One of my favorite ways to end a year is to remind myself of all the things that made that year great. I’ll be honest, 2016 has been a rough one for me, both personally and because of what is happening around the world. It leaves me feeling conflicted. How can I be unhappy in my own life when so many others have it worse? Does that make my own issues less significant? Because they still feel significant to me.

But instead of dwelling on that, I want to focus on what went right. This list seems to be shorter than normal, but I believe it’s still important that no matter how bleak things look, to remember the good stuff that happened. Because if you can find the good things in the middle of the bad, life will look a whole lot better. So without further ado, here is what made my 2016 rock.

Oregon coast with Adrienne – Californian beaches may have sunshine, but in the Pacific Northwest, we prefer our beaches in the winter. There’s nothing quite like watching a storm roll in over crashing waves while snuggled under a blanket with a good book. Throw in some German potatoes from the Otis Cafe and beer from the Pelican Pub, and you just might have my perfect day. The beginning of the year was especially hard for me, so this long weekend break on the Oregon coast was exactly what I needed.

Iceland’s Winter Wonderland – 

I’d been wanting to go to Iceland for a long time, and this year I finally made it happen. From the Blue Lagoon, the Golden Circle and down to the South Shore, we crammed a lot in to our 5 days. My friend Emma and I signed up for a tour through Iceland Air, and while it was a decent deal, next time I’ll definitely be going on my own. Because I’ll definitely be going back as soon as I can.

Visiting Jenny in La La Land – 

It’s been a long time, somewhere around 16 years, since I was last in Los Angeles. But when my friend Jenny moved there earlier this year, I had the perfect excuse to change that. We spent a day driving up the coast to Malibu, checking out beaches and boardwalks. It was the perfect winter escape, and I’m hoping to go back again this year!

Traveling to Singapore for work – 

While the Singapore audit at work was a low point for me this year, the trip itself was definitely a high. I spent seven days in this vibrant city, five of which were working. But the other two, and all evenings, were spent exploring everything Singapore had to offer. From the incredibly clean city itself, to the Southern Ridges walk, and all the amazing food you can possibly eat, Singapore is an excellent place to spend a few days.

Meeting and climbing Mt Rainier with Dave Hahn (even though I didn’t make it) – 

Another low and high, all in one experience. At least with this one, the low of not making it to the summit of Mt Rainier was definitely offset by meeting Dave Hahn. Such an inspirational person. But I also don’t want to leave out our other guide, Leah. She was so encouraging in pushing me to go further, so uplifting after I had to turn around. She may not have the credentials Dave has, but she definitely made my experience so much better.

Discovering Eagle Falls swimming hole – 

I’ve lived in western Washington my entire life and I can’t believe I never knew about this place before. I must have driven past it a thousand times, never realizing it was there. After a month of ridiculously hot weather, Adrienne and I found ourselves longing for a cool weekend activity. While very crowded, Eagle Falls was otherwise perfect. The water comes straight down from the mountains, meaning it’s icy cold. But that makes it even more perfect on a hot day. It’s also a popular place for rock jumping and rope swings. Next time I might even give them a go.

SCUBA diving Roatan – 

Ahhhh diving. I do so love you. I wish I had the opportunity to dive more than once a year. At least this year, I made the most of it with 10 dives in one week. When my friends Shawn and Danyeal decided to have their wedding on the beach in Roatan, I was so honored they invited me. We spent a week hanging out with friends, enjoying all the island has to offer. And I must admit, the reefs here are incredible. Such color, such variety of life! If you ever get a chance, I’d definitely recommend giving the diving here a shot.

Backpacking through El Salvador – 

It’s been a very long time since I’ve done the backpackers thing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve shifted towards the convenience and comfort of hotels and packing a suitcase. But in an effort to keep things cheap, Emma and I decided to backpack El Salvador, staying primarily in hostels. And let me tell you, it took me back. I had all sorts of nostalgic flashbacks of backpacking through Europe in college, and the friendly atmosphere of being around like-minded travels, planning your next route in the evenings at the hostel. I’m ready for my round the world trip now!

The Seattle Sounders winning the MLS Cup – 

Born in 1974, the Sounders are one of Seattle’s oldest sports teams. They entered the MLS in 2009 and while they’ve gotten to the playoffs every year since, even winning the Supporter’s Shield, they’ve never won the MLS Cup…until now! And if anyone ever says American’s don’t like soccer, I’d say head to the Pacific Northwest. It’s as big of a deal there as it is anywhere in the world.

I write this post as I wait for my flight to Havana, Cuba – something I’m sure will be the final highlight of 2016 for me. I’m so grateful to even be able to go that that alone is incredible. By ending 2016 in another country and starting the new year there, I’m hoping to set the tone for a much better 2017. Cheers everyone!

2017 New Year's Resolutions
Hola Cuba!