Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: The Most Memorable Moments

2011... Where do I begin to describe 2011? It was a year of uncertainty, certainty, risk and reward. It honestly was a year I wasn't sure I'd make it through. But here I am, standing on the other side, and so glad I made it.

As a tribute to the year's most memorable moments, I put together this post of photo collages highlighting the things I think of most when I think of 2011. I should preface it by saying that the first thing I think of, I don't have photos for. Most of you know this part, but whenever I think of this year, I can't help but think of it.

On December 30, 2010, I lost my job in Denver. This set a tone for the entire year, and led to one of the lowest points I'd been in since mid-2009. It was a day that reminded me I have absolutely no control over my life's circumstances. All I have control over is how I respond to those circumstances.

On the other side of this year, I know things couldn't have gone as well as they did if I hadn't lost my job. I needed to lose my job; it had to happen for the rest of the year to go the way it did. With that being said, here is my first collage representing one of the reasons I was glad I lost my job and moved from Denver to Iowa in January.

My Grandpa Smith passed away in April. It wasn't a simple process, it was long and hard and complicated. But suffice it all to say, my lack of a job gave me plenty of opportunities to help my family. I also got to be there for every part of his funeral. I was able to contribute, to be a pall bearer, and to capture each of the photos above. Each represents a moment, a memory of my grandpa, that I will never forget.

This next collage represents all the family birthdays we celebrated this year. They're pretty well spread out, with Michael's in January, mine in March, Dad's in June and Mom's in December. Every birthday is different, but most involve the world's best chocolate cake, made by my mom (except on her birthday, we don't let her make her own cake).

In May, I got hired back at the Clinton Herald as a reporter. Then in August I was promoted to the new position of Digital Content Editor. I absolutely love my job. It's so much fun, yet challenging as it evolves to fit the needs of the paper. I love being able to maintain our online presence through the website and Facebook. I've gotten to do some really cool things and meet some great people since being back.

In June my cousin Jenae got married and my dad and I were both in her wedding. My dad officiated for a portion of the ceremony and I was one of the bridesmaids. It was a really special day and I absolutely loved being a part of it. From special cousin time (I stayed with Jenae for a couple of nights in her apartment), to the bachelorette party, to the ceremony and partying at the reception, it was a great weekend.

In August, our church had baptisms in the Mississippi. It was so awesome to see some of the high schoolers and middle schoolers get baptized. (As well as the adults, of course!) :)

In September I took a long weekend trip out to Denver and the Springs to celebrate my dear friend Jessica's birthday. We had such a great time staying in a swanky hotel, eating at some scrumptious restaurants, bashing around downtown Denver, dancing the nights away and cheering for the Rockies. All of it, of course, in honor of one really special girl's birthday. :)

In October, I threw my first party in my new apartment. It just so happened to be a Halloween party, which was perfect because it's one of my favorite holidays, after Christmas. It was so fun seeing everyone's costumes. John's took the cake for artistic creativity with all his zombie-fied makeup. Chris' was definitely the most hilarious (he wore a dinosaur onesie, originally intented for a toddler). And Lindsay, Sterling and Jay were the most coordinated with their Rocket Power costumes.

This fall included a TON of time spent with "the interns." If you've kept up with my blog so far, you know a lot about them already. I spent most weekends hanging out with Chris and Mason (two of the most hilarious people I know), finding various mischief or adventure to get into. They also helped to bring our church's 20s group together, mostly through Sunday ultimate frisbee matches.

Other activities we did together are included in the next few collages...

First, we took a day trip to the home of Lindsay's alma mater, Dubuque. This was a really fun day. We hiked around, planked on a lot of things (and took a million photos), ate a ton of food, and otherwise had a great time together.

Then, more recently, we took a trip to the Quad Cities for Disney on Ice...

In case you can't tell from the photos, this trip included fake mustaches and hipster glasses. And LOTS of Disney songs. I think we sort of regressed into a childlike state, but isn't that what Disney is for?

A couple of weekends ago, we also took a day trip to the home of my alma mater, Chicago. The trip was so much fun because we got to ride the Metra into downtown, ride the El, explore the streets, and ride to the top of the Sears Tower. We topped it all off with Chicago's best deep dish pizza from Giordano's. The trip reminded me how great the city is, and how easy it is to fall in love with its grandeur.

Finally, I have a collage of photos from the past few weeks of Christmas celebrations and family time.

It has been a really fun time spent with friends and family, remembering why this time of year is so important. I have loved the "break from life." It's been great to kick back, sleep in, eat delicious food and hang out with the cousins I've grown up with.

Looking over all of these photos just reminds me how great a year it has been. In closing, here is a collection of other special moments from 2011.

Oh, and Happy New Year! :)

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