Countdown to the Best of Amanda’s 2016

The last thing we need right now is another countdown of the terrible things that happened in 2016. At least that’s my reason to focus on the best parts of 2016. When I started thinking of this blog, I anticipated it being “things that happened to me.” But, as I collected my list, I found all my highlights were “things I did.” I am proud of my actions, my agency. This is the Countdown to the Best of Amanda’s 2016.

  1. I did some traveling.

My highlight was going to the City Museum in St. Louis, but the family’s Thanksgiving trip to Tennessee was also amazing. There’s something so peaceful about a vacation where the most pressing items are not missing dinner time, going on a hike, and putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

  1. I upped my cooking game.

From Adventures in Gumbo to sushi and pierogi, I learned a lot about how to cook food. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big fan of ordering pizza, but I can now make a pretty great wine-marinated steak and delicious mussels. The other day, I had to reduce a sauce, and I actually made a great, reduced sauce. It’s the little victories, folks.

  1. I spent more time with plants.

From my ever-growing succulent collection (recently replanted, wish me luck) to walking Bentley at the Lauritzen Botanical Gardens, I definitely upped my nature game. On a side note, the Lauritzen Botanical Gardens is pretty awesome. This year they had a show with glass flowers that they lit at night that was amazing, and, of course, their Christmas display is classic.

  1. I relocated my hardly used blog to my own website.

Sure, a domain name might be a frivolous expense for someone who isn’t monetizing, but to be fair, I was also wasting money on a subscription box for my dog the past six months. Importantly, the blog gave the inspiration to complete my Summer Mix Series. I’ve been making summer mixes since 2006. It seemed that by the end of the summer, every song related to some changes in my life that summer. I wanted to explore that. In the end, I made a great spreadsheet that categorizes how many female lead singers vs. male lead singers I used, which bands I repeated, and other interesting but ultimately useless factoids. It’s also important to me because I’m currently working on completion–finishing those little, unfinished projects, and I completed this big, time consuming one.

  1. I won NaNoWriMo.

This has been on my bucket list for years. Some years I would even intend to start writing, but life always got in the way. This year, I cranked out those 50,000 words. I am not a novelist. I will not be a novelist. This novel will not see the light of day. But I’m proud of myself for completing the goal and having another year where I complete a bucket list item.

  1. I started learning about makeup.

This may be a weird item to include, and to include so high up on the list. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting here in pajamas with my New Years’ Eve face already made up. But it’s exciting to me that I actually have a New Years’ Eve face! I rocked my eye shadow and eyeliner. I have the best lipsticks. I’m not perfect, but I’m loving learning.

  1. I definitely upped my theater game.

This year I became an Opera Omaha subscriber, and I snagged tickets to Hamilton in Chicago. Along with those fabulous and exciting events, I saw the Book of Mormon, Cinderella, and a Cirque du Soleil show. I even managed to expose my dog to some culture at Opera Outdoors, where he ran around the roof of Midtown Condos, terrorizing another puppy.

  1. I got my fill of music, and musical adventures.

I saw a horrible Sir Mix-a-Lot show over the Fourth of July. I danced to Grimes with good friends. I squeezed into an overstuffed hall for They Might Be Giants. I road tripped to see Flight of the Conchords. I loved Esme Patterson, San Fermin, and Grace Potter. I enjoyed Kasey Musgraves and Electric Six. All of Maha was memorable. Most importantly, I will never forget my dad insisting on accompanying me to the Atmosphere concert. (He doesn’t think the Sokol area is safe for a beautiful young lady such as myself.) This was clearly not his style, but I think he actually might’ve liked Brother Ali’s work… or he just likes the novelty of a blind, albino rapper.

  1. I won airline tickets.

I know this list was supposed to be things that I did, not things that happened to me. However, I won business class, international airline tickets. As a joke, I’d written in my Outlook calendar not to forget to attend the American Airlines information session but titled it “Win Airline Tickets.” It’s a good thing I made that joke, because now I’m going to Italy and Greece and Turkey. In fact, almost all of my vacation time will be gone by the middle of the year, and it will be wonderful.

  1. I focused on my friendship connections.

I became especially close to my work family. There’s this really weird thing about my work family—I enjoy hanging out with them all, at work and after work. I enjoy the fish fries, the photo booth and karaoke adventures at Mark’s wedding reception, the dancing at Sara’s wedding, Valeri’s derby party, our many Interlude happy hours, and work lunches, especially the one with the limo. I deepened my connections with friends that I’d let fall to the side for the worst of reasons and with the best of intentions; I had neglected the friends I knew would be there as if no time had passed when I got my life organized again. So I tried to reconnect with them. I also impulse visited the fabulous Kaitlyn in Madison, who always treats me far better than anyone deserves and lets me watch trashy movies with equal gleeful enjoyment of their terribleness.

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