2017: Year in Review
2017: Year in Review
2017: Year in Review

There’s nothing like waiting 11 hours in a foreign country to stem creative thought. I arrived in Mexico today at noon, and my ride doesn’t get here until 11 p.m. Seriously.

(I suppose it’s not that bad – I’m starting the new year with a weeklong trip to El Rancho Del Rey – doesn’t get better than that!)

So I’ve holed up in the far wall of the Starbucks in Monterrey’s international airport hoping my brain doesn’t implode before then. I’m on overload right now having been up since 3:30 a.m. I need rest, but can’t right now.

Thus, to prevent myself from falling into a frustrated stupor I shall, over the next several minutes, expound in length about the highlights of this past year. Perhaps this personal practice of word vomiting will shake the exhaustion from my weary mind.

2017 was the best year of my life, and it also posed some incredible challenges (you can see my favorite rural photographs here).

Most notably, I proposed to my best friend atop Mount Sugarloaf on the first day of fall, and she said yes. Since then I’ve lived on cloud 900, with a perpetual smile on my face. I’m in a state of superlative bliss.

Franconia Ridge Andy Christian Castillo

Brianna and Andy on the Franconia Ridge.

A brief explanation of adventures

My travels began early in the year on Tenerife, a rugged and volcanic island in Spain’s Canaries. I spent a week there, and in retrospect it seems like a whirlwind – a fast-paced adventure expended mostly in the wild trekking over jagged rocks and along cliffs hundreds of feet above the blue ocean.

In the summer I went to Dingle, Ireland for a weeklong writer’s workshop with Bay Path University. Creatively, the experience was unparalleled. My writer’s voice boomed. I pushed creative boundaries, experimented with genre, and became more relaxed in my tone. Afterward, I found that words flowed a little bit smoother.

And that’s not mentioning the region’s breathtaking landscape, of which I will not get into here. If you’d like more about that you can read elsewhere.

Within the United States, Brianna and I hiked the Franconia Ridge Trail, camped on Cape Ann, and took many day trips throughout the year.

Then, just last month, I enjoyed a week discovering rich culture in the region around Nagoya, Japan.

Challenges of the year

Taken on the day the earth stood stillIn other respects 2017 put me through the ringer. A few personal trials (of which I shall not expand on here) tested my resolve and compassion, and negotiating work-school balance knocked me down more than a few times. I can definitely say this year has been the busiest to date.

Days seemed to fly past at an alarming rate. But maybe that’s just part of growing up.

Elsewhere, I found work challenging and rewarding. After stumbling for years through a few different careers, I feel as though I’ve landed solidly in journalism. I’m 100-percent invested, and look forward to continuing in and growing my reporting chops. I hope to make it a lifetime career.

Spiritually, I’ve felt the presence of God as a steady and stabilizing hand through the ups and downs. In 2017 I learned deeply that I can’t correctly love or forgive others on my own. Compassion and grace flows from God. Humans are mere conduits.

In retrospect, thinking of the year as a whole while sitting in this Starbucks cafe listening to quick Mexican rhythms, I wouldn’t trade 2017 for anything. I grew up a lot, LIVED adventure, and walked side-by-side with the most beautiful woman in the world (and, I should note, she graduated NURSING SCHOOL in 2017). Seriously, Brianna is my absolute best friend.

In short, it was a great year of personal growth, during which I experienced every emotion there is. I lived a full and rich life, took some milestone steps, and matured in positive ways. I’m so very happy.

What’s coming next

Starting 2018 rightTurning to 2018, I begin the year so very tired but really happy.

And there’s no vacation in sight. School starts again at the end of the month (a master’s program). The holidays took the wind from my sails, and prolonged busyness has sucked the life from me in some respects. I need rest.

But I also begin with immense excitement. If 2017 was the best year of my life, 2018 promises to top it. This year I will marry the woman of my dreams, and we’ll also move in together. That alone automatically sets the gold standard. 

There are also many other exciting events upcoming, not the least of which are a slew of weddings to attend. Brianna and I get to share in joy with some really good friends. Elsewhere on the agenda, we want to hike Mount Washington.

So here’s to the subsequent and better followup to the best year of my life!

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