7 Good Things in 2016

I know I’m not alone when I say that 2016 sucked. I honestly can’t remember another year that was so very difficult and full of heartache. I lost people I loved, and I am still dealing with those losses. Several well-loved celebrities passed away. Donald Trump was elected president. My beloved Zumba instructor moved away. Yes, 2016 feels like a big middle finger to all that is good.

My friend Kate sent me her most recent blog post to look over, and while she concurred that 2016 was far from the best year ever, she did find some good things about it and inspired me to do the same. I decided to challenge myself to find things about this year that I really liked and was happily surprised that I was able to do it.

Since seven is my favorite number, here are the top seven moments of my 2016:

 

The Cubs won the World Series. My fiancee Bill is a huge Cubs fan, and cheering with him as his team finally broke the curse and won the World Series was definitely a highlight of 2016 for me.

world-series-win

We went to Hawaii. My birthday present to Bill for his 40th birthday was a trip to Maui. That trip was one of the best parts of the whole year for us. We relaxed, enjoyed the island, and ate too much good food.

hawaii-2016

I changed jobs. After a collective five years working high-level complaints, I transitioned into an analyst position with my company in October. It has been such a welcome change in so many ways. My work-related stress levels are way down, I have a fantastic new boss and a team of coworkers that I love, and I’m learning new things every day.

img_3621

Less stress = more smiles!

We climbed a mountain. Ever since Bill and I started dating, he’s been talking about hiking Mt. Pilchuck. While it sounded fun, it also sounded incredibly intimidating, but last summer I took the plunge and agreed to go. It was hard, probably even harder than I thought it would be, but it was SO beautiful and I felt so accomplished when we finally reached the car at the end of the hike.

pilchuck-hike

I bought a bike and rode the heck out of it. I did not get my first bike until I was ten, and even once I had one, there was really nowhere to ride it. When I bought my Trek bike last May and started riding trails every weekend, I knew how to pedal and not fall over…but that was about it. I passed the summer blissfully logging miles and improving my speed and endurance. Admittedly, my bike hasn’t seen the light of day since the temperatures turned cold (I am officially a fair-weather rider), but as soon as spring is here I’ll be back to it!

bike-riding

I became a Subaru person. Yep, I traded in my sports car for a Subaru Impreza and I couldn’t be happier with the decision. Now I have a car that I can put bikes on, drive to trailheads, go camping with, and take on road trips. Oh, and it’s nice to have a car with four doors so I can actually pick up other people when I’m going places! Now that I’ve owned my first one, I’m definitely on Team Subaru.

subie

We got the gang back together.….Meaning that I got to spend time with both my family and Bill’s in 2016. Since everyone but my brother lives out of state, coordinating visits is hard! Bill and I flew to Indiana for an extended weekend in August, and my whole family got together for a long weekend in December. Now that my brother and I both live in Edmonds and my sister’s in San Diego, it’s hard to get everyone together at my parents’ house at the same time. We managed to pull it off though, and we had a blast!

family

Such a good-looking bunch

When I look back on this year, I’m going to do my best to remember the good things that happened instead of the bad…choose to be happy, right? Dwelling on the bad won’t make it better, so I’m going to try and move on in my own way and put my energy into making 2017 my best year yet.

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye

He was smart and adventurous, funny and kind. We worked together for over three years, during which time we grew as close as brother and sister. We had many thoughtful conversations about everything that popped into our heads. We leaned on each other when things were difficult, we laughed together during many good times.

He left the company we worked for, gave away most of his belongings and hopped on a plane to travel the world. How I envied his impulsiveness as he moved from country to country, and how I missed being able to see him nearly every day. When he came back the following summer, he took me out for Mexican food and talked animatedly about everything he had seen and done. For hours we sat outside on the deck in the evening sunshine, as he told me about his travels and adventures. Our friendship was as strong as ever, even though we didn’t see each other nearly so often. We still made a point of getting together, usually to watch a football game. No matter how long it had been since we’d seen each other, it would instantly feel as if we’d never been apart. He would wrap me in a warm hug and exclaim, “Sunshine! I’ve missed you!”, using his special nickname for me. And then we would laugh and catch up on whatever had been going on in our lives.

In November, we met up to watch a Seahawks game. He was in a cheerful mood. He ordered a huge cheeseburger as he told me stories about his new job in between football plays. When I hugged him goodbye I had no idea it would be the last time I would ever be able to do so. A couple of weeks later, on his birthday, I texted with him, wishing him a happy day. He seemed to be in good spirits.

The next thing I heard was about him, not from him. It was the first weekend in December and he was gone forever.

Losing a loved one to suicide is so much different than any other kind of loss. On top of the grief, there’s the ever-present struggle with not being able to understand why. Although knowing why he felt he could not go on would not change the outcome, I feel like it would give me some closure on things. I have to accept that there will be no understanding, that his reasons were his own and I will never know them. What I do know is that I thnk of him every day, and I miss him.

The day of his funeral was bright and sunny, bitterly cold. It’s brisk, my dad would always joke on a freezing cold morning like that one. The six of us that had worked with him sat neatly in a pew, joined by Bill, and surrounded by some people we knew and others we had never met. His mother and his best friend each spoke to all of us in the room, telling stories of his life and reading things he had written (he was a wonderful writer). After that a lengthy slideshow was played, all photos of him, of his life, with his usual big smile (and, in more recent photos, the various stages of his beard) on his face.

Since then, life has been a bit of a blur. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. I’ve broken down a few times and really cried, but for the most part I try to keep myself quiet and calm. I’m torn between desperately wanting to spend time with people I love, in case I never again have the chance, and at the same time desperately needing to be alone.

The happiest memories of him can bring tears to my eyes now that he’s gone. I was forever changed by knowing him and changed further by losing him.

My promise to myself is to try to live my life the way he lived his, seeking adventure and laughing hard and hugging people in such a warm and comfortable way that those hugs will be part of a legacy.

 

December Birchbox Review

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Birchbox review! Since Birchbox went away from awarding points to its subscribers for each review, I haven’t been doing online reviews of products on the site anymore unless I really love a particular one.

I felt like December’s haul was particularly fantastic, so instead of just leaving quick reviews of a single product on their site, here’s a complete review of the contents of the entire box for your enjoyment.

Ardency Inn Modster Smooth Ride Supercharged Eyeliner 
As I’m usually more of a liquid eyeliner girl, I was skeptical of this eyeliner pencil. However, I’d just run out of my regular eyeliner, so I was excited to try it out. I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely it glides on, and it’s a lot easier to remove at night than liquid liner. While $16 doesn’t seem like a lot, this is a travel-size eyeliner, and I’ve seen comparable ones at drugstores so I probably won’t be purchasing one.

Marcelle Hydra-C 24H Energizing Hydrating Gel 
This is a lightweight gel moisturizer Okay, you had me at energizing, as I’ve been noticing that I just look tired in the mornings. I gave this sample a try and I love it. It’s lightweight and doesn’t make my face look shiny or greasy. I just wish it had an SPF in it, I prefer moisturizers with sunscreen to help protect my sensitive skin.

amika Bombshell Blowout Spray
I absolutely love amika products and this one is definitely no exception. It helps add volume to my hair while protecting it from the damaging heat of my hair dryer and flatiron. It leaves my hair feeling soft and smelling pretty. Since I do a LOT of heat styling, $26 is a bargain for a bottle of this, especially since it doubles as a volumizer!

Atelier Cologne’s Vanille Insensée Cologne Absolue
I have been a fiercely loyal wearer of Dior J’adore for years, and I don’t really venture out of that fragrance comfort zone. That said, I do really enjoy getting little perfume samples. If I like them, I throw them in my travel bag when I’m going out of town so that I don’t take my beloved J’adore along and risk breaking it. This scent was surprisingly light for a vanilla scent, which is usually a lot heavier than I care for. I asked Bill what he thought of it and he liked it as well. Truthfully, I don’t see myself straying from J’adore anytime soon, but it was nice to have the opportunity to try a new scent!

Hey Honey Walk the Walk Propolis Foot Cream
Our weather here in Seattle this December has been unusually cold and clear,  which has resulted in my skin feeling dry and alligator-ish. This foot cream was just what I needed to make my feet feel soft and smooth. The cream is lightly scented, but very pleasantly so, and didn’t feel heavy or thick when I put it on. This sample definitely made me a fan of the Hey Honey line, and I hope I receive more of their products to try in future boxes!