Hard to believe in a short 16 days it is going to be 2017!
Maybe it’s because I just finished school on Monday (!!!), but I’ve been in a super reflective mood these past few days. I never quite know how to best recap my year on A Touch of Teal, because when you sit down to think about it, so. much. happens. in. a. year. How do you summarize it in a singular post in a way that isn’t overwhelming to read? In a way that will authentically portray my year and bring back clear memories when I read it in the future? (2015 in review here, 2014 here for those of you curious.)
Earlier this year, I had one of the best days ever—don’t worry, I talk about it below. It was one of those days that I wanted to bottle up and remember forever because everything about it was perfect to me. The idea that I could have such a clear memory of a particular moment in time got me thinking about what other experiences, days, and memories I want to remember about 2016 long after we’ve flipped our calendars forward. They might not be the best moments—though most of them are—but the ones that shaped 2016 and me into the person I am today at the end of it.
So, for both you today and future me, I wanted to share my top 10 moments of 2016. Putting this together was so fun and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! x
THAT TIME I UBERED DOWN A PARK CITY, UTAH SKI TRAIL
In March, I went to Park City for the first time. It was also my first time in Utah, first time in the Wasatch Mountains, and first time skiing. I went with my best friend from middle school, H, and her fiancé. H was the only one of our group who had ever been skiing before, so we enlooped her aunt and uncle and their children to come with us to our first day on the slopes to show us the ropes. I knew we were in trouble when it was hard to stay standing getting in line for the ski lift.
While we had good intentions of taking our first run down a green, we accidentally made a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on a blue. After about spending an hour “skiing”—aka standing for 15 seconds, falling on my butt trying to get up for the subsequent two minutes, the altitude, dehydration, and exhaustion from travel really set in. The ski schools filled with five-year-olds whizzing down the mountain certainly didn’t help. At one point I asked a ski instructor if there was another way down. When he said no, I literally shed a few tears. Eventually, I was so frustrated and embarassed by my inability to ski that I asked H’s sixteen-year-old cousin if I could take my skis off and walk down the mountain. She said sure, and off we went.
As an aside, at this point, H and her other cousin were nearing the base of the mountain, while H’s fiancé and Aunt were stuck near the top dealing with a malfunctioning boot strap. We really were a true comedy of errors.
While I was walking down the mountain—which, by the way, I had no concept of just how long ski trails were before I was on one—the altitude sickness started to set in. I could barely walk and even though it was a rather chilly day, I was burning up. H’s cousin skiied ahead to get help, and I kept walking and taking breaks when I needed them. Eventually, I came to part of the mountain that went under an overpass and I saw my out. I walked up to the over pass, sat down on the side of the road, and did what any logical millennial would do—I called an uber. As I was waiting, a suburban pulled up and out jumped a nice Mom who was there to take pictures of her husband and kids skiing down the mountain. She gave me a Coke and some crackers and waited with me until my savior for the day rolled up in his Kia.
Needless to say, I am not anxious to hit the slopes again anytime soon—but I am really proud that I tried something new and really pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
READING FROM THE BOOK OF GENESIS AT MY COUSIN’S WEDDING
My cousin Ali made my day one evening in June when she texted me and asked me to be a reader at her July wedding. Surprisingly, I had never read at Mass before and was really excited to honor the Lord on my cousin’s big day. It was particularly special for me because the last time I saw my Nana, she told me I would be a good reader at Mass. I found it particularly appropriate that the first time I did read, it was at a family wedding.
I was asked to do the Old Testament reading and practiced a bit leading up to the ceremony. While I was definitely nervous to read in front of her 150 guests, sitting on the altar as she was walking down the aisle and then smiling at her maid-of-honors—my cousins—and her during the opening prayer as we were all fighting nerves is something I’ll always cherish.
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky.
He brought them to the man to see what he would name them;
and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping,
he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.
Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man,
and he brought her to the man.
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
A SURPRISE MONDAY MORNING WORK PROMOTION
I started at my job in May 2013, and have had bi-annual reviews every six months since. Our reviews in June are the formal ones where we discuss compensation and benefits, and the ones at the beginning of a new year serve as good check points. Last January, my boss and I agreed it would be a good goal for me to work toward a promotion. In April, I figured I was on-track and might be offered one at my annual review in June.
Between those reviews, I have bi-weekly meetings with my boss to discuss all the projects I’m working on, and at the end of one of these very routine meetings, she told me that she had something else for me. I figured it was a new project, but instead she told me she was offering me a promotion! I was so surprised, I literally did not see it coming. In the moment, while I was really happy and proud of the accomplishment, I was dealing with terrible, debilitating anxiety. As a result, it was hard for me to really enjoy and celebrate the promotion. My mind was just a million other places, and it was difficult to focus on anything, let alone new work responsibilities. I beat myself up for not being able to shake off my anxiety to focus on all the great things I had going for me, but I think the experience reminded me that you have to take the good with the bad in life.
A FALL DAY IN JEFFERSON’S VIRGINIA WITH MY SISTER
In October, I headed down to Charlottesville to spend a weekend with my sister in Virginia Wine Country. I went down on Saturday morning, and when I got there we headed straight to Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. We each had a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and sat on beautiful lawn out front. Despite the wind, it was the perfect fall day so we headed onto King Family Vineyard for even more wine and good times.
After a few hours of recovery watching Saved by the Bell, we headed to The Virginian for dinner, which is one of my favorite Charlottesville restaurants for bar food. We then walked over to the arena at UVA for the Carrie Underwood concert. Y’all, Carrie puts on an amazing show. She can sing great live, has the most beautiful wardrobe, and is a great performer—she didn’t stop moving once.
As a night cap, we got Dirty Shirley’s at my favorite college bar—The Biltmore. Seriously the perfect day in my favorite town with my sister!
A DAY ENJOYING THE SWIM-UP BAR IN OCEAN CITY, MARYLAND
After a wild few weeks at work and wrapping up my summer semester, I met my family in Ocean City, Maryland for a long weekend at the beach. Though we’re usually Carolina Shore people, our hotel in OCMD gave any other place we’ve stayed a run for their money because of the swim-up bar.
Prior to this trip, I’d never been to a resort where you don’t even have to leave the pool to get a cold one, and I am not sure I ever want to go back to a plain ol’ pool again. Spending the day beachside with my family and then enjoying the pool bar before heading up for the day is just how a mid-August weekend should be spent. An added bonus was that we went during the Olympics and were able to watch some of the best swimming races and gymnastics events together.
A SATURDAY AFTERNOON WALK SOUTH OF BROAD, CHARLESTON
In August, I headed to Charleston for my second Blog Societies Conference. We were there for four and a half days and they were jam packed with activities. Saturday was the last full day of our adventure, and by that point, I was in dire need of alone time.
So while a few of the girls I was sharing a hotel room with went shopping, I grabbed my camera and my phone and set out for a long walk with no agenda. I explored the historic homes on Anson Street in the French Quarter, and eventually made my way South of Broad for a walk along the Battery. I was able to go at my own pace, stop and take as many pictures as I wanted without interruption, and enjoy the reflection that solitude brings. My walk ended as a thunderstorm rolled through and I took cover in air conditioning once again. If you can, sneak away for an afternoon of alone time on your next trip. It makes all the difference!
A SUMMER EVENING WITH ZAC BROWN BAND
Okay, so the image above isn’t my family at Zac Brown Band—we didn’t take any pictures that night. However, one of my favorite new traditions we started this year was going to country music concerts together. In addition to the aforementioned Carrie Underwood concert, my sisters and I went to Luke Bryan, and as a family we saw Kenny Chesney (#noshoesnation) and Zac Brown Band.
Y’all, if you ever have the chance to see Zac and the gang live, GO! Jimmy de Martini, his fiddle player, is worth the price of entry alone. Hands down, it the best concert I’ve ever been to and the weather was perfect—nice and warm with no humidity. I’d go back in a heartbeat, and hoping DC is on their summer tour next year.
A THURSDAY NIGHT ON BOURBON STREET, NEW ORLEANS
One of the best trips I went on this year was the four-day girls trip I took to New Orleans. We arrived on a Wednesday night and had a quiet glass of wine, but Thursday is when the party really got started.
I spent the afternoon at the legendary Pat O’Brien’s drinking Hurricanes with Shana and Emma. A rain storm blew threw, but we sat on the patio under a wide-brim umbrella and enjoyed the rain, each other’s company, and some delicious popcorn. We did that thing where you put your phone away and see who cracks first—I loved being so present in the moment. (Note to self for the future!)
The rest of our squad arrived that evening, and we did something I think everyone should have the privilege of doing in their 20s: we went out on Bourbon Street. I have been to many bars in many cities, but y’all, there is nothing like Bourbon Street. After a late dinner, we headed to the Bourbon Cowboy for some great country tunes. We were tired of explaining that we were from Baltimore/DC/NYC and answering all the questions about how we knew each other and why we didn’t live in the same city. So we decided that we were going to say we were from Lexington, and if anyone asked which one, they had to guess. Go figure the first group we met—a divorce party posing as a bachelor party—were from Lexington, Kentucky!
We finished off the night at The Famous Door where we quickly became the cover band’s biggest fans and decided to request location-based songs: Sweet Home Alabama, Take Me Home, Country Roads, Callin’ Baton Rouge. It was a night for the books—so much so that we recreated it Friday and Saturday nights.
A DAY AT FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH WITH A YETI COOLER
You remember that day I was telling you about that was perfect? This was it. I went to visit my cousin Christina and her fiancé, Levi, for a long weekend in late May right before Memorial Day. Christina and I have long been attached at the hip at family events, but since we did not go to college in the same state and have different hometowns, the first time we really connected as adults was two years ago when we spent New Years Day together in Charleston. Knowing how much fun I had then, I knew I wanted to go visit her and Levi when they moved to South Florida.
I arrived on a Friday, as did Christina’s sister (and my cousin) Ali, in from Chicago. The four of us went out on Friday night, and woke up feeling a little less than 100% the following morning. What better cure than the ocean? We loaded up the car with beach towels, chairs, and plenty of SPF, swung by a gas station for Bud Light Limes and white cheddar popcorn, and were on the beach by 11 am. Trading stories around the Yeti Cooler and jumping in the clear Florida water when we got too hot was just what the doctor ordered.
When we came home, we made a big batch of homemade guacamole and watched Friends for a few hours. We capped the day off with an evening at Shooters, the cutest restaurant and bar right on the Inter Coastal waterway—think string lights, high-end patio furniture, a fire pit, and turf. It’s hard to beat sunset views, fresh scallops, and time with family who are also friends.
FINISHING MY MASTERS DEGREE AT GEORGETOWN
How could I not include this one? I started the PR and Corporate Comms program in January 2015 and took classes every semester, including both summers, since. Though I really enjoyed the program and feel like it did help advance my career, I was a little burned out by the end and ready to wrap up the drag of going to class and doing homework on Saturday mornings.
My final pitch day was a rollercoaster of emotions—I was calm at work in the morning, but after lunch, the nerves started to set in. I left work really early, and once I got to campus and saw everyone else was as nervous as me, I realized this was just part of the journey. The pitch presentation itself went great, and because I had practiced so much, something else took over and I barely remember it. The highlight of the night, though, was celebrating after with my three best friends from grad school at Clyde’s. The bubbly was free flowing!
Whew. That’s a wrap! Anyone else excited for all the adventures the next 12 months hold?
As I was going through the process of writing this, I realized that almost all of these moments are memorable because I tried something new or pushed my comfort zone. As someone who is hesitant about change, realizing all of the good that can come from new experiences, people, and places is something I want to carry with me into the new year.