Year in Review

2013 can suck it.

That's not generally how I would start a blog post, but this year has been really hard. I'm very grateful for all that it has taught me. The courage it has given me. The resilience I have learned from it. The love that I have received within it. But seriously, I'm happy that this one will be going down in the history book of life in a few hours.

Instead of wallowing in the crap that was 2013 or drowning my sorrows in eggnog, I figured it would be nice to look back on the (few) highlights of this year. Here are my favorite moments from this year in (sort of) chronological order:

Red Hair, Don't Care
I change my hair often, yall know that. But this was probably my favorite hair change this year.

Mentee Graduation
My first group of mentees from my fellowship on campus graduated. I cried, laughed, & toasted their achievements. I'm so proud of them!

Miami won the championship. No further explanation needed. #WhoMad? #TeamHEAT

Photo Shoots
This was the year of photo shoots. These are some of my favorite shots:


Friends Visiting
I was so excited to see some familiar faces from home this year. Catrina, Gavin, & Lacey, thank you so much for making my heart smile :)

Encounters & Crossings
This has been my favorite blog post to date. It really was a reflective moment into my life. I did some serious soul-searching. I feel like I traveled a journey from the little girl on the left to that grown woman on the right to understand why I have found myself in the position I'm in today. The best part is that Natalie Zemon Davis (who this was inspired by) actually read my post! She sent me an email & told me that she thought my writing was beautiful. I was absolutely floored. It was such an honor.

I did not expect to be nominated for Vice President, let alone elected. But, I've had a blast. I've gotten close to so many people in my program because of the History Graduate Student Association.

This was my first time on a plane. EVER. It was absolutely exhilarating! I had such an awesome time with the Acosta's. Here are some of my favorite photos from that trip. Thanks Rachel (and baby Naomi!) for showing me around the city & hosting me. Love you so much!

Key & Peele
So...yall already know how much I absolutely adore this show. This year, I did a blog post in honor of them, we participated in their fan remix competition (see the video here), and I even dressed as one of their characters for Halloween. But the real honor has been getting to know them. They really are great guys. I've gotten particularly close to Keegan. We talk pretty often on Twitter and I got the chance to meet him in December. He's just an all-around great person. We had deep conversations, laughed a lot, and he gives some of the best hugs in the world. He also gave me some awesome book suggestions to help me focus on finishing my work. Of course, I'd be the one to meet Keegan & get homework. Go figure. Lol.

A high school dream finally became reality this year. I got to see WICKED and I cried during Defying Gravity. It was amazing. I also saw The Book of Mormon which totally rocked my socks off!

Images & Perceptions, this was an absolutely breathtaking experience. I learned about this diversity conference called "Images & Perceptions" via Facebook and it sounded awesome. I contacted the director, Siham, and asked if she needed volunteers and she seemed excited to have me. 

I had no idea what to expect when I showed up that Friday. I was nervous. I hoped they would like me. I had no idea that by the end of that day, I would have a new family. They welcomed me with open arms. They encouraged me & inspired me. We had awesome conversations, so many laughs, delicious meals. In addition to that, I learned so much about cultures that really aren't prevalent in Arkansas where I grew up. There were so many moments that night that weren't captured on camera (although the photos below are awesome!)...and really, they probably never could be captured. Instead, there was a moment when we were sitting around Saira's sister's living room, cozily chatting & laughing out loud on the various couches & chairs, sipping warm coffee, relaxing after a long, yet wonderful day...I remember looking around & then closing my eyes for a second. I wanted to freeze that moment in time. Take a mental snapshot of the beauty that surrounded me. Siham, Saira, Noha, Liz, Doris, Hassane, Bill, Keegan, Trish, Alex, Linda...thank you. Also, special thanks to Henna, JoAnn, Mark & everyone who hosted us with grace & compassion. You may or may not know my current situation, but you loved me through a very rough patch. I truly love you all so much. I'm glad to have family in Detroit now :)  

Despite the trials of 2013, there are many joys to celebrate, as evidenced here. 

Here's hoping 2014 will be much better!

Happy New Year, friends.

With love,
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