2015 Year-In-Review

Here is where I reflect on the past year and talk about highlights (or lowlights). I haven’t done this in a couple years and I say it’s high time I got back to it. Even if 2016 is nearly half over.



In January Sam and I moved into our first 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment near The University of Texas. It was a new area for us, but we quickly grew to enjoy the proximity to many fun things. I quickly grew spoiled by my 2-mile commute. I could also hop on the bus for a short ride whenever I needed or wanted.


I bought my first bedroom furniture set and enjoyed setting up my new room. My aim was to make it light and “beachy”. With bunnies. Mission complete!


My co-worker asked me if I’d like to be a “contestant” on her Valentine’s-themed improv show. The format was like that of a traditional Dating Game show, with one bachelor having to choose between three bachelorettes. We were behind a curtain so he couldn’t see what we looked like and the questions and answers were all improvised.

I was so nervous I was shaking on stage and I think they kind of played off the fact that I was nervous. They kept on asking me, “Are you okay?” and turned it into a joke. If I had been able to act, I probably would have been able to ham it up and play a “nervous Nelly” sort of character.

But honestly it was really fun! I got out of my comfort zone and the audience laughed, so that’s a job accomplished.


“Change Your Behavior The Smart Way”

Sam and I went to a free seminar at UT by a professor named Art Markman. He wrote this book, Smart Change, and his seminar was mainly focused on the topics covered in it.

He spoke about five effective tools to help individuals change behavior and to help people influence the habits of the people around them.

What I learned from this seminar is that if I want to make a behavioral change, I need to fight with the way my brain works, not against the way my brain works. We are strongly governed by what is easiest for us to do. Creating a system/process that is sustainable in the long-term and the result will be a side effect of the way you already live your life.

Failure happens. It just does. But failure is a learning opportunity. All I need to do is just try not to make the same mistake repeatedly. Also, failure is not a sign that you can’t do something. Almost everything is a skill to be acquired that just takes time and effort.

People in your world are also extremely important in achieving your goals. Goals are contagious and we are wired to work together effectively. If you are trying to change your behaviour, spend time with people who are doing what you want to be doing. Learn from them or ask them to teach you. And if you If you have some good behaviors, put them on display. Be a force for good. That’s how you create change.

And here’s another phrase I’ve taken to liking this year:




Seriously, this was an amazing month as far as swimming was considered.

April 3: Annette, being the awesome friend and supporter she is, volunteered to be my cheerleader-sherpa in Houston. She and I stayed in a super-nice hotel near the Galleria for a weekend while I raced at Zones at Rice University.

Honestly, the meet couldn’t have gone better (aside from being so cold!). I got best times in nearly everything I swam. A couple others from my team were there too and it was fun to race with them. Between the swims, Annette and I went to a few restaurants and had some great food.


My ferocious butterfly face!

Annette with her pre-sherpa burger!

Yay medals!

April 23-26: USMS Nationals at San Antonio

I took a couple days off of work so that I could compete in the national competition for United States Masters Swimming. How convenient that it was in San Antonio! I stayed with my brother for the first night and then in the hotel with my parents for the other night.

I competed in 6 individual events and three relays. I placed top-20 in a lot of my events, which was pretty exciting for me. I placed 12th in the 100 Free (:56.00), 50 Fly (27.74) AND the 100 Fly (1:03.28). I guess 12th place was my lucky number that weekend! I swam really fast. As fast (or faster) than I swam in college. I posted a 25.73 for my 50 free relay split, which is really respectable! I also posted a 29.19 for my 50 back relay split. My top place for my individual events was 9th in the 100 Back.

I was so happy with my performance in everything, and having my parents there was just icing on the case!


Representing TXLA! (Texas Longhorn Aquatics)

The natatorium

My dutiful swim parents, taking video and photos


Craziest month ever? Most fun month ever? Both!!

May 12: I was awarded a pretty serious achievement award at work. I won’t talk much about it here but it’s something I worked towards ever since I first was hired and heard of the award. Only one person is awarded the award each year and I was just so humbled and honored to receive it.

May 22: I successfully pulled off my first Commencement reception and ceremony for my students. We hosted an audience of over 965 people with 235 graduates. It was a huge success.

IMG_9474 - Copy


May 25: I thought May 25th would be my first triathlon, but the weather conditions were so bad that they cancelled the swim portion and turned it into a duathlon (bike+run). Needless to say, as a swimmer I was pretty disappointed about that turn of events. But we raced on!

Annette raced the olympic distance and I did the sprint. Annette did really well! I did pretty okay so I was happy with the results.


May 29: Colorado trip with Annette and Kaitlin!

The theme for our weekend? Endurance Training, Endurance Eating

We did a November Project workout, City ‘O City brunch, the Manitou Incline, Garden of the Gods, Voodoo Doughnuts, cycling in Boulder, Sweet Action ice cream, Watercourse restaurant, Native Foods Café, sherpa-ing for Kaitlin’s triathlon race, Sushi Den sushi… Denver was just SO lovely and amazing to explore with friends. I’m convinced only triathletes would love a trip with so much action and so much food, but it was so perfect that I’d like another just like it!






June 2015 was the first time in my life where I felt like I had finally beaten acne. I began seeing a new dermatologist in Fall 2014 and we determined that a combination of antibiotics and topical gels would help kick my persistent acne to the curb. After three rounds of tetracycline, I found myself able to control the occasional hormonal breakout with just the topical medicines. Since then I’ve had to go on tetracycline again and I still struggle, but it’s a work in progress.



With an expired passport and less than four weeks to get it renewed, I purchased a flight to Tokyo. A little risky? Yes. But I missed Japan and the flight wasn’t obscenely expensive, so off I went! I’d never flown on a whim like that before, but it felt kind of great.

I had the most amazing time seeing my host family and dear friends in Japan. It was the highlight of the month and one of the great highlights of my year. I’d been missing Japan since I left in 2013 and getting to go to Kyoto and Tokyo again was simply a blessing.

京都旅行(2015 (1)

京都旅行(2015 (52)IMG_0394



I accomplished planning and executing orientation for my students for the first time! I was very very nervous because this was yet another huge responsibility for me work-wise. But it was all worth it when my boss took the moment to take the mic, motion to me, and let the students know that I was the one who had organized the great orientation experience for them. It’s all for them anyhow.

A major accomplishment I’d like to talk about is the completion of my orthodontia treatment. Many do not know that I began Invisalign braces in September 2012. I continued to wear them until I moved back to the U.S. and was evaluated (and approved) for jaw surgery. The surgery was to correct the asymmetry of my upper jaw, which caused unnecessary wear on the teeth on the right side of my mouth and TMJ symptoms in my right jaw. I was fitted for metal braces in May 2014 and wore them through my July 2014 surgery. After my mouth recovered, the metal braces were removed and I once again wore Invisalign. I officially finished with braces on September 3, 2015. It was so surreal being handed my retainers and being told I only had to wear them at night!

Were there any drawbacks? The recovery wasn’t fun but I exceeded expectations simply because I was healthy and active. Well, I have titanium screws in my head now. I can’t feel them but my massage therapist said that I had a really good surgeon. Apparently he said that he could feel the area that was cut and how cleanly it was put back together. Oh, and the majority of my upper gum area is numb. I am unsure if the nerves will ever regrow, but that’s a consequence I can live with. It’s nice not having gum sensitivity!

Almost two years post-surgery, the pros far outweigh the cons. It is no longer a struggle to keep my mouth closed. My face is symmetrical, which means my upper and lower teeth touch on BOTH sides. They touch and they actually FIT TOGETHER. The first time I realized that my teeth finally fit together and made proper, even contact, I was amazed. And although I loved my pre-surgery smile, the surgery included some unanticipated cosmetic improvements. But now I love my smile even more. My smile was and continues to be my best feature; I love showing the world when I’m happy.



One of the best birthday weeks I have ever had.

I was able to have both my family and a great group of friends there to celebrate with me. I received not one, but THREE different cakes (2 from my mom, 1 from Annette).




I also need to mention that I completed my first, full, official, sprint-distance triathlon on September 26, 2015. CapTex didn’t really count because the swim portion was cancelled.

Kerrville Sprint Triathlon: 500m Swim, 14.5 mile Bike, 5 km Run

Annette and I drove down to Kerrville that Friday evening with Kerbey Lane takeout for dinner. We checked into Inn of the Hills, ate dinner, prepped for the race, and went to bed early. The morning of the race I got up and ate breakfast at the dining room. I accidentally left my Invisalign on a plate with some trash…which was thrown away. Yes, on the morning of the race I raced back to the dining hall and dug in the trash to find my Invisalign. Haha.

The Transition 1 (T1) area was a stone’s throw from our hotel room, so we were able to walk our bikes out there and prepare our transition areas. I had an amazing swim (the second fastest female swimmer), an okay bike, and a great run!

I ended up placing 1st in my age group (F25-29) and 8th female overall with a time of 1:20:09. I was pretty happy with my 25:50 5K time and my average bike speed of 19.4 mph. All good things! The race was a really good experience for me and I was really happy to do it with friends, especially Annette who has coached me and mentored me so much.





Inspired by my whimsical ticket-buying in July, I purchased a trip to Portland to visit my sister. I bought the ticket exactly one week out, purchased on 10/7 and departed on 10/14. Those of you who know me know that I love to plan ahead. I love to think about things and plan ahead of time. So this was quite a thrill for me, to buy a ticket somewhere and just go. Luckily my sister was willing to have me and was such a great host! We had an amazing time together!

I went back to Lewis & Clark for the first time since leaving in 2009. The weather was beautiful, almost as if it was apologizing for all those years of bad weather. I also was able to meet up with Tori and Kyle who I had lived with in Aomori! Lots of memories.





Annette and I took a road trip up to Weatherford, Texas (near Fort Worth) to hang out with her friends, the Kilinski’s. They took me to see the Nutcracker and it was my first time to see a performance! We brought our bikes to go riding, but a cold front came through and the cold + wind destroyed those plans. We ended up doing a couple runs and a spin class for exercise. That was combined with a lot of hanging out, good times with good people, and good food.

Whitney ready to hit the road!

The ubiquitous Kilinski molasses cookie!

My first time to see The Nutcracker

November was also Noelle and Sam’s birthdays, Thanksgiving, Kaitlin’s Ironman 70.3 race, and my 10th High School Reunion. I bought a dress for the occasion and discovered a new designer I like (Milly). The reunion itself wasn’t anything earthshattering. I connected with a few people I’m still friends with on Facebook and saw a few others. It was nice to see them. I also saw a couple people who had bullied me, so that was a little odd. But seeing my friends was fun and dressing up was a treat.






This December I fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine: To see New York City in December with all of the Christmas decorations and see all the sights of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York City. And so our trip was dubbed: Stacy & Sam: Lost in New York City.

We had an amazing five days in the East Village and stayed at an AirBnB right near the 1st Ave L-train stop. The location was incredible—we could walk or train to anywhere we wanted. The weather also couldn’t have been more perfect—we barely needed anything more than a sweater the entire time we were there. Everything we did would take an entire blog post to write about, but here is a list: Peacefood Café (x2!), Union Square Holiday Market, Kate Spade New York, Kleinfeld’s, Bareburger, Champ’s Diner (x2!), Dunwell Doughnuts (x2!), Paulie Gee’s Pizza, Brooklyn Bridge, Carlo’s Bakery, The High Line Elevated Park, Mood Fabrics, Rockefeller Square, Rockefeller Tower, American Girl Place, The Phantom of the Opera, Grand Central Station, Ess-A-Bagel, The Plaza Hotel, Central Park, the Balto Statue, Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, Sephora makeup store, Peanut Butter & Co café, UCB East Star Wars-themed improv show, Nintendo Store, Macy’s, Two Boots pizza, Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, Levi Jeans…






And lastly, to end 2015 and ring in 2016… I could not have been happier to have my family with me for Christmas. There’s nothing better than having all five of us home in my parents’ house, enjoying our traditional holiday meals, enjoying each other, watching Christmas movies. It’s all good. Life is good and I couldn’t be more blessed.



One Comment to “2015 Year-In-Review”

  1. Stacy, this was so fun to read! What a life you had thus far! Can’t wait to see what you write about ’16.

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