During my month in Colorado, one of my dearest friends and I tackled the Manitou Incline together. When we reached the top, we decided to keep going and half rock climbed our way up a rock face to get a better view. Per usual, I was hesitant but Steven took something that felt out of reach and made it accessible (and made me feel safe). The picture below is from us at the top of that rock face. In a spur of carefree youth, we decided to barrel down the mountain trail running our way down laughing and joking as we went.

3 people this year that I love dearly got married! 2 cousins who I grew up exploring Western NC with and a wonderful friend from high school. To have the ability to attend each of these weddings thanks to the flexibility of my job brings tears to my eyes even now. We are lucky to love, to be loved, and to witness love. 2016 is filled with memories of celebrating love at a very high form in marriage.

In 2015, I went to the Van Gogh museum and fell in love. The second I walked through the doors I knew I wanted to take my mom here someday as she’s essentially a Van Gogh fangirl. In 2016, I planned a month long trip to Europe with her including a stop at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. As we walked through the museum, my mom would exclaim loudly, “Oh Anne! Did you know ____?” forgetting that the audio tour she was using was not something everyone else could hear. It was adorable and slightly embarrassing. My heart was full seeing her taking it all in though. We turned a corner and she froze with tears in her eyes. “We had a copy of this hanging in Grannie’s home growing up”. I had to sneak a picture even though it’s not allowed. The entire trip was a whirlwind as we explored everything from holyrood palace in Edinburgh to the Keukenhof tulip festival in the Netherlands.

I was in Denver when the pulse shooting happened in Orlando. It was really really hard to be away from loved ones and home during this time. Seeking solace, I headed to the Denver pride festival only to find this massive art piece dedicated to #WeAreOrlando. Suddenly even though I was miles from home and feeling scared, I felt at home and at peace. I found the organizers and thanked them with tears in my eyes.

I don’t drink very often. Bars are too noisy and I never feel like I can have a good conversation. The pictures below are from a night in DC that resulted in me staying out until 5AM with one of my closest friends from highschool. The night started at a german beer garden with another friend from highschool that we hadn’t seen since graduation. We spent hours there playing an incredibly fun drinking card game and intermittently taking shotskis because WHY NOT?! Youth?! Stupidity? Sigh. We befriended a couple nearby only to be whisked away to a new bar to make new friends. As we stumbled home at 2am, we caught the attention of a bar owner who invited us in for drinks as his place was closing. 2.5 hours later and we continued our trek home in disbelief. Needless to say, the night was more fun than the next day. These kinds of carefree, shrugging off the “smart choice”  nights are some of my favorite of this past year with or without any additional substances 😉

In the summer of 2015, I went to the Women’s World Cup and experienced for the first time in my life the wonderful feeling of watching the best of the best play a sport you actually love. I’ve been to professional football, baseball, golf, and basketball games but never cared much for any of them beyond the fact that they are incredible athletes. This past year, I had a chance to head to Chicago for the very first time to watch Ireland beat the NZ All Blacks at the most attended rugby game in the US! It was a magical weekend as the Chicago Bears had just won the World Series and the whole city had this palpable energy. Combine that with a massive gathering of friends – new and old – it proved to be a fantastic weekend in what is definitely one of my new favorite cities.

I snuck myself away on a weekend trip of my own to Idyllwild, CA soon after buying my very own minicooper. It was an impromptu trip filled with loads of reflection. The first day, I had a calm hike with gorgeous views followed by a relaxing dinner featuring a live musician that rocked my world. I settled back at the airbnb I rented and passed out sleeping the whole night through (which is rare for me). The next morning I woke up and hit the trails hard running over 5 miles. I couldn’t get enough. I want to just run and run and run. I  loved myself hard and deeply that weekend. At a certain point during the first day, I remember coming around a turn and pausing. Something in me released in that moment and I quickly scribbled this note you see below in my phone.

LA is a short drive from San Diego and it’s one I’ve taken a handful of times this year. I spent nearly a week there with a close friend of mine from college. We both had no clue what we were doing with our lives and stupidly decided to detox from caffeine halfway through. Despite all of this, we had one hell of a time. One of my favorite memories from this trip was watching the sunset over the city at the Griffith Observatory. It was the perfect sunset over this incredible city that I felt like I hardly knew despite being born not far from it. Sometimes living in the US, it’s easy to forget why folks travel far and wide to see the cities that make up this country. In that moment, I understood why.

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I took myself on so many dates this past year. I never spend money on myself. I don’t see the point. The second it comes to others though, I have no problem throwing down whatever amount of money is needed. The last 6 months or so I’ve been working to change that as weird as that sounds. I try to treat myself like I would a friend. I found out I’m not a cheap date as I ate incredible meals at places like The Commissary and Work & Class. Two cocktails into my very own dinner date and I sit back marveling at the life I’m building for myself. I then pause to think about all the folks I want to take here of course 🙂 These moments of self love remind me to pause and appreciate the life around me rather than waiting to have someone else to do the same thing with. On the same note, I also went on some solid friend dates filled with lifechats and memories. I hold all of these nights so close looking back.

I’ve never not done Thanksgiving with family until this year. Part exhaustion post election, part the cost of the flight, and part weariness about yet another trip made me stay in San Diego. Friendsgiving proved to be fantastic and I feel so lucky to have been brought into the fold with new friends here. We feasted on steak, ridiculously good potatoes, and fantastic pie from Julian, CA. It was such a good time that we joked about staging a fight just to make it feel more like the holidays.

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After a random 4 hour, catch up conversation, I booked a trip to NC to see a dear friend from highschool. We hadn’t seen eachother in years and I just needed some facetime. These kinds of impromptu trips are the exact trips I can’t wait to carry into 2017. They offer some of the greatest moments and memories of this past year. The trip proved to live up to expectations as I got to catch up with folks from all different parts of my life. I couldn’t get enough and was sad to leave vowing to plan another trip back soon.

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Gah – there are so many more memories to write out and to rest easy in. So many fantastic conversations and moments of feeling past pain. Here’s to more adventures and more opportunities to explore the world and love those in it.

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