Despite some people complaining of this being “the worst year ever”, we did alright out here in Colorado. We’re very fortunate that nothing major happened: No deaths, layoffs or issues with our pets. Our friends and family remain in good health, and we still have a roof over our heads.

To commemorate this year, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite moments from 2016. Sometimes it’s nice to try to counteract the unavoidable negativity on the internet. From Utah to Tennessee and Colorado, this year was very eventful to say the least. Read ahead to see what made the cut.

12. Wall Street with my girls

20160910_231447_hdr

20160910_225736_hdr

20160911_000114_hdr

My favorite place to hang in Murfreesboro before we moved was definitely Wall Street. Following our 10 year reunion in the sticks, we headed to the square for some good old-fashion fun. I’d give anything to go back to the days when this was our “Friday night spot”. We always had the best time.

11. Kicking off the year in Utah

Thank God Christine referred us to Moab or else I wouldn’t know of the astounding beauty Eastern Utah has to offer. I’m gonna go out on a limb and insist that Utah is the most underrated state, ever. We only scratched the tip of the surface but fell in love with the landscape immediately. The desolate, rocky terrain resembled something unworldly, as if we landed on Mars.  Between the vast expansive views, the plateaus and the arches, Utah did not appear anything like I anticipated whatsoever, and it was awesome.

20160101_080914.jpg

wp-1451935778485.jpg

20160101_165535.jpg

wp-1451935805075.jpg

wp-1451935818059.jpg

10. Cut Copy and Natural Child

20161029_004104.jpg

20161029_002453.jpg

20161028_224911.jpg

20161009_001138_hdr.jpg

20161008_224810_hdr.jpg

We had SO much fun at each show that I couldn’t choose a favorite. Cut Copy killed it Halloween weekend, and Natural Child ushered in some seriously nostalgic, southern feels. They sound nothing alike and yet, I love them both so much. Two shows in the same month made for an eventful October, plus Erika came to visit the morning after Cut Copy! Such an awesome weekend.

9. Discovering the Ute Trail

A high altitude hike at Rocky Mountain National Park

20160709_145522

20160709_140532

Hiking this gem for the first time ever brought a new sense of meaning to my life when I needed it. I was working and interning nonstop and needed a temporary escape. At 11,000 feet, the lack of oxygen likely contributed to the peace and euphoria we experienced, but the breathtaking views need not be discounted. We hiked along the mountainside kissed with pockets of snow in July while others segments of the trail revealed acres and acres of sunny yellow wildflowers. We came across Elk, birds and some sort of alpine muskrat. What has now become my favorite trail in Rocky Mountain National Park remains especially sacred since you can only hike it 4 months out of the year. Heavy snow at higher altitudes makes some trails inaccessible for most of the year, and this is one of them.

8. Surprise Birthday Partywp-1452481014089.jpg

wp-1452481023643.jpg

wp-1452481018214.jpg

wp-1452481106217.jpg
Because a birthday’s not complete without cats

I surprised Keegan the Spring before we moved with a party in Murfreesboro, and he returned the favor in Fort Collins. So grateful for such a sweet and thoughtful hubby! Not to mention, he took me snow tubing and zorbing that weekend, as well. And the cat coffee shop in Denver allowed me to pet all the cats without shame.

7. Passing my Exit Exam

wp-1475453758520.jpg

wp-1475453751736.jpg

wp-1475453745674.jpg

wp-1475453740578.jpg

wp-1475453727713.jpg

wp-1475453722083.jpg

wp-1475453735180.jpg

I took my exit exam on a Saturday morning not knowing what to expect. I was such a nervous wreck that Friday evening as Christine and I watched reruns of The Office at her house. But alas, I passed and spent the remained of the day celebrating. That entire Saturday was so much fun: Between us meeting Regina and Linda at the Welsh Rabbit and continuing the party at Social and Keegan taking us to Origins in Loveland, I enjoyed my fair share of fancy, adult cocktails.

6. Chilling with Tika on 16th Street in Denver

20160521_174013~2

20160521_173123_HDR

20160521_151949

20160521_150104_HDR

20160521_144451

20160521_164859

I’m probably repeating myself at this point, but again, I had so much fun with Tika!!! You don’t realize how many fun weekends you’ve had in a year until you take the time to reflect. My weekend with Tika was the perfect mix of chill time and crunk time before I had to buckle down and focus. I remember us riding the shuttle from one store to the next, looking over at her and just laughing. I am so grateful to have known this girl after all these years. We have shared so many adventures together–wouldn’t trade this friend for the world!!

5. Barbeque with Keegan, Dad and Granny

20161208_134934

Sometimes the most seemingly insignificant moments are the ones you’re the most grateful for after the fact. Keegan, Dad, Granny and I met for lunch at Jim n Nick’s in Smyrna not long after we landed in Nashville. We talked about graduation looming around the corner and just talked about life in general. Between the good company and food, I really enjoyed my lunch that day. Simple is good, and so is spending time with my family.

4. Being grateful to be alive–like literally, extremely grateful

20160602_165822_HDR

Found our first camp site!
Found our first camp site!

20160602_210644

20160603_112427_HDR

Canoeing much longer than expected on the second day
Canoeing much longer than expected on the second day

20160604_113326

If you missed my post back in June, my husband treated us to a wilderness canoe trip: We had three days and two nights to cover 45 miles on the river. We sought camp sites on our own and came across very few people, maybe 2 couples a day, if that. After we finished eating the first night, it was pitch black outside and something nearby ate something else. I kid you not. We listened to some animal die in the slowest 10 seconds of my life and the ordeal ended with a splash near the river. We still don’t know what happened, but at the time I was absolutely terrified. It took forever to fall asleep that night–we had no cell phone reception, no one to turn to, and we definitely couldn’t canoe in the dark. We had to suck it up and deal with it. Eventually I managed to fall asleep in our paper-thin tent that provided a sense of comfort and security because, you know, how could a wild animal ever reach us in there? Waking up alive the very next morning was one of the best feelings I’ve felt all year. I’ve never been so scared in my life! It’s pretty funny now, but that night I was scared to death, wondering if we were gonna get eaten by something we couldn’t see.

3. Closing on the house

014974820_640x480

20160315_172359-1.jpg

20160315_210754.jpg

20160518_204937

20160212_163809.jpg

20160212_163208_hdr.jpg

Sometimes I still have to pinch myself, because I can’t believe we wound up in such a beautiful home. We kept a list of houses and nicknamed each one we walked through with our realtors. We nicknamed this house Glitz and Glamour. I didn’t even take any pictures when we first reviewed the premises, because I laughed at the idea of us living here. And now, here we are! My husband and I have plenty of space, Buddy and the girls have several places to hide, play and sleep and best of all, we’re super close to the Human Bean.

2. Walking for my Master’s Degree

20161207_210952

20161208_202935

20161210_094611

20161210_105805

20161210_130221

20161210_131555

20161210_185355

Pretty sure I already covered the significance of this event last week, but in case you didn’t know: Earning my Master’s Degree was by far one of the highlights of my year. I’m the first in my family to receive a graduate degree, and I want to make my family proud. This degree has revitalized my energy, renewed my confidence and taught me that anything is possible, as long as you don’t give up. When I walked for my degree, it felt like time stood still momentarily. Like many other moments on this countdown, I nearly felt outside of myself as I whispered “This is it” and practically floated across the stage, as if the weight I’ve carried since June suddenly lifted from my shoulders.

1. Showing up on my Mom’s doorstep

The last moment on the list speaks for itself. Seeing my Mom’s face when she had no idea I was in Tennessee was absolutely priceless. I asked my bff several times to upload this video to YouTube so I could save it, but I think he kept forgetting to do so. So, last weekend I tinkered around and finally saved a copy for myself. I couldn’t add it to my blog 3 months ago, but now I’m excited to share it with everyone. This was truly one of the best moments of the year.

I don’t even have time to cover the other exciting things like The Badlands, paddle boarding, bouldering, red rocks, the hot air balloon festival and the ice cream contest. But anytime I start to feel like “this year sucked”, I have to keep in mind just how lucky and fortunate we are to have manifested the lives we’ve always imagined. In the last two years we got married, moved to Colorado, landed jobs, closed on a house and then I interned 600 hours and earned my degree. What on Earth do I have to complain about? Sure, life is hard sometimes, but it’s all about perspective.

In the mean time, I hope all my readers have a wonderful Christmas! Here’s one of my favorite songs from a band from the 80’s that’s long-forgotten by now.