Turning 41: My Top-10 Highlights of the Past Year

Sometimes, shit comes out of my mouth, and I don’t know where it comes from. I’ll be thinking one thing, but something completely different will escape my gob. Usually it’s something embarrassing.

Does that ever happen to you?

A random Intro!

Maybe that’s why I like writing as a form of communication. It gives me time to think about and to craft exactly what I want to say. I’m not a fast enough thinker to be able to come off as elegantly in verbal communication!

Therefore, I really admire those who are gifted orators. For example: the genius that is Russell Brand. I appreciate his quick wit and the vast trove of vocabulary he has at the tips of his clever-little neurons.

See exhibit A: an interview improvisation where Brand brilliantly impersonates Willam Shakespeare. True genius. (He really starts to get warmed up a few minutes into it — worth watching the whole thing if you’re fascinated by verbal gymnastics and equally captivated by the bizarre.)

Perhaps I have a somewhat decent-sized vocabulary (nothing compared to Brand’s), but at times it takes me ten-plus minutes to think of the word I want to use! Which isn’t very conducive to verbal dexterity! The darn words often get stuck at the tip of my tongue, and — “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Yesterday was a prime example of my thinking one thing and saying another. I turned to my coworker and good friend, Rosie, and excitedly said,

“This is my last day in my forties!!!!” Rosie looked at me with a “what-on-earth-are-you-talking-about-?” expression, and was like “so you’re turning from 40 to 50?”

That’s when it dawned on me what I had actually said.

“Oh, woops — that’s not what I meant!” Haha. I laughed and was glad that my cheeks don’t generally get beet red with humiliation.

“What I meant was that it’s my last day of being 40!” Haha. Heehee. Eh. Ughghghghg. Doh!

Well, that became the ongoing joke of the day, which was actually pretty fricking hilarious. At least I can laugh about myself. Yeah.

Here’s to getting older!

Anyway — after that awkward, long-winded, and random introduction — here’s to getting older, to worsening memory, to decreased cognitive abilities, and all of the other fun stuff that comes with aging!

But all joking aside, forty has been a pretty amazing and memorable year for me, so as I turn 41, I thought I’d do a swift review of my personal top-ten milestones of this past year. 

10. My First Marathon!

Technically, this was a year and one week ago. I ran the Paris Marathon one week before turning 40! It was a pretty exhilarating experience.

Just keep running. Just keep running.
That G-Bear dude looks fun. Well done, mate.

9. Travel to England, Wales, Switzerland, Italy, and Turkey!

I feel so fortunate to be able to travel as part of my job! This year I got to assist on two Rick Steves’ tours: Best of England in 14 Days and Village Italy in 14 Days. I also got to do some travel through Switzerland between tours, as well as some pre-tour solo travel in Istanbul, one of my most-favoritest cities in the world. A highlight of those six weeks of travel is that I got to explore quite a few places I’d never been to before, such as Conwy, York, Zermatt, Lugano, Assisi, Lake Orta, Civita di Bagnoregio, and more.

Civita di Bagnoregio

8. Launched my travel blog! Yippie!

This past September, I finally got around to launching my travel blog! Yay! My very-first blog post, It’s about Damn Time, is pretty aptly titled. I’d only been thinking about starting a blog for about seven years prior. Well, better late than never. Right? 🙂

Very first blog post! 🙂

7. Blog featured on the Rick Steves’ Travelers Café!

I was pretty darn stoked to have my blog added to the Rick Steves’ Travelers Café not long after launching it! Yay!

Travelers-Café feature!

6. From “Saturday Stef” to “Ass Man!”

When I started working at Rick Steves’ Europe, I was part-time staff, working only on Saturdays. Thus I earned the nickname, “Saturday Stef!” In March of 2015 I switched to full-time staff, and last month I was promoted to “Ass Man!” Or Travel Center Assistant Manager. Pretty cool, except for the new nickname! 🙂

Look closely and you’ll see an “Ass Man” somewhere in there.

5. More European Travel!

2016 was kind of a crazy year for me, because I ended up traveling to Europe three times in one year. (Yeah, I still can’t believe it.) This third trip I got to catch up with some old friends in Amsterdam. And then I spent some time with friends and family in Germany. The big highlight was getting to spend time with my 85-year-old aunt as well as my cousin and his wife. Plus, I got to do the German Christmas Market thing! Ja wohl!

Burgschwalbach Christmas Market

4. Amazing Friends and Family!

One of the best things about this past year is having been able to spend time with amazing and wonderful friends and family! That pretty much makes everything else that happens so worthwhile! I’m also so grateful to have gotten closer to a long-lost sibling (long story), my older half-sister, Karin, who I am so glad to be in touch with! Also, I got to hang with my beautiful sister, Anne-Marie, recently. She lives in Wyoming, so we don’t get to see enough of each other — but it’s always special when we do!

Anne-Marie and my niece, Reagan! I like to joke with Anne-Marie by saying, “you know, it’s not really fair to the other kids how cute Reagan is!” But then, the same can be said of her mom!

3. My Baby Bro became a Pappa!

This one is so crazy for me to wrap my head around! My little bro (who is much bigger than I am — he towers over the rest of us at 6’3″ tall) became a dad! I will never forget the day my mom brought him home when I was ten years old and he was three weeks old.

Cutest. Baby. Ever.

Until now, that is. His little baby girl, Aria, is pretty stiff competition! 

My baby brother and my new little niece, Aria! So cute!

2. Got to visit my Folks!

Getting to spend time with my mom and dad is the highlight of any year! I’m so glad that I got to spend time with them down in Arizona this year. Plus I got to see my auntie and uncle down in Arizona too! It was also so special and meaningful and important to me to be able to share with my parents in person the experience of the next thing on my list — 

Mom and Dad!

1. Finding my Moroccan Roots

I’ve put this one down as the number-one highlight of my year. If you’ve read the background story and how it all culminated in the journey of a lifetime this past November, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It was such an emotional and heartwarming experience for me to be able to connect with my birth-father’s family in Morocco.

Me getting to meet my aunts and uncle in Morocco for the very first time!

For all of us, every year is full of ups and downs, but hopefully we can remember to take the time to appreciate the wonderful things that happen all around us! I wonder what the next year has in store? 

What have your highlights been this past year? I would love to hear more in the comments section!

6 thoughts on “Turning 41: My Top-10 Highlights of the Past Year”

  1. Omg!!! Your reunion story brings tears to my eyes every. Single. Time. What an incredible year! I’m so glad you finally made your blog, love reading your stories!

    1. Thank you SO MUCH, sis! It means so much to me that you’ve been following along with me!! And I’m still so glad I could share it with you, mom & dad in person! Love you and miss you and hope we can catch up again soon!!! <3

  2. Whew! Sounds exhausting! But you are probably exhilerated. Makes me wonder what this year will bring. Can’t wait so see what you’re gonna do next.
    For me, of course getting back in touch with you and our other 2 sisters and a bunch more family and old friends and finally being able to give the Appalachian Mountains a real whirl this year. 💃😄👋✌

    1. We need to have a proper catch-up, Karin!! I’m curious as to what you’re up to these days! I hope all’s going well! Take care, best of luck, and much love! 🙂

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