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Hello again, loyal readers, and Merry Christmas! This is the Star Eagle’s last issue of 2014, so I decided to seize the opportunity to bring my number of columns for the year to…three. I’m aiming for a slightly higher number next year – one of my many goals for 2015, but I’ll get to that later.

The last couple of months have been incredibly hectic, keeping me busier than I’ve been in quite some time. I moved out of my dad’s house and just got settled in to my house in Waseca last Friday; add holiday shopping/planning, extra work at the Star, drama in my personal life, (my best friend of ten years just got out of a three-year relationship, so I’ve been her support system/taxi while she gets back on her feet – which I don’t mind, but it’s another adjustment to deal with) and life’s everyday tasks, and the list of things to do seems impossible to complete.

However, I’m proud of myself for stepping up and dealing with it all; if I had been in this situation before, I would not have handled it well. But I’m 21 now, and it’s time to be a grown-up and accept whatever life throws, however difficult or unpleasant it may be.

Despite all the chaos, I’m still incredibly grateful: for all my blessings, for what I’ve overcome and the strength gained from those experiences, for the knowledge that things will always work out in the end, and for the ability to learn and progress every day. Even during the worst times, if I can remember the things I’m grateful for, I can find the strength to keep going.

Looking back at 2014, I had a good year:

I started working at the Star Eagle again in February, which has been amazing for many reasons, and I’m so thankful for the opportunities I have here.

I got to spend a week in June with one of my favorite people and best friends in the world, Alex, who’s been in Japan with the Marines since the winter of 2013.

I turned 21, which obviously brought more first experiences, along with a sprained ankle after just having healed from one two months earlier; I was just glad it didn’t get sprained before the Atmosphere (a hip-hop group from Minneapolis) show the day before at First Ave. in Minneapolis.

I went snowboarding for the first time in February, which was quite an experience; let’s just say after about six hours, countless wipe-outs and much frustration on my part (and laughter from my friend Levi, who has years of experience), I did not make it down the hill once without falling and was so exhausted I could barely walk back to the truck. I felt massive bruises on my knees and elbows already forming and my muscles ached, but it was a really fun day with a good friend; I hope I get the courage to try it again this year.

I took out my first ever loan to buy a car in September after the 1995 Ford Escort I had been driving broke down, and on Sept. 30th I picked up my 2002 Mercury Cougar, which I love – maybe even more than my first car, a 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse, that has since been passed down to my brother Eli.

But you know what they say: you can’t have good without experiencing bad, and if you’ve read my previous columns you know I’m no stranger to dark times in life – two and a half years ago, one of my best friends committed suicide, and the pain of that loss is with me every single day, but time has helped me to accept it. I thank God I didn’t have to attend a funeral in 2014, but people close to me did, and my heart goes out to everyone grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday season. I especially send condolences to the family and friends of Preston Peterson – I didn’t really know him personally, but I did graduate with his brother, Parker, and prayers are being sent their way.

Overall, 2014 was the first year since high school that I look back on with mostly positive memories, and once again I’m grateful. I’ve grown so much in the last year, but one thing that becomes more obvious as I get older is how much more I have yet to learn about life. Things are changing and I’m moving forward – I’m not exactly sure where I’ll be a year from now, but I’m getting there, and I’m excited to see what 2015 will bring. 

Hoping everyone has a lovely Christmas and a safe and fun New Year!

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