I cannot believe it is already time for another year-end review, but here we are. My original plan was to choose 17 moments of 2017 to celebrate (for the sake of cuteness, you know), but it turns out there were way more than 17 and needless to say, this is a good problem to have. So I settled on twenty-seven celebrations upon which to reflect as this year comes to a close.
To say that I am in a much better frame of mind than I was 365 days ago, is an understatement. I was hopeful, but so ready to move on from the challenges of 2016. On the contrary, 2017 was good to me, and before we part ways, I want to take some time to bask in the glory days once more. So without further ado, in the order in which they occurred, I give you the top 27 times of 2017.
1. I cannot fully express the feelings of gratitude and accomplishment that I have experienced this year; so many moments felt full-circle (as you'll soon see). It was always my dream to return to my alma mater one day. To be able to start this year by hanging my diploma on the walls within my office at my alma mater, meant so much. I love my job and I'm so proud of the work that I get to do everyday.
2. Any time that I get to spend with my grandma is precious. She is the best. When we traveled to Illinois to visit her this past winter, I made sure to get a "three generations" photo taken. These are the moments that matter most, and I pray that there will be many more to come.
3. These two. I mean, seriously. I know that as their aunt, I'm biased, but they're just the cutest. And I promise this wasn't posed. When they get excited, this is what they do. I can only hope that these sweet siblings never lose their bond.
4. These two. I mean, seriously (see what I did there?). But really, these girls are my musketeers. This photo was taken nearly a year after the day that we met, and though we no longer get to see each other everyday, I'm so thankful that it feels as if no time has passed when we do get together.
5. This time last year, I set a goal to spend more of my time volunteering. So when the opportunity to lead a service trip to Nashville presented itself, I knew I had to take it. I'm so glad that I did, not only because of the awesome people that I went with, but also because after seeing the positive impact that our group made in such a short amount of time, it only made me want to volunteer more. I plan to become a Big Sister very soon.
6. Full-Circle Moment No. 2: Not everyone has the chance to tell their idols "thank you", but on this particular night, I got to do just that. This woman was one of my favorite professors and her influence is one of the reasons that I'm back at my alma mater today. I'm so grateful for her presence in my life, then and now.
7. Hot dress-check. Fascinator (created by my mom and me)-check. Fun times with great people-check. All the lilies-check. Hitting an exacta-ching! In other words, it will be hard to top this year's Thurby experience (but I'm up to the challenge).
8. You are reading that correctly; my awesome coworkers and I broke out of the "Hostage" room in under 45 minutes' time. *drops mic*
9. All you need to know is that I was at the lake and I was with my McNuggets so basically it doesn't get better than that.
10. I visited Vegas for the first time, and I did it all by myself, which I'm especially proud of because I had never flown anywhere alone. From the casinos to the fountains, from In-N-Out to Cirque Du Soleil, I enjoyed it all, and I have to say, my favorite moment was simply swimming at the Paris pool.
11. Ten years! Ten years cancer-free! So thankful for another decade with my mama, and for what has become my favorite anniversary to celebrate.
12. It is on my bucket list to be an audience member at the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and while that didn't happen this year, he did say my name on his show, so you know, we're getting closer. My friend, Matt found Jimmy's doppleganger at a record store and asked me to send it in to the show. Sure enough, they shared it on June 19th as part of their Screengrabs segment. Win!
13. Sun's out, guns out. A family that sports tank tops together, stays together. Obviously it was a hot (and I don't mean temperature) and happy Independence Day.
14. It's been years since we all taught together, but I'm so grateful for each of these lovely ladies and that we continue to reunite every summer.
15. Being involved in a hit-and-run was not a highlight of the year, but getting my dream car as a result of said hit-and-run definitely was. I love that little maroon mama.
16. What I love about this family reunion photo is how color-coordinated our outfits were (I swear that wasn't planned), and most importantly, I love that we got to spend time together.
17. We celebrated the eclipse by hiring two cool team members and sporting these sweet shades. Also, how awesome were those crescent-shaped sun rays?
18. I loved that my girls surprised me for my birthday by taking me to Board & Brush! Power tools, paint, and pizza-what more could a girl want?
19. Getting to meet and hear Bree Newsome speak was beyond powerful. Her work gives me hope for a brighter future for our country.
20. Bruno Mars was an experience worth its weight in gold, 24 karat gold to be exact. So. Much. Fun!
21. "I love it here, Jack," said my niece as we left the stadium that day. My sweet little Cardinal thoroughly enjoyed her first official football game (especially the many trips to the concession stand-a girl after my own heart). I loved getting to share it with her and with my Aunt Terry, who has always taken me to games and just makes everything more fun.
22. Full-Circle Moment No. 3: When your former second grade student walks into your office as a senior in college!
23. Full-Circle Moment No. 4: As a student attending Ball on the Belle, I dressed as a Disney Princess. 15 years later, as a chaperone of Ball on the Belle, I dressed as a Disney Villain. #evolution.
24. Did I mention how SUPER my Halloween was?
25. All 31 members of my mom's side of the family were able to make it for Thanksgiving this year, but what's even more remarkable is that we got everyone in a photo.
26. Full-Circle Moment No. 5: During the week of my one-year anniversary of starting my position at my alma mater, I received two sweet thank you notes from students, and a nomination for the Rhodes Honor. For all of the challenges that 2016 posed, 2017 brought me to my happy place. I am so grateful to work with such supportive students and staff, and most importantly, to feel like I'm making a difference in the lives of others.
27. Finally, I leave you with this blooper real of my Sparkle Sister and me at our favorite community Christmas light event, which also happens to be the perfect way to end this blog. 2017 wasn't without struggle, but it was full of so many joyous occasions, for which I am deeply thankful. Cheers to the next 365, y'all. Happy New Year!
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