Monday, December 31, 2012

2012, What a year it has been.

I just wrote about how time goes by so fast now... how it can't have been a year since the last time I watched the ball drop... but that was a year ago. It seems to literally defy logic. How on earth has an entire year gone by since I wrote to you about the end of 2011?! Time is the most confusing thing in the whole world. How can it seem to go by so slow, yet so fast at the same time? It's an amazing, beautiful, wonderful thing, a year. Let's look back and see what all has happened.

2012, a year of struggles.
Most recently, our hearts broke as the news delivered the message to us that 27 people were killed in the small town of Newtown, CT as a gunman entered into an elementary school. He killed 20 children... children who will not be here to see 2013 as we will. He also killed 6 teachers, as well as his own mother. There was a gunman who entered a movie during a premier of a Batman movie that shot and killed several. In January, a suicide bomber killed 53 people in Iraq. A 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit the Philippines. A rush of tornadoes in America killed many, and took everything from many more. A cruise ship in Italy ran aground and killed many. There were terrorist attacks, military massacres, and accidents that killed thousands all around the world. Natural disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, devastated many areas of the country and the world. The world fought, lost many, and suffered many wounds. And lost the production of twinkies. It's a sad day when twinkies exist no more.

2012, a year of advancement.
An Austrian skydiver broke the sound barrier without machine assistance for the first time ever. Apple grossed over 600 billion, making them the largest electronic provider in the world. Queen Elizabeth celebrated her 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne, making her only the second to ever achieve this. We all survived the end of the world, which was to take place on December 21. London hosted the Summer Olympics. The US survived an election year. Gas prices finally began to fall. Tokyo skytree, which is the tallest self-supporting building in the world, opened to the public. The Mars Rover, Curiosity, landed on Mars. Facebook turned eight. New medications, new technology, and so much more! We're so much farther than we were at this time 365 days ago!!

2012, a year of goodbyes.
The world lost many a good person this year, most of which will not be recognized. But there are some that were known and loved by many. People such as Andy Griffith, a beloved actor famous for the town of Mayberry. Etta James, the singer of the blues song 'At Last', left us. Joe Paterno, head of the Penn State football team, lost his battle with cancer. Whitney Houston, the singer whose voice the world fell in love with. The man who should be speaking to us right now about our new year, the face of rockin' new years eve, Dick Clark, left the world. This year just isn't the same without him. Famous artist, Thomas Kincaid. Singer and Guitarist, Doc Watson. Donna Summer, disco singer. Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.

2012, a year of milestones.
Life changes. Things we take for granted are revoked, and life doesn't ever stay the same. Things change, friends leave, and life doesn't stop for anyone. This year, the SOPA movement became the largest internet protest of all time. The Giants won the world series, and we had a whole new group of Olympic medalists. Yet again I mention that Twinkies are no longer being produced. The Lion King officially beat out the Phantom of the Opera as the most successful Broadway play of all time. There were meteor showers, equinoxes, and 365 sunrises and sunsets. 365 days full of weddings, anniversaries, births, deaths, and so much more. 365 days, all done.

2012, a year of experiences.
What a year. Talk about changes! I graduated from high school. I danced in my senior dance recital, a goal I had been shooting for since I was four years old. I played in my last ensemble concert as a high school band student. I walked a stage, got a diploma, and left my years of public schooling behind. I turned 18. I grew into being a member of the most amazing adopted family I've ever gained, my HG family. I celebrated becoming 5 years cancer free. I decided on a place to spend the next four years, and I completed my first semester as a college student. I met my wonderful roommate and hall mates, and I gained yet another family within my Trumpet section of the marching mountaineers. I loved and I lost, I laughed and I cried. I struggled what I definitely consider one of the hardest times in my life. There were many days when I didn't want to go on, when I didn't think I could go on. But I had an amazing support system come up behind me. I had the most wonderful group of people a girl could ask for hold my hand, and not walk away when I definitely deserved to be walked out on. I am beyond grateful for all the amazing people in my life. I wouldn't be here without all of you!! I haven't had a soda since Ash Wednesday, and I've lost 22 pounds and 3 pants sizes. I fell back in love with literature and read a dozen books, and fell in love with them all. I've learned that forgiveness is for yourself. I've learned that love is for others, and is to be given in great amounts.

2013, a year of opportunity.
Can you believe it? It's finally here. 2013. To some, this is bittersweet as they leave a past behind that they didn't necessarily want to stop holding on to. To others, this new year brings a thrill of hope. I am one of the latter. A new year, a fresh start. I've never craved a fresh start as much as I have this year. This is a chance for me to start over, and to live the life I'm proud to live. It's a chance for me to be happy. Truly, and honestly, happy. I get to decide who I want to be, and where I want to go from here. 365 days. Days unstained and unfilled. Days where we decide what happens next. Days to live a life you're proud of, and if you're not, days to find the courage to start all over. Days to make changes, move forward, and live. Resolutions? Yes, I do have a few. I want to love, against all odds. I want to hope, especially when things seem hopeless. I want to laugh more. I want to be fully present in the moment. I want to forgive. I want to wish on more stars. I want to experience new things. I want to grow into myself. I want to dance more often, and sing at the top of my lungs. I want to take more pictures of everyday moments. I want to make each day count. I want to discover more about myself, and more about this world in which we live. I want to live as a healthier me, so that I can experience the world longer. I want to read more, and spend more time in real conversation. I want to be real with the world. I want to live.

So here's to 2012. Here's to the laughs, the tears, the hugs, the hurts, the hopes, and the days. Here's to the friendships formed, and the loves we lost. Here's to the heartache. Here's to the lessons learned, and the hands that helped to carry us through. Here's to an amazing 365 days. Here's to moving forward, learning new things, and becoming new people. Here's to chasing our dreams. Here's to us.

To infinity and beyond!

Love,
Sarah

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Just a 2012 Survey (:

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

I did many things this year that I'd never done before. I said goodbyes to people I had known for as long as I could remember. I lived on my own for a few months. I set goals and I achieved them. It was a lovely year.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't keep all of them. I kept several, though, and for that I am proud. But I will definitely be setting new goals for myself. I am facing 2013 with a new outlook on life, and I'm excited to get going!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Eh. No one that was super close to me, no. But I had some acquaintances who delivered beautiful lives into the world!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, and for that I am more than thankful.

5. What countries did you visit?

I stayed in the good ol' USA! Though, sometimes, Boone can feel like another country!

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

I'd like to really fall in love with life, and be more content with myself. I want to live more in the moment, and spend less time trying to plan everything out.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 22- HG Family surprised me and covered me with love!
February 23- I reached 5 years cancer free!
March 21- Decided to attend ASU!
May 7- Senior Prom!
June 9- Graduation day!
June 17- 18th birthday!
August 12- moved into college!
October 30- First Boone Snow!
November 6- I voted in my first ever election!
December 14- Last day of my first semester of college!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I think for this, I would have to say that my biggest achievement was surviving. Life flipped itself upside down for me this year, and there were so many days when I really didn't know if I would live to see 2013. But here I am, and I couldn't be more thankful for those who helped me get here.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I didn't love as much as I should have. I spent a lot of time selfishly this year, and next year I want to spend more time investing in others and less time focusing on myself.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing major! Which, if you know me at all, you know how big of a deal that is!!!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My art supplies. I discovered a new found love for art that I didn't know I had and I'm so thankful to have that outlet now!!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Those that stuck it out with me. The people who knew me in the middle of the hardest time of my life, and helped me through it. Those people who didn't give up on me when I deserved to be left completely alone. They know who they are. Those people who stood beside me when a lot of the world left. I will never be able to repay you for how thankful I am.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled?

Sadly, several people. But it was a good reminder that we are human. And that people will let you down. You just have to choose which relationships are worth mending and which ones aren't. And there were several that I had to cut this year, but I'm a better person for it.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Appalachian State University.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Graduating High School. My last dance recital. The day they told me that Nana was coming home from the hospital. Meeting my roommate. Keeping my 4.0. Getting hired to teach group fitness next semester. My surprise love-feast at HG. Coming back to visit HG after being gone to Boone. Getting my whole Thanksgiving. My first Boone snow day. And a lot more (: I'm easily excitable. Haha!

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

SO cheesy. But Tattoos on this town (:

17. Compared to this time last year, are you (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

(a) I'm not sure. I think, about the same. But definitely a lot less apprehensive at the year to come!
(b) THINNER! I have worked so hard this year to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and I am SO proud of myself for achieving my goal. I am going to kick off the new year right with a few more goals that relate to my fitness!
(c) About the same. Haha college kids aren't known for their copious amounts of money!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Lived in the moment. Spent time with people who mean the world to me. Laughed.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Worry. Try to plan out so many things. Experience life from the sidelines.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With those that mean the most gathered in our home!

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

I did. With so many things and people. I fell in love with a full life.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

I love gLee. But I also love New Girl, The Mindy Project, Ben and Kate, and SYTYCD.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't this time last year?

Nah. Hate is overrated. Forgiveness is for you.

24. What was the best book you read?

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Go read it right now if you haven't.
(I also read Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, Will Grayson Will Grayson, Let it Snow, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Along for the Ride, And Harry Potter books 1-4. I recommend ALL of them!)

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Ed Sheeran.

26. What did you want and get?

Someone to care about me, and accept me, flaws and all. I got some wonderful sisters who do just that. They know who they are too.

27. What did you want and not get?

A forever love. But I'm ultimately glad that I didn't get it. Because I now realize that I don't even want that! I'm excited at the prospect of beginning life on my own!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Somewhere between Brave and Joyful Noise.

29. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Hickory Girls Fitness. Through them, I gained a positive self image, a family that is irreplaceable, and a healthier life, both physically and mentally. Without them, I wouldn't be entering 2013.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

You Are Lucky That I'm Not In My Pajamas.

31. What kept you sane?

HG. My friends. My family.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most.

Ed Sheeran.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

It was an Election year, so what didn't stir me?! Mostly, the fact that our economy is terrible and my chances of finding a job in a few years are not so great if we don't fix it, yet we continue to make gay rights the topic of our debates.

34. Who did you miss?

The list could go on for days. The thing is that once you are a part of my life, you will always be, and a part of me will always hope you are doing well, and miss you being here.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

That things change, friends leave, and life doesn't stop for anybody. That you don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do get a say in who hurts you, and I like my choices. That it hurts because it mattered. That you're never, ever, alone.

36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Only rainbows after rain, the sun will always shine again, and it's a circle circling around again, it comes around again. & you gotta keep your head up, and you can let your hair down. You gotta keep your head up, and you can let your hair down. I know it's hard, I know it's hard to remember sometimes, but you gotta keep your head up, and you can let your hair down ♥


Love,
Sarah

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Greatest Gift is Knowing You.

It's Christmas Eve!

Ultimately, Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. Nothing in the world beats a day where you get to hold your family a little tighter, embrace the anxious anticipation of tomorrow, and experience the magic of today.

I've spent a lot of time reflecting today. And as I look at the gifts I still have to wrap (I know... waiting until the last second... oops?) I realize even more this year that, though these gifts are wonderful ways of showing love to others, the greatest gift that I have is the people that these gifts are going to. As I wrap gifts, I think of the people that they are going to and my heart is full. I have so many amazing people in my life. I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams to live the life that I do.

I wanted to take a few moments on this special day to say thank you to some very special people. There are SO many more that have blessed me, but there are some very specific 'thank-you's' that I feel I need to say. So, read if you wish, but you don't have to. This is more for me than anything (; I hope you and yours have a very, very, VERY Merry Christmas! ♥

1. Mom- I just want to say thanks. I know I don't say it nearly enough, especially now that I'm not living here all the time. You are one of the most amazing human beings I have ever been lucky enough to know, and I got the best deal in the world when God decided that I could have you as my Mom. You never cease to amaze me. In the face of great difficulty, you continue to smile. You love kids with an endless love, whether they appreciate and reciprocate it or not. I hope that I can be half the teacher you are some day. Thanks for standing by me during the tough times, and for loving me unconditionally. You are my rock. I love you more than I could ever explain.

2. Dad- I also want to say thank you. Thank you for providing Emma and I with an example of how to live our lives with determination and dedication. Thank you for teaching me how to be someone that gets along with other people, and is genuinely concerned about people. You have done amazing things for Hickory and Forest City this year especially, and not enough people thank you for that. Delivering your Christmas presents to your clients and hearing so many people with such admiration for you was an amazing thing. I hope that some day I can impact the world like you have. Thanks for loving me, especially when I'm hard to love. And thanks for not hating me too much when I got my nose pierced. (; I love you so much. You are the best daddy in the whole world.

3. Emma- You are, hands down, one of the coolest people on the planet. I know that we've had our differences and that I probably get on your nerves as much as you get on mine sometimes, but I love you infinitely. It's so much fun to have someone to share life with, and I got lucky enough to have you. Thanks for sticking with me through the rough patches, and for understanding in a way that no one else can sometimes. Thanks for being you, and for growing and facing the world fearlessly. You make me so proud. Keep on taking the world by storm, because you have amazing things in store for you.

4. My Grandmothers- Thank you for living your lives as such an amazing example. You both are people that I strive to become one day. The way you love endlessly and unconditionally, and the way you continue to smile, even when it gets difficult. I am the luckiest granddaughter in the whole world. Please never ever forget how much I love you.

5. My aunts, uncles, cousins- I am so lucky to have the extended family that I do. When I think about all of you, and how you all make time each and every year to all get together... it's so amazing. Not many families get to get together as often as we do as a whole. You all are amazing people, and it is such an honor to be related to every single one of you. To the family that we have gained via marriage, this applies to you, too. Thanks for loving me all these years, and for continuing to invest in me. I know it will get harder to get all of us together as we continue to grow older, but please know that I love you dearly.

6. Sarah Nicole- You are my second sister. I love you with more love than should be allowed. You always, always give the best advice, and I wouldn't be here without you. This year has shown me that we can make it through literally everything, as long as we face it together. We live three hours apart, yet we still manage to keep up the best friendship that I've ever known. You mean more to me than I could ever describe to you. But I don't even have to, because you understand. Thanks for loving me in spite of me. That's a big deal. Thanks for showing me God when I find Him hard to see and hear. I can't even find the right words, but just... thanks.

7. My Hickory Girls Fitness Family- We've been through it this year, haven't we? But here we stand, strong and united, facing the world head on. Thank you for motivating me to become a healthier person, both physically and personally. You are all my family, and I can't imagine facing the world without you all. Thanks for always welcoming me back home. You guys are home for me. You really and truly are my family. Special thanks to Courtney Sajben, Sarah Gates, Tasha Caulder, Lauren Whitener, Eddie Farley, Whitney Ashbrook, Jesus Vasquez, Nikki Bitsche, Angie Merrill, and Ronda Queen. I love you all so, so, SO much.

8. My Gann Family- Ginni Beth, I love you SO much. You are an amazing twin. It amazes me that I've only known you for a short time, yet we are so close. I hope that never changes. You are an amazing person, and I am beyond lucky to be able to know you. I can't wait for some awesome twin time coming up! Momma Gann- thanks for loving me as your own, and for also including me in your school family. It means so much to me to know that I have you! My little siblings, and Daddy Gann- I love you guys so much! Thanks for welcoming me with open arms whenever I am home, and for loving me as part of the family! I can't wait to see you soon!

9. Calah- You've been there when a lot of people walked away. And I've never been able to properly thank you. You understand me in ways a lot of people wouldn't. I am SO stinking excited to have you in Boone next semester. You are going to be amazing, and I can't wait to experience it with you!! I love you so much!!

10. Kori Simmons- I can't believe that I've only known you since August. Remember those first few days, and how scared we were? Now I can't even imagine life any other way. You are the best roommate a girl could ask for. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for being you. We fit so well together with our laziness and late nights and crazy antics. You have made college a blast so far. I'm so excited that we have four years together!

11. My hall mates- Thanks to all of you for welcoming Kori and I into the family. You guys have helped make our freshman year amazing. We can't lose touch, okay? I'm so excited to get back to Boone to spend time with you all again. I love you so much!

12. Josh & Jenna, and Jaime- Thank you. Thank you for loving me when I was unlovable. Thank you for not giving up on me, even though I deserved to be walked away from. Thank you for loving me like Jesus does, because I definitely don't deserve it.

13. Christi, Bell, and Courtney- Thanks for being my sisters, and for always loving me. I am beyond lucky to have such amazing girls in my life, and I love you with my whole heart. Thanks for investing in me and never giving up on me. I love you so, so very much.

14. My Marching Mountaineer Trumpets- You guys made this semester a blast. From day one of band camp, I knew I had chosen the right place. You are my family, and you helped me through a lot of rough patches this year. You are beyond special to me. I can't wait to march in our last hoo-rah!

15. Kendra- Thank you for being there. Even though I haven't physically been beside you in over a year, you are always there for me. I love keeping up with you on your blog and your sweet family. Having you back in the same state as me thrills my soul. I can't wait to see you face to face again, dear one! I hope that I can grow into half the person you are one day. I love you so much!!

16. My Titus family- Thanks for adopting me, all the way from PA. Having you in my life has been one of the best gifts this year. I love you so much, and I can't believe I haven't known you that long. I can't wait to see where life takes us, and I cannot wait to see you again. Come back to Hickory soon!!

17. My Amigos- Thanks for always greeting me with the biggest, best hugs and smiles ever. Thanks for letting me hang out with you guys and for writing me fun letters. I love you guys, and you are some of my favorite kids in the whole world!

18. My girls from last year- I miss you all and I know you are rocking out middle school! I am so proud of each and every one of you and I am so thankful for the joy you bring into my life. I love you!!

19. Mr. Neely- Thanks for teaching me more about life than just about anyone. The lessons I've learned from you are ones that I will carry into the world with me. You've taught me how to live life abundantly, and how to be the best self that I can be. I hope that one day I can impact my students in much the same way that you have impacted me. I can't imagine life without you. I love you dearly!

20. To those that I've loved throughout this year- I've loved and lost many, be it through death or just circumstance. I want to thank you. Thank you for the lessons, for the laughs, and for the life shared. Thank you for the time you've invested in me. I want you to know that I appreciate you. That you mean more to me than you probably even know. And that I hope you are doing well, wherever you are in this journey. To those spending Jesus's birthday by his side... I hope it is the most magnificent thing you've ever experienced. I cannot wait to see you again some day. Thank you for making me the person that I am!

Merry Christmas, to my greatest gifts in the whole world ♥

Love,
Sarah

Saturday, December 15, 2012

12.15.12

Lessons I am Learning:

1. Things change, friends leave, and life doesn't stop for anybody.

2. We accept the love we think we deserve.

3. You don't need the whole world to love you. You really just need one person. And that person is yourself.

4. Other people will let you down. They will hurt you and mistreat you and make you sad. Love anyway.

5. Don't give up on people. Ever. Miracles happen all the time.

6. I'm hard to love, no I don't make it easy.

7. Books are the best friends in the whole world. They always love you back.

8. I don't associate with people who blame the world for their problems. Because you're your problem. And you're also your solution.

9. And what may seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may, in fact, be the first steps of a journey.

10. Family can be acquired. Family are the people that don't walk out on you, especially when it would be easy to. Family are the people that don't give up.

More later ♥

Sunday, December 2, 2012

12.02.12

So, I watched It's a Wonderful Life last night. Such an amazing movie. It was even more amazing to me this year, really, because for the first time I could truly relate to George Bailey.

I've gotten to that all-time low. Especially recently.

You see, I've been dealing with some pretty serious depression, and as of late, anxiety. And it's scary.

I'm not telling you this as a pity party, or for you to worry/feel sorry for me. Just to make a point that this movie is a perfect representation of why I'm still here. It's not my doing, that's for sure. If it were purely up to me, I would have ended it a long time ago. Taken the easy way away from the pain of it all. But I wasn't alone. I've got a community that loves me. My family, and my friends. But best of all? I've got a God that loves me. Unconditionally and fully. And he has never, ever given up on me. Even when I deserved it. And He blesses me, right in the middle of my mess. He's given me a support system that didn't walk away when I thought they all would. He's also given me hope. And there's little that can take the place of hope.

It's a Wonderful Life really reminded me that I have a reason to be here. Even when I don't see it, the world would be a little different if I wasn't here. And that's important for people to know. The world wouldn't be the same without you.

Really, I am just rambling. But I wanted to give whoever may read this a little bit of the hope that I've gained recently. You really are never alone. There are always people that love you that want to be there for you and help you when you need them. And if you don't think anyone does, come ask me. I care, and I'm here. Always. I don't care who you are. I'm here for you.

Long story short, don't give up. It gets better. And you should be here to see it.

Love,
Sarah