Ok, this is my final year-end list for 2010. I decided that I would rank the top ten experiences I had in 2010. As I reflected on 2010, I came to the conclusion that it was a difficult year for me. But, several highlights came to mind that occurred throughout the year that made me realize the year wasn't as bad as I originally made it out to be. So, I thought I would highlight those good experiences in a list. So, these are my big ten experiences of the year listed in order of significance in my mind.
10. Christmas Morning
This was an unexpected, late addition to my list, but I think it is worthy of mentioning. My family had an excellent Christmas this year, one of the best in recent memory. After a difficult year, it was refreshing to see that what is truly important stayed intact--my family. We all gave each other gifts that we thought those people receiving them would love and I'd say that every gift was a success. One of the definite highlights was a video Christmas card my sister, Alex, made. It had everyone in tears and was a perfect example of why my family is so special. My mom cried several times that morning. My dad got probably his best present ever--an iPad. And, my dad even pulled out great "bonus" gifts for us kids after we thought all the Christmas gifts had been opened. It was a magical time and was a great moment for my family.
9. New Spock's Beard Album and Concert
This is sort of a two in one experience. First of all, I was really excited to receive the new Spock's Beard album since it had been several years since their last album and my friend had ordered the special deluxe edition of the album for me for Christmas, which included a song where the lead singer would sing my name. After so much buildup, I was worried the album would never meet my high expectations, but it actually exceeded them! The album is one of my favorites of all time. It showed me that my favorite band still has the talent to produce masterpieces, even without their main front man and song-writer, Neal Morse, who left the band a while ago. Later in the year, I had the privilege of seeing Spock's Beard live with my dad. They played the entire new album plus some old favorites. Spock's Beard was one of the main bands I always wanted to see live, so it was a dream come true and they did excellent.
8. My Sister's Graduation
I was very excited to be able to attend Alex's graduation this year. She went to Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena and did an excellent job in the program. She uses what she learned there on a daily basis as she has been making cakes for people for various events. It is really cool to see my sister pursue something she is passionate about and to succeed. She is an inspiration to me. It was an awesome experience to be in the audience along with my dad, mom, sister, grandparents and some of Alex's friends, and cheer her on. I know she will do great things with her degree in the future.
7. The Finale of Lost
I know this may seem like a weird experience to include here, but I feel it is a significant one. Lost is my favorite TV show of all time. I am regularly astounded by what the writers come up with and how the actors portray their characters perfectly. I love every minute of the show and felt that they had an incredible final season. I was really excited to watch the finale, and I knew that it was going to be special. It really exceeded my absurdly high expectations. I'll admit that I cried several times throughout the finale, and especially at the very end. It was the perfect ending. I couldn't have imagined a better ending. It really touched me and allowed me to think about things in a new way. I will never forget Lost and how special it is to me and I'm sure I'll be re-watching it for the rest of my life.
6. My Best Friend, Kevin, Proposing To Amy
Yes, this is more an experience that my friend, Kevin and his fiancee, Amy, had. But, I feel that it was significant for me as well. Kevin came to California with Amy to see Phantom of the Opera and go to Disneyland with Amy. Since he was in California, he stayed at my house during the weekend he was here. I was privileged to know in advance that he was planning to propose to Amy and I was really excited for him to come and for it all to happen. Based on his description, it didn't go perfectly according to plan, but it all ended up working out even better and was a magical experience. I am really happy for Kevin and excited for his future. I'll never forget him driving us home in intense fog right after he had proposed. His excitement was really cool to see and I know that they are a perfect match for each other. I'm sure his wedding in 2011 will be in my top ten experiences of 2011.
5. My Parents Vow Renewal
As my mom's big Christmas gift in 2009, my dad announced that the whole family would be getting together on Valentine's weekend in 2010 in Las Vegas for my parents getting their wedding vows renewed. Now, I'll admit that I wasn't in a great mood this trip. I was nervous about driving in Las Vegas and was still sad about the break up with my girlfriend. But, it was a very significant moment for my family, and my parents in particular. I was a little scared about the idea of a vow renewal in Vegas because I thought it might be cheesy, but it ended up being really sweet. It was nice to see the love my parents have for each other. Any experience that strengthens my family is an important one and this is no exception.
4. Going To Disneyworld
Me and Kevin decided that it would be really cool to go on a vacation to celebrate our graduation from BYU. We decided that the best idea would be to go to Disneyworld, and it ended up being the perfect choice. We spent a week there and I feel that we were able to do everything we wanted to do there. We visited every park, most of them twice, and went on all the rides we wanted to (well, at least all the rides I'm comfortable going on). It would be impossible to list all the highlights of the trip because they were all highlights. We even got to see Erin while we were there since she worked there last year. I really love Disneyworld, and even though it doesn't have the same "Disney magic" as Disneyland, there is a lot to love about it and I feel it was a very successful trip.
3. The Transatlantic Concert
If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would be able to see Transatlantic live in two years, I would have laughed and thought it was a joke. But, this actually happened last year! After an 8 year hiatus, my favorite band, Transatlantic, reunited to make my new favorite album, The Whirlwind. And, if that wasn't enough already, in 2010 they toured the album and made a stop in Southern California. Of course me and Kevin jumped at the opportunity to see them. The concert was a magical experience. I can't even describe the feelings I had of pure joy as I listened to the incredible music that was played. They played their whole new album and then all the epics from their previous album. It was over 3 hours of the best prog music, and it was incredible. By far the best concert I have ever been to. I can't imagine it being beat any time soon.
2. Completing My First Novel
I have always had a dream of becoming a successful writer. This year, I finally made a goal for myself to finish the book I've been writing, and I was able to do it. It was a huge achievement for me and I am so proud of myself for doing it. The book (called Avaria Book 1: The Sacrifice) is something that is very close to my heart. I started writing it for a creative writing class I took at BYU. I didn't write in it for a while, but decided to pick it back up in 2010, and I was able to motivate myself throughout the year to finish it. What is significant about this is that it has shown me that I do indeed have a passion for writing. I am going to try really hard to keep up a rigorous schedule of writing and pursue a career in it. I'm excited for the novels I am working on right now and I soon hope to try to get some of my work published. I realize that there is a good chance I won't ever be published and I know it'll take quite some time to get there, but finishing my first novel has given me the desire to work really hard in order to get there, and that is a huge deal for me.
1. Graduating From BYU
By far, my biggest accomplishment this year was graduating from BYU. I received a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. It was a long road to get to that point with a lot of uncertainty and hardships, but I endured and managed to graduate. The last semester of my college education seemed particularly challenging, mainly because I needed a capstone course in order to graduate and I had a lot of difficulty finding a class that would work for my major. But, through sheer determination, I found the perfect class for me and even ended the last semester with a 4.0 GPA, which is something I always wanted in college. I struggled partway through college in declaring a major, but decided to stick with Psychology. I am grateful for the classes I took in Psychology and believe that they will help me in my future career and life in general. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet career-wise, but I know that having a degree and having the experiences I had in order to get that degree will help me in achieving my future goals.
And, there you have it, my top ten experiences of the year. When I look at these experiences, I realize that the year actually wasn't as bad as I make it out to be in my head. Hopefully I can have as many (or more) great experiences in 2011!