Time for another 2009 Recap – January 1, 2010


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I’ve just started reading Donald Miller’s latest, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” It’s all about the stories we’re living out. Miller mentioned a friend of his who writes down all the interesting things that happens to him, as his own sort of on-going memoir. It got me thinking back to this past year, well that and it being New Year and all. So, I decided to compile some memories from 2009.


My 2009 Highlights

Three-Week Retreat – I don’t know if “highlight” is the best term for this retreat. It was a highlight, a lowlight – words just won’t do me justice when it comes to this. It was harder than I thought it would be, but also so very different. By the end I felt certain that every experience was necessary during the retreat. There were special, dear moments, that I will hold onto for the rest of my life, including my first time seeing Mt. Ranier (on that trip; I’d seen in before). PS – Just call me Jen.





Trip to New Zealand – I only wish I had more time there. It was one of the more slow paced trips I’ve ever taken and I enjoyed that. NZ is gorgeous and Erin and I got to explore and adventure in some of the locals spots (definitely places not found in your tour books).


My first time to the Hollywood Bowl –I don’t know how I missed visiting this LA landmark, since I’ve lived in So Cal for almost 30 years. The night was magical! Adele was amazing and the wonderful company, goodies and wine made for a memorable evening.







Coldplay – For years I have passed on seeing some of my favorite bands and have regretted it after. I decided not to let it happen again and bought tickets to see Coldplay in July. Although money was tight this year, I didn’t regret it. They put on a great show and it was very meaningful to hear “Fix You,” live. Another favorite was their acoustic rendition of “Billie Jean.” Plus, Chris Martin would play these gorgeous piano pieces between certain songs. It was a fun, playful night, with some fun, playful friends (Brosef Andrew, Amanda R and Kim J). Amidala and Your Mama!




Prairie Home Companion – Garrison Keillor and his friends performed at the Greek this summer. My dad has listened to the show for years and I had discovered the show through NPR podcasts. The older I get, the more I realize how similar my dad’s and my tastes are. We were literally in the back row, but right before the show started and man walked up and gave up 2 tickets, about half way up the venue (his parents weren’t able to make it). Keillor is amazing – he is a true story teller. Despite Sheryl Crow being there (ugh), KD Lang and Martin Sheen made for an engaging night. Despite our free seat upgrades, another favorite moment was during the commercial break when we all sang old timey songs together.

 ISF Group – I started meeting with some friends from ISF at the beginning of the year. It has been such a gift to get to dig in and live life with them. I had struggled “finding my place” at ISF and this group helped me to settle in even more. There have been deep cries and deep laughs and everything in between. And if that wasn’t enough, there was Christmas in July.

Being moved by my community – My dear family and friends moved me while I was on my 3-week (details on why I had to move under Lowlights). It has been a lifelong struggle for me to accept the help of those around me. Usually, I will refuse help and do it on my own. It became clear that it would not be possible and my lovely community stepped together. It was humbling, but mostly I felt so loved. This experience is monumental in some ways. Thanks again to the amazing Chels and Leigh for coordinating the move (who said “forget about it – we have it covered”), and for my friends and family who came together to move and unpack me.

Season 5 of Lost – Perhaps this entry seems a bit out of place. I do love this show and Season 5 was a blast! Only one more season left – ahh!!! And yes, I am a nerd.










Fall Retreat to Vallyermo – Fall semester was so very challenging. I came straight back from my retreat into school, work, life. During Torrey conference (in which classes are canceled for half of the week), I spontaneously decided to take a 48 hour retreat to one of my favorite retreat centers – St. Andrews Abbey in Vallyermo. The trees were adorned with autumnal colors and it provided a gorgeous background for me to rest. There weren’t any ground breaking moments – just time to step back and catch my breath. It was nice having some friends close by during the retreat and I especially enjoyed our night with the raccoons. =)




Nose Piercing – This was very symbolic for me, as if I was learning even more how to walk in my freedom. I have wanted my nose pierced for years, but kept talking myself out of it. Finally, I decided to just do it. My wonderful brother purchased my piercing as a birthday gift. He drove me over (while I started freaking out about it), encouraged me and even held my hand during the piercing. Ok, I hate needles, but this was one of the least painful things in my life. It was so quick and easy. Plus, I realized how traumatic the sound of the ear piercing gun is – a plain needle is much more relaxing. Thanks again to Lindsay V for the recommendation of Outer Limits.



My 2009 Lowlights

Jane’s suicide – A friend of the family took her life last spring. Suicide is hard regardless, but it brought up a lot of memories of my brother’s attempts. This loss was incredibly hard for my mom and led to some difficult times for her. It was hard for me to witness her like that and reminded me of how things were when I was younger.

Having my housing situation blow up – Less than two weeks before my 3-week retreat there was an incident at my house. I don’t want to get into details here (if you know me well, you know the details), but it was very traumatic and hurtful.

Loosing a job – I found out, without any notice, that I was loosing one of my jobs. I started writing business plans back in 2008 and it had been a major contributor to my monthly income. My boss recently decided to stop this aspect of his company. Still figuring out how to supplement the income.

Going off anti-depressants – After about a year on anti-depressants my Dr. decided to wean me off them. Although it was a slow process, it still was hard; however, it wasn’t till the end of the process that I realized how challenging it was.

Accessories to my journey this year (not exhaustive)


Harry Potter (the books)

Peets Coffee


30 Rock & Community






Chels & Leigh

Various Songs: Der Gang Zum Liebchen, Here is Love, Hoppipolla, How He Loves, Zero to Hero, Jai Ho, Chasing Pavements, Come Ye Disconsolate, For the Beauty of the Earth, All Creatures, Yahweh, What a Friend, What a Child is Meant to Be, Ode to Joy.

Wednesday Night Group

Julie and Julia

ISF group

Study Wednesdays with mein brudder!


My gorgeous journal, hand crafted by Chels and Leigh


Brian VanDragt

ISF Staff

Various Podcasts: Relevant, This American Life, Prairie Home Companion, The Moth

Here’s to the close of one story-worthy year, and to the opening of a new one!


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