I’ve been back at work for a week now, but working from home with Colt until he’s back in school — and it all goes back to “normal” tomorrow. Yes, our beloved routine will hit us all between the eyes about 7am Monday morning, but I predict (hope?) we’ll all truly be back in the swing of things by mid-week. So while I put away the few Christmas decorations we had out this year and address the final thank you note, a shiny new calendar has been hung on the kitchen wall. It’s ready to be filled with 2018’s ball practice and work travel and road trips and weekend adventure — and it finally feels like time to wave goodbye to 2017.

How lucky am I to be able to say ‘this year was my favorite’ — every single year? 2017, you positively busted at the seams with fun and adventure and growth and travel and laughter and love. You were so good to us.

In no particular order, my top 7 favorite faces, places, and memories from 2017.

1. Colt

Might as well start with my favorite boy. What a year he had! He grew a giant cabbage (and starred in his first, self-produced cooking show) in the spring, served as the Honorary Duckmaster and camped at the Buffalo in March, marched in support of science on Earth Day in April, got his first black eye and ran the bases at Dodgers Stadium in May, turned 9 in June, and spent the first half of the year absolutely devouring the Harry Potter series. Then he played golf at Mountaintop and stamped his passport for the first time in July, played 7on7 football and started 4th grade in August, spent October playing The Arkansas Traveler in the school musical and calling the Hogs, and wrapped up the year with a trip to his Uncle Tom’s grave at West Point in December.

He loves all things sports, Legos, and reading. And he’s my favorite 9 year old. 2017 was his best year yet, and I know he has big plans for 2018.

2. Belize

Buddy’s first passport stamp was our summer trip to Belize with friends. We planned this trip in place of our annual backpack this year, and while we missed the mountains — Belize was an incredible adventure all its own. We checked out Mayan ruins, swam in a blue hole, snorkeled Belize’s barrier reef, explored the ATM Cave (which I still can’t believe they let people do…), and absolutely fell in love with the chill of Belize.

Maybe my favorite photo of all time. It makes my heart smile.

3. The Buffalo

We hiked it. We paddled it. We camped it. And we love living here more than ever. We try not to let a weekend of good weather pass us by and we love the memories and stories we have of hiking in the Ozarks with our buddies. Here’s to an upcoming year of more playing in the dirt and getting a little lost on the trails.

4. Storytelling

This word continues to be a key part of my life. I’ve blogged a bit less in 2017 than in years past, but I’ve added storytelling on other ways — like my Instagram feed. Sometimes, a single thought with a single photo on Instagram is a perfect way to capture a story or memory for me. I’ve really enjoyed using it more this year. And, of course, storytelling is a big part of my professional life, too. Three times this year, I spoke to groups of Northwest Arkansas professionals about the power of storytelling and finding your authentic voice. What can I say, storytelling is a way of life and I’ve embraced it.

5. Visiting West Point

More travel, yes, but this was an especially meaningful trip. 2017 was 10 years since my brother Tom was killed in Iraq. 10 years ago I was 5 weeks pregnant when we traveled there to bury Tom. I knew we’d be back someday to introduce that baby to West Point and visit Uncle Tom’s grave. In December, we did just that.

6. Trying new things – big and small

Curiosity is the #1 thing I want to teach Colt, and I try to walk the talk myself. Trying new things – just because – was a theme for us this year. I took a cupcake decorating class, snorkeled, and took a commuter train out of NYC at rush hour on a Friday. Buddy created his own YouTube series, ice skated for the first time, joined Archery Club at school, and nervously tried zip-lining.

7. Our Bucket List Lifestyle

Above all, I’ll remember 2017 as the year we truly made the transition to living travel and adventure as a lifestyle. We’ve made choices about how we spend our time and energy and money – so we can say yes to activity near and far, and travel big and small. I love this season of life, and I hope we keep up this Bucket List Lifestyle for years to come.

Ok, 2018. Your turn!

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