How did we already get to the 2012 wrap-up post? What a year. For several years now I have measured my life by the mantra that if I'm doing things right, the best year of my life at any given time should always be the last one I've lived.  So many people talk about certain times as their best. Times past. Times when they were young enough to do this or that. Times when they weren't bogged down by the mortgage, and the kids, and the job, and life. Times when they weren't going through the crap they're currently going through.

But strangers, I think 2012 has taught me more than anything else that the make-up of a greatest year is not actually exotic locales and impressive promotions. It's less about what you do and more about what you learn. It's not so much about where you've been but more about whom you've met. And whom you've helped. By that standard, each of our lives have room for greatness. Because each of our lives have people and challenges in them. Whether we live in the Palaun Pacific or the Salt Lake City suburbs, we have the puzzle pieces available to make ourselves into something we can be proud of. And whether we're going to be able to say by the end of 2013 that we just lived our best year depends entirely on what we decide to dobe during it.

Partly because I'm finally starting to learn this lesson, 2012 was my best year. It was also my hardest year. One of my most disappointing and stressful, yet fulfilling and comforting. In 2012 I swam with sharks. I bought a wetsuit and a bike. I trained for an Ironman. I failed an Ironman. Sort of. I helped build a patio. I was manipulated by a drug-addict. I moved to a tropical island. I took some really stupid chances. I finished a clerkship with the greatest judge I could have ever hoped to work for. I took a 2,000 mile road trip across southern Mexico. I ran my slowest marathon. I ran a 5k and as a result was introduced to Prince Edward Island by a great new friend. A cockroach crawled across me on a Ukrainian train. I peeled hundreds of mangoes at 1:00 AM. I threw-up a hot dog. I chopped down banana trees after a typhoon. I ate my weight in baklava. I crammed everything I own into a storage unit. I got lonely. I found out how incredible my friends are and how much they are willing to do to support me. I bought a car from someone I had never met on the other side of the world. I told stories to small crowds. I wrote a lot. I opened up packages from family and friends that were desperately needed. I planned activities for teenagers. I had a broken conversation in Bulgarian at a train station. I walked into a surprise birthday party. I planned a surprise birthday party for someone else. I got freaked out at a Turkish hamam. I played with my nieces and nephew and cried when I had to say goodbye. I worried about my friends. A lot. I made some difficult choices. I made a lot of big mistakes. But did a few good things, too.

I hope I remember what happened in 2012. The good parts and the bad ones. But above all else, I hope I learned from it. The past is an asset, if we use it in that way. And a liability if we let it hold us back. Every year I get less and less sure about what the next year is going to bring. I expect it will be full of surprises. And if history repeats itself, full of strange, too. And I'll cherish the strange, like I always do. Because the usual lets us rest, but the strange makes us laugh, and cry, and think. And all of that laughing and crying and thinking changes us, hopefully for the stranger.

Thank you, dear strangers, for helping me make 2012 my best year. I'm excited to head into a new one with you. May the lessons of 2012 now help the experiences of 2013 Just Get Stranger for us all~