Despite the many terrible things that happened worldwide this year, for me personally, 2016 was hands down the best year of my life.
The year started in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve in the North West Province of South Africa with my cousins and boyfriend (now fiancé) who was visiting from the USA for 2 months. We spent the last day of 2015 playing with baby lions, touching cheetahs and walking with full size lions at a place called Ukutula Lodge.We rung the New Year in at our campsite while playing drunken tower (drinking Jenga) and drunken bingo (which is just like normal bingo except we were drunk).
2016 was filled with countless incredible moments but here are just 10 of my favourite parts and things I am proud of from 2016:
1. Our trip to the Drakensberg in January. There were three parts to the trip and all so incredible. Spending a few days with our friends Shan and Dean at Drakensberg Sun, a few days with my uncle and cousins at Fairways in Drakensberg Gardens and also a trip up Sani Pass. Some of Adam and my best memories are from that trip and with those special people.
2. Traveling to the USA to see my love in June and saying yes when he popped the question; the most important yes I have ever said. We visited 7 states while I was there which included an awesome week in the Adirondacks with his extended family who I absolutely adore. Another highlight of the trip was definitely going to my first MLB baseball game at the Yankees Stadium in New York.
3. Also while in the USA I got to see my host family and spend quite a bit of time with the children who I au paired for in 2014 and 2015. They are just as much family to me as my own blood relatives and seeing them felt like I was coming home. It was such an emotional and happy moment to be reunited with those children and I miss them everyday.
3. Finishing another year of studies, bringing me closer to the end of my degree. I still have a lot to learn about time management when it comes to studying but some of my best memories are with my friend Carol when we cram-learn days before exams and pull all-nighters to finish assignments hours before they are due. Despite still not being the best student, this year I worked harder than I ever have in school and as always, produced results I can be proud of.
4. Actually going to gym regularly and not letting my gym contract go to waste. Although that schedule is slightly on hold as I am traveling and on leave for a month, I know in 2 weeks I will jump straight back into it. The gym to me is a happy space, endorphins are amazing little things, and it is not only good for my physical health but my mental health too that I am finding my way into the gym almost every day (when not on vacation).
5. I have been in the same job for just over 18 months and I couldn’t be happier with where I am. Although only a part-time job, I am treated like family rather than an employee and it is another happy space for me. I also took on another part-time job in the mornings and although a little more challenging as it starts just after 7 AM and means early mornings, I am grateful for the extra income.
6. Applying for my visa to move to the USA. Although a lot of work and very stressful, it is going well and means Adam and I are on our way to finally being together for good and I can’t wait for that day.
7. Going vegetarian. This was a year of a lot of personal change for me and this is a change I am very proud of. I firstly went vegetarian for my health and have seen nothing but positive changes in my body since doing so. I also did and am still doing lots of research about the effect of our eating habits on the environment. It is something that interests me and something that I hope more people will start to take an interest in.
8. Wedding planning with my mom. We have been on two Marriage Meander journeys which have both been amazing days out with other future brides; visiting venues, meeting trustworthy vendors and tasting lots of incredible food. For any future brides in Durban or Johannesburg, I cannot recommend these journeys enough, they are worth every cent and more.
9. Friends. I am blessed abundantly with the friends I have and wouldn’t trade them for the world. Thank you to everyone who was a friend to me this year, I appreciate you more than you will ever know. I am also proud of the friend I have been this year and I hope I was able to offer support and love to my friends when they needed it.
10. Picking my fiancé up from the airport 3 weeks ago and having him here in South Africa for the second time. I am so grateful we have been able to travel to each other three times this year. I am also proud of us for working and saving hard to make that a reality. I wouldn’t want to spend my birthday or Christmas without him and I am so grateful I didn’t have to. His cousin Katie, who we are very close to, is also here to visit and the past five days having her here has been so much fun.
It is so nice to reflect back on a year with mostly only fond memories and I am hopeful that 2017 will bring nothing but good adventures, people and opportunities into my life and into yours too. I can’t wait to travel my way through 2017 ❤