My top 12 moments of 2016

“Departure of a year welcomes so many new memories” Munia Khan

Slumber safari experience at Werribee Zoo

Slumber safari experience at Werribee Zoo

This blog was inspired by my friend Jules Wilkinson, who today posted on Facebook her ‘Top 18 things of 2016’. She later commented: “I worry that the ‘2016 sucked’ narrative is not letting people value the year they had on its own terms. I hope it was a good one for you and 2017 is even more sparkly!”

For me, this year certainly had its ups and downs… and maybe even a momentary sideways skid! But it held far more awesome than not. And I know I’ll recall many fond memories from 2016 in years to come. So here’s my ‘awesome’ 2016 list, which is in no particular order.

1. Bucket list item of travelling on the Rocky Mountaineer with my friend Lana. We did this to celebrate our respective 50th birthdays and it was an amazing experience (as was the week in the Rockies following the train journey).

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Rocky Mountaineer in Canada

2. Having an extended break in Vancouver this year was magic. One of my favourite things was getting up early, having breakfast with Ross and then commuting to work with him. I did my editing work in Horseshoe Bay, one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Happiness personified. I also got to hang out with my sister-in-law Karen. We got tattoos, zip-lined on Grouse Mountain and went to the baseball. Fun times.

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Zip-lining on Grouse Mountain in Vancouver

3. Weekends away with my family and friends: Tasmania, Bright, Werribee Zoo (slumber safari), Ballarat (Mum’s 80th), Melbourne (Supernatural convention), Whistler, Vancouver Island, East Gippsland (bike ride) and Timboon (Christmas).

Mum's 80th birthday

Mum’s 80th birthday

4. Editing a bumper issue of the Victorian RSL’s membership magazine for the Centenary of the RSL – I was very proud of this issue of the magazine, as I am that I’m approaching six years as editor of Mufti.

My article about the Spirit of ANZAC exhibition in the bumper issue of Mufti.

My article about the Spirit of ANZAC exhibition in the bumper issue of Mufti.

5. My Supernatural family. The conventions (three in Melbourne, one in San Diego and one in Vancouver). The online friends and conversations. The ‘in person’ catch ups and shenanigans. The fandom parties (in San Diego, Vancouver and Melbourne). Oh, and that dinner with Timothy Omundson and a few of my friends! Definitely a highlight.

Oz Comic Con dinner with Jake Abel and Timothy Omundson

Oz Comic Con dinner with Jake Abel and Timothy Omundson

6. Having the courage to leave a permanent part-time job; not just because I wanted to follow my travel dreams, but because I was protecting my mental health by leaving behind a toxic (and bullying) environment. I miss my friends there and I’ve also had trouble finding enough work since I left, but I have zero regrets. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And the support I’ve received from family and friends over the last few months has been truly wonderful.

My last week at work with the girls, spoiling ourselves at Cupcake Central

My last week at work with the girls, spoiling ourselves at Cupcake Central

7. Embracing my inner geek and going to the nerdiest event of them all – San Diego Comic Con. It was an epic week, together with friends (old and new), and I felt so at home. The highlights were sleeping out in the Hall H queue for the Supernatural panel on Sunday, the Nerd HQ panels with Zach Levi, and the Wayward Cocktails party.

Wayward Cocktails party during San Diego Comic Con

Wayward Cocktails party during San Diego Comic Con

8. Having photographer credentials for the Supernatural Nerd HQ panel in San Diego (thanks to Jules, aka SuperWiki). Photographing Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard and Zach Levi was a joy!

Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins at Nerd HQ

Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins at Nerd HQ

9. Participating in the craziness that is GISHWHES for the first time – that is, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen. I re-created a Goya painting in candy, with help from my friend Lynne, and it was strangely therapeutic. I also poured wine into the mouth of my friend Nathan from two stories above him. That’s GISHWHES! 🙂

A re-creation of Goya's 'The Parasol' in candy for GISHWHES

A re-creation of Goya’s ‘The Parasol’ in candy for GISHWHES

10. Hanging out with my friend Anne in Los Angeles for a couple of days. We went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I drank Butterbeer. So I can crossing that off my bucket list.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

11. Watching Supernatural filming in Vancouver again. This year I found the set on four occasions (for the filming of two episodes) and I got to share the experience with some friends. What I love the most about watching filming is that I’ve always felt welcomed by the cast and crew – and I think if you’re respectful of the fact that they are doing a job, it can be a lot of fun. This year I got to chat to a lot of the crew at the two locations, I met Director Nina Lopez-Corrado and got to tell how much I loved her episode in season 11, and Production Designer Jerry Wanek gave us a tour of an alley that was being made-over to look like Berlin. Then we got to see Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and guest actors do their stuff, which was, in the words of Dean Winchester, “sweet merciful awesome”.

Supernatural filming

Supernatural filming

12. Successfully continuing my Airbnb business – and all the new friends I’ve made from around the world. It’s been a wonderful experience opening my doors (and my heart) to new people and new cultures.

My friends Nima and Nazanin from Iran

My friends Nima and Nazanin from Iran

12.1. STEVESTON PIZZA! 😉

12.1 STEVESTON PIZZA!

YUM!

So there you have it, 2016 has been a remarkable year for me.

And yes, there were low-lights. I worked at a stressful job for far too many months. I’ve had minor health issues. Since getting back from overseas, I haven’t been able to find much work. I lost a dear friend, who died suddenly, way too young. High profile people, some of whom I admired, passed away. Donald Trump got elected. Australian politicians got meaner. The world got scarier. But when all of this big news threatened to overwhelm me, my sister phoned and invited me to spend an afternoon hanging out with her and my great niece, two-year-old Leah. When you see the world from the perspective of a toddler, it helps bring you back to the present. It makes you focus on the people around you; family and friends, the people who give your life meaning. And in that regard, I am one of the luckiest people alive.

Hanging out with my brother in Vancouver

Hanging out with my brother in Vancouver

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year. Here’s to a remarkable 2017 for us all.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” Neil Gaiman

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