366 Days of 2016

Originally posted on January 2, 2017

I’ve never liked the idea of clocks telling me what to do, or that my years on this planet should equate to a certain chapter in my life, or that I should feel a certain way because “one year has gone by.” In my opinion, time is an incredibly arbitrary measurement. And yet, here I am, reflecting on the now archived 2016. The fun part is, I can physically look back on the last 366 days (yes, 366. It was a leap year). And I have to say, it’s much more enjoyable to do your reflecting by literally looking through every single day.

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I did a lot this year. I visited twenty-two states (two of which were new), and I traveled to Canada for the first time. I went vegetarian for a year. I learned how to ski tour. I built a bed in my car. I ran the Mont Blanc Marathon. I fully realized that I am a cat person. I went surfing for the first time. I watched four great friends get married. I slept on top of El Cap. And I completed my photo a day project.

This photo a day project completely transformed my year. It motivated me to engage with my surroundings again. There were so many days where all I wanted was to say no and close my bedroom door, but then that wouldn’t have produced a good photo, now would it? The actual disappointment of taking a lame photo would motivate me to get out the door, to find the good light, and to find the action. In doing so, I participated, which started a habit of always saying yes. So here’s a special shout out to Ian MacLellanand his photo a day, who was the original inspiration for this project (and who also taught me everything I know!)

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The year started off with my sister. She followed me back to Boulder, CO to help me get back on my feet and I am eternally grateful to have her in my life. I think she was also pretty grateful that her relocation supplied her with plenty of mountains to train for the 80k du Mont Blanc. Which, she crushed.

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I was also fortunate enough to spend my summer working for an incredible outdoor adventure camp for kids. I discovered a passion for teaching that I didn’t know existed, specifically for rock climbing. I learned a lot about myself this past summer and felt wonderfully focused and engaged when I was teaching the sport I loved. I hope to continue this passion in the years to come.

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Though my time at camp was fulfilling, it was also exhausting and I don’t think I ever caught up from going zero to sixty. I was feeling lost and angry and even further from Ethan. So I took a risk: I subletted my room, moved into my car, and hit the road. For four months, I traveled the western united states.

During that time, I reconnected with my life and myself. I focused a lot of time on running and climbing again and was psyched to reach most of my physical goals. I found a lot of happiness in the simplicity of my decisions and I met wonderful people who made me feel inspired again. I found a lot of positive momentum in regards to my photography and my life. So I’ve decided to not return to Boulder, and instead to continue living out of my car and allowing it to take me to where I need to be.

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Perhaps the moments that I am most grateful for are the hours, days, weeks, and months I spent in the company of old friends and new friends. If anything, 2016 showed me that there is still a lot of life to be lived. There are still so many places to live and so many people to meet. And while I’m comforted by the life long friends I have now, I can’t wait to add more to the list.

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At the beginning of the year, I was so close to putting the camera down for good. 366 days later, I’ve taken thousands and thousands of new photos and see my work getting better every day. I taught myself different editing techniques across most of the Adobe platforms and I even learned to code a small amount in order to customize my own websites and blogs. I’ve grown more as an artist and love seeing how it applies to my photography. And boy, it feels pretty good to get paid for it, too. 

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Though it’s fun reflecting on a year gone by, I do think time adds unnecessary stress and pressure. January 1st is neither a new year nor a year’s end. It is just another day; one we wake up to like any other and step into carrying the experiences and wisdom we obtained the day before. Time only exists in the past and future, but it is in the present that we get to decide what to do with our time.