What a year it has been! This is the first year since 2009 that my life has not been dictated by disease, treatment, pain or surgeries. It has been a wonderful year full of fun, excitement, learning, and adventure.
At this time last year my Grammie was very ill in the hospital and I asked for prayers and good thoughts for her. On November 4th, 2012 she passed away. My entire family was able to go to southern Illinois for her services. While we were brought together for a sad reason, it was very nice to see everyone. We hadn't been all together since we moved to Seattle in 2005. I miss my Grammie very much, but she is in a better place now and I know I will always carry her with me.
My first year of college was fantastic! I love being at Western, it is definitely the right place for me. I learned so much and a lot about many subjects I hadn't studied much before– anthropology, psychology, sociology, cinema. One of my favorite parts about being at Western is exploring Bellingham. It is so different than anywhere I have been before. A smaller town full of many independent businesses that support each other. I have never lived in a place before that really felt like a community. I have several favorite places including Michael’s Books (a used and rare books store), the Little Cheerful (a great place to go for breakfast), Mallards (home of the best handmade ice cream) and the Pickford Film Center (an art house movie theater). I love movies and the Pickford allows me to see independent and documentary film that I wouldn't get to see anywhere else. The Pickford is run by community volunteers. I have been volunteering on a weekly basis since the end of spring quarter. I have always wanted to work at a movie theater and now I get to work at a theater where everyone is excited about film and really likes working there.
Being at Western has also given me a lot of independence. The bus system here is really great and since I don’t have a driver’s license it has been the first time that I have been able to go wherever I want whenever I want.
Last year, I had a great time living with my best friend from high school, Brooke. We definitely grew a lot closer and couldn’t have made it through the year without each other. I also made two really good friends, Kiley and Jessica. I had a really successful first year and am very excited for the rest of my time at Western!
This summer was the busiest, most fun summer that I have had maybe ever. It started out with a trip to Brookings, South Dakota for the Jennings Family Reunion (my dad's mom's family.) There was a reunion in Brookings in 2002 that we attended, but I can hardly remember. It was really nice to get to meet and re-meet many of the people who were so supportive of me while I was on treatment. I had a great time catching up with and spending time with my family. While there, we also celebrated my grandparents' 60th Wedding Anniversary.
In short, the trip was 10 Days, 1971 miles driven, 50 hours in the car, 1 big family and a lot of fun!
When we got back from the trip I spent a week at home before going to Camp Korey for four weeks as a volunteer camp counselor. Camp Korey is a camp for children with life-altering medical conditions. I was introduced to camp in 2011 when I attended the Young Adult Cancer Retreat weekend. Camp is nestled on a hill top farm in Carnation, WA and it is a truly magical place. My goal is to work with kids in my career but before camp I didn’t really know how much I would like or be good at working with kids. I loved it! It was an incredible experience to watch kids whose lives are often full of limitations get to do things they never thought they would do, like perform on stage or fly down a zip line. (I have never seen more joyous smiles than when I was watching our campers at the end of the zip line.) Needless to say, it was a life-changing experience and I hope to be on summer staff next summer.
The week after I got home from camp I had surgery to straighten my left toes. It should be the last surgery (of thirteen) on my left leg. The results were great! My foot looks normal again, my balance is better and I can walk faster. I am very happy that the crusade to save and then rebuild my left leg and foot is finally over.
A fantastic day at Bumbershoot (Seattle's big music festival) was the cherry on top of my summer! My friend Jessica came over from Spokane and spent the weekend with my family. On Sunday, me, Brandon, Jess and Jess's friend Aria headed to Seattle Center for a day of waiting in line and watching awesome concerts. We started by waiting to get into the Key Arena to see fun. The concert was incredible! Nate Ruess's energy was explosive and didn't stop for the whole performance. (lead singer) The show had such great momentum. It is one of the best show's I have ever seen. After fun we got in line to get in line to see Death Cab for Cutie. Their performance was also fantastic! I had such a fun (pun possibly intended) time with my friends and got to see two really great shows. Definitely the best way to end a really great summer!
At the end of September I moved back to Western and lots of exciting things have happened in the month since then. I now have a job in the exam department of our Disability Resource office and I really enjoy working there. It is very exciting to have my first real paying job! I have found that while i am interested in psychology, I am a sociologist at heart. So, I decided to double major in Sociology and Psychology and will still be able to graduate in four years. I am also looking into doing a service learning study abroad trip to Kenya and Rwanda next year or the year after. The trip is usually run through the sociology department, so I would earn credits toward my major. It is an incredible opportunity to learn about other cultures and become a more informed global citizen.
I am at a very happy place in life right now! Looking back at past years’ posts it is so striking to me how fast time moves and how much changes in a year. (I can't believe it. This time next year, Brandon will have graduated high school and have started college.)
Thank you for your continued support!
P.S. Only 1 year away from the big 5 year mark!