Happy, Happy, Happy New Year!

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Goodbye 2013, hello 2014!

Hope everyone had a great New Year.

What a great year of personal and professional growth 2013 was. I never thought my 22nd year on Earth would be so eventful. From being featured in a headlining news story to being mentioned on Rush Limbaugh’s show to getting published in a book, I was blessed with many opportunities as a young conservative activist last year. I’m truly grateful for all that has happened to me. Thank you for the continual support!

While I’m proud to gloat in my accomplishments, they wouldn’t have been possible without the love and support from family and friends. 2013 reminded me to stay true to my roots, be diligent, and remain optimistic. I can’t thank my activist friends and friends from back home enough for making 2013 enjoyable and worthwhile.

A lot happened in 2013. I trained and met lots of right-minded students in the Northeast and started writing for notable publications like Townhall.com. (I’ll resume article writing shortly – stay tuned!) Moreover, I traveled to several states for work and fun including Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and most of the Northeast. Through networking and hobnobbing, I was able to meet more conservative activists and strengthen existing friendships. And most importantly, my family and I were back together again after splitting residence between the West and East Coasts. I’m happy we’re together in the same state again!

Where do I begin with New Year’s resolutions? I, like so many of you, want to start 2014 off on a clean slate. I write down the things I want to improve upon but never follow through with them. Maybe it’s lack of effort or maybe it’s sheer laziness that prevents most of us from fulfilling our goals. It’s time for a change.

Why not be bold in 2014?

Here’s what I plan to improve upon this year:

1) Read more books: I toil with this every single year. I love reading books but never find the time to tune out from social media or my busy work schedule to dig into a good book. With the help of Goodreads, which has become my go-to organizer for books, I plan to set a goal for myself and read at least 2-4 books every month. Put down the remote and iPhones – indulge yourselves and read some good books!

2) Less technology, more reality: My friend Ashley Crouch of Verily Magazine wrote about the excessive use of social media and how it’s stifling our interpersonal interactions:

“It’s no secret that we’re spending more and more time plugged into digital outlets. But all is not rosy according to researchers from the University of Gothenberg; out of the 4,100 young adults they studied for a year, those who used computers four or more hours per day reported high levels of stress, anxiety, and sleeping disorders.”

Like so many of you who are young and career-minded, I’m guilty of wasting time on social media. I’ve realized I could put my free time to better use. I want to relish the remainder of my youth by using social media more effectively and in smaller doses. Over the last three months, I’ve toned down the amount of Facebook posts and tweets by unplugging most evenings and weekends. It’s allowed me to be less distracted overall and more attentive to friends, family, and coworkers. Don’t be that person who spends every social gathering hooked on your phone. It’s really rude and off-putting. (Some people I know are guilty of this. Guys and gals: We want our friends back!) Tune out from social media and tune into reality!

3) Travel more: I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to make frequent trips to the Northeast. I love sight-seeing in NYC and Boston whenever I get downtime from student meetings or trainings. Sometimes I travel to blogger conferences and go on family vacations. I’d love to make a return to Europe; I haven’t been since I was 8! Whether near or far, explore your surroundings. Explore historical sites around you, visit a major city, or find your nearest beach. Get outside and breath some fresh air!

4) Spend more time outdoors: Last year, I spent many weekends at the gun range and our local lake to clear my head. (It’s a curse and a blessing to live in the D.C. area, so I use every chance I get to escape Washington and go to the Virginia countryside.) I’ve become more adept at shooting guns and am working on getting my CCW license soon. Also, I discovered how unique East Coast fishing is with freshwater fishing in Northern Virginia and saltwater fishing in Ponce Inlet, FL. My goal this year is to explore more freshwater fishing spots in Virginia and to go deep sea fishing in Virginia Beach, VA. Also, I hope to go hunting for the first time this year. (We’ll see if that materializes!) If you are craving excitement and time away from technology, I highly suggest you try the aforementioned outdoor sports.

5) Always exercise: Politics can be draining and all-consuming causing us to sit for 8+ hours each day. Thankfully I rediscovered how essential exercise is with gym membership and after running my first 5K in September. (I used to play tennis in high school, so I’ve always been one to value exercise.) A dear friend of mine even convinced me to join her in running longer distances. Exercise is a great stress reliever. Practice greater personal responsibility and get in shape this year!

6) Have fun in the kitchen: Contrary to popular belief, baking and cooking aren’t oppressive. They’re actually quite enjoyable. I plan to find more time to bake desserts and cook up some of my favorite food items. After reading several food blogs last year, I want to experiment with more recipes for food, desserts, and drinks. My family generally frowned upon junk food in the house, so this shouldn’t be difficult to pull off. Ladies, channel your inner domestic goddess this year! And fellas – don’t be afraid to cook up a storm.

7) Donate to private charity: I like to support causes I believe in without coercion from the government. Last year, I made a contribution to a local pregnancy crisis center in Leesburg, VA. (I hope to contribute to more charities this year.) I wholeheartedly frown upon benefits and welfare that foster cradle to grave paternalistic government. Private charity best uplifts people. Find a charity you believe in and give back to your community!

And last but not least, this is a goal we on the Right must fulfill this year:

8) Promote and help elect constitutional conservatives in the 2014 election cycle: Ralph Waldo Emerson once opined:

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”

Democrats are very vulnerable this year. The president and his administration boast high unavailability ratings, especially with the failed Obamacare roll out. We must use this to our advantage and provide a contrast to the Left’s failed policies. Alas, this won’t be easy with GOP elites and cronies like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce undermining constitutional conservative candidates in primaries. I’ll do my part as a blogger and activist – column writing, tweeting, and grassroots organizing – to help elect sound conservatives to office this year. Please do yours!

What are your New Year’s resolutions? What do you want to improve upon? Craft a list and follow through with your goals.

Happy New Year, everyone!

-Gabriella

The Power of Twitter: Why Young Conservatives Should Tweet

Some of you are aware that I’m quite the Twitterholic. I tweet under the handle @Gabby_Hoffman and am not afraid to say that I tweet up quite the storm. My Twitter musings range from conservative politics to historical events. On occasion, I also include fashion and animal posts. Whenever I’m traveling for work or for leisure, I tweet pictures of monuments or interesting points of observation. All in all, I’ve grown to like and rely on Twitter.

Why would a young conservative like me use Twitter, you ask? Easy: we’ve got to win the social media war against the Left.

January 12, 2013 will mark three years since I started on Twitter. (In twitterspeak, I’ll be celebrating my third Twitterversary.)

At first I was reluctant to tweet. This social media medium was extremely confusing and foreign to me. I was perplexed by the RT symbol, follow button, and hashtags. It was not until a young conservative conference in Summer 2010 that I started to use Twitter. Once I got the hang of Twitter, I couldn’t stop using it.

In the nearly three years I’ve been on Twitter, I’ve garnered almost 22, 000 followers. What’s the key to this? Playing hashtag games, helping tweets turn into news stories, and promoting friends and fellow activists. I’ve also used Twitter to promote my articles.

Due to my politically charged tweets, I’ve been mentioned by Politico, Twitchy, National Review, got linked on Drudge Report, and was interviewed by Fox News.

If you’re not on Twitter, sign up for it and start tweeting. We’ve got a country to save!