Reflecting on 2016 and Welcoming 2017

Lengthy post alert!

💞  As we begin 2017, I’d like to take some time to thoroughly reflect on 2016.

As always, it was filled with ups and downs.

It is easy for many of us to look back and think, “wow. what a dud of a year.”

Socially and politically, it was a pretty crappy year for humanity and for the world as a whole. Our nation has become even more divided and the world seems like a scary and unstable place sometimes.

My health has also been subpar — even more so than usual. I underwent a lipoma extraction surgery, several thyroid biopsies, and minor foot and knee procedures. I also got custom knee and foot braces, and was informed that I’ll likely need a knee replacement, and may possibly also require foot and wrist procedures, too. My RA and OA became worse than ever, my migraines are still hard to control, and I’ve battled a lot of acute illnesses this year. I’ve faced ignorance and insensitive or rude remarks regarding my physical limitations, and nonetheless I get through it. But, I am human and therefore I must admit: it is very hard to live with pain and sickness every day, especially having done so since childhood and only being 33 years old now. I know that it could always be worse, and I am grateful that it’s not … but it becomes more discouraging and difficult the older I get.

My dog Maggie May also is starting to show signs of her age — and her breed — with increased health problems in 2016.

This was also the first full year without my grandfather Bups, which has been a difficult adjustment. It goes without saying that this loss affected me profoundly. It has been hard on me and my family.

In 2016, our kitchen got flooded, someone sideswiped my car, my dad also got in an accident, I lost out on a pharma commercial that I was all but promised, and was *thisclose* to some really cool personal and professional opportunities that just didn’t work out.

…But it wasn’t all bad. Far from it, in fact..

In 2016, I published Chronically Positive and released a second edition of To Exist. We spent a week in Florida and two weeks in Hilton Head. We spent weekends in NYC and in our nation’s capital. I had many a fun weekend up at my family’s camp in Ohio, boating and sitting by the fire and just relaxing & having fun. I visited wineries and went to wine festivals and charity events. We re-did our kitchen, living room, and dining room.

Mike and I sat front row at the Bush concert and I was basically serenaded by Gavin Rossdale. We also went to the Pitt-Penn State game plus other sporting events. My mom and I saw Carrie Underwood in concert. Kristen and I had awesome floor seats at the mind-blowingly amazing Beyoncé concert. Lindsay and I saw Jonathan Jackson & E-Nation live and got to meet Jonathan Jackson while we were at it. I attended a cool publishing conference. I hosted a fun LuLaRoe pop-up party and we spent lots of quality time with our loving families and awesomely amazing friends. I especially enjoyed visits with relatives I don’t get to see a lot: my godfather/uncle Rob, cousin Reichen, and grandma Boynes came here in February, my aunt Susan and uncle Tim visited Pgh in the summer, and I got to visit my cousin and built-in BFF Jacquie and her family, as well as my aunt and uncle (Brenda and Mike,) in NC in June. I visited my friend Val (one of two Valeries in my life!) at her lake house and also got to watch her get the dream job she’s been waiting for. I saw many of my friends fulfill career goals (including releasing books and albums…modeling…photography work…and more!) and expand their families with babies of both the human and fur variety. I attended a motivational seminar with my bestie Kristen and got to see her become engaged and continue on building her amazing business and following her dreams. I was also glad to see my longtime friend Nicole get engaged, too!

I had lots of good girl-talks with so many wonderful ladies, and I made new friends, too — including Toyin who even came to Thanksgiving with me.

I was a featured author on Stray Book TV and a guest on KDKA TV’s Pittsburgh Today Live show. I was on two episodes of the No BS Marketing Podcast. I was quoted in Teen Vogue, Arthritis Today magazine, and on the Today Show website. I attended a library event with Pretty Little Liars author Sara Shephard. I was named a Top Woman in Business by Whirl Magazine and was nominated for an Athena Young Professionals award. I wrote for and/or was interviewed by IN Community Magazines, Women’s Health Magazine, Inspiring Lives Magazine, and Holl & Lane Magazine. I was invited to sit on a conference call with President Barack Obama. I saw our First Lady in person and interacted with various celebrities online. I spoke at Penn Hills Library and was part of an author event at the Robinson Township Library. I continued my work with Paws N Claws Eyewear, DJ Bonics, Healthline, and WearWoof. I joined the ACLU and the Lions Club. I took on new projects like helping a new author (Jenevieve Woods,) promote her book, Peach, and I am now also the Director of Patient Engagement for the Autoimmune Registry. I continue to cover events at the Airmall, too.

The year was also good for Mike. He was chosen to be a competitor on American Ninja Warrior. I helped him with his press & publicity before and after this great journey. We traveled to Philadelphia along with family and friends, and watched as Mike made it to the 4th of 6 obstacles at the qualifier (as a rookie!) He placed 32 or 33, and they took the top 30. Many of these people train full-time; some even quit their jobs like they are training for the Olympics. So I couldn’t be prouder of his first performance. Sure, he was disappointed, but he learned a lot and has already submitted his audition video and application for Season 9. NBC also showed a brief snippet of his run on the television show. He made another TV appearance on PCTV-21, and did some interviews on television and radio relating to Ninja Warrior, as well as garnering some good press coverage in magazines and online. Mike also completed his first half marathon, and placed in his age group in several races, beating his personal record more than once. He and his dad, “Big Mike,” rode their bikes from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. in August, over the course of 5 days. And once again, Mike shaved his head to raise money for childhood cancer. He continues to be an amazing 5th-grade teacher and a personal trainer and Kettlebell instructor at Pittsburgh Kettlebell and Performance.

We sat down for a TV interview in NYC with Celebrity Catwalk on MNN (it should air this or next month!) and we both dedicated time to charity and our careers this year. Mike and I are as devoted as ever to our home, our travels, our families, our friends, and our (5!) pets.

It truly was a year of ups and downs. Whether I am literally unable to walk because of my health problems, or I am walking onstage to accept an accolade or do an interview, I couldn’t be happier to have Mike and my family & friends by my side.

(… And the #shuckzoo, too, of course!)

I thank you all for your friendship, love, encouragement, prayers, and support.

In 2017, I hope to be healthier. I trust that God will take my life in whatever direction it is meant to go, and in the meantime, I will strive to live well, be my best me, stay positive, and keep the faith. When you feel that the world around you — or your health — are crumbling, God and family will always help get you through.

Hope is everything, and I head into this new year simply full of just that — hope.

Love and light to you all!! Wishing everyone a blessed, healthy, prosperous new year. 💞

Check out my Year in Review: 2016 Flipagram, here. (Make sure that volume is turned up!)

As we head into the new year, please don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads, plus right here on my website, via my Stay in the Loop Email Newsletter, and my blog. I hope to have lots going on!


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