New Year’s Eve inevitably makes us contemplate on the past year and the upcoming one. And I know just about everyone says this every year, but this year was a big one for me, full of many ups and downs.

2017 brought incredibly difficult emotional challenges that I’m still struggling with. 2017 brought new hobbies that helped me explore my creative interests and relieve stresses. 2017 brought the growth of new and old friendships. 2017 brought a huge professional opportunity and a challenge that I’m still shocked I was able to handle. 2017 brought my 10th wedding anniversary.

Here are the big things that shaped my year.


January started out with an incredible trip to New York City, which I blogged about here.

In September I spent a few days visiting my dear friend Genevieve in California. I always love spending time with her and her family! We also got to meet up with our friend Kate!

Joseph and I spent an incredible few days at Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle. It was hot as hell but absolutely beautiful. I wrote more about it in my blog post here.

Joseph and I took a trip of a lifetime (or at least of a decade). We spent 18 days traveling to celebrate our 10th anniversary. You may be thinking, “10 years? How can you have been married that long?” Lucky for you, I’ve already written a blog answering that very question: The Story of Us

We went to Iceland! Read more about this in my blog post here. We went to England! We went to Venice! And to a few other places. Keep an eye on this blog tag to see more photos from this trip. I’m still sorting through them all!


I faced a huge challenge at work, a project where I oversaw the move of a natural history collection. I’ve never been so stressed, and I’ve never slept so few hours as I did during those weeks! But you know what? Thanks to the help and support of my colleagues, I made it through. This is likely the biggest professional challenge I’ll face for decades (if not ever!), and I’m really proud that it went well.

Two days after returning from a trip to New York City, while still on a high from a great weekend away, my dad was in the ICU with kidney failure. I rushed down to Houston to see him. I always hate that 4+ hour drive. I’m normally bored and restless. But this time I sat in silence as Joseph drove. My cell phone was nearly dead, and I was going to need it when I got there, so I did nothing but stare at the road ahead.

This photo is a sweater of my dad’s (which I took from his closet) and a necklace he and my mom bought me as a little girl when we lived in Abu Dhabi. Having these helps me feel close to my family even when I’m far away.

My dad, miraculously, pulled through, and he’s doing very well now. But I’ve never been so close to something so terrible happening, and I had nightmares for months, seeing him back in that ICU bed hooked up to all those machines. As these things do, this experience taught us valuable lessons about the importance of family, friends, and loved ones. It taught us that the human body can suddenly shift and fail us, or shift and work miracles.

The current administration has made this year difficult for many in the United States and beyond. I attended the Women’s March in Austin and the March for Science in Fort Worth.


Possibly to distract myself from the nightmares and worry and uncertainty I felt towards the beginning of the year, I threw my energy into a lot of new hobbies. I finally accomplished a longtime goal: I made macarons!

And I made some cyanotype prints! I’m really excited to do this some more.

And I tried my hand at watercolors!

I did a lot of weaving on my rigid heddle looms. Scarves only, and primarily in a very simple weave pattern. Hoping 2018 sees a lot of improvement in my skills!

I did a lot of knitting this fall to prepare for our 10th anniversary trip.



  • I met a really great steer who I love and believe loves me in return. He licked my entire left leg and then rested his head against my hip! He lives a wonderful life roaming the hills of a ranch in Mason County, TX.
  • I learned that herpatology looks really cool. I like jars of snakes, y’all! Who knew?
  • I changed a pick-up truck’s flat tire on a work trip when none of the men could figure out how to do it. That felt pretty good ;)

I developed a huge appreciation for nature! This resulted in one of my favorite blog posts to date, How I Discovered the Secret World of Plants.

This felt like a big year. Not even in the “wow, look how long this blog post got” way (although there’s a little of that – I totally intended this to be shorter). It felt big at the time. My dad’s brush with death loomed over me for months, the stress of my job hit me hard, and our political climate hurts me to the core. And I still feel all of those every day – I can’t seem to escape those worries.
You know what surprised me writing this post? There was a lot of great. I found a way to deal with stress that I feel is really beneficial. I improved professional and personal skills. I traveled a lot. I spent a lot of time with my husband and with my friends. I spent a lot of time with nature.

Maybe my 2018 resolution should be to really look at the good that’s around me. Maybe that should be all of our resolutions.


  1. What a wonderful and challenging year you’ve had Alyssa. All the travel you’ve done looks incredible. I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad and your work stresses – we’ve had a very similar year in that regard. Your photos look beautiful as always. I love this post so much and I was just saying the other day how much I missed Livejournal and the communities! I look forward to seeing what you get up to in 2018 :)

  2. Pam Chamberlain Reply

    Alyssa, I love that you found beauty in the grand larger than life landscapes on this wonderous planet and still saw beauty in such unlikely things like jars of snakes, woven threads, and in the simple, sweet bond with a bovine. You are remarkable. Happy New Year!

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