2019: A Review

Well guys, I guess we’ve made it.  In just a few short hours, 2019 will be over, and a whole new year - and decade - will have begun.

2019 was, in retrospect, probably one of the most eventful years of my life.  A short summary would be that I moved across the country 3 times to live in 4 different states, became a doctor, and began residency.  But where’s the fun in short summaries when you can spend a couple hours (of writing, not reading - y’all are saved) reminiscing about the highs and lows of the past 12 months.  And, to make it more interesting, I decided to choose a different word to represent each month because, why not? So, without further adieu, here’s 2019: A Review

January: Eager
Yes, I was eager in January.  It was the first month of this new year, and I was ready to hit the ground running.  2019 held great promise for adventure - moving to New Mexico, interviewing for residencies, graduating, starting my first optometry job - and I couldn’t wait.  During this month, I kept myself busy: going skiing with family (never ski with 30 mph winds at 17 degrees when they’re making snow.), traveling north to see two of my favorite humans (and a spectacular blood moon), playing dark snowball to for hours on end with cousins, finishing my rotation at the NC VA, and finally packing my bags and car as the last few days of January came to an end, and beginning my cross country trek to the beautiful Land of Enchantment.

February: Enchanted
February is the month of love, right? It should come as no surprise then, that this second month of 2019 was simply enchanting - well, almost.
The first day of February, I will probably never forget. Dad and I had made it to Houston the previous night - at rush hour, in a downpour, through the third ward, after 7 hours straight in the car.  I hated it. Everything about it. All I wanted to do was pack the car back up and keep trucking through to New Mexico. Forget the interview - I’d tell them I wasn’t interested.
But Dad wasn’t about that.  Much to my dismay, he told me that we had made it that far - I was going to interview at Houston.  If I still hated the world by noon, I could tell the doctors that it didn’t feel like a good fit, leave early, and keep trekking west.
I wasn’t pleased, but I got up early the morning of Feb 1st and went to that interview… where I proceeded to tell the docs my honest opinion of Houston from my 16 hour exposure.  As 4:00 rolled around, my hatred had diminished - okay, fine, I loved the docs - but I also felt a certain safety: I’d never be moving to Houston. After all, who in their right mind would rank a candidate who blatantly admitted: Yeah, when I got here I hated Houston.
From this point, however, the month was sunshine and roses.  Literally.
My home in New Mexico was everything I had ever dreamed.  With a beautiful patio, 2 car garage, 3 bedrooms, fireplace, generous owner, and brilliant view of the mountains mere miles away, I was hooked.  And then I met my coworkers and patients, who were absolutely amazing.
I was in love.
And, as ice cream on this glorious pie, I had the opportunity to travel to the east coast for another interview (hooray first rental car!), swing by home just in time for Valentines, and go to my first (second, and third) national park with my official travel/adventure buddy (Cousin? Friend? Did we ever figure this out?). 
Yes, February, my dear, you were enchanting.

March: Exploration
March was a month for exploration - without a doubt.  Most of the month I spent out and about - well, as often as I could without getting in trouble for missing work :)
It was as if I could not soak up the beauty of my new home fast enough. Nearly every day after work, I sped out to the mountains - hiking miles, catching sunsets.  The weekends, I ventured further - seeing the Gila Cliff Dwellings, trying my first Hatch Green Chiles. Every day seemed to hold its own glorious adventure.
March was coincidentally the month when my greatest adventure of the year truly began.  At 6:00 MST on the morning of March 18th (Residency Match Day), I woke to an email: “Congratulations. You have matched with the University Eye Institute.”
I won’t lie - there were tears.. And not happy ones.  I had been so sure that I wasn’t heading back to Houston.  I had had dreams of being placed at another site, not that my dreams are ever prophetic - thank God - but still!  I had come to love the wilderness of New Mexico so much - why would I want to go to the 4th largest city in the nation? Why did I have to give up my mountains for a place virtually as flat as northwest Ohio?!
But I had prayed extensively about the match - that God would place me where He wanted me - and the rules of the match were clear - there was no changing it once you were matched.
Yes, I was going to Houston.
Growing up, Dad always said that we have two options in life - be happy with what we are doing, or change what we’re doing and be happy with that.
This time, I couldn’t change my direction, but I could change my attitude, and so, I put on my best happy face, and threw myself into preparing for this new adventure.

April: End
During the month of April, I thought a lot about endings.  This fourth month brought the end of two chapters of my story - my time in New Mexico and my journey through optometry school - and I wasn’t ready. And so, there were countless days that I never wanted to end - from nights at White Sands, to sunsets on Tortugas, to my first time biking the back-route hills, to visits from some of my favorite people.
But the days did pass, and before I knew it, I had packed up my life once more and started the trip back to Ohio.
I’ll admit, I was not the best of travel companions as we made our way towards the Midwest.  Shout out to Mom for tolerating my moodiness and letting me keep hold of the wheel - the one little piece of life that I felt like I could control.

May: Grey.
First off - look y’all, I changed my letters.
Second - I’m taking a poll: do you spell grey - grey or gray? Or does it matter?
In any case, May was a gray month (I think I like that better.  And I rhymed - I swear it wasn’t intentional.)
From the outside, it probably looked pretty stellar.  After all, on May 5th, I finally finished the degree I’d been pursuing for 4 years.  I was supposed to be excited, right?
In all reality though, I really wasn’t.
I was burnt out. I missed my mountains. I missed my coworkers. I missed the heat.
And most of all, I missed the sun.
I am not exaggerating to say that we went the entire month of may without breaking 72 hours without rain. It was excessive.  For the second time, in 4 years, we didn’t plant a single field (which was what I had been most excited about coming home for).  Aside from that, none of my plans panned out. I wanted to travel, but kept putting it off in hopes of a dry week to help with planting.  I wanted to find a house, but try as I might consistently came up empty handed. I wanted to get all my ducks in a row regarding licensure, but papers got lost (multiple times), and documents were slow in processing.
It was like a gray cloud was hanging over all of my dreams.
And that was May.

June: Provision
This month could also be entitled “trust”, as it would seem that God’s provision quite often follows an opportunity where we are called to trust Him. However, I still suck at trusting, and so, June will be called the month of provision.
Over the course of these 30 days, God provided exceedingly abundantly more than I could think or ask on multiple occasions - flights, hotels, cars, food, timing - the doors  that he opened at just the right time were innumerable. And while many of these moments were memorable, the most notable is a story that I hope to share for many years to come.
It’s no secret that I had had a difficult time finding housing in Houston.  I had looked almost daily beginning in March, and still had nothing to show for my efforts come the first week of June.  So, one afternoon, Dad and I decided to pack our bags, drive to the airport and fly down for a couple days (yes, that was literally all the more thought we put into the decision).  I was positive that this would be it. But, two long, hot, tiring days of searching later, I was still without a house, and we were both back in Ohio for my last 3 days at home before the official move.
On the early afternoon of June 17th, we finished packing all the belongings that could fit in my car, said goodbye to the fam, and took off with no destination but Houston - somewhere.  2:00 CST the next afternoon, we pulled into town. (Yes, it’s an 18+ hour drive. Yes, we drove over 13 hours, only stopping to get gas. Yes, we might be crazy.). We still had no idea where we were going, so we literally drove around until we made it to a suburb, saw a decent looking hotel, and unanimously decided that we could sit in the car no longer, so it would be our base of operations - providing they had a room.
They did.
That night, we prayed, searched, ate BBQ, searched, and prayed some more.
This is probably the point in the story where I should give some more timeline details.  It was Tuesday. I had a flight out of town to see Hugh Jackman live in Chicago with my friends Thursday night. I would get back into town Sunday late, and then head to my first day of work bright and early Monday morning.  That gave us approximately 36 hours - including sleeping - to find a place, move in, get Dad a flight home, and get me on my flight back. Time was not on our side.
God, however, was.
Wednesday rolled around.  I made phone calls (none of which were returned).  We went on tours. Nothing was working. I was hot, frustrated, and exhausted - completely ready to throw in the towel and give up on finding a place.
About 4:00 though, Dad found one last option.  Begrudgingly, I hopped back in the car to go check it out.
To my disbelief, everything about the place felt right.  As soon as Dad and I finished the tour and hopped back in the car, we looked at each other and knew there was nothing that needed to be discussed: We had finally found my home.
Within an hour, we were back on the premises with a signed lease, set to move in the next morning - after the final inspection had been completed.
You see, the day of our tour they were literally putting the finishing touches on what was to become my home.  It could not have been rented out any earlier.
It’s funny though - that night as Dad and I ate dinner, I kept expecting a feeling of relief, or maybe of exceeding joy and gratitude, to flood over me.  It never did.
But that’s okay.  Over the past 6 months, I have come to see His hand working so often through where He has placed me - even in the moments where my emotions don’t seem to match my reality - and so, I am grateful for his merciful provision.

July: Freedom
Come on, what’d you expect from a girl who loves all things summer?
July was, in many ways, a month of freedom.  Clinic was pretty chill, as I was paired up with the Peds resident for most all of my patient encounters, and I had weekends generally free to roam.  Once my aforementioned adventure buddy/cousin/friend introduced me to the wonders of Texas beaches (okay, they’re probably not the “ideal” beaches, but again, SUMMER - all I need is water and waves), there was no looking back.

August: Adjustment
With the arrival of August came a lot of changes.  The other, more organized part of my brain (aka the Peds resident), was stripped from me, and I was left to see patients on my own (shocking, I know).  As such, I was expected to see more patients in less time, without the aid of the person who I’d literally just spent the last 6 weeks learning to work with.  Aside from that, there were new rotations, new attendings, and new expectations.
In my personal life, I began attending a new church, and tried to branch out and meet new people.  One worked, the other did not.

September: Wet.
September, as a whole, was going to be a pretty non-descript month.  After Labor Day spent with family, I settled into a glorious routine of: work all week, beach all end.
That is until a tropical storm decided to back track into Houston, flooding the city, canceling clinics, and grounding all flights.
Including the one that I had had booked for months to head to the Midwest to hang out with my people.
Oops.
But yeah, September wasn’t much to write home about.
*still a mite bit salty about that one*

October: Exhausted
For whatever reason, October seemed to just drag on and on and on.
Sure, I still enjoyed what I was doing, but there was a part of me that really wanted to stay in bed every morning rather than getting up and heading to clinic.  Even after what was supposed to be a relaxing visit from Mom. But, October was Academy month, and all I had to do was make it to the last weekish of the month, and I would finally have a break.
So, I hopped on a plane - poster in tow (I presented for the first time!) - and made my way to Orlando, where I proceeded to sit through 4 days of lectures -only t come back home more tired than I was before.
Which perfectly set the stage for November.

November: Done.
If you want to see details about the 11th month of this solar rotation, please refer to my previous post.  In short, I was stressed, anxious, sick, and generally miserable for most of the month. So, most days I struggled to make it through work, only to come home, eat dinner, and pass out by 7:30.
Highlights of the month, however, included attempting (and failing) to find a pumpkin patch, going to the zoo, and heading to the Carolinas to spend Thanksgiving with my southern fam.
And that was it.

December: Blessed
December was, in a word, everything that November failed to be.  Well, more or less.
With such a late Thanksgiving, there was fantastically little time between my trek to the Carolinas and Christmas. Plus, we were on interim schedule in clinic, which broke up the monotony of my regular semester schedule.
And so, with December’s dawn, I found myself awakening from my November nodding to 31 days full of potential.
In this time, I was able to see almost all of my favorite people, including 2 days with my southern fam, 3 days with my favorite dogs (and their humans… Thanks Indy snow storm for that extra day!), 5 days with my immediate fam, a few hours each with the non-blood people who have put up with me since I was tiny, and several evenings with some of the best little humans I know.  Not to mention all of the time spent with the Houstonians (and transplants) who have somehow managed to nudge their way into my life.
Oh yeah, and I got to cut down my own Christmas tree, decorate my little home, enjoy the Houston Zoolights, and spend the holidays in joyous worship of the one who came “to save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.”

Tidings of comfort and joy indeed.


To all those who were instrumental in making 2019 the stellar year that it was, thank you so much.  Y’all mean the world to me.

From my little home to yours,
Happy New Year!

-Hannah

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