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Okay, so June 30 is a bizarre time to do a year in reflection, but it fits for me. It works. So many things have happened to me in the past year that are milestones, or at the very least, provided room for growth and taught me about myself. In April 2012, I bought my first car- what?! Yeah at the age of 23, I became a car owner for the very first time. And now, I plan on selling said car in November (at the age of 25). Owning a car fucking sucks (but at the same time felt oddly necessary for my multi-step plan of breaking free from my parents’ household and becoming an “adult”). Summer 2012- my first entire summer spent living in Minneapolis since I was in middle school. WHAT?! Crazy. I was always off gallivanting at summer camp as an LDP kid or as a counselor, or studying abroad in Ireland, or going to National History Day followed by spending a month with family followed by two weeks visiting my best friend in Vermont a year before her wedding. Which leads me to another big event, my first friend wedding in my “adult” life! August 2012, Vermont. Not to mention my first solo road trip (through the US out to VT, back through Canada). Oh and there was a solo camping trip in there (end of June?) that made me miss Mother Nature like a part of my heart was missing. And I let my heart love and be naïve and broken.

I met some amazing new people. Some friends who have become my best friends, people who I would do anything for, who have helped me become a better person, who have helped pull me out of the depression that enveloped me in the winter, who have smacked me into realizing that I need to be strong enough to exist on my own, insecurities be damned. Friends who have quite literally slapped me (in hind sight, it was a brilliant move, and I think everyone should be slapped awake at least once in their life). Friends who have cooked for me, friends who have comforted me in loss, friends who have supported me in all my decisions.

Among those amazing new people, I became re-acquainted with other people, or gotten to better know old friends. I moved out of my parents’ house (oh, what a dream it would have been to get my “dream job” out of college like I had planned…instead I lived an entire year in my parents’ house, taking a retail job that I didn’t think would last [my two year anniversary with them approaches]) and into a wonderful apartment. Its most wonderful quality is the amazing roommate it came with, who has taught me much about life and cohabitation and being kind and making decisions and loving yourself. She is the best and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to live with her and get to know her better.

Also, and most sadly, I put down a dog who was too sick too soon. Rylie was a crotchety old man at the age of 7 (he should have lived to 15), always the instigator of fights to the death (to which an intervention was always necessary). He often tried to gouge my face, but eventually I attacked him with kindness. When he became stressed out about the mail deliverer and the UPS/Fed Ex and ran rapidly from window to door to window to window to door, I would grab him and hold him tightly to calm him, before he could realize his space was being invaded and he wanted to bite my nose off (quite literally). As his second home, we don’t know what psychological demons attacked him, but they seemed too great for such a pup who had so much love to give (he was most loyal to his main owner, my mother, who needed him more than anyone). He suffered prostate infections and also kidney problems, a fate all too familiar to this family who had to put down the most loving family dog I’ve ever had the opportunity to love, Bailey, who died of kidney failure at the age of 5 when I was a junior in high school (the only time I ever hyperventilated was when we finally knew he was in so much pain that we put him down to stop his suffering, and I cried so hard that I could not breathe).

Along with a new apartment, a new roommate, newer friends, and a new commute, I got a new manager at my job as I passed my first year anniversary at the store. I had to say goodbye to a manager who had believed in me when I struggled to understand my purpose, and struggled to believe I actually had one. A new manager who I knew little about, who I was not sure I would like, because I had had such a terrible experience a few years back with a boss who had no idea how to lead (but she is, indeed, history). I knew I had to be open, and professional, and mature in my work place. But as it turned out, a new manager is a lot like a new coach. They all want their employees to succeed, they just have different visions for how the success is going to happen (ah the joys of rugby translating to nearly every aspect of life). And it has lead to another year as I approach my second anniversary at my location.

Speaking of rugby, I also joined a new team, as I felt completely and utterly out of place in my previous rugby team, I thought it best to move forward. I continued to learn more about the rugby community and senior side teams, but I wasn’t quite so sure the coach was a right fit for me either (one of the problems I had previously), but I had to remember I had been spoiled with some of the most amazing women’s coaches in the US (whom I still miss dearly having them as coaches).

Winter was hard. Winter was harder than it had ever been (harder than I ever expected it to be); harder than I had ever experienced a time in my life and I felt more alone than I ever have. But somehow, in May/June, the winter finally left. And I know that I must move forward and never again let winter have such a negative impact on my life again. (Fuck you winter.)

And now, as I look forward upon this summer that is finally here in all its gorgeous warmth and sunshine, I am hopeful. I am hopeful for this next year, as it prepares me for a new chapter in my life that I plan to begin in July 2014. I am preparing for one of the biggest adventures I have ever embarked upon as I plan to hike the Superior Hiking Trail with a close friend north to south, all 235 odd some miles. Ireland, you’re next, I have been waiting to hike you since I first planned to study on your mountainous green land.

So yeah. It’s been a year. Of learning and growth. Of new relationships and friendships. Of death, life, and sickness. Of weddings and love. Of new adventures and acceptance. Forward. Up and out.

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