Well, it has been quite a year. I have really enjoyed being 27. After all, it is not every day that you turn three cubed! The last time I was an age cubed was my golden birthday (8), and I will not be an aged cubed again until I am 64!
I turned 28 on Oct. 8, and as I was reflecting on the past year, I wanted to share some of the amazing and fun moments during by three-cubed year. There was laughter and tears, but at the end of the day, it realy is a wonderful life.
1. Climbing my first mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Along the way, I learned a lot about myself, God and teamwork. I did not make it all the way to the summit, but ascending to 16,404 feet is not bad for my first mountain climb!
|The Mt. Kilimanjaro group on our last day.|
2. Travels in Tanzania. I spent three wonderful weeks in Tanzania, assisting the locals with medical and educational mission work. I worked in the New Life Band School, a local birthing clinic and even sat in on two medical workshops.
3. Meeting my student, Onory Godfrey. I have sponsored Onory’s education since August 2013. A future educator, it was good to hear about how hard he is working at his own education.
4. Going on my first safari. I spent two days on safari at Lake Manyara National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. I spotted a baby elephant, giraffes, cape buffalo, lionesses, baboons, various birds, hippos, zebras, wildebeest and even blue-balled monkeys.
5. New friends. My Tanzanian friends taught me about life, friendship and appreciation for the simple things in life. So often I sweat the small things, but the truth is, my life is pretty great. If people spent more time being happy with what they have instead of focusing on what they do not have, the world would be a happier place.
6. Ugly Sweater Run. My sister and her family joined my friends and I at the Ugly Sweater Run last year. For the first time, my dog Artemis was able to run with me. He sported his own ugly sweater and ran by my side. We ran into a couple other dogs wearing the exact same ugly sweater as Artemis, and had a couple “Who Wore It Better?” moments.
7. Shopping for my ugly sweater. My friend Chris Rogers joined me during the Ugly Sweater Run as well. We had a hilarious time shopping for our ugly sweaters at Ragstock in Madison. I could not stop laughing as we browsed the racks looking for the most hideous ugly sweaters we could find.
|Artemis, me and Kaity Klemp at Run, Santa, Run|
8. Run, Santa, Run. I joined team Cole and the Gang for Run, Santa, Run last December. While I always enjoy running with them, I was blown away when I ran into my friend Katie Klemp at the start of the race. I had a little skirt mishap at the start, but caught up to her soon. We finished the race together, two elves in a pod. Artemis again joined me, this time wearing a Santa hat.
9. Losing my apartment and work keys. My New Year’s Day began on a rocky start. And while losing one’s keys for three days may not sound like it belongs on a Best Moments list, finding them using a rented metal detector was pretty bad-ass.
10. Tough Mudder. After three years of wanting to participate, I finally completed Tough Mudder Wisconsin on Sept. 7, 2014. I survived Electroshock Therapy, Arctic Enema, 12-foot walls, mountains of mud and more. Definitely the hardest 11.22 miles of my life, but I am proud to say I am Tough Mudder Strong!
11. Bad-ass might be the word of the year. I spent Valentine’s Day at the Deerfield Indoor Pistol and Archery Ran
ge. While other people were spending the day with loved ones, I celebrated the 85th anniversary of the Valentine’s Day Massacre with some target practice with a Tommy gun at the range.
|Target practice with a Tommy gun on V-Day.|
12. Mohawk for Mudder. If you are going to be bad-ass, you need a bad-ass haircut. During Tough Mudder, the BIC company was doing mohawks for Wounded Warrior Project. Each haircut was $10 to the non-profit, with a goal of 10,000 mohawks and $100,000. It was a little nerve-wracking to see my shoulder length hair chopped off, but I totally rock the mohawk!
13. New love. At the end of January, I was introduced to a former Army recruit. We had virtually nothing in common, except for a love of Volbeat, but enjoyed each other’s company. Ultimately the relationship did not work out, but I enjoyed a few very happy months, and I wish him the best.
|Seeing Volbeat in concert in LaCrosse|
14. A Warrior’s Call. My love of Volbeat was cemented in April when Leo and I traveled to LaCrosse to see them perform in concert. My ears were ringing for a couple days afterward, but nothing beats being down on the floor, about 15 feet from the stage, when the band is playing “Lola Montez.”
15. Musical Horns. Waiting for 45 minutes to leave the parking lot after the Volbeat concert might seem like an inconvenience, but I was very amused when I heard four or five cars honking “Jingle Bells,” round robin style. Sometimes the small things in life can bring much pleasure.
16. Em’s Treats. The ice cream man comes to town. Speaking of simple pleasures, the child in me was delighted when a local couple opened an ice cream truck in Edgerton. Hot summer days were just a bit cooler when I heard the chimes announcing Em’s Treats was coming down my block. Sometimes it was a Choco Taco, other days I craved an ice cream Twix, but either way, the tasty treat made my weekends better.
17. Concerts in the Park. Once a month during the summer, Edgerton hosts Concerts in the Park at Commons Park. The last one in August featured a big band group, and they ended with “Sing, Sing, Sing.” So what that I was there for work and the horns were a swinging from side to side. My camera goes down and the dancing shoes come out when the band is playing my song!
18. The Neuron Project. At the end of January, I attended my first Lily’s Luau in Madison. While I was there, Lily’s Fund for Epilepsy Research announced the Neuron Project, an art installation at UW-Madison that raises money for epilepsy research. I saw the design and knew I had to be a part of it. I purchased a small neuron for $1,000, to be paid off during a 2-year period. It is absolutely stunning. As someone who was diagnosed 25 years ago with epilepsy, it is very close to my heart, and I am honored to be part of something that is a symbol fo beauty and hope for future generations.
19. Rotarian Rachel. A few months after moving to Edgerton, I decided to join the local Rotary group. Although attending the Tuesday meetings at noon can be a challenge with my schedule, being part of Rotary, especially on behalf of Hope 2 Others, gives me a sense of purpose and pride. Helping others brings me much happiness. You really do get more than you give.
|Dash for Diabetes with Nicole|
20. Dash for Diabetes. I will admit, I am not much for the “normal” races, the ones without mud, electricity or obstacles. But in support of the local Edgerton Lions group, I signed up for Dash for Diabetes in May. The 5K race is pretty straightforward, but Nicole Matts Jackson and I strutted our stuff. We donned purple tutus for the race, and I also wore a purple fro and moustache sunglasses. Not only did we look absolutely FABULOUS, but I happened to win my age group! It just goes to show that you can be stylin’ and fast!
21. Olson’s Mud Run. Last October, I attended a local event called Olson’s Mud Run. Hosted by Tom Olson, it brings together big trucks and mud, lots and lots of mud. During last year’s event, I even got to ride in one of the trucks. We got stuck right away, but it was a blast! On top of that, my photo collage of the event earned Honorable Mention during this year’s National Newspaper Association contest. The event will take place again this Saturday, Oct. 18!
22. Oh, What a Night! As part of my 27th birthday celebration, my parents took me to see Jersey Boys in Madison! A tale of triumph and tragedy, fame, fortune and loss, the songs were expertly performed and we were tapping our toes along with the music of Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons.
23. A Night of Giving Hope 2 Others. The event came together very quick, in a matter of a couple months, and the end result was an elegant affair. African dancing and music, food and we raffled off two beautiful gemstone pendants. I spent the entire evening taking photos and making sure everything ran smoothly, but I did get to enjoy one glass of champagne and some of the food. When I die, I totally want to be buried with Africa meatballs and bacon-wrapped dates.
24. Burpee 5K. Lord knows I like to challenge myself. On Sept. 21, just one day after completing my fourth Rockman Challenge triathlon in Watertown, I participated in the Burpee 5K. Team Cole and the Gang met at the Oregon High School track and collectively did 3.2 miles of burpees. I personally did 3/4 of a mile of burpees. For someone that struggled to 25 of them during a workout for our Mt. Kilimanjaro climb, doing burpees for two hours straight was pretty brutal. And yet, it just goes to show there is nothing I will not consent to do, and my body has been very agreeable with these crazy challenges of late.
|Axe-throwing with Leo|
25. Monet to Gogh. Anyone who has seen my drawings knows that I am not an artist. Yet when Janesville artist Valerie Saxer held a Monet to Gogh painting class at The Depot Cafe, I was all over it. As a result, a painting of “Starry Night” is now proudly hanging in my living room. It just goes to show that with a little patience and guidance, the inner artist in all of us can be released. I had to miss the second class a couple weeks ago due to work, but I am hoping I can attend another one in the future.
26. Axe-throwing. Just because I have to work does not mean it cannot be fun. While covering the annual Tobacco Days festival in Edgerton at the end of July, I tried my hand at the axe-throwing competition. I was not one of the finalists, but I had a blast chucking axes across the grass. I think mine made it 77 feet, while the top female was more than 100 feet. Life is about trying new things, and when you can throw axes with your friends, all the better!
|My new car, a 2014 Ford Escape!|
27. Vroom vroom. I hit a major life milestone, just 12 days before my 28th birthday, when I purchased my first car! I am the proud owner of a 2014 Ford Escape, that had all of 37 miles on it when I drove it off the lot. I first talked with my parents about purchasing a new car in 2010, but until I got my job with the Edgerton Reporter in August 2013, buying a new car was out of the question. But my current job has given me financial security and peace of mind, and I am so excited to finally have a car all of my own!
The past year has been filled with excitement and new adventures. While I know I cannot afford to travel to Africa every year, I am determined to continue breaking outside of my comfort zone and try new things. I already started my 28th year with a high-flying hang gliding adventure. In the meantime, I know that “My future is so bright, I gotta wear shades!”