Saturday, January 30, 2016

My Top 10 of 2015

In 2015 I wrote less on this blog than any other year since I started it in 2007. I have good excuses: I write full time! And I am working on a side writing project! But there were great things that happened last year that I want to share--better late than never. Here's a quick rundown of some of my favorite moments.

10. Spring trip to Mexico
My phone disappeared while in Mexico, and I lost almost all of my photos from that trip. But otherwise it was an amazing time-- I got to volunteer for a UN food security organization in the rural mountainous region of northern Puebla, and then attend the wedding of a dear friend.
Church in Ahuacatlan, Sierra Norte de Puebla

Traditional dress wedding
Boda de traje tipico

9. Visiting Denali National Park, Alaska
I was 100 miles back in the park, staying in a cabin, with opportunities to hike, bike, and canoe practically out the front door. Early in the week I had my first handful of grizzly bear sighting from afar, and later in the week almost walked into one. My friend and I were hiking, talking, and watching our feet, and by the time we saw the bear through the blueberry bushes, we were about 30 feet away. It was absolutely terrifying for a moment, but clearly I lived to tell the tale.
View from Polychrome Pass
A rare, clear view of the mountain

8. Hanging with nieces and nephews
I now have 7 nieces, 3 nephews, and 2 more on the way. They are all ridiculously sweet and fun kids, from the oldest who is almost 15 to the youngest who just turned 1.

7. Sister's Wedding
Besides the wedding in Mexico, I went to two in Washington and one in California. The first was my older sister's in Bellingham. This one was unique because in addition to making the bouquets, it was my first time officiating! I became a "reverend" online about eight years ago, but haven't had the chance to officiate yet. It was really special for me to play that role for my sister and awesome brother-in-law.

6. Cousin's Wedding
The next wedding was my cousin's out at Seabrook on the Washington coast. It's basically a small manufactured village, and a great spot for big family gatherings. We walked to other relative's houses, rode bikes, went to the park, played on the beach, cooked big meals together, and generally had a blast.
Playing with nieces on the beach
Putting together the bridal bouquet. Photo by Lisa S.
Thriller dance at the reception. Photo by Lisa S.

5. Friend's Wedding
Bless California, where you can have completely outdoor weddings and dance well into the night with the addition of a light sweater. I spent three days at the wedding venue in a neat ranch-turned-resort outside of Ukiah.
Outdoor reception set up

Day after the wedding to relax
4. Backpacking with Mom
This was our second annual mother-daughter backpacking trip. For almost never having backpacked, my mom is an awesome buddy. She's easy-going, appreciative of little things, not picky, and really loves being outside. This new tradition is going to continue as long as humanly possible.

View of Mount Baker from tarn below Park Butte

3. Three Fingers Lookout
I did a lot of hiking this year, but the highlight was in October when I did Three Fingers. You know it's serious trail when you have to bike 10 miles just to get to the trailhead, then hike, cross a glacier, scramble, and climb vertical ladders.
See the white speck up there on the middle peak?
Yeah, that's the lookout.
Sunrise from the lookout.
3 ladders at the end to reach the lookout.
Just a 1,000 foot drop to the glacier below.

2. The 10-Week Challenge
During the fall I did a 10-week fitness program offered through a local gym. It consisted of:

- Doing 50 workouts in 10 weeks
- Following meal guidelines and tracking everything I ate in an online tracker, in general cutting out sugar, alcohol, fruit, and wheat
- Doing fitness tests and body composition check at the beginning and end of the program

It was truly life changing. I got stronger, fitter, and just felt better. I thought that I already had pretty healthy eating habits, but this took my awareness to a whole new level of committing to cooking whole foods, at home, from scratch, for every meal.
After a bootcamp class

1. A personal writing project
I have been busy writing on a side project. I'm keeping the details under wraps for now, but I'm really excited about it and excited to share later this year.
Writing retreat on San Juan Island