2016: The year that changed my life



I have always wondered what it would mean to have a life changing year. A year I would look back on for the rest of my life and know it was a pivotal point in shaping who I am. 2016 somehow, unknowingly, became one of those years. I have spent the last two weeks reflecting back on what 2016 meant for me in my career, my personal and spiritual growth, my family life and my own. 2016 was one of the hardest years I have faced but I know it helped me grow in ways I will forever be grateful.

At the beginning of the year, as many of you know, I started a journey to begin taking my health more seriously – to get my life in gear as I prepared to start my career as a member of the U.S. Army. Taking my health into my own hands and hiring Amy Updike as my trainer will forever be the catapult I needed. I managed to not only inspire myself but those around me. Taking my physical fitness from a 19:30 2 mile to a 15:50 2 mile, 21 push-ups to 45, 78 sit-ups to 91, running 2 half-marathons, hiking numerous mountains in Korea, hiking adventure falls in the Philippines, and running a total of 218.5 miles in one year. I spent a large part of the year over tracking macros, watching the scale like my life depended on it and not mentally healthy. I am happy to say that taking a step back the last 3 months of the year has helped me look at a fit lifestyle with a much healthier perspective and I have slowly started getting back into my training. I am incredibly excited to see where 2017 takes me as I continue to push to be faster and stronger. Sadly, there will be no more half-marathons in my future as I have learned that my IT band will never be strong enough to maintain that endurance but I will be finding ways to push myself in other capacities. Last year I had set the goal for myself to run 400 miles in one year – as you can see I fell short – so this year I set the same aspiration.

I also took my spiritual journey into my own hands. Being spiritually fit was something that was a part of my household growing up. I was fortunate enough to spend my childhood in a private Christian school and at church on Sundays. Like anyone who walks the journey of faith, I have had my years of question and doubt but last year I aimed to grow closer to God after a life changing sermon at The Square in Atlanta that a dear friend took me to hear. I set a high ambition of reading the entire Bible in one year (Thank you, Amanda for telling me from the beginning to take it slow because of you I spent more time focused on the scripture than the goal of finishing.) I completed reading: Genesis, Leviticus, Job, Ecclesiastes, Jonah, Acts, 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Titus. My relationship with God – well, it is one I will always have to work to strengthen but I am so grateful I have been taking the time to do so. This year I will continue to read his word and pray. The power of prayer is one I will never know how to put into words. The greatest peace I find, that I hope others can find too, is knowing He has a greater plan. When anything in my life is changing – for what seems better or worse – I know there is a greater plan. He has walked this year before you and I and already knows what trials and triumphs are ahead. It is up to us to trust Him to bring us through.

In March, I moved across the world to Korea to begin my own journey as a U.S. Army officer but what I didn’t know when I left was that the home I’d come back to would never be the same. I am fortunate enough to come from a very loving and supportive household. The kind of family that will encourage even the wildest dreams, provide you every resource possible to accomplish all goals, unconditional love and an unwavering amount of support. That being said, in 2016 my parents amicably decided to part ways and ended their year in divorce. I’ll be honest, it has been one hell of a tough pill to swallow. Knowing your family life of 23 years will never be the same. When things change without you there – well, I just don’t know how to explain it outside of ‘it sucks’. I knew coming to Korea my year would be different. I knew Christmas would be without my family because I was moving away. Now I am having to try and grasp the concept of what does Christmas look like as an Adult Child of Divorce (we even have an acronym…I am now a member of the ACODs). Adjusting to two separate homes – to mom’s life and dad’s life – not just my parent’s life. Harder than that has been knowing my sister was home, handling this with me thousands of miles away. Knowing my parents are adjusting to life apart, 2017 will be a year of new. New homes, new cars, new holiday traditions, new ways of communication, etc. Quite frankly, it scares me. I am not sure I am ready for so much new when it comes to something that was so incredibly dependable my entire life. But mom and dad, I know you are reading this, so I hope you know – Clara and I are with you 100% for whatever new is ahead this year and we will all find new ways to be happy and a new normal for us.

2016 brought with it lessons in leadership as I have begun shaping the kind of leader I want to be. It brought cultural development as I had the opportunity to not only live in  Korea but travel to Japan, Hong Kong, Jeju Island, the Philippines and Australia. It brought many great memories as I spent a week snowed in at Brockport, flew home for Clara’s high school graduation and Kelby & Annie’s wedding, hosted my mom and sister here in Korea for a week, made a vast number of new friends from all around the world and celebrated New Years on the Sydney Harbor with my sister (something I had vowed to do when I started 2016). I read more, I drank more, I laughed more, I danced more, I spent time with ME more. I also cried more, ran more, slept more, spent more and hurt more. With good comes bad, but with bad always comes good. I have always vowed to find a silver lining and I trust that there is always something better around the corner. I said goodbye to some people who changed my life last year – and while I will forever be grateful for the impact they had on my life and shaping the woman I have grown into over the last 365 days – I knew they weren’t meant to be a part of my life forever. I also welcomed in some people who had been absent from my life for a very long time. While those wounds will take time to heal, I am grateful to have those doors open and look forward to what this year has in store for building those relationships back up. I welcomed new people into my life that I have had the pleasure of traveling with, laughing with, and quite frankly just make my life so much better – thanks, guys. I look forward to carrying you into this year with me and the adventures we have ahead. You have become my family here and for that I will always owe you one.

Thank you to each family member and friend who provided words of support, encouragement and love over the last year as I endured not only great happiness but great sadness. For taking the time to adjust to the time difference but still spend 2 hours a week on the phone with me. For the Skype dates and the hand written letters. To continually tagging me in new travel adventures and text messages at 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. For being so incredibly understanding that my journey here in Korea will last a little longer. For always including me even though I am thousands of miles away. I will never know how I got so lucky to have all of you back home cheering me on, but it does not go unnoticed and I could not be who I am or do what I do without each and everyone of you. 2016 would not have been the year it was without you. I don’t know if I would have made it out on the other end – so THANK YOU.

To 2017, I am coming for you. I will be running 400 miles, reading 2 books a month, continuing to grow my relationship with God, watching the sunrise from the Great Wall of China, standing in my Little’s wedding, welcoming the birth of Sarah and Trevor’s first born, starting a new job as a Division Public Affairs Officer, getting promoted, and moving out of Korea.

Happy new year friends. May your year be full of challenges, life changing moments, growth and great happiness.



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