2016 Year in Review

I’ll admit. This will be a difficult one to write. 2016 was hard, to say the least. I faced a lot of difficult things and swam to the surface in one piece. I’m still swimming. That’s all I can do, really. Just keep swimming.

I learned a lot about myself this year and there’s a quote I like to attribute with that:

"Your journey has molded you for the greater good. 
It was exactly what it needed to be. 
Don't think you've lost time. 
It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. 
And now is right on time." 
- Asha Tyson

January

My roommate was underemployed and unemployed for a lot of 2015, so in January it became apparent that we could not renew our pricey lease together. I wasn’t sure where I would go. I began apartment hunting and thinking about the future. I began entertaining the idea of purchasing a condo or house in Austin. I had the down payment saved up and set aside in savings, originally intended for graduate school tuition. But with the housing market in Austin the way it was, it seemed that a house should come before a Masters degree. And I wanted to stay in Austin, so it made sense. I was intimidated by the prospect of purchasing a home, but it made sense.

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The first cute little house I looked at.

I also had my first bike accident in January 2016. It was rather stupid how it happened. It was misty and the roads were wet from previous rains. My team stopped at a gas station to refuel and when we set out to head back, my back wheel caught a patch of oil and spun out from under me. I hit the ground hard and ended up with a numb right leg. Unable to ride, the gas station convenience store manager got me some ice until my dad could drive down to pick me up. I did not have my cell phone on me at the time, so I learned a valuable lesson to always bring my phone with me when I ride. I didn’t break any bones, but I had a large hematoma on my right thigh. It hurt for quite a while. Ouch.

Ow. Ow. Ow.

February

February I really started ramping up with the house-hunting. I looked everywhere I could afford. South Austin, North Austin, East Austin, Northwest Austin… I went to countless open houses and viewings. Our apartment lease was up in March, so I decided to initially move back in with my parents until I found a house. This was the plan: 6 months to save up and find a house or else I would find a bedroom in someone’s home to rent closer to work.

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Too close to the airport and too far away from work.

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Flooring nightmares.

My coworker let me know that a condo in her cul-de-sac was coming available and I put in an offer before it went to market. This was the first offer I’d ever written. It seemed like a nice place and the price was something I could afford by myself, but the place didn’t have a garage and the floors needed serious work. I also was unsure about living so far away from work, after hearing my coworker complain about the traffic. The seller rejected my very fair offer and came back with a price well over market value. I balked and rejected. I didn’t love it that much, so I let it go.

March

The highlight of March was when my dear dear friend Maiko came to visit me in Austin. Sam had already moved out of our apartment and most of the furniture was gone, so the place seemed a little empty but Maiko didn’t seem to mind. We spent all day and most nights out and about Austin. I had such a fun time catching up with her and showing her my city. Maiko’s visit really rejuvenated me and recharged me.

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Also noteworthy:

  • I moved into my parent’s house mid-March and continued my househunt.
  • I completed a serious bucket list item by seeing Yoshiki from X Japan live in concert along with his new documentary “We Are X”.
  • Annette and I took our first bluebonnet pictures together, with our bikes (Starlite and Goliath)!

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April

My grandfather died due to complications of Parkinson’s Disease. It was difficult to see my mom go through it, as she had become his caregiver and power of attorney. Through watching her, I learned about all the work that has to be done when a family member dies and you are in charge of the arrangements.

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I’ll be honest and say that I don’t enjoy funerals. I do not want one and neither do my parents. But what I did find particularly memorable was Grandpa Walt’s Military Funeral Honors at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. I learned that all veterans are provided the rifle salute and taps at no cost to the family. It was beautiful to watch. Grandpa Walt flew C-141 transport planes in the Vietnam war, transporting fallen soldiers to be flown home. He was remembered for standing by every casket in the cargo bay and thanking each soldier for their service.

Rest in peace. Thank you for everything.

Other Noteworthy News:

  • I put an offer on a townhome, but ended up backing out and getting my deposit back. It just didn’t feel right. Too expensive and too far away from work.
  • I completed my first Olympic distance triathlon. Due to heavy rains in the area and “toxic” runoff, the water in Kemah bay was unswimmable. So, the organizers of the triathlon cancelled the swim portion and turned it into a run-bike-run. This was not my strong suit, but I did the best I could. I still ran a 10k under an hour at the end of already running and biking, so I’m proud of myself.
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    5th in my age group!

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  • 2016 Kemah Triathlon "Duathlon"

 

May

My grandmother died. Nana was always there for me. When I graduated from high school, Nana was there. She helped make my dreams come true by sending me on a month-long language learning cultural immersion program to Japan. I’d spent my entire senior year taking Japanese language classes, so all that was left was to visit the country. That trip was such a formative experience that I traveled back to Japan nearly every year for the next five years. From that summer, Tokyo, Japan became my second home and Nana helped me get there.

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Nana was a lot of things to me. I still miss her. I feel her absence. It was hard, because I had been looking forward to seeing her in June. The plane ticket had been bought.

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Nana was my top blog reader and commenter; I think she still holds the record for number of comments. Nana taught me that traveling the world was important and within reach. She dazzled me with tales of her and Papa’s world travels. Nana had a Masters degree and at one point a pilot’s license. How many grandmothers can you say have both distinctions?

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Nana helped me get on my feet after graduation and helped me purchase my first (and current) car so that I could move to Texas for work. Nana always (with the help of Aunt Jan) always sent a birthday card, no matter where in the world I lived. If you knew all the places I’ve lived, you’d know this is no small feat.

Nana was my swimfan; even when she didn’t feel good healthwise, she would be perfectly content watching me swim laps. Whenever we spoke on the phone she would always ask me how my job was going, and wanted to be sure I was happy. I miss that. I miss her. I like to think I am still making her proud. I love you, Nana. 

Other:

  • I was nominated for an award at work for the second year in a row, something that I was told was pretty much unheard of. This is something I am incredibly grateful for.

June

My boss allowed me to go on a business trip to a conference with the rest of my team in Chicago, Illinois. I spent the first part of my week there staying at the Hilton downtown. It was a great conference and I left feeling inspired.

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I packed up and began my summer vacation in California. I flew in to San Jose, California. My sister met me there and we were both picked up by…. Maiko! Maiko was living in California for a work assignment and her assignment had been extended. We had just met up in March, but I’d never been to San Francisco and what better opportunity than to explore with a friend? Plus, Tori had just finished school and the trip was a graduation celebration for her. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun in San Francisco.

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Lunch in Berkeley

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The top of Mount Tamalpais

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Golden Gate Bridge!

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Ziplining in the Mount Hermon Redwoods!

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Santa Cruz Beach & Boardwalk

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Fisherman’s Wharf

After San Francisco I headed down to Los Angeles to visit Aunt Jan. Still feeling the loss of Nana, I was so happy to get to see her. We did our old favorite LA things, as well as a couple new things like visiting Echo Lake. I also had the opportunity to visit my friend Kimberly, who had settled in LA after finishing grad school abroad. This trip was a major highlight of my summer!

Other Noteworthy News:

  • I achieved a huge cycling milestone: I completed the Texas 4000 Atlas Ride and completed 70 miles over the course of 4 and a half hours on the bike. (I also got terrible food poisoning afterwards, not fun.)

July

I placed a yet another offer on a home and…got it!!! My offer was accepted! I had the inspection done, told the mortgage people to begin their underwriting…and wrote the biggest check I’ve ever written.

On July 29, I became a homeowner.

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My feelings on this? I am so blessed, so thankful, so grateful… The value of having a home in the city I love, close to family, and close to work… Is priceless. And I am blessed with this gift every day.

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August

August was when it all got to be too much. I was dealing with everything all at once. I reached breakdown status way too many times this month. To my credit, I did have a lot going on. I moved into my new home (with the help of hired movers plus family and friends). I was doing home renovations (painting the whole house including the ceilings, lighting fixes, new bathroom fixtures, new window treatments, carpet cleaning, HVAC maintenance). I bought a fridge and had it delivered just in time for my move-in date. I had bills upon bills upon bills. I kept having to dip into more and more of my savings. I was racking up major credit card bills (but very thankful for 0% interest until April to give me time to pay it off). AT&T had issues installing my internet, so I was without internet for over two weeks.

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My old 21 Jumpstreet DVDs were my comfort.

And then Orientation (aka “crazy time”) came. I had hoped to have all of my house stuff settled before crazy time at work came around, but no dice. I worked over 60 hours one week and it just didn’t stop. So many events to keep track of, so little sleep. I was isolated because I didn’t have internet, but I also didn’t have the energy to interact with anyone. I sat at home watching dvds on my computer and feeling just totally tapped out. I focused what little energy I had on pulling off Orientation successfully.

I survived August with the help of family and friends. They were there to help me. If there’s one thing I realized, it’s that I don’t ask for help often enough.

September

I turned 29 on September 18th and that day also fell on a Sunday this year, so I decided to have a combination birthday plus housewarming party. I wanted to have my house ready for company by that date, so it was a personal goal for me to get it presentable. I invited everyone I knew in Austin to come and was overwhelmed by the amount of guests that came to warm my home and wish me a happy birthday. If you came to my party, thank you again so much. I felt so loved that day.

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Swim Teammates!

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Co-workers!

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Uncle Greg and Grandpa Howard!

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Noelle!

 

The icing on the cake was when my sister arrived from Washington state in time that day to wish me a happy birthday.

The next day, Sam’s dad died. Total whiplash. I’m pretty sure I experienced the common stages of grief: shock, pain, anger, sadness… On top of it all I had chest pains from stress. This was 2016 death number three. At this point, I had had enough. I conjured what strength I had left to just keep moving forward. Emotionally, I was limping along.

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Rest in peace, Mr. Curtis. I’m proud to say that I took this photo with your camera and it captures how I’d like to remember you.

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October

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Me and my besties at Sam’s dad’s memorial gathering

I continued training for the Ironman 70.3 relay that Annette and Gabriela and I signed up for at the end of the month. I was all ready to swim my heart out for our team, but the swim was cancelled due to fog. I really just wanted to cry and go home, but instead I stayed at the course all day to support Annette and Gabriela. I used up most of my mental toughness to suck it up and cheer my teammates. Annette and Gabby ended up placing 3rd out of all the relays, and we were the only all-female relay too! Great job, ladies!

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At the end of the month, my boss invited me to lunch and asked me how I was doing. Perhaps I seemed out of sorts or stressed (I was). I confessed to him that I needed to recover from all the things I was dealing with. I felt like I was constantly playing catch-up and that I felt slightly behind everything in my personal life. I also had been dealing with some health issues and I had no idea what the cause was. My boss told me I could take whatever time I needed to get back on track and take care of myself. Gratefully, I accepted his offer.

November

I began incorporating self-care once again. I ended up taking every single Friday off in November, giving myself three-day weekends every week. I took myself to the doctor, got tested for allergies, and began slowly figuring out what was making it difficult for me to breathe (it wasn’t allergies). I scaled way back on my social commitments. I went back to my counselor. It took time, but I had time. I am not always open about my struggles, but 2016 was full of trials that I can’t not speak about it.

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Romy came in to town and wanted to surprise Sam for her birthday. I wasn’t up for an elaborate surprise party, but Zandra and Romy took the helm with planning it and I provided my house and the food. Tori and I went to Whole Foods the night before and stocked up big time so we could feed everyone.

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Did I mention how much I love my sister? 

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Party pals!

For Sam and Noelle’s actual birthday, my family invited them over for a home-cooked cajun shrimp meal. What a wonderful way to celebrate my best and oldest friends turning 30. We’ve been together since I was 10 years old. We met in 1998. Next year will be our 20th friends-anniversary.

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December

The month of my favorite holiday! I was feeling a little bit more recovered. As a gift for my parents, my siblings and I got together for a photoshoot and took some updated sibling photos to give to them. They were done by local photographer Robert Bergman and they came out amazing. I love my brother and sister! We are so different, but at the same time so similar. I’m really treasuring this time when we are all living in the same city.

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And thus began the Christmas celebrations!

We celebrated friendsmas together and got into the holiday spirit. Annette and I went on a holiday lights ride to see the Mozart’s Coffee house light show. We cooked a cauliflower feast. We went to a Christmas music church service. We went on a hike. It was awesome.

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This Christmas was our first without Nana. We invited Aunt Jan to celebrate with the rest of the Abrams clan here in Austin and I’m so happy she came. She hadn’t visited Austin since the 90’s, so there was a lot to see and do together.

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Testing out my new selfie stick! Controlled chaos in the kitchen as usual!

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Yay family photos!

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Ending 2016, a turbulent year, by remembering how blessed we all are. In the face of adversity, I choose to weather the storm by clinging to what is good and making the best out of what I have. There is still so much love. I continue to work on controlling what I can and letting go of what I can’t. It’s a work in progress. I’m a work in progress.

Love.

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4 Comments to “2016 Year in Review”

  1. I don’t think you left out anything! Brutally honest but healthy to share, I would imagine. Your writing is beautiful and straight from our heart. I am so honored to call you MY DAUGHTER! Please let’s work on being humble and asking for help when you need it! I love you with all my heart!💕😘

  2. I’m so proud of you! You really pulled through this year, and something you didn’t mention– even though you were going through so much, if a friend called you, you were there! I’m so blessed and honored to have such a cherished, kind, thoughtful person as one of my most long-time friends! I love you!

  3. This was beautiful, Boo… Thank you so much for including such a sweet picture of me and my dad.

  4. So sorry it took me so long to comment! Heartfelt and well thought out. Lovely tribute to Nana – you were very dear to her heart. The “take-home message”, as your grandfather would say, of one of my new favorite movies is “Have courage and be kind” (I’m sure you know the one…). And that includes being kind to yourself! That’s a lesson I’m still learning after all this time. I was so lucky to see my Favorite Human twice last year and I can’t wait to see you next month in LA too😻💐

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