my bodyweight, I’m close.
And for a non-athlete approaching middle age, that’s huge.
May 2016-May 2017 was a huge net positive on a range of fronts.
And Derby Day 2016 finds me satisfied with the progress I’ve made over the year, and optimistic for the banner year to come.
I wish you all the same!