Sunday, January 1, 2012


So, I'm a day late for the "Best Of 2011" post - and about four months past when I was supposed to blog again.  But who's counting?

There are a few reasons I stopped blogging in the last third of 2011, but most if it had to do with the fact that I was ridiculously busy: I ran a half marathon, I accepted a third/fourth job (depending on how you look at it), I presented at a national conference, and then the holidays came.  And despite all of the above also happening in 2012, I vow to make this year a better blogging one.

Overall, 2011 was an eventful year, and I would like to recap that with you now:


There was a shooting at my alma mater, Millard South High School, and my former vice principal was killed.  It was traumatizing and really hit me hard - a lot harder than I expected it to.

I took my students to Grandview University to hear Freedom Writer Sharaud Moore speak.  It was a wonderful experience for all of us, and I hope we can make it happen again in the near future.


I received pretty much the sweetest Valentine ever from one of my students; it's unbelievable how much impact something like this can have.

My best friend and I met Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, one of my all-time favorite memoirs.  It was amazing.


Had an amazing spring break with three of the greatest girls ever.  We flew into Orlando, headed to Daytona, and drove down to Key West.  I want to go


Signed up for a marathon.  O...M...G.


My "little" brother graduated from medical school and is now an orthopedic surgeon in Grand Rapids.  I am so, so proud of him.

Had a very eventful trip to New York City for an all-expenses-paid conference.  First time in the Big Apple was a little less than ideal, but I definitely want to go back and give it another chance.


Summer started!!!


Started a new job - I am officially a freelance writer!


Went for a run - in Illinois!  Had another all-expenses-paid conference and was able to spend a few extra days with my aunts and uncle.

Had the best run of my life - 15 miles!  (And in my dreams I look like the girl pictured...)

And then had a breakdown because of injuries and the realization that I might not be able to run a marathon.


Spent all day with a good friend watching the Hy-Vee Triathlon.  Walked about a million miles to and from my apartment and around downtown.

Became the co-chair of Planned Parenthood Young Leaders.


My students published a book and presented it to the school board - there wasn't a dry eye in the house.  I could not have been prouder.

Ran the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon - I was horribly injured and did not run fast and was in tears when I finished, but I did it.  And am proud of myself and excited to do another.


Won a local cooking competition with one of my greatest friends.  We beat Baru 66!

Had a horribly traumatic day at school and went to Omaha to do crafts with my mom - very therapeutic.

Presented at the National Council for Teachers of English conference in Chicago and met two of my all-time favorite authors, Judith Ortiz Cofer and Tim O'Brien.

Spent time with Erin Gruwell and part of my Freedom Writer Teacher family in Chicago (pictured with the CEO of Scholastic).

Spent Thanksgiving in Omaha with my family - and cheered on the Huskers with my soon-to-be sister-in-law.

Started yet another job - I am now an independent stylist with Stella & Dot!


Spent Christmas with my family (minus brother and sister-in-law).  It was a great time at home, but we really missed Alex and Aly; it's hard being apart when you're so close.

So yes, it was, overall, a great year.  It was definitely eventful, to say the least!  I already have a jam-packed 2012 to look forward to, so get ready to go on this ride with me.  I'll fill you in on some deets in a few hours, but until then, Happy New Year!


  1. Looks like it was a great year! Keep it up!

  2. You had such A BIG YEAR! Some of these things I had no idea about - you are SO BUSY!

    I still need to read The Glass Castle! I keep watching for it at Half Price Books but it hasn't shown up.

    Let's get together again soon - running?? ;)