Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016 — Top Ten.

When I hear people talk about 2016, they mostly discuss the people who died and the people who were elected.  And then they look sad, or angry, or disgusted, or nauseous.  But my year was great, and I loved everything that I learned, the good people I met, the new places I visited, and the time I spent with my family.  I especially loved the time I spent with my family.  Living in Utah has enabled me to visit my parents often, which is something that I've needed while trying to figure out my way.  But anyway, here's my top ten for 2016.

1 - Ditching the YSA ward.  Normally, I'm not an advocate of ditching any ward, and I prefer to think of myself as a finisher.  But this ward really wasn't my cup of tea, so I joined my family ward in Ephraim.  To say that the experience has been great is an understatement.  I love the leadership, and some of the people that I've met have become my best friends.

2 - Resuming counseling.  I've always been skeptical about counseling.  I've wondered if it has actually helped me, even though it's supposed to be the healthy thing to do.  When I first met my counselor, she said, "This is a safe place.  If you swear, I won't even blink an eye."  And then I knew things would be okay.  She's helped me realize that, for the most part, my life is clean and well-managed, but there are still some monsters under the rug that I've been ignoring.

3 - The book. My counselor also recommended this book: Weakness is Not Sin: The Liberating Distinction That Awakens Our Strengths by Wendy Ulrich.  The title is corny, and I don't frequent these kinds of books often, but I sing praises for this one.

4 - Disney.  My family went to Disneyland in April.  It was magical, of course, and seeing the parades even made me emotional, which is a big deal because I don't cry at the opportune moments, and it makes people wonder if my heart is made of coal.   

5 - M*A*S*H.  It's rare when my dad and I find a show that we can watch together.  If he happens to settle down to watch some TV, you can expect to hear snarky comments like, "How convenient that the bullets hit everything except the target" or "There is no way she could wear those inappropriate clothes in a professional environment."  Luckily, Dad likes M*A*S*H, and I like it too, and it's become a sort of ritual for us to watch a few episodes when I come home.

6 - Fishing.  I've taken up fishing, and I like to go with my Dad.  The first time we went, I caught a fish, but the hook was stuck pretty good in its mouth.  Usually, Dad can maneuver the hook out, but this time, he told me to close my eyes as he ripped the hook from the fish.  He neglected to tell me to cover ears, and the noise was so revolting that I immediately felt nauseous.  But I'm a pro, now.

I can't resist sharing this again.  Isn't that view just perfect?

7 - Road Trip.  In mid-July I visited Yosemite, San Francisco, the Redwood Forest, Lassen Volcanic Park, and Mammoth Lake with my parents.  The views were breathtaking, I got to spend time with my parents, we ate some good food, and it was determined that my music playlists are excellent.

8 - Elton John.  In October my mom and I drove to Las Vegas to see Elton John perform at the Colosseum.  This night had been highly anticipated for months, and I was not disappointed in the least.  He sounded great, his band members were great, and he wore a sparkly, pink suit coat.  I'm trying to convince my family to go again in February.

9 - Christmas.  It's not often that our whole family gets to spend time together.  Everybody came during Christmastime, and it was good to see the nephews and secure my standing as the greatest aunt ever. 

10 - Thesis.  Here's my plug-in for school.  I love my program and my research.  Working on my thesis has been stressful, to say the least, but so rewarding.  I told my chair that I've learned more about writing from my thesis than from all of the coursework I've completed.  This Christmas break, I've mapped out a writing schedule so that my thesis will continue to move forward.

Proof of my writing regimen.  And yes, that dog is real and sleeps like that. 
 And a former student sent me a brilliant meme that encapsulates my experience:

2016 has been a good year, and I'm excited and terrified for 2017.  I like having a plan, and last year, my plan was clear—to progress through my school program.  But 2017 means that I'll be graduating, and after that, my life looks like a large, blank space that mocks me and blows raspberries in my face.  Until then, I send prayers heavenward that God will just tell me exactly what to do and how to do it because sometimes agency is a bother. 

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