If I see one more post personifying 2016 with a “You’re the worst!” post on my timeline, I’m going to go berserk. Not because it’s entirely untrue (I mean, it’s been a pretty bleak 12 months…), but because can we all PLEASE get a little more creative?! Speaking about the year like it’s a pesky human was funny the first 5 times I saw it, but after literally all 2,000 of my friends wrote the exact same post after the deaths of Alan Thicke, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds, I was really craving an old fashion “RIP” post with out a mention of 2016, as if a certain set of 365 days around the sun is the reason people have died.

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Despite the fact that 2016 was the most divisive year of my lifetime thus far (check yourself if you’re nodding in agreement, but are part of the problem), some good things happened, too! I get a bit defensive on behalf of my friends who got married or had a baby in 2016, because everyone’s really devaluing their very happy, exciting year. So, to any of you who fall into that category, congratulations! Your joy has been a shining light amidst a tough 12 months for society as a whole.

For my last post of the year, I always like to take some time to reflect on lessons learned, blessings gained, and negativity shed in the past year. I’ve already touched on how monumental 2016 has been for this blog, so I won’t spend too much time on that, but I do want to say a HUGE thank you for another amazing year of knowing my words actually reach eyeballs. To my regular readers– and even my irregular readers– you make every year a good year. It’s truly therapeutic to have a space to express my thoughts about everything, from why we should eat more cheese to refuting that annoying claim that couples who post a lot on social media must be miserable in real life. I have an outlet for humor, philosophical thinking, and hopefully to provide a little encouragement. It’s the best! Thank you!

2016 was also my first year of marriage. My husband and I spent over half the year apart thanks to the Coast Guard, and while that’s been challenging, it’s also matured our relationship way faster than average…which pretty much keeps it on track with our usual speed of things. (Raise your hand if you’re one of the people who predicted we’d have a baby already! HAH! You owe me betting money.) We’ve had to learn how to handle constant transitions, constant goodbyes, constant need for deliberate communication, and smushing all adult responsibilities for the year into only 6 months. Despite the challenges, I can say without a doubt that this has been among the best years of my life. Our love has grown so deep. Our adventures have reached so far (from Ireland to Maine to Alaska to San Diego!). Our teamwork has become so strong. And even our family has grown with the addition of the cutest puppy in existence! This first year of marriage has been a special one, and I’m so grateful to be more in love now than I ever knew possible…which is exactly how I felt last year, too! The way love grows and changes each year always leaves me in awe. I can’t wait to see what our love looks like next year, the year after that, and in 50 years (God-willing)!

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2016 was the first year I got to follow my passions wherever they led. It started with going full time with Generation grannY and morphed into becoming a talent scout for the reality TV department of a production company. Dabbled in there was auditioning and getting cast in my first professional musical theatre show in 5 years, picking up painting as a hobby, and starting a podcast! Thanks to my husband, I get to keep seeing where life takes me professionally and personally, which is something I’ll never EVER take for granted. Be it becoming a producer at my current company, finally deciding to monetize my blog, or something different altogether, I know that if I keep working hard and pushing myself, the best is yet to come!

2016 was also a huge year of learning about my insecurities. I’ve always thought of myself to be pretty confident, but it’s become pretty clear this year that I am often bogged down by my fear of not pleasing people. Any sign of critique from others throws me into a terrible funk. I’ve learned that critique doesn’t mean I’m unloved by the person, and that I need to forgive myself for not always being perfect. I also have to be okay with my life not looking exactly like I think it “should.” I need to be confident in my decisions if I make them with love, faith, and responsibility. Identifying self-hate and learning to fight it has been so important, and something that I’m sure I’ll need to continue working on for many years to come.

2016 has been so phenomenal for witnessing God’s goodness. I’ve seen the blatant perfection of His timing, which I plan to hold onto during years that feel unfair or more personally painful. When I saw a man who broke my heart a few years ago, I didn’t feel anything at all, which would’ve seemed impossible back in the thick of that break up. It was amazing to see how much my heart has changed, how much happier I am with my husband than I ever could’ve predicted, and how important that hurt was in the trajectory of my life. I’ve also been able to see how that even through my mom’s death 4 years ago, God is still bringing joy to the lives of those who were most broken by her death. Trusting Him is always worth it, and seeing such great examples of His love and timing in 2016 will surely help me remain faithful, thus calm(er), during inevitable tribulations to come.

All in all, 2016 has produced a LOT of good. It’s been a tough one across the board for the unity and kindness of mankind, but there’s been beauty. Because there’s always beauty in life. It’s just up to us to find it and make more of it! So, here’s to another year! May 2017 bring us more hits by Taylor Swift, more real-life crazy love stories, more adventures, and more good wine.

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See you next Tuesday for the first Bachelor recap of the season! Woo hoo!