Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016: Year in Review

Today is my 30th birthday.

It would be quite natural to go into a downwards spiral, fretting about what I expected 30 to look like and the rapid, unrelenting passing of time.  To prevent said spiral, stay with me while I break those two concerns down.

First, expectation.

I believe it's fair to say that life never happens how we expect it.  Over the last decade, while some things haven't happened how I imagined, so many other unexpectedly amazing things did.  I've developed life-lasting friendships here and abroad.  I learned to speak Italian fluently.  I've kept this blog up for eight years.  Hell, I touched Channing Tatum's abs.  Did I expect any of that?  No.  I have a great job that makes it possible for me to travel the world, my family and friends are safe and healthy, and thousands of other, seemingly inconsequential but fabulous details and experiences make up the fabric of my life.  I'm incredibly grateful for those I've surrounded myself with and where I am right in this moment (to be fair, and literal, it's in my pajamas, in bed, but I mean on a more existential scale as well), and it's this gratefulness that helps me remember that everything happens for a reason, that we all must forge our own path, and that managing expectation is one of the most important skills we can learn in life. By the same token, perhaps throwing expectation out the window and being open to the unexpected is just as important.

Second, time.  

If time seems to be moving too quickly, that's because I'm not doing enough to slow it down.  Lately I'm brutally aware of how days pass into weeks until months snowball into years.  But it is scientifically proven that when we experience new things, it slows down our brain's perception of time.  The older we get, we become exceedingly set in our familiar ways, and time seems to speed up.  When we do new things, it takes our brains longer to process the unfamiliar information, and time appears to slow down.  A favorite blogger of mine, Sarah Von Bergen of Yes and Yes, makes a list of new things she wants to try every year.  I'm planning on doing this for 2017 as a way to combat this time warp.  More on that to come.

So back to the whole age thing.  Those younger than me would say, "Damn, 30.  Not looking forward to that."  Those older than me would say, "So young.  What I wouldn't give to be 30 again."  So here's to living for today, to filling life with new experiences, and to each decade being better than the last (that's what they keep telling me!). Because really, I'm getting pretty excited to leave the tumultuous twenties behind, and am starting to think my 30s will outshine the rest. 

Now perhaps I should be reviewing a decade (which is about how long I've been blogging), but let's be reasonable.  While 2016 certainly presented its challenges on a global scale, it's good to remember the small victories, smiles, and adventures.  So I present again, more or less chronologically: My Year in Review.

In 2016, I...

Won an Oscar pool
Celebrated Amanda's bachelorette on a boat
Danced in the Boston subway to Justin Bieber on a violin
Went to Opening Day at Fenway Park
Slayed, or rather Beyonce did, at the Formation World Tour
 Shared the magic of Amanda and Andrew's tropical nuptials
Danced like everyone was watching
Jumped into a pool with a bunch of fully-clothed adults
Soared above the Costa Rican rain forest on a kilometer-long zip line
Slept at the foot of a volcano
Celebrated cousin Kendall's first birthday
Walked over the Brooklyn Bridge on Independence Day
Watched Adele perform from the fourth row
Finally completed my gallery wall

 Laughed a lot
Got Global Entry and TSA Pre-check, making airports infinitely easier
Returned to Italy for the first time in four years
Was reunited with my favorite gelateria in Bologna
Incredibly, drank my first cappuccino ever
Celebrated Gavina's bachelorette on a boat (trending)
Smashed things at my first (and hopefully not last) Italian wedding
Bicycled along the Loire River
Got lit with Letizia in Paris
Got to flip K's at AT&T Park and continued #beliEVEN
Started a book club with my best friends from college
Volunteered by mentoring, teaching reading, fundraising, and coordinating gift drives
Finally made it to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
 Enjoyed a swanky afternoon tea (with bubbles) in London
 Attended a Guy Fawkes bonfire in my Notting Hill garden
Celebrated my dad's retirement, after 22 years at SFO
Had countless precious Emma moments
Cleaned up for the Box holiday party
Saw Kinky Boots (NYC), Wicked (London), and Hamilton (Chicago)
Was moved to tears by the beauty of snow
Sucked helium from an edible balloon at Alinea, a three-Michelin star restaurant
Went to a professional ballet for the first time
Celebrated Christmas with the entire family, including avó from the Azores
...and turned 30!

I went abroad three times this year and took my first international business trip.  The travel kept me busy and I loved every adventure along the way.

  1. Miami, FL and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
  2. Boston, MA 
  3. Nashville, TN
  4. Costa Rica 
  5. New York, NY
  6. Italy (Bologna, Florence, Sardinia) and France (Loire Valley, Paris)
  7. Seattle, WA
  8. London
  9. Chicago, IL
This was the year of blow-out shows, meaning my concert budget has ballooned.  But Beyonce AND Adele?  Worth it.

  1. Justin Bieber @ SAP
  2. Seinabo Sey @ The Masonic
  3. Grand Ole Opry (Featuring Rascal Flatts) @ Opry House
  4. Beyonce @ Levi's Stadium
  5. Andrea Bocelli @ SAP
  6. Adele @ SAP
  7. Bomba Estéreo @ The Independent 
  8. Alessia Cara @ The Masonic
And even though Beyonce's show was mind-blowing, Adele takes the cake this year.  Being in the fourth row for this wickedly witty woman and witnessing her talent first-hand felt so intimate and magical I could hardly stand it.

Became obsessed with:
  • Perfecting the technique of Spaghetti alla Carbonara (check!)
  • Audiobooks (so that's how people read so much)
  • The Hamilton Soundtrack (below, me on my way to see the show live)

Excited to see what 2017 brings my way, and more importantly what I make of it!

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