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2016 Reflections

It’s something I say every year, but it’s true. It’s incredible how quickly a year seems to fly by. I can’t believe 2017 is ten minutes away. When I look back at 2016 as a whole, there were ups and downs (a lot of those downs being that we had to say good-bye to so many incredible, talented people), but it was overall a pretty great year. When I look back at 2016 on a more personal level, it’s safe to say this was probably one of the best years I’ve had in a long time. And I’d like to take a moment and share what I have discovered in the time I’ve taken over the last couples of days to reflect on this past year.

Sometime during New Year’s Eve one year ago, I was sitting in my room, playing around on my computer when two Twitter notifications popped up on my phone. One of the tweets I received a notification for asked followers “to think about the best thing that happened to them in 2015 and say it out loud. positivity.” That one tweet alone pretty much shaped my 2016. When I took a moment to think back over 2015, it was easy to pick out moments that were definite highlights to my year, but there wasn’t one specific thing that qualified as the best thing that happened to me. And that lead to me taking some time to really reflect on the year. In the twenty minutes or so spent thinking back on 2015, it hit me in the face how much negativity there was in my life. But it was the realization that it was me and me only who had allowed the negativity to over take that really hit hard. In that moment, I decided I was going to change that.

On January 1, 2016, I started my #ThinkPositive project. Yes, this project, or exercise if you will, was inspired by that one tweet. The objective of this project is simple: every night before bed, look back on my day and write down all the positives that happened. It doesn’t matter how silly something might seem to someone else, if it was a positive in my eyes, it gets written down. The overall goal of this project was that when I look back at all my #ThinkPositive entires for 2016, I see just how much positivity I’m surrounded by. But most importantly, it’s to fully understand that I am in control of my own happiness by choosing to, and actively, focusing on the positive and not the negative.

Between work and going to the Stars game, I spent some time at Starbucks reading through all 366 #ThinkPositive entries made in 2016. Even with all the legendary people we have had to say goodbye to, and the unspeakable tragedies that have been happening across the world, and even in my own hometown, I am absolutely blown away by how much positivity actually surrounds me. I shouldn’t be as surprised as I am, but I am. The biggest lesson learned over the course of 2016 was that all that positivity was always there. I could have been surrounded by that all this time. Admittedly I was a tad bit irritated at myself for allowing myself to sink into a headspace where all my was focus on was the negative. But that was the whole point of this project/exercise. It was to learn that I was in control of my own happiness, and it wasn’t anyone other than myself who was preventing me from being happy.

Looking back over 2016 again from a personal standpoint, I can honestly say that the number of bad days – days where I’m just in a foul mood for one reason or another and can’t seem to shake it – can be counted on two hands. That is such a drastic improvement from 2015, and I find myself overwhelmed with emotion right now. I’m proud of myself for taking action rather than just saying I’m going to do something and never following through. I’m proud of myself for making a conscious effort to focus on the positive rather than the negative and holding myself accountable. I’m proud of myself for learning and growing over the course of this last year. I have a lot more learning and growing to do, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2017 has in store for me.

If you’re wondering, my #ThinkPositive project has not come to an end. And it won’t be coming to an end any time in the foreseeable future. I will continue to spend ten to fifteen minutes every night before bed reflecting on my day and writing down all the positives. And to be honest, I’m quite scared that if I were to stop this project, I would slip back into my old habits of focusing on the negative. And after this last year, this last year that was actually pretty incredible, I don’t ever want to go back to that head space again. I can’t afford to go back to that place.

Before bidding farewell to 2016, I wanted to share some of the highlights of my year with you:

– Bought my first car and managed to take out the loan without having to have my parents co-sign

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– Watched the Dallas Stars become Central Division and Western Conference champions of the 2015-2016 regular season and was able to attend the games that honored Rich Peverley and former Captain, Brenden Morrow.

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– Saw Anthony Rapp, one of my favorite Broadway performers, in If/Then. I never thought I’d get to see him perform on stage, and I certainly didn’t think I’d get the opportunity to meet him either. He is a very special human being and I am so happy I was able to see him on stage with my own naked eyeballs.

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– Visited Chicago for the first time

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– Earned my certification in non-profit grant writing
– Started volunteering with Greater Lewisville Community Theatre to assist them with fundraising and grant funding
– Got to attend the Dallas Stars season ticket holder event at Six Flags and was lucky to meet at least half the roster

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– My personal holy trinity of punk rock bands – Good Charlotte, Blink 182, and Green Day – all released new albums and toured and/or are going to tour

– Saw some of my favorite artists/bands in concert:
Keith Harkin:
Saw him the first time in March (the top center and bottom photos) and then once again in September when my best friend was in town for her nephews’ birthday. She managed to snag the last couple of M&G/Show tickets for the September show so I finally got to meet him after four years of trying to snag M&G tickets. He’s very popular in Dallas, by the way.

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Emmet Cahill:
This is the third time (I think?) I’ve been able to see him in concert. He is absolutely brilliant and there will never be a time I pass up seeing one of his shows. If I do, assume something is wrong. My friend and I may have slightly coerced him into singing Falling Slowly. Kind of. We talked to him about it before the show during the meet and greet and we requested it during the request portion of his show so you can’t really say it was coercion. Oh, and I finally got to hear him sing This Is The Moment from Jekyll and Hyde. Yes I cried. I also got three hugs from him that night.

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Blink 182:
This was the first time I got to see them live and I got to see them on my birthday with one of my dearest friends. It’s not the original trio of course, but Matt Skiba was phenomenal and the show was incredible. And I finally got to hear I Miss You live and that’s something I never thought would happen.

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5 Seconds of Summer:
I was able to get a soundcheck ticket and was very, very lucky to have been given the opportunity to ask them my question during the Q&A at soundcheck. The universe was definitely looking out for me that day. All four of the boys were clearly, very excited I’d asked them a question about SGFG because they jumped right in to answer. And they all thanked me for a great question and just before I sat back down, Michael said, “Thank You, Casey.” He was so sincere about it and I definitely fangirled for a minute (or ten). Hearing Jet Black Heart, Outer Space, Cast Away, Carry On, Vapor, Waste The Night, and Girls Talk Boys live was amazing and I shed tears a few times. I have no shame. Oh… and it was absolutely incredible to hear 10,000+ fans screaming and cheering for Michael for nearly 6 minutes before Jet Black Heart. He tried to get us to quiet down three different times before giving up and soaking it all in. That was definitely one of the moments I cried.

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Foy Vance:
I’ve waited years to see him live and he is nothing short of INCREDIBLE. He’s also quite hilarious and sounds 10x better live than on his recorded albums. I was hoping and praying to the music gods that he would play Guiding Light, and he did. I almost cried but managed to keep it together. That is a song that means a lot to me and has been a comfort through tough times. It’s a song I’ve heard he doesn’t play live depending on the show setting and the vibes, but I got to hear it that night and I’ll never forget it.

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Gavin DeGraw and Andy Grammer with support act, Wrabel: 
Andy Grammer is such a feel good set and it was my first time seeing him live. I danced and smiled the whole time. Gavin DeGraw was just as amazing this time as he was when I saw him two years ago in San Antonio. Hearing I Don’t Wanna Be live will never not be amazing. Their opening support act, Wrabel, was amazing and I have added new music to my iTunes library – you should totally check him out

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Adele:
I was blessed by the Queen. She is hilarious live, and so, so interactive with the crowds. It’s because of how interactive she is that you feel like you’re in the front row no matter where you’re sitting. She sang Chasing Pavements and I got all kinds of emotional. She sang Someone Like You and the water works happened. Oh… and it rained on stage while she sang Set Fire to the Rain and I’m pretty sure the hair on my head was standing on end the entire time. You have to see Adele live at some point in your life. You will not be disappointed.

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Good Charlotte:
I can’t even tell you how much it was worth the 14 year wait to see the first punk rock band I ever fell in love with live. They were amazing and so fully of energy. They sang Hold On, which again, is a song I never thought I’d get to hear live. It’s a song that saved me in more ways than one back when I was in high school and starting out in college. And it’s still a song that gets me through tough times today. They were so engaging and interactive with the crowd and the vibe in the building was unREAL. Also… I realized, about halfway through dinner, that Billy Martin was sat at the table next to me and my friend at Hard Rock Cafe. So that was pretty cool. No we did not approach him. He was with his family and neither of us were about to interrupt family time and their dinner.

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra:
This was the first time to see their show and my lighting/tech nerd was on feels overload the entire night. The guitarists I saw perform that night were unREAL. The guitar alone in O Come All Ye Faithful made me cry and the guitarist who played lead on that particular song is phenomenal, and the guitarist who played lead on Flight of the Bumble Bee and Requiem (The Fifth) absolutely slayed those performances – I’m still not over those two particular songs.

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And there you have it. 2016… you were quite a ride at times, and there are parts of that ride I wish to never step foot on again. While you royally sucked in some ways, you also provided some pretty awesome moments and memories, and I’ll always be grateful for those. Peace out 2016. It’s been real.

Oh…

If I was asked what the best thing of 2016 was for me, it would be:
September 17, 2016. Sounds Live Feels Live Dallas. 🙂

And if you’re curious as to whose tweet it was that essentially shaped my 2016 by inspiring my #ThinkPositive project… It was Michael Clifford. Vocalist and lead guitarist for 5 Seconds of Summer.

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