Taking a look back on 2014, I realize that a lot has happened. And, if I had to choose just one word to describe this past year, it would be: inspire.
The most recent and exciting news to share is that my boyfriend are engaged. We took a trip to the beach for my birthday and he surprised me with a proposal. My heart is so full and, at the same time, it feels bittersweet when I think about Evan’s impending absence on the big day. But, if Evan were here today, I know he would approve of my fiancé. We have been together for nearly five years; our relationship started and ended in college. A few years after graduation, Evan’s death brought us back into each other’s lives. I take comfort in the fact that my brother and husband-to-be had the opportunity to get know one another.
Two months before our engagement, I traveled to the Midwest to speak on World Suicide Prevention Day at Indiana-Purdue University. What an amazing experience! I faced my fears of public speaking to follow what’s in my heart. I believe that telling others about Evan, along with the lessons I’ve learned since his death, is a meaningful way to help people understand and prevent suicide. My parents joined me on this trip, and I was so happy to have their support and see them in the small audience. We did not have great turnout due to a tornado warning that day – yes, really, a tornado warning. But all bad weather aside; I did meet some amazing students and people in the community who are doing great work to raise awareness about mental illness.
Throughout 2014, I have had amazing opportunities to inspire others to be inspired. As a certified SafeTalk trainer, I have educated 30 para-educators to help make their schools a safer place for kids who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. I walked 18 miles in the Overnight Walk in Seattle, and I shared my story on CNN.com for Mental Health Awareness Month. Beyond my involvement in suicide prevention and outreach, I traveled to Guatemala this year to write about and photograph an amazing surgical team who volunteered to provide desperately needed medical treatment.
I turned 29 this year, and hopefully I can make the last year in my twenties as inspiring as 2014 has been.
In one word, how would you describe this past year and what you are most proud of? Please tell me in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!