a look back, a look forward

What a year 2016 was. I have so many mixed feelings about it, because it was really a total roller coaster. It was also, however, one of the best years of my life on a personal level. I've heard/thought enough doom & gloom about 2016 to last an eternity, and I'm ready to appreciate the good parts in order to start 2017 off on a good note. I've got a couple resolutions for 2017, but mostly I want to just keep doing more of what I've been doing.

I traveled all over the US and across the pond to spend time with friends & family. I watched my youngest sister graduate. I got to attend FIVE weddings, celebrating friends from grade school, high school, college, and afterwards. 2016 included my first vacation with my boyfriend, and then we went on a couple more trips for good measure. I visited some great friends, and some friends visited Chicago too! I saw Hamilton from amazing seats with great company. I ran my first ever half-marathon. I made new friends and rekindled old friendships too. 

Some of my 2017 resolutions:

  • Read 20 books (up from 17 in 2016)

  • Run a half-marathon in under 2 hours - I was close this past year, but an injury made the last couple miles a struggle

  • Work out 4-5x per week

  • Volunteer 2x per month

  • Update this horribly neglected blog at least a couple times per month

  • Learn something new - maybe finally take a real swing at learning French?

I also will be spending 2017 livin' large & getting into trouble in honor of my Uncle Kevin, who passed away suddenly late this year. He was one of the coolest guys around, and had a laugh that filled the room. We miss him immensely.

I also will be spending 2017 livin' large & getting into trouble in honor of my Uncle Kevin, who passed away suddenly late this year. He was one of the coolest guys around, and had a laugh that filled the room. We miss him immensely.


a chicago summer

So I've been trying (and mostly failing) to write a blog for years. I guess this is the newest attempt? I've had an awesome 2015 so far and I'd really like to document it - plus I feel like writing a blog will encourage me to find interesting things to do (particularly in the winter) instead of just sitting at home and playing video games. Can you tell I feel awkward writing this? I feel awkward writing this.

It's officially fall and yes, it's cliche to say this, but I can't even believe the summer is over. After a really awful summer last year, this was the best one I've had in ages. Here's a quick recap of all the awesome stuff I did. Sorry for bragging. I'm lazy so I mostly used pictures from my Instagram but I'll try not to do that in the future.

Hockey playoffs with the best possible result. The Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons, and for the first time ever I got to go to a playoff game thanks to some work connections.  Actually, I got to go to two games - #spoiled - and they won both games. Clearly, I am good luck.

I saw a couple of great shows, including Riot Fest. First up, a concert at the Palmer House that was part of an event called Hilton@Play. I got invited through work (I work in hospitality) and if it's free and there's food I will BE THERE. It was actually supposed to be a Meghan Trainor show, but she got sick and canceled and frankly I'm glad because I'm not a huge fan. The replacements were Sydney Sierota (who is the lead singer of a band called Echosmith) and Andy Grammer, who I knew because of that one catchy radio tune. Sydney did an acoustic set which was very pretty but not really my thing, but Andy Grammer was really fun - very energetic and upbeat, poppy stuff.

Then, just a couple weeks ago, a friend had an extra ticket for RATATAT at the Riviera in Uptown.  This show was fantastic! I haven't really listened to RATATAT much since high school but since there aren't lyrics, all you really need to do to enjoy yourself is dance your ass off (which I did, despite the venue being about 1 million degrees even though it was September).

I think this year was my favorite Riot Fest ever, and I haven't missed one since I moved back to Chicago in 2010. It wasn't the best lineup I've ever seen, and the weather could have been better (nothing will top the first year they had it in Humboldt Park, which was glorious), but for the first time I had a big group of friends going AND I actually got to see Motorhead! It was a festival so I saw a lot of bands but my highlights were: Eagles of Death Metal, Motorhead (of course), Billy Idol, Iggy Pop, and the Prodigy.

I chopped off all of my hair and started focusing on my own happiness.  Those two things have nothing to do with each other, but they both felt very freeing. I had been spending a lot of time worrying about making other people happy, and it was fantastic to start worrying only about myself. And as an unexpected bonus, prioritizing myself meant that I had time to reconnect with old friends AND make new ones. I also got to spend a lot of time with my family and hang out with my brother and sister before they went back to school.

I got to travel... a LOT. I had not been on a real vacation since 2011, and then this year I went crazy. There was a long weekend in Seattle in March (I guess that's technically not summer but who cares). Then I went to Europe for three weeks in April. Wrapped it up with almost two weeks in Hawaii in August. I'll make separate posts about those though - way too much to share to include them in this recap!