Twenty-sixteen: that’s a wrap

FORWARD: This post is acting as my journal for the entirety of 2016, so enjoy this massive brain dump of everything that happened. Feel free to read it or not.

This year has been one the strangest years of my life.This year was a year of struggle. This was a year of doubt, of depression, of anxiety, of finding joy for a few days, of losing all hope within a single second, of learning more about myself than I thought possible, of meeting new people and calling them my family, of traveling and missing home, of traveling and not missing home, of loving the songs that I wrote, of hating the songs I wrote, of struggling to finish the Nicaragua video; only to have my equipment fail, of the gospel, and of the strength of grace.

The year is over and as always the anticipation was kept too a minimum. The passage of time is weird. Dude, this year was strange. I know I already said that but let me reiterate. Like, wait, what just happened. Twenty-sixteen happened in a blur. It left me feeling numb but grateful for the experiences I had. I’d like to think I’ve grown this year, as my Mom says “you either get better or bitter.” Here’s my run-down of the year: so I may not forget the first year of the rest of my life.

JANUARY: Grandma’s Birthday, Daytona Beach and Uncle Matt

The year started off when we flew to Florida on the 5th to surprise my mom’s mom for her 80th birthday. It was so exciting to surprise Grandma, she was over the top thrilled. Little did she know that along with us coming to visit we had also planned a surprise party with all of her friends. Her birthday wasn’t til the 8th of January, so we had a few days to hangout and spend time with our Aunt and Uncle who live a few streets away from Grandma. On January 7th, Dad had some business to do in Daytona Beach. So we woke up at 4:25 to drive there. We spent an hour or so exploring the beach front, drinking coffee from Dunkin Donut cups and talking about nature and the ocean.This turned out to be one of my favorite days of this year. Just the two of us. I still can remember how crazy the traffic was driving back to Tampa that night..

After our return from Florida, my dad’s brother came to live with us for about 2 1/2 months. This was a hard. Having another full-grown human in our house was difficult and certainly an adjustment. Learning to give grace is hard.

FEBRUARY: 18th Birthday, DL and The Hunts Concert No. 2

I turned 18 and got my driver’s licence all within 2 days. Now I had the freedom to drive myself to work and visit Tina in OK. (Which I think I’ve only done twice, solo.) On February 21st, as a birthday present I got to see the Hunts in concert for the second time. That was the best birthday gift I’ve ever gotten, tbh. I got to speak with Jonathan and Jenni and stumble over my words at 11:30 at night and it was wonderful. (As I write this I realize what a huge dork I am. And I don’t care.)

I also sang at my first open mic at a coffee shop in town with my Dad. We were so unprepared but it was really cool. And one of my best friends, Shamiquia came to support me.

MARCH: Senior Photos + Hair Cut

Over the past 2 months, our family had gotten to know Mark. He went to our church and was diagnosed with bladder cancer. This month, Mark went to live with the Lord. I will forever remember our time spent singing and playing guitars with him in that tiny hospital room, sharing the love of Christ.

I had my senior photos taken by a best friend of a family friend, named Kristen. I hadn’t had my picture taken since I was actually in diapers, (is this what people call full circle?) and it was so much fun. Towards the end of the month, I cut off my hair. Not all of it but a lot. I went from this to this.

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APRIL-MAY: Prom, Magic Man Concert, Graduation and Depression

Early on in April, Haddie and I went to an open house at an art institute in Dallas. I took the film class and it was pretty cool.

Prom happened. The fact that it almost didn’t is laughable. I had missed the first deadline to turn in all the required information. Little did I know, there was another deadline which I didn’t miss. I had my hair and makeup done by some really talented friends of some friends.(They were great!) When I went home to meet up with Tina and finish getting ready I realized I had so much makeup caked on my face it was ridiculous. Tina, thankfully helped me scrub half of it off while I curled her hair. We made it to the venue, almost didn’t go in, finally went in, sat at the smallest table, and took silly photos. The whole time Tina and I were dancing she kept saying “you have one dance move and it’s the indie girl.” Whatever that means. P.s. it’s true.

This was around the time at a lot changed for my family. My Dad had an unexpected career change that left us all in the lurch. When a dream of someone you love gets it ripped away it takes a toll on everyone.

May 15, Tina and I embarked early on an adventure to Dallas. On our way, we stopped at a little coffee shop and cafe and had the best grilled cheese bacon egg avocado sandwich ever. We listened to Walk the Moon on the drive to Dallas. We realized that one of the opening bands for Magic Man was this Aussie band called the Griswolds. So we also listened to them and they turned out to be freaking awesome. After hanging out with some of Tina’s brother’s friends and being annoying by Jew jokes we took an Uber to the venue. Just across the way we had cheesy fries at a restaurant before heading to the concert. Pretty sure Tina enjoyed seeing the Griswolds more while I enjoyed seeing Magic Man more. From what I remember the energy in the room was crazy, everyone singing to every song, middle aged moms clutching huge bags while they kept an eye on their younger teenagers, people passing around cameras taking photos, and the screams of joy that destroyed my eardrums. What a lovely night.

The end of May came and with it my highschool graduation. I was homeschooled but the city I live in has a pretty big homeschooling community. I ended up graduating with about 18 other students, all who I knew but only a few who I would called friends. The morning leading up to the ceremony I was sad and felt so alone. I felt like I should have been surrounded by my friends, the people who helped shape who I was. But I wasn’t. I almost cried when the emcee read the little description of my highschool career and my future plans. I wasn’t sure why. Afterwards, I think I ran to hug Tina and then we went to the after party thing where all the graduates had set up tables. While I stood next my table this girl of about 15, who I later found out was named Audra, came up to me and told me that she admired me because I was a musician. She told me that she also played ukulele and the drums. She left and I turned to Tina and was like, did that really just happen? She doesn’t even know me. It was the nicest thing.

During these ‘early summer months’ I struggled with depression and anxiety. A lot. I think my job was a big factor in this sudden sift of mental health. I was stressed all the time. I had migraines frequently. I would cry for no reason. I would wake up in the morning only to take a 5 hour nap with the 3 hours of me waking. My body hurt. I was worn out. I dreaded going to work and seeing the constant injustices of the fast food worker. I sound so dramatic. But as a HSP (highly-sensitive person) I was done. That is an actual scientific thing, btw. I’m not saying that it was all do to with  that but the stress go to me. (Looking back I’m pretty sure I have thyroid issues which I’m going to look into diagnosis once we get moved.)   I ended up quitting my job in the early weeks of July.

JUNE-JULY: VBS, Youth Camp, Nicaragua, 4th of July and Bonding 

VBS was great fun. The youth helped coordinate the whole and I ended up helping with the music. I have a blog post on here all about it so I won’t go into much detail.

Youth Camp. Having never been until I was 18 it was interesting. I roomed with Grace, who is a year older than I am and in college. Both Haddie and I got to know Grace and share with her about our faith over the next few days. During this time, I also prayed in front of people who were not my family for the first time. Public speaking is something that is scary to me but I was able to with God’s grace put that fear aside for a moment and pray with our youth group. And it was wonderful. I also cried in front of everyone the last night I was there. It wasn’t that I was brought to tear by the Holy Spirit, I just get so overwhelmed when I talk about my faith I cry. I feel a bit ridiculous but hey, this is me being real.

Nicaragua. Long story short was an amazing experience. I plan on writing a post all about it in the near future. But I can’t say how thankful I am for all the people who I spent time with while I was there. It was the most peaceful place I’ve ever been and probably will ever go. Amid the rubble and dirt there was a love for Jesus that I have never seen before.

We got back from Nicaragua just in time for the 4th of July. We spent the 2nd of July with the Lamoreux’s. Tina and I took a little ride in her new-to-her jeep and talk about life and boys and plans we had for the future. The week after returning for Nicaragua was hard on me. I felt out of space. Zoned. After having a purpose for that week and it being stripped from me I felt like I was treading water in the middle of the ocean. Tina was so kind, she drove down and spent 4th of July with Haddie and I. We drove to Hastings, browsed the shelves, bought Daredevil comics and a handful of other books. We stop at a Sonic where to drank cherry vanilla cokes and shared french fries while Tina read to us from How the Boy Band.

During July Haddie and I spent loads of time with Spencer, Davis, Griffin, Brett and Emma-Claire. We had youth band practice together. We walked through Target and Pet Co. together. Made countless trips to Whataburger together. We planned Christmas in July, which was a Christmas party in July. And we had a blast being a part of something and getting to know these people.

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JUNE 11, 2016 | Novels since read. How I Live Now – 4.5 The Scar Boys – 4.5 Local Girl Swept Away – 2.5 Notes: HILN, was written so uniquely. I loved how the writing style evolved with the growth of the main character. It's a story of survival, that was magically real. TSB, punk rock highschool band in the 80s. Little bit Perks, little bit Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Atmospheric genius. Really interesting to see the interworkings of a highschool band tour. Hashtag needs to be a teenage indie film like now, please, okay, thanks. It's taken me a while to finish books as of late, so these were the ones I managed to get to in the months of may and june. #bookstagram #howilivenow #megrosoff #thescarboys #lenvlahos #localgirlsweptaway #ellenwittlinger #reading #indiebooks #itstakenmeawhiletofinishbooksasoflate

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AUGUST: A month with Grandma

This was the month Dad drove me to Florida to spend time with my Grandma. We spent most of the time watching TV and eating. She had me meet all of her friends and I got to know some wonderful old ladies. It rained a lot. I did pool aerobics. I got a terrible sunburn from laying in to sun for hours with my Aunt Janice and Uncle Larry. While backing up into the carport I scraped Grandma’s Honda and cried and cursed in front of her. I wrote a bunch of songs. I read a little. I sang in front of everyone. I got my hair permed. I discovered new music. I heard secret stories of about family, some people faked their ages. I grew to love my Grandma more. I went to Busch Gardens with Larry, Janice and two of my cousins. I rode all of the roller-coasters and went to bed tired.

SEPTEMBER: I come home and The Lumineers Concert 

September 10, after a 3 hour delay I flew to Dallas where my family picked me. On the plane ride, I watched Sing Street which turned out to be one of my favorite movies of the year. It was a story I needed at the time. And I am grateful for it. After I arrived home, my family surprised me with a beautiful concert ukulele as a belated graduation gift. Upon seeing it I burst into tears. How original, Sara. *clasps*

September 30: was the day Tina took Haddie and I to see The Lumineers and BØRNS. We had gold seats which meant we were really close to the stage and we had chairs to sit in. It was amazing, fall was in the air. Tears were a shed. Many a photo taken. And so many hipsters seen. We stayed in the parking lot waiting for everyone to leave, while we talked and listened to music.  It was after I saw BØRNS live that I became complete obsessed with his music. It’s literal gold. And seeing The Lumineers after being a long time listener of their music was a blessing. Really. Everyone is so talented. UGH.  The day after, Tina dyed her hair and then she dyed the tips of Haddie and I’s hair with the left over dye. Ghetto.

OCTOBER: STRYPER and Travel w/ Dad to San Francisco 

Dad surprised the family with a concert at the Gas Monkey Live (where we saw The Hunts earlier this year.) We saw Stryper. Which I think was cool but Tina texted me and said it was lame. So to each their own. I just love live music.

Towards the end of the month I went with my Dad on a run to San Francisco. We went through Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and made it to Salt Lake City, Utah all within the first 48 hours. I got to meet one of my Dad’s friend, Scott who lives there. We had a dinner of tacos and there was music sung. The following morning Dad and I explored the Temple Square. It was interesting to learn about the history of the place and see all of the beautiful buildings. Day four, we made our way through Nevada and the Sierra mountains. Finally we made it to San Francisco just in time to explore a bit of the Wharf, have coffee at Peet’s Coffee, eat some clam chowder, fish and chips before getting rained on and hiding in an art gallery while a man tried to sell my Dad a $50,000 painting. The following day was one of freezing rain in our faces as we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge; missing several connections on public transportation while trying to make our way to Pier 39; finally making it to the ferry that would take us to Alcatraz; walking through the prison which was a chilling experience; seeing the city’s skyline at night; stopping to listen to live music performed by Matt Stewart; grabbing coffee again; trying to find our way to Chinatown, only to get lost several times on our way there; stories my Dad told me of his life there as a child; of conversations with strangers and small hole in the wall Chinese food places. It was an exhausting day. And it was only after the fact that I really appreciated my short time in San Francisco. We headed back the next day, stopping at a food stand on the side of the road where we picked up honey, pomegranates, coconut date rolls and garlic chocolate ice cream on our way out of California. That night we stopped in Flagstaff, AR. The air was so fresh there. It was lovely. Seeing all nature those past few days put me in awe of this beautiful earth we live on.  We made it to New Mexico, more specifically Albuquerque late that afternoon. We went to Twisters for lunch which is where parts of Breaking Bad were filmed, drove past Jesse’s and Walter’s homes and stopped by the car wash. After 7 days we finally made it home that night.

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OCTOBER 28, 2016 | Day five: after making it back to San Francisco, we headed down the wharf where we caught singer/songwriter Matthew Stewart preforming. After listening to a hand full of songs we quickly told Matthew we enjoyed his music and his tambourine playing and continued down to pick up some coffee at Peet's coffee. After many many blocks walked and several attempts to catch a bus to chinatown we finally made it, where we found a-hole-in-the-wall place where we ate a fast dinner before heading back to the hotel. This photo was taken waiting for the BART. The man in the photo asked dad for his help in making a costume for a party he hadn't know was a costume party. So dad spent a few minutes painting the guys neck red. I think he's supposed to be a cow. #travel #strangers #metro #sanfrancisco #photography #blackandwhite #matthewstewart

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NOVEMBER – DECEMBER: Visited Chicago and Thanksgiving, We’re moving, We’re not moving, and Christmas

My gosh, we’re almost done.

Early November I went on a quick run with Dad to Chicago. It was beautiful there. The building were tall. The city a quite, bustling energy that made me feel at home. We walked through Millennial Park and down my the lakeside where we came upon a TV show being filmed.  This trip I also drove an RV, which was pretty crazy.

Thanksgiving was nice and quite. The day after Thanksgiving, Weldon Thomas Blank was born to the Blanks! I’m so happy for them. They had been there for our family in times of need and they hold such a special part of my heart. (I crocheted Weldon a baby blanket. It was the softest thing ever.)
We finally decided that we were going to move. And my parents closed on a house. But the house is currently out of our possession due to previously tenets. So the move is on hold for now.

December 20, the girls and I went to visit the Lamoreux’s. It was such a wonderful little afternoon. Both Tina and I were in positive mindsets, it so nice to feel happy and be around one of my favorite humans.I realize that being happy makes everyday task so much easier. We talked, laughed about Haddies mannerism, ate sandwiches and milk tea, and made new inside jokes.

December was a month of sadness at the idea of leaving and moving on, rare happiness and unaware smiles. But I wrote all about that in blog post before this one.

This Christmas was again nice and quite. Simple this year. Beautiful. Refreshing. The new has come and the old has fallen away.



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