Yearly Review: 16 Times 2016 Felt like the #BestYearEver

Looking back at 2016, it's hard to believe that this New Year's will only mark the end of one year. Considering everything I packed into those 365 days, 2016 seemed never ending. I started my first big job. Experienced my first heartbreak. Moved across the country. And oh, yeah - graduated college, too.

As we all prepare for a fresh start in 2017, though, I wanted to give the amazing parts of 2016 their due credit.

casey the college celiac

So, let's take a trip in my (literary) time machine and explore 16 times 2016 felt like the best year ever! 

1. When I went on four walks during my five-day Thanksgiving break. 

I may not have Jessica Simpson's badass boots, but my sneakers are definitely made for walking...every chance I get! This past Thanksgiving, I stayed at my college apartment - all by myself. I ended up doing tons of yoga, whipping up my favorite gluten free dumpling soup (based off of this recipe), and exploring the sea-side cliffs right by my college. 

It was the most boring, reflective and solitary Thanksgiving I've ever had - but also one of the best

2. Surviving applying to eleven grad schools

Fingers crossed that all of those applications will pay off...but whipping out eleven Personal Statements, online applications, reference letters and more is definitely worth a pat on the back. 

(To any other future grad schools peeps: the struggle is real!) 

3. Learning that processed foods can be part of a healthy diet. 

In the three + years since I was diagnosed with celiac disease, my diet has worn many faces. Meat-heavy paleo. 99% whole foods. Plant based. And now, plant based with more processed foods than ever before.

casey the college celiac
Frosty the (smoothie) snowman!
But you know what? I'm healthier for it - in body and mindset. The truth is, the term "processed foods" covers a wide range of products, and every person needs to experiment to find the diet that fits their individual needs. 

Basically, 2016 was a "you do you" kind of year! 

3. Starting and finishing two books in one day - for fun!

This Christmas was quiet for my family. We opened a few presents, cooked a festive supper and went for a walk in the snow. Besides that, I devoured two library books. Definitely the most I've read (for fun) in one day since college began! 

4. Celebrating my 21st birthday (fashionably late) with my favorite girls. 

So I didn't celebrate my birthday that night (unless going to my night class wearing a 21st-birthday-girl sash counts). We didn't celebrate that month either. But when my roommates and I did finally pick a Friday to dress up and go to Stacked, it was definitely worth the wait!

I mean, what wasn't to like? Cute waiters, my first sip of alcohol, delicious (gluten free) food and a surprise trip to CVS afterwards (where we definitely raised some eyebrows with our outfits). A night just quirky enough to be perfect for me. 

casey the college celiac
A girl's night out!
5. Became addicted to chickpeas

I really don't know how I went 21 years without trying - and falling in love - with chickpeas. But don't worry. I corrected that mistake in 2016, quite thoroughly. 

6. Kicking booty on the GRE

Looking back, I'm kind of amazed I survived July. I visited family in Houston; took a day trip to LA to teach a writing class for Entity Magazine; took the GRE (a test for grad school); attended my dad's retirement ceremony that next day; and started the drive to Colorado three days after. 

But - to unabashedly toot my own horn - I still scored a 92% in Verbal Reasoning and a 99% in Analytical Writing. Boo-yah

7. Ate my way through Disneyland

Because the only thing more magical than Disneyland's decorations is its allergy-friendly food. While there were plenty of delicious eats, I'm still dreaming of the vegetarian enchiladas from Tortilla Jo's

8. Explored my new home in Colorado Springs. 

So far, I've only spent one month (in the summer) and two weeks (in the winter, so far) in Colorado Springs, but I've already made plenty of great memories. Walking through a meadow of sunflowers taller than me. Seeing deer hanging around in our front yard. Surviving a flight into Denver the day a snow storm brought in -10 degree weather. 

casey the college celiac
Sis and snow!
It's definitely taking some adjusting to go from California to Colorado (and a lot of heated blankets and layers, to be honest). But I can't wait to see what beautiful surprises I find next! 

9. Helping to empower women in every aspects of their lives with my work at Entity Magazine

When I applied for an internship at Entity last summer, I had no idea if it would work. But it did. When they asked me to stay on throughout my last college semester, I didn't know if I could handle the workload. But I did. And when Entity asked me to be their Senior Editor - starting this January - I wasn't sure if I could handle the responsibility. But I know I can. 

People always say that blessings come when least expected. Entity Magazine definitely fits that cliche, but I know it has a ground breaking future. (Check out the articles I've written for Entity here!) 

10. Whole Foods dates. 

If you've never had a "girl's afternoon out" that consists of hitting the Whole Foods hot bar, you're missing out...on tasty food and even better conversation. 

11. Moving past my first heartbreak...and meeting someone new. 

I never mentioned the new person in my life last semester because, honestly, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I hadn't wanted to meet someone else so soon, especially when I only had a month left at school. But I did, and he showed me a lot of what was missing in my first relationship (that I didn't even realize at the time).

casey the college celiac
During our PF Changs dinner...
He showed me that I deserve to be a priority. That my special diet (and lots of teeth brushing) doesn't make me unworthy of love. That my first relationship wasn't my only shot at something "good" - in fact, I may even find something better

I don't regret my first relationship, and I don't regret this second one either. We both knew it would only last that semester, but I also know we'll remain friends for a very long time. 

12. Trying - and loving - tons of new gluten free products. 

It still amazes me sometimes that the little blog I began three years ago now has enough online "oomph" to partner with companies...but I (and my taste buds) wouldn't change a thing! I tried a lot of products I'd never tasted (or heard of) before, like Namaste Foods' baking mixes, Gaslamp Popcorn, Primizie's Ancient Sprouted Grain chips (my roomies are addicted), paleo goodies from Snackin' Free and more! 

I'll do a roundup of my favorite 2016 products soon...but just know that I am so grateful for the companies that create celiac-safe foods, for the bloggers who share my addiction to unique eats and the readers who've helped make all of this possible

13. Experimenting with my workouts. 

I can now say that I'm: a mud runner; a HITT addict (especially with help from the Nike Training Club app); a weight lifter; a hiker; a one-time Orange Theory survivor (not my thang, I must admit); a hot yogi; and a biker. I'm just someone who loves to move and try new ways of doing that...rock climbing, you may be in my (2017) future! 

casey the college celiac
And hiking with friends is always more fun...
14. Realizing I'm so much stronger than I ever imagined. 

All of these amazing things aren't to say that 2016 didn't have some epically sucky points: getting glutened, feeling homesick, having one computer commit suicide only to drown my new one a few weeks later... 

However, I made it through everything - all on my own. For the first time, my parents weren't living 40 minutes away. I couldn't drive home for a weekend of rest, escape to my folks' house for Thanksgiving or rely on my parents to help me pack or navigate the Apple Store. For the first time, I was on my own - and, at the end of the day, I'd give myself a solid B+ for my semester survival

15. Walking around the Broadmoor Hotel with my family, doing nothing but looking at Christmas lights

''Twas the night before Christmas...and instead of cozying up by the fire, my family faced the icy roads and leftover snow to explore the decorated Broadmoor Hotel. The half-frozen lake accented by lit up trees, glowing wooden deer and patches of fresh snow really felt like the 3D definition of "Winter Wonderland." 

casey the college celiac
Home for the holidays!
There's just something magical about walking around at sunset, bundled up in (three) layers and sharing the awe with your loved ones. By the time we got home, I could barely feel my toes - but (watch out: full corniness ahead) the warmth in my heart made up for it. 

16. Looking back and seeing a chaotic, unexpected, awful, amazing, hell of year. 

During my Monthly Reviews, one of my common comments was: I can't wait to survive this month! But now that 2016's twelve months are coming to a close, New Year's seems a bit bittersweet. I definitely don't want to re-live the cross-country drive or the computer chaos. However, I know I'll miss the quiet nights lazing in my dorm bed with friends; the college classes that frustrate as much as challenge me; and the phone calls home as I look at the ocean. 

But, 2016 has proven that, no matter what 2017 holds, I can handle it. I'm living in a new city and starting a new job. I'm flying back to San Diego to "officially" graduate, and hearing back from grad schools. I'm making it up as I go along. 

casey the college celiac
Fingers crossed that 2017 will be as epic as this huge Christmas tree!

At times, 2016 definitely felt like the best year ever. We'll see how 2017 does at being "the best year ever 2.0." 

What were some of your 2016 highlights? Comment below...or tell me by tweeting @collegeceliackc with the hashtag #gfbestyearever! 


  1. You applied to 11 grad schools AND got scores in the upper 90s on the GRE?! Girl. I am impressed. Sounds like you had an awesome year, and enjoy living in the Springs. It's a cool town. :)

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Joyce! I'm sure you kicked your share of booty this year too!

  2. Such an awesome and (fu)filled year you had! What are you pursuing in grad school!?


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