Thursday, December 31, 2015

Back to the future!

Every year I go into the new year with resolve to do more regular blogs, thinking my low amount of blog posts can't possibly get any lower than it was in the year ending. Well, after several successive years of blogging decline, I hope 2015 marks my "bottoming out" as far as blog posts go. Counting this post, I had all of three posts the entire year, with this my first post since May. As I've mentioned before, because of my daily journal writing, I guess I have a limit of how much I want to write in a day, though I've also noticed a general decline in that feeling of need to express myself on every issue I come across. There are plenty of posts I've started, but just never had the motivation to finish! That said, here's my 2015 in review for those who are interested. I definitely can't say I've had a dull year by any stretch!

Nieces in Tennessee

Niece and nephews in Indiana!

Probably my most significant "story" of 2015 was what I covered in my last post: my weight loss. I started it in late November 2014 and when I posted in May, I had just passed my 6 month mark and had lost 50 pounds. Well, fast forward to late December now and I'm still going strong in the program! I ultimately lost about 70 pounds total, bottoming out at 156.8 pounds in early September. Since then, I've been maintaining and "bulking", i.e. adding some muscle mass through workouts and continuing to monitor my macronutrients. The difference now is I'm not trying to lose weight, so I obviously have a much larger "budget" during the day. I'm holding steady right around or slightly above 160 pounds, which was my initial target weight. The new target is going to be around 170.

It's been a fascinating experience watching how people react to my weight loss. Just the other day someone remarked how I was "disappearing" even though I haven't really lost weight since September. Perhaps I looked leaner or it's just a case of having clothes that fit me better. Anyone who knew me before I started is fairly surprised to see me now, to the point some have politely asked if everything is OK, thinking perhaps I lost weight because I was sick. 

As for me, I definitely feel more confident in how I look and feel, but the real sense of accomplishment is that I actually did it and continue to do it. I had been thinking about doing something like this for years and just could never do it, so being able to look back and realize I did it is still a bit surreal. But yeah, that's certainly been the main highlight of 2015. At the onset of the year of the year I had just started the program and had lost 15 pounds.
Just before Christmas last year...I had lost about 10-15 pounds by then
Early December 2015 in new glasses this year too!
Professionally, 2015 was much the same as 2014. I continue to sub regularly for two local school districts and a STEM academy, plus I worked the 2015 season for the Cleveland Browns up in the press box at FirstEnergy Stadium (still one more home game this coming Sunday!). While I have continued to keep my eyes and ears open for other opportunities (and applied for many), I have still, overall, enjoyed my time at all the schools I work for and with the Browns. The one change with the Browns this season was getting on the special events crew, meaning in addition to the regular home games, I also work special events at the stadium, mostly receptions and meetings that use one of the various club areas in the stadium. We also had two major concerts, one of which I won "Top Dawg" (best employee) at!

In "teacher clothes" 

At church I was called as Ward Mission Leader at the beginning of July. It's the first time I've ever had that calling, and has brought a lot of mission memories back. Overall it's been an enjoyable experience. Basically, I'm responsible for coordinating the efforts of the full-time missionaries serving in our ward (congregation) and the members of the ward.

After my first correlation meeting. We have one companionship of Sisters serving in the Kent area, and one companionship of Elders serving in the Ravenna area.

After a correlation meeting, they came to hear me sing the National Anthem at a KSU women's basketball game

Like 2014 and many years before, I have had several opportunities to sing the National Anthem at sporting events, and was even able to once again do "O Canada" before an ice hockey game in Cleveland. During the 2015 season I sang for three Cleveland Indians games. The first was on Mormon Night in June, then two weeks later I sang for the 20th anniversary of the 1995 team, so I was on the field with several members of that team. It was pretty cool right afterwards since we were all in the elevator together. My inner 13-year old self was absolutely thrilled. The 1995 team was one I followed very closely and knew every player, so getting to meet them...sweet!

June 19th game with the 1995 alumni behind me!
September 29th game

Lake Erie Monsters game on Halloween

As always, I had my share of travels to Indiana and Tennessee to visit with my siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews, and even extended family! I also enjoyed some "random road trips" with my good friend Michelle, one to Cedar Point, one to Ann Arbor, Michigan, one to Detroit, and another to Indiana! My "big" trip in 2015 was driving down to Orlando and Tampa, Florida during Spring Break. I went there via Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and came home via Montgomery, Alabama, and Tennessee. I was able to visit Disney for the first time since 2006, but more importantly was able to see some of my family in central Florida and some friends I hadn't met in person before, including my trainer Josh in Tampa. It was quite the whirlwind trip, but so worth it and so much fun! Another fun trip I had, which my random road trip to Detroit was part of, was a quick trip to East Lansing, Michigan to see Air Force play at Michigan State with my former missionary companion and friend Will, who came from Oklahoma to see the game. Always great to see Will and I got to see another major college stadium in the process. Double win!

With Michelle at Cedar Point on July 4th!
With Mom and Michelle in Ann Arbor!
With my friend and trainer Josh in Tampa in April

With my cousin Bryce at Epcot!

With my Kirtland friends the Nowaceks, who now live in the Orlando area!

With Bryce at Epcot

With high school friends Lyniece and Sharice when I stopped in Montgomery, Alabama!
With Will at Spartan Stadium

In some of my trips, I included a visit to the local Major League ballpark to add to my list of MLB parks I have seen games at, though some were special trips just to see the game. This season I saw my first games at Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay), PNC Park (Pittsburgh), Comerica Park (Detroit), Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati), and Miller Park (Milwaukee). The trips to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh were with my dad and were just for the game, while the other visits were part of trips I was already on. I'm hoping to add Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia) and Nationals Park (Washington, DC) to the list in 2016, if not more! And of course, I had plenty of visits to Progressive Field in Cleveland! Also, my trip to Milwaukee to see the Indians play the Brewers was my nephew Nathan's first MLB game ever!

With my dad at PNC Park in Pittsburgh after a lengthy rain delay

With Michelle at Comerica Park in Detroit

Brother-in-law David and my nephew Nate at Miller Park in Milwaukee

With my dad at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati
Overall, I can't complain about 2015. Sure, I'm still looking for that seemingly elusive full-time job with benefits, but in the meantime, I'm making do with what I have and taking advantage of the time I have to explore my interests and spend time with family and friends. I had to deal with my car getting hit just a few days after having it repaired for another accident where someone hit it, but I also enjoyed having visits this year from my brother and his family for Thanksgiving and my uncle and his family from Washington during the summer. Definitely excited for 2016 with at least one exciting trip planned in May, a new niece set to arrive in April, and more opportunities to develop myself professionally!

After my car was REAR ENDED and smashed into the car in front, which had a wheelchair lift. Geez. It was the third issue with the car in about a month, with this happening just 5 days after I got the car back from getting damage repaired from hitting an animal on the highway. Took a bit to get it all fixed, but eventually it was all taken care of

My grandpa and I enjoyed being tour guides in Kent for my uncle (who grew up in Kent but hadn't been back in years) and his family. So great to see them again!