So long, 2017

How do you sum up a year?

For me, 2017 was full of change, travel and learning. I started the year out in sunny Arizona, hung out in Missouri while apartment hunting, and then moved to my own place in Arkansas. It’s been nice having my own place again and to unpack things that were packed up for five years.

The year’s top moments:

1. September’s six-day pack trip in Yellowstone’s backcountry was awe-inspiring. I’m working on a longer article about this journey, but you can check out a summary of my adventure on Equitrekking. It’s going to be hard to top this adventure, but I’m going to try!

2. Revisiting Chicago in October included a water taxi cruise down the river, indulging at Eataly, walking the Riverwalk, reuniting with some amazing people, and reliving the Great Flood of 2013 at Brenda’s. I’ll be back, Chicago. And hopefully there won’t be any flooded homes next time!

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3. Building my freelance writing business up to something I’m really proud of. It took a long time, but I’ve been published in national and regional publications and websites, with more good things on the horizon. As a deaf person, interviews have always been a challenge for me. This year, I stepped out of my comfort zone and finally found a system that works well — with way less stress. And it’s paid off, with a couple of articles in national magazines and websites.

4. Launching Gypsy Leatherworks, my Etsy shop with handmade leather bags. I started playing with leather in Arizona over the winter, making simple bags held together with whipstitch. The bags have since evolved and improved and are now machine- and hand-sewn. It’s been a fun creative project, and rather impressive, considering I never touched a sewing machine before this summer! It’s a great creative outlet that doesn’t include time on the computer (except when I fall into a black hole of YouTube tutorials).

5. Learning the basics of fly fishing at Dogwood Canyon (and hooking a rainbow trout!). I grew up fishing in Minnesota, but have not touched a fishing rod for decades. I see some casting in my future next spring.

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6. More time in the saddle — and time with my mom. I didn’t move south just for the milder weather (I laughed as I typed that, as the low on Monday is a whopping two degrees), but also to be able to spend more time with my mom and return to my equestrian roots. Being with the horses has always made me happy.

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7. Trying to get involved with local politics by attending my first Town Hall. I say “trying” because it was a fail: Rep. Steve Womack’s office did not provide a sign language interpreter upon request. Participating in a Town Hall is still on my list of things I want to do; we’ll see what happens next time. I was proud of myself for being assertive and not backing down — I got a bit of publicity about this issue and learned a few things from the National Association for the Deaf for next time.

8.  Mini trips to Iowa to see my dad & brother, Petit Jean State Park, Mount Magazine State Park, Devil’s Den State Park, volunteering at the Bentonville Film Festival, seeing Chihuly at Crystal Bridges, and many other cool experiences were also highlights of my year.

Despite a few ups and downs (and lots of questioning whether or not the move has been a good idea), it’s been a good year. Here’s to making 2018 even better!

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