And so I bring you my #2016bestnine. This is a collection of photos curated from my Instagram. And, rather than use the ones the #2016bestnine website put together for me (which uses the nine photos with the most likes), I decided to put the collage together myself and include the photos and moments that meant the most to me over the past 12 months. Here's why I chose these nine photos to represent 2016.
Top Row, Left to Right
(RE)MADE IN LA.
This "MADE IN LA" street art lives on a wall in the heart of West Hollywood. During a stroll down Melrose Avenue with my dear friend Felicia in early December, she captured me standing in front of it. Even only a few months into living in LA, I knew I'd made the right decision -- and, once I took this photo, I felt even more at home in the City of Angels.
LIFE'S A SCOOT.
Ah, the broken ankle saga of 2016 ... and the knee scooter that launched my #youcancallmehotwheels hashtag! In the midst of my broken ankle woes, I must admit I wasn't always happy and positive, as much as I tried to portray myself as such to the outside world. I had my doubts that I'd heal, my days of sadness and anger at the situation. But this knee scooter CHANGED MY LIFE. I finally felt like I was able to be a citizen of the world again, not hindered by a walker or crutches and able to zoom around the city of Cleveland without a care in the world (or, okay, almost without those). Using this device is how, slowly, I really started feeling like myself again.
SMILES WITH MY BESTS.
My best friend, Katie, has stuck with me since we were 10 years old. Sometimes I can't believe we've known each other for almost 30 years. She and her wonderful son, Walter, visited me almost every day for the first two weeks I was back in Cleveland with my broken ankle. Their daily visits perked me up more than I can even express and really helped me stay positive even when I just wanted to cry and feel sorry for myself.
Middle Row, Left to Right
FINALLY WALKING AGAIN.
My mom took this photo the minute I started walking on my own after two long months. We walked down my street in Los Angeles, the sun shining, and I couldn't believe it was finally happening. I won't lie -- it was the most painful experience of my life (yes, even more painful than the actual break and recovery). But it felt amazing nonetheless -- because I knew I was finally, FINALLY, on the road to healing.
DRAMATIC WEIGHT LOSS.
I continue to see positives in my ankle break -- and the fact that I lost a bunch of weight happens to be one of the most incredible takeaways of the entire experience. For years, I was way heavier than I wanted to be, but I was too lazy to make a change. After I broke my ankle, though, I lost weight rather than packing on the pounds. The photo on the left is from February, two weeks before the break. The photo on the right is from November 5. I no longer dread looking in the mirror. My clothes fit better -- and I can finally wear clothes I hadn't fit into for years, like that Vince top. And the best part is, I FEEL better. I'm still not at my goal weight, but you know what? That's okay.
The Colette Miller Angel Wings are all over LA. Seriously, you can find them in every neighborhood. And, no matter how many times I come across them, I'm stunned into silence at their beauty. During a trip to the mall in Woodland Hills with my cousins over the summer, we stumbled upon these, and I just HAD to take a photo. I love the message of the Angel Wings, which is to spread peace and love across the world. There's nothing more beautiful than that.
Bottom Row, Left to Right
MEETING LISA LUDER.
Street Food Cinemas is one of my favorite discoveries of LA. They plan outdoor movies all over the city, showing old favorites you can't help but want to go to! I went to a showing of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion with my lovely friends Joe and Tom (who, separate from this photo, were actually a major part of why my year was so wonderful -- because THEY are so wonderful). And, not only did we have a fabulous time watching the movie, but we got to meet the one and only Elaine Hendrix, who played Lisa Luder in the film! She couldn't have been cooler or sweeter, and we were all on Cloud 9. Yes, even people who live in LA get starstruck from time to time!
MODIFIED TREE POSE.
As one might expect, breaking my ankle definitely hindered my balance. I went to physical therapy twice a week for about six months to try and get my body back to normal. My mom took this photo in July, four months to the day after my surgery. Was my tree pose perfect then? Not yet. But if you'd told me on that day that only a few months later I'd be standing on my right leg in the middle of West Hollywood, I never would have believed you. This photo symbolized the continuing balance of my mind, body and soul. And you know what? I'm back to doing tree pose for real.
SMALL FAMILY, BIG FURNITURE.
If you are ever in LA, you simply MUST visit The Broad. This modern art museum in Downtown Los Angeles contains some of the best artists and works of art you can imagine (Jeff Koons and Rothko, anyone?). My mom and brother visited me in October and I snagged tickets to the museum (you have to get them at least a month in advance). And, of course, we couldn't get enough of Under the Table by Robert Therrien. This oversized table and chairs installation is a major photo op -- seriously, you can't visit the museum without snapping a pic here -- and it's totally worth it! It's quickly become one of my all-time favorite photos of my family.
I think it's pretty easy to see from this collection that my year, even with its trials and tribulations, has been overwhelmingly positive. I am so happy in LA and I feel like I've worked so hard throughout my life just to get to this moment and this place. Things have come together better than I ever could have imagined.
I truly wish the same for all of you, dear readers. I hope that, even if you struggled this year, the next one will be better for you. Cheers to a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year.