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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Waugh

2018: Looking back, moving on

This past year started slow, chugged along, and then ended in a complete whirlwind that I'm still processing. It wasn't even five weeks ago that I got the job offer in West Palm Beach, Florida. In the days that followed I: accepted the new job, ended my employment in Maine, said goodbyes to dear friends and coworkers, went on a surprise trip to Pittsburgh, turned 30, GOT ENGAGED, watched the Steelers beat the Patriots at Heinz Field, found a new apartment in West Palm, and started to plan a wedding. WOW.

When I decided to leave my job in Maine, I wanted to give myself a few weeks off to see my family over the holidays and relax before the big move. I envisioned some quiet and therapeutic weeks of downtime -- but in reality, I have been busier than ever! Between birthday, Christmas, and going-away parties, travel across the region to see family and friends, and all the planning that goes into a cross country move -- my heart is full and my head is spinning. It has truly been the best five weeks of my life -- full of surprises, successes, celebrations, and exciting plans for the future. And while all of these dramatic and amazing life changes have seemingly happened overnight, they do follow a year that was challenging in many ways.

Just a few weeks ago, I would have told you that 2018 was a year of stagnation and frustration -- feeling like I was working as hard as I could and not seeing any results. I was about to turn 30 years old, and not anywhere near where I wanted to be in my personal or professional life. I found myself questioning where I had gone wrong, and why I was "failing." I watched my peers get married, have children, and make big career moves -- while I felt as though I had hit a plateau. I was so hungry for new and professional opportunities, but couldn't seem to get new doors to open. There was a lot of soul searching, some tears, and more self-help podcasts than I care to admit. I had some really hard days. And all I did was kept going. Sometimes all you can do is take things one day at a time, and that's the mindset I kept for most of 2018. Ultimately I know the tough moments this year have taught me lessons, made me tougher, and helped me understand my priorities with more clarity. My situation is not unique and I know there are many people who have gone through much worse this year. My only point is that people see the happy photos and "highlight reel" on social media -- but what you don't often see is the struggle behind the scenes.

Hopefully what you did see were some of the biggest news stories of 2018! It was a busy news year nationally - and in Maine. The beauty of being the Maine bureau reporter for NECN is getting to cover every big story of the year. From the historic, to the tragic, and downright weird -- here were some of my most memorable reports, in no particular order:

1. The election of Maine's first female governor: this is not a political statement, but an acknowledgement that Mainers made history in November by electing Janet Mills. She has been shattering glass ceilings her entire career -- and while she was sure not to make her gender a major part of her campaign, Mills made mention of the historic moment in her victory speech, telling the crowd that the election tells girls all over Maine that they can be anything they want to be. It was a powerful moment to experience in person, and an important story to cover.

A memorial for Cpl. Cole in downtown Norridgewock

2. The death of Corporal Eugene Cole: out in the field, I don't get shaken up very easily - but I will never forget pulling into the small downtown of Norridgewock the morning of April 25 and seeing a surreal number of police cruisers, hundreds of officers, and aircraft flying overhead. The manhunt and the days that followed were confusing, disorienting, demanding, disturbing, stressful, and frankly dangerous. At the end of the day I tried to stay on top of a rapidly developing story, while honoring the life of a public servant senselessly killed.

3. Brunswick's rabies outbreak: for a few weeks this summer, it seemed like every other day a rabid animal was attacking someone in one Maine town! The outbreak introduced me to some unforgettable characters -- like the 95 year old who beat a rabid fox to death with a wooden board. It also landed me in the hospital TWICE -- the first time, when I got too close to exposing myself to the virus... and the second, when I was interviewing a victim and fell off her porch, inuring my knee (it is still bruised, nearly five months later!)

I did not get rabies but I did get a bad blow to the knee

A memorial outside the Bush compound at Walker's Point

4. The death of President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush: Two of Maine's most famous summer residents -- two of the most influential Americans -- died months apart. It's a heavy responsibility to report on the Bushes impact in Maine, and I tried to bring out the personal stories in the community in the days before and after their deaths. While it may sound cliche, it is true that in Kennebunkport, the Bushes were more than celebrities and political figures -- they were friends and neighbors. It was an honor to lead this coverage for my station.

Interviewing Sen. Collins -- a photo published in the Times Record newspaper

5. Senator Collins' vote to confirm Kavanaugh: the Trump era has put Maine's "moderate" Republican Senator in the spotlight, especially during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. I covered several protests and sit-ins at Collins' offices, where protesters -- many of them sexual assault survivors -- practically begged her to vote against him. The raw, unbridled emotion I witnessed is something I will never forget. I try not to let the news stories I cover "get to me" but I remember leaving work after the Kavanaugh vote feeling extremely heavy. And while Senator Collins gets regular requests to appear on national news outlets - I always appreciated how she makes time for local reporters throughout the process.

6. Aggressive Canadian crabs invade Maine: this might be my favorite VIDEO of the year. Researchers at the University of New England were studying the invasive green crab from Canada and recorded a crab running sideways on a little treadmill. You know you want to watch.

It was a year of interesting news -- personal growth -- and profound change! Looking ahead to 2019, I have several goals that include new career experiences and planning a heartfelt, fun, and *affordable* wedding! I'm not much of a "resolution" maker but I do think I was able to fulfill an intention I set last January: to cultivate a more grateful state of mind. I bought a gratitude journal and wrote 3 things I was thankful for each day -- big or small. It helped me remember the positive when I was going through something negative, and now I end 2018 with the most grateful heart I've ever had. I think this quote sums up my attitude perfectly:

Here's to 2019!

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