It's that time of year again. I'm sitting here with a finished planner and a big list of things that happened this past year, and it's time to blog. I am not ashamed of saying I am unspeakably happy 2016 is over. It was without question the hardest and worst year of my life. I know there are those that are making us all feel guilty about having a bad taste left in our mouths once the year ended, but this is not a time of flowers and butterflies for me. My heart was utterly broken this year, from January till December, and I will not let that be invalidated by anyone. If you had a great year of positive happenings and joyful events and accomplished goals, yay. I am truly happy for you. If you had an awful year of disappointments, unfulfilled expectations, and lost people/relationships, I feel you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Yes, we all have things we take for granted and should be thankful for always, and no, our lives are not as miserable as some others, but that does not lessen the burden of daily hurt. It does not take away the tears that flow just as steadily from small sorrows as those caused by life-altering sadness. God sees all brokenness, big and small. It all is seen by Him.
Okay. With that said, I want to share my year with you. Instead of facing my sadness and depression head-on like I should have, and delving deep into Scripture for my comfort, I did the Jonah thing and ran away from my thoughts via multiple distractions. Just being real right now. I bought tickets to everything. I read everything. I watched everything. So you'll see a lot of stuff here and probably think, "Wow. That girl had so much fun." And I did. But it was temporary, and with a faulty motive. One of my goals for this new year is to not shirk from my thoughts. If I have an issue, I need to deal with it in a calm and biblical way. It's so easy to stare at various screens to "escape." That only delays healing and growth. So here we go. This is gonna be long. ;)
January - My grandma Pat died on the 3rd, and I had no clue how much that would affect me. I was a mess for several months. I miss her so much! That month I also started my Invisalign journey. My teeth had shifted since getting my braces off, so this was the next step to getting back to where I was.
February - My brother's gf Jordan and I got to meet Victoria Aveyard, the author of the Red Queen series. We had never been to a book signing before, so that was such a cool experience! Peter suffered through his very first haircut. Our family also enjoyed a quick trip to Gulf Shores, AL for Valentine's Day.
March - Peter enjoyed his first Easter egg hunt at a beautiful park. We enjoyed having the whole family together for the day. Later in the month, Jordan and I went to another book signing, this time getting to meet the lovely Lauren Conrad!
April - This was the month for recitals. I had a small recital for my students, and later in the month, got to play in my sister Charlotte's grad recital. I was thankful to get to have a part in her special day! I was also super excited to finally purchase the violin I've been renting for years and years, and now I can officially call it mine!
May - My birthday was epic this year. Jordan and I went to BookCon in Chicago. We got there very early and sat in lines for hours, but it paid off because we met all the authors on our list and still had time to look around at all the booths! We met the Property Brothers, Sabaa Tahir, and James Dashner. We also got to listen to an awesome panel by Lauren Oliver, Veronica Roth, Sabaa Tahir, and Melissa de la Cruz. When we got home, Mike and Jordan threw me a Beauty and the Beast themed party! Everything was just beautiful, and we got to watch the movie afterwards with Charlotte's friends Jaclyn and Jacob. That month as well, God brought me some much-needed fellowship with my friends Cathy and Kelly. We get together once a month now, and our time together is so dear to me. At the end of the month, I went to yet another book signing, where I got to meet Daymond John of Shark Tank fame.
June - Mike, Jordan, Chris, and I enjoyed a full day at Six Flags, where the lines weren't nearly as bad as we expected!
July - Our family once again went up to my aunt and uncle's cabin in Hayward, WI for a quick trip. Peter had a blast! Chris and I went downtown and watched Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark while the amazing Chicago Symphony Orchestra played the score live. Very cool. Charlotte, Mom, our friend Kathy, and I enjoyed watching a live performance of Guys and Dolls. Oh my word, that was fun! I just discovered that musical this year and it's one of my faves.
August - Charlotte and I met up with friends to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens outside! I need one of those inflatable screens. Seriously. I also got to hear Sarah McLachlan and Josh Groban live in concert! That was just amazing. I couldn't believe I was able to go. I also played in the most fun ensemble ever for church. We had 26 violin, viola, and cello players playing "Holy, Holy, Holy." It was simply wonderful.
September - Chris and I celebrated his birthday and our fourth anniversary by staying overnight in a cabin at Starved Rock. It was a fast but fun little getaway. Charlotte, her bf Jacob, Chris, and I went to the concert of a lifetime: Piano Guys! It was probably the best concert I've ever been to. They were so funny and wonderful, and of course the music was spectacular. We would go again in a heartbeat! We finished out the month by flying to Sanibel, FL with my bro- and sis-in-law, Todd and Anna, and their little guy, Keith. We both had honeymooned there, so it was SO special to go back together and hit all our favorite beaches and restaurants!
I stayed pretty busy music-wise again this year. I played a total of 5 concerts, 2 recitals, and 1 gig. I played with a chamber orchestra at the annual state homeschool convention. I sang in our church's choir cantata for Christmas. It was my first time singing a solo in church too so that was a big deal for my scaredy-cat self! I taught several students this year, and starting next week I'll be teaching 15. (Three are Skype students, and two are piano!)
I watched a lot of movies, both new and old. VidAngel was addicting. I'm so sad they're down! Jordan got me hooked on this site called Letterboxd. (It's basically the Goodreads of the movie world.) You can see my profile here.
I also read an insane amount of books. On Goodreads, my reading goal was 30 books. I ended up reading 46. (!!!!) If you're interested in seeing what they were and how I liked them, you can check them out here.
So yeah. The past year was full and crazy. We are still living in my family's house, as the addition project is still going on. That was one of the "hard things" of the year. ;) I'm definitely having to work on patience and a positive attitude when it comes to getting back into our house. Hey, it'll make it that much sweeter when we finally DO get back in there, right?? I can't wait.
My goals for 2017 are working on positive self-talk, reading my Bible every day, learning how to make lip balm, losing weight, running a 10K, and making healthy eating a lifestyle, not a temporary diet. Veronica Roth said something that has stuck with me: "2017 will be different. Not because it is inevitable. Because we say so." I don't want to sit back and complain about what I don't have or how I want things to be. I want to get up, roll up my sleeves, and work to make myself and my life better. I want to be present, and not miss a single moment of joy that God has tucked into the little cracks of daily life. Each day is a gift. I intend to open it and be thankful. :)
P.S. - Formatting? What's that? lol Sorry about the sloppy construction of this post. I have no clue how to do anything cool.