Reviewing 2016

Two weeks into the new year and I still can’t quite believe 2016 is over.

What a whirlwind of 365 days, y’all. I originally spelled that whirlwine, so you all know what’s on my mind.

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I have to smile when I reflect on the adventuring and the milestones marked this last year.

I road-tripped Ireland with two of my cousins and kissed the Blarney Stone. We drove through rolling hillsides full of spotted cows, drank more than our fair share of Guinness in many a pub and stood at the edges of the Ciffs of Moher. We frolicked through the Hills of Tara, climbed on basalt columns at Giant’s Causeway and wobbled in awe down the crickety Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. The beauty and history of this country is something that I feel so lucky to have witnessed firsthand and with people that I love a lot.

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Months later, cousin Shannon and I were checking off another shared bucket list item by whitewater rafting in New Mexico. I almost fell out within the first five minutes and had to be yanked back onto the raft by my lower body. It was exhilarating.

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Summer road trips to Oklahoma and New Orleans left me feeling grateful for long drives, adventures and the loved ones that made these things all the more worthwhile.

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My husband and I spent an anniversary trip in the enchanting Caye Caulker, Belize. We snorkeled with stingrays and sharks and that was slightly scary but mostly delightful. We bought a brownie from a stranger and laughed the night away. I took a group yoga class on a Belizean rooftop, and clumsily moved my limbs as the sun set. We sipped on four for one drinks and devoured the freshest of lobster and rode bikes through sandy, narrow streets. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better way to celebrate seven years of marriage with my best friend.

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2016 marked my first completed year and halfway point of grad school. It marked a year of development within my career and the blogging world. And it marked my one year of attending counseling, which has proven to be a turning point for my personal growth.

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There were a few times this past year where I noticed history trying to repeat itself in detrimental ways. The difference this time was that I didn’t let it. Can I just tell you how empowering that is? I found my voice, and I learned when and how to use it. I learned how to stand my ground, and I realized that sometimes this can and should be done silently. It was a year that taught me to openly make mistakes, to firmly disagree with those I love and to proudly show off both my victories and my scars. I wasn’t always right, so it was also a year that taught me how to be wrong. It was a year that left me feeling strong, brave and inspired. 2016 wasn’t perfect, but it taught me to roll with and even to sometimes revel in the imperfections.

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It was a year of discovery, of both things big and small, gentle and wild.

Happy 2017, friends.

Let’s be unapologetically flawed and untamable this year, shall we?

Ireland 2016, Part 1

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.
― Anais Nin

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Note: I started writing this post in Belfast, Ireland and ended it back in Texas.

Greetings from Ireland, y’all!

I’m currently writing from the quaintest of cottages in Belfast, where I have turned a pool table into a makeshift desk. Rain is gently pelting the roof and I’m typing with a glass of wine by my side.

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I arrived early Friday morning to meet my cousins at the Dublin airport, and already so much has happened. This was my first time to fly to Europe solo, and it was just as magical as I’d hoped it’d be. I made two new friends along the way. One on my seven hour layover in New York, who was a dog whisperer of sorts and on her way to England to attend an animal communication course. On the plane ride to Dublin, I met an aspiring rapper from Seattle who was catching a connecting flight to backpack Europe. One of my favorite things about exploring the world has always been the friendly and intriguing souls I meet on my way.

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My cousins and I road-tripped from Dublin all the way to Belfast. This meant we changed countries, currencies and politics all whilst remaining on the same island. Road-tripping Ireland was like a dream. The rolling country sides, the stops for a pint of Guinness, the beaches and the bakeries and the cliffs and even the perfectly spotted cows? It all seemed too beautiful to be real.

Even getting lost in Cork and driving around in circles for an hour seems like a mesmerizing mishap in hindsight.

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On our day spent at the Cliffs of Moher, we eventually found our way to the riskier parts of the cliffs. This area is traced with warning signs, and there is no one to whistle you back to the safety zones. I may or may not have been whistled back to said safety zones at other points of the day, so these whistle-free zones were my favorite. I sat down and scooted as close to the edge as I still felt safe. I thought to myself, “I would fall if I moved just this much closer.”, and that was both terrifying and exhilarating to know. Shannon joined me, (Janna had peaced out right before noting that she saw our lives flashing before her eyes) and we sat there and talked as the wind blew through our hair, just trying to take in the astounding beauty all around us. A few minutes passed before a few young guys appeared, one plopping down inches in front of me. Not to be outdone, (which could quite literally be the death of me), I scooted a few inches forward as well. “Whoa.” the dude said, reaching out his arm as if to protect me. I laughed. “You did it first.”

This is what traveling feels like to me. It feels like the wind blowing through my hair and life rushing through my veins. Like scooting just a little too close to a cliff’s edge while arguing with a complete stranger as if he is my kindergarten crush.

And what a feeling that is.