Shannon’s Year in Review

As I look back on the past year, I have a hard time ignoring how much I’ve grown. I’m wrapping up the year as a freshly minted 25 year old and it’s insane to think about how much has happened in 2017. This time last year I was in deep denial about the state of our political system (who wasn’t, tbh…) and I was stressed about where I was going to do my practicum for my masters program. I wanted to do a quick rundown, mostly for myself to look back on but also to hopefully push you (loyal reader who is still with us after all this time) to think about your own personal growth over the last year. It’s so hard to get caught up in a all the bad stuff. We’re flipping the narrative here and we’re gonna focus on the good.

I started running and fell in love with it.

At the end of 2016, my mom signed me up for a 10k. I barely trained but I had a freaking blast. The moment I got home, I signed up for three more races because I just wanted to keep going. Once I realized that I could listen to podcasts while I ran, suddenly everything clicked for me.

I started and finished my third semester of graduate school.

It’s crazy to think that I’m only 5 months away from graduation. I never planned to go back to school as quickly as I did, but I will be forever grateful for my horrible boss (those are words I never thought I would say) for being the driving force behind my quick return to academia. Without it, I never would have found my love for global health, water and sanitation, nutrition and ultimately would not have gotten any of the professional opportunities I have had in the last year and a half.

I lived in Asia for three months.

The aforementioned practicum I had to do ended up being in Indonesia. So in early June, I hopped on a plane (or several planes) and lived in Jakarta for the summer. I worked (unpaid, naturally) in the capital city of one the most populous countries in the world. It was an experience for sure and while I don’t know that I would go back (I wouldn’t), I’m glad I did it. It provided some valuable experience that I wouldn’t have been able to get elsewhere.

I started a paid fellowship and have finally truly loved my work.

In August, I started a fellowship that was focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) research. I’ve been doing lit reviews, data analysis of real data (none of that fake stuff from school) and writing manuscripts that will hopefully be published (with my name on it!). My team was small (two full time staff, myself and another intern) but we were a mighty bunch.

I got a big girl job (at my dream company!).

I still can’t believe this. A week ago, I was offered a full time gig at an organization I have loved for years and years (seriously like…10+ years). I get to stay around some of my favorite coworkers from the above fellowship AND get paid for it. It’ll be a busy final semester of school, but I am so ready. I’ve been waiting for this job and I wasn’t about to let anything get in the way of my taking it.

I saw two friends get married.

I suppose technically they were Kurt’s friends first…but I’ve since adopted them. One brought us to San Diego and the other forced us back to Illinois (home sweet home) for the first time in a year and a half. It’s funny how once you’re engaged you start seeing weddings completely different. It’s been so nice to see what I like, what I don’t and how that has played into my planning.

I had engagement photos taken.

Back in April, on a very very very chilly morning, we got up before the sun and went hiking with our two wonderful photographers. If you’ve been around the blog for a bit, you’ve definitely seen their work. Lindsay and her husband Greg are the world’s best people and they’re pretty great photographers too. They just published a blog post about us so you can see some additional photos!

I went to three new cities in the US (and three new countries!)

It was a fun year of travel for me. It definitely was slower than it has been in past years– nothing will beat the year I studied abroad and saw 15 countries in 5 months– but it was still fun. Kurt and I went to Boston for the first time in April and then I went back to visit my brother and his family in early November. Carrie has never been so we’ll definitely be heading back in 2018. I sort of saw San Diego when I was there for the wedding, but I definitely could go back and spend some more time exploring. Kurt’s parents moved to North Carolina in April so we went down to Wilmington three or four times.

Obviously since I already told you I lived in Asia, I visited some new countries– including Indonesia, Singapore and Japan (but only for their airport…). I travel around Indonesia over the summer and got to see Bali, Lombok, Jojga, and Central Kalimantan (which is on the island of Borneo!).

I ran 9 road races.

Remember when I said I fell in love with running? Yeah… this year I logged 4 5ks, 3 10ks, 1 5 miler, 1 10 miler. So far 2018 is starting off with a bang as we run the Disney Princess Half Marathon. It’ll be mine (and Carrie’s!) first half but my mom, the seasoned veteran, will also be joining us!

I started a blog with my best friend.

HEY. That’s this blog. A small idea over brunch one day (and then a follow up text to make sure she wasn’t kidding). It’s been tough in the last few weeks because of finals, her work schedule, my work schedule and moving. Things will pick up speed though, we promise. 2018 is going to be our year. And we’ll have so much more DC themed content coming your way real soon.

I moved.

I’m still in the District (because nothing could get me to leave) but Kurt and I moved out of our first apartment together in Eastern Market and over to what I am referring to as the ‘burbs. It’s technically not the suburbs because we’re still in DC proper but Woodley Park is definitely a change of pace from Capitol Hill. There are things I will miss about our old place (I seriously loved our neighborhood) but there are definitely more pros to moving right now. Kurt’s commute has been cut in half and we have more space. We’re not walking distance from the Capitol anymore, but we do have a view of the Washington Monument!

I started planning my wedding.

It’s hard to pin down exactly what about this was so great because there were a lot of “10/10” moments this year. If I had to pick, I would say its a tie between spending a long weekend out west with my mom, my maid of honor (Carrie!) and another bridesmaid, visiting venues, tasting cakes and trying on bridesmaid dresses. Our engagement may be a long one but I’m really loving how it has allowed me to remain fairly chill about everything.


Just writing all of that out made me realize just how much I did in 2017. And I know I’m forgetting things. And right now…2018 is stacking up to be bigger than 2017. I start my new job on January 2, I run my first half marathon on February 25, I graduate with my MPH in May, and I get married in October. And that’s just the big stuff. We’ve got some more weddings to get to, Carrie and I are going on a BFF trip to Antigua in March and I’ll have a bachelorette party somewhere in there too. It’s gonna be a great year for me. What about for you?


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