However, I have two favorite posts that I have posted annually, the first one looks back on the year and the second one looks forward at the next year. In preparation to write this year's 2011 review I went back and looked at the 2010 look back, and the 2011 look forward. These two blogs really serve as a perfect little reminder of where I am and where I want to be going... Plus, it allows me the chance to update on the goals I had for this year. Christmas just always proves to be one of the best and most memorable times to review and take an internal check so that I can then move forward next year.
So, as always, this year in review will likely be a fairly long post, and while I almost never review the year the same as I have in the past, it remains my favorite post to make each year.
JanuaryThe year started off surrounded by so many wonderful people in my fairly new house. Two of my best friends got engaged (to each other) seconds after the 2011 ball dropped, which commenced all of us into seven months of wedding planning and excitement (more on their wedding later).
We got our fifth and final roomie (for a while), and we welcomed into our lives a wonderful and incredibly broken person. Another roomie and I began having serious issues, and as much as I tried, I could not seem to communicate in a manner that helped either one of us... And, eventually the relationship sadly dwindled into co-existence at best.
I began another difficult class in my double masters program, and proceeded to sit on the couch for hours every night having near melt downs trying to understand finance...
My very best friend in the whole world got married in Georgia, and I was so thrilled and honored to stand up in her wedding with eight other beautiful girls and nine great guys. It was a fantastic trip down, and a great celebration!
I joined a gym, and ended up signing up for what turned into five months of personal training sessions twice a week. I looked forward to and loved these couple hours a week because the trainer was a great match to my skill, passion for martial arts, humor, and he improved my body in ways I was unsure could happen... Well worth the money for the time period I was in and how I was feeling.
My birthday... dun. dun. dun. Was actually amazing this year. (whew!) I have had so many issues with my birthday over the years that this year I was just too scared to hope for anything good, and just decided I wanted one thing. For one of my best friends to come and stay the weekend with me. She surprised me (by showing up late.. haha) with two more girl friends that I love to death sitting on my couch when I got home from dinner.. Which, because of the stress level I was under, I began to tear up just seeing and hugging them.. I then turned around to another friend creeping across the living room, which of course sent me into more tears being just so excited that he too was there... THEN, I was tapped on the shoulder, turned around to find my little brother holding a dozen roses (hands down my favorite birthday gift every year are these roses from my brothers). I just stood there dumbfounded and silent, then finally blurted out "Why are you here?!" then proceeded to hug the life out of him.. and SOB. As in, I could not breathe, I could not talk, I could not see.. I just sobbed and hugged my brother while everyone laughed at my reaction. THEN, the next day my friend/sister/old roomie showed up with cake and two more of my good friends.. and we proceeded to have a perfect weekend around DC exploring the Spy museum and getting Thai food. It was perfect, and I was reminded I am loved.
The day after my birthday we had 30 (or so) people laid-off from my workplace...
FebruaryFebruary is a bit of a blur, I mostly just remember hating life, arguing with one of my roomies a lot, sitting on the couch under blankets, and trying to understand my homework.
I also really remember struggling with my job situation and being totally and completely unhappy.
But, the most overwhelming thing I remember from February are the feelings of total despair, being stuck, miserable, and totally feeling forgotten and unimportant. I literally remember feeling like I was not myself, but having no idea how to FIND myself again.
MarchThe most significant thing that happened in March was an out of the blue friend was made from reading my blog. I have no idea why or how she found me, but we began e-mailing several times a week about life, Jesus, pain, hurt, brokenness, Christianity, Christians, etc.. I was totally unsure how to handle the situations she presented me with, but what did end up coming from it was a lot of prayer on my part for her. I was amazed at the honesty she had when talking to me about her life and situations she has been in. I was humbled by the trust she had in me and broken for her and her situation. (I have not heard from her much in the last several months, but I still pray for her, her salvation, and that Jesus would do, what Jesus does in her life.)
I spent a great deal of March trying to figure out how I fit in the DC area. I did not like DC, I did not like my life here, and I really did not like that I felt stuck here. I had little to no friends, and had even fewer people who understood me.
I continued to hate my online class and felt more and more belittled and frustrated at work.
The biggest feelings I have from March are that of feeling unsafe and like the best I had to offer was to "keep it together."
AprilApril brought my best friend and his wife to visit for our annual Easter weekend together. I needed them more than I think they will ever understand. They understand me, they laugh with and at me, and more than anything, their friendship is solid no matter where we are in life. We had a great weekend in DC, we even went roller blading (old school I know, but it is our thing!).
April also brought with it an acute understanding that I was missing my Savior at my very core. I knew something was missing, I knew I felt lost, and I also knew I had no idea what to do. I felt empty and broken, and felt like I was completely directionless.
What I do remember though on a positive note is how pretty DC is in the spring. The flowers, trees, warm breeze.. it was truly beautiful and I finally found something I enjoyed about living here!
April also kick-started my insanely hectic always busy weekend summer schedule.
MayMay brought a lot of wedding showers.. Several friends were getting married, so I traveled to and from Lynchburg a lot in order to feel like I was much more a part of something than I actually was.
I realized in May that I truly was beginning to hate my job because of a couple particularly challenging individuals, and I really was struggling with the Lord on my attitude towards my job and the people causing the issues. I also began seriously searching for a new job...
I spent most of May exhausted. I had almost every moment of every day for the entire month planned out, down to how long it took me to get places. It was all rather ridiculous really... But, the busyness allowed me to fake ok. It is easier for me to fake that I am ok because I was so busy every "not ok" moment can be blamed on exhaustion and not getting enough sleep, and then anything that did not fall under that category could be lumped in with the stress of school and being incredibly busy at work...
I hid my heart and refused to acknowledge the pain going on at my core to anyone else for the entire month.
JuneOne of our roomies moved out, and another one replaced her. It was both sad and exciting at the same time.
I went home for the first time since Christmas to surprise my brother for his birthday, loved being home and seeing everyone, and it gave me a good reprieve from not feeling like I belonged or fit anywhere.
I left from MI back to DC for a night, then down to FL for a week-long annual convention for work. I spent the better part of the entire month traveling, I acquired a cough I could not get rid of, and spent the majority of my time doing homework in the hammock we had set up in our backyard... I am pretty sure that hammock saved my life this summer haha :)
I had more wedding showers and more traveling back down to Lynchburg, and I honestly have no idea how I found the time to do my homework.. much less understand and pass the class...
I spent a great deal of June trying to do an internal check and figure out what I needed to do to make my life "ok" again. At this point I really realized how much I disliked my life, and I knew I needed to make a change, and I knew a lot of it was that I was not willing to humble myself enough to talk to my Savior about the things really bothering me.. So, God and I began having some pretty serious "what the hell" conversations.. It was actually quite liberating to know He was listening to me spout off like a little child, and that He still cared and loved me..
Also, while this is my first mention of it in this post, I L.O.V.E. my church, and throughout the whole year they really were the one lighthouse that I had. Over the summer, they did a series called the God Anthology, they picked and talked about nine attributes of God. While I was crazy busy, my church remained the one thing about DC I loved and was (and still am) unsure I ever wanted to give up...
The one thing that began to offer some genuine reprieve that I did not even know I needed was having a friend from Lynchburg move to DC. While we were in the same group of friends there, we were not super close.. But she has become such a God send to me. Her friendship, loyalty, humor, adventurous spirit, and level headedness... as well as her love for fun and doing things has been exactly what I did not even know I needed.
JulyThe two best friends that got engaged on New Years got married over the 4th of July weekend. It was a pretty epic weekend.. One that included a lake day, 11 other bridesmaids, 12 groomsmen, several flower girls and ring bearers, three pastors, and a sneak attack surprise of chucks shoes for the dance off at the reception... I got to see so many old friends, meet new ones, and party like crazy celebrating the union of two of my best friends! It was a pretty epic and fantastic wedding weekend :)
It was about this point in the year that I finally began realizing I (while crazy busy) was finding my place in DC. I did not particularly like most of the things going on, and it was not my ideal, but I was able to say that I had friends and that maybe I was making a life here after all... With the exception of the fact that I was still job hunting... and still really wanting to move to Atlanta...
I also realized in July exactly how stressed out I was... So, I took a couple day trips or mornings to relax.. I really thought a couple times I was going to lose it on some poor unsuspecting soul...
I had a period of time in July where it seemed that my virginity came up over and over in almost any situation. I found the conversation empowering and very intriguing as well. I was quite surprised by the interest others had in my choice to remain a virgin until I get married... the reactions were.. priceless and pretty much spanned the gambit. Some were not surprised in the slightest, some thought it was purely accidental, others were completely blown away because apparently I do not seem "the type." However, it really caused me to begin looking at those areas of my life and realize that not only am I not ashamed or embarrassed by them in the slightest, I am very thankful and proud that God and I have this story together.. and that I have the boldness to talk about it with others, and explain eloquently why I am still a virgin.
AugustI went home in the beginning of August to help plan and celebrate my parent's 30th wedding anniversary, and it was awesome. We had a blast, and I was reminded once again how absolutely amazing my family is. I am always amazed at how close we are and how much we all genuinely LOVE to be around each other, joking, laughing, reading, talking, watching movies.. whatever.. we love it.
I also went with one of my friends to the Bachata congress here in DC, and we had SO much fun. We were so sore, tired, and our poor feet suffered greatly, but overall it was a fantastic experience, and one that helped me learn so much more about dancing, and helped renew my love for it.
In August we also had an Earthquake in DC (which you can see the destruction my place suffered here), and a hurricane... although I left to visit my best friend and her husband during the hurricane, and helped them move.. It was a long and tiring weekend, but I loved every minute of it because I was with them!
I could tell by the end of August I was really getting antsy for life to FEEL normal. I wanted to feel like I belonged, like God and I were close again, like I was important, like I had value to offer, and I longed to enjoy my job once again...
SeptemberI spent the first half of September really evaluating where I was, and really ready inside to take a moment and breathe. I felt like I was drowning and like nothing anyone said was relieving my stress.
Thankfully I had a free airplane ticket to use and some extra time off, so I peaced out to California to see my cousin. We spent four days in southern California doing whatever we pleased to celebrate her 3rd anniversary (even though her husband was deployed at the time). We laid on the beach, played in the VERY cold water, got pedicures, ate amazing food, walked down the beach, took paddle boarding lessons, made amazing homemade food, and watched movies.. not to mention talked and laughed for all four days. It was during that break that I FINALLY felt something break. It was like God had released the pressure valve on my stress level and I could finally think, feel, and process clearly. I felt content inside my soul once again... I had almost forgotten what that felt like.
We also celebrated the 10th anniversary (has it REALLY been that long?!) of the 9/11 terrorist attacks...
I was reminded during September how much I am loved, and for whatever reason I was finally able to start understanding it deep down.. I am surrounded by friends who love me and send flowers just because they knew I was having a rough week..
OctoberI finally knew what contentment felt like, and it was like a dew kissed morning.
I became debt free except for my student loans in October, and the new found freedom is awesome!
The biggest thing I remember from October is feeling like I finally found my groove. I finally felt like I was BUILDING a life.. and while I was not too thrilled with certain situations with work or school still, I had peace once more, and knew I was going to be ok.
I made the decision to sign the lease at the end of the month, which essentially meant I was committing to another year here in DC... I was a little worried I was making a mistake, but knew I needed to make a choice regardless and let God do his thing and figure out what was going to happen.
I also ran my first 10k.. and I RAN the whole thing.. the furthest I have ever run.. in my ENTIRE life.. I was pretty stoked.. then I walked like an 85 year old man for several days haha!
NovemberNovember seemed like it FLEW by to me. I am not entirely sure where the month went..
I think the most unique thing about November for me was all of the things that felt like they began settling into place. For starters, it went down in record as the longest I had lived in one place for the last nine years (whoa!). I had not realized how transient my life was, and how almost bizarre it felt to live in the SAME place not having to pack up or move anywhere... Such a unique feeling.
I was able to reconnect with an old friend from Freshman year of college, and it has become such a welcome surprise and rekindling of a friendship.
I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner with the help of a friend... and it wasn't easy, but we had fun and only had a few minor mishaps..
I began reading and finished reading Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie (the founder of TOMS Shoes) and was incredibly inspired...
Work became suddenly significantly easier and less stress filled due to staffing changes, it was almost a visible change in my stress level and it could not have come at a more perfect time. This made it easier to decide that I can stay where I am until God really moves me elsewhere...
Overall it was a good month, not void of frustrations or annoyances, but definitely one of the best months I have had in around a year in a half...
I also met a guy through a mutual friend that I have been on a few dates with, he has proven to be much nicer than I am used to in the men I typically date. I have absolutely no idea where it is going, but after a few (somewhat minor) freak outs I have settled into trusting that God knows what He is doing and walking through this door and seeing what happens.
DecemberI cannot believe December is almost over... Where did this year go? The most challenging thing about this year is there were so many reoccurring feelings and frustrations that it makes the entire year blend into itself...
This month I have spent a great deal of time feeling like life is normal.. Well normal aside from trying to figure out if I like this guy while at the same time understanding that the emotions do not accurately reflect reality and just enjoying it is really the key.
What I do know is that the Lord and I are reconnecting.. Prayer comes easier again, and just sitting and being with my Savior is something I am enjoying again.
2011Hands down of the most stressful and pressure filled years I have ever had... While I would NEVER.. ever choose to re-live this year, I can honestly say I am so thankful to have been through this year and survived. I learned so many things about prayer, stress, pressure, friends, and know without any shadow of a doubt that patience was created and increased ten fold in my life this year.
While this is a gross exaggeration of what has happened this year, I feel like Job at the end of his book in the Bible, an overwhelming sense of peace and an acute awareness of the blessings in my life.
Please Lord, do not ever make me repeat this year, but thank you for all the times you carried me and comforted me while I struggled. Thank you for proving once again you are faithful and that no matter where I am, what I am going through or who I am dealing with you not only care, but you hear me when I talk to you. Thank you for giving me the chance to learn and for putting the people in my life I needed to survive. Thank you for teaching me another thing or two about humility and compassion, and for growing my heart for the lost and broken.
I have no idea what to expect for the next year, I would love for it to be a fantastic year, but I have no sense of what is to come at all. But, what I do know is, if the last couple years are any indication, it is going to be a very... interesting year!