The best years of my life? That's a hard question. Here are the options:
My pre-school years were the best years of my life.
Sure, I was born four weeks early and had to spend a week in the hospital getting into fighting shape, but I was born to a great family! I had an older brother that loved having me around, and we lived in a great area. My parents moved us to another great area in Michigan just a few months later, which was even better! Now I was closer to my extended family, who all loved me and wanted to hold me.
And what could make it better? A little sister! A little baby sister that my brother and I fawned over. Someone that we spoke up for and did everything for, even when we probably should have been letting her do it herself. I got to spend all day every day with my mother, and my father was home for short periods throughout every day so I got to see him too! I got to go to work with Dad sometimes, and I'd spin in his spinny chair and crawl under the church pews.
Yup, before I went to school, I was having the best years of my life.
My elementary school years were the best years of my life.
Before school started, I was stuck at home ALL. THE. TIME. Now that I was in school, I got to go with my big brother and have a backpack and take a lunch in a really cool cartoon lunchbox! I learned how to read and devoured book after book after book. My family added a baby brother - the cutest baby on the face of the earth, mind you - but I didn't have to hear him cry all the time because I was at school!
I got to play sports, and I loved volleyball and basketball! We were really good, too - we almost won the volleyball championship once! I started learning how to play piano, and "Freight Train" was the best piano song of all time. I learned how to ride a bike and I learned the route from home to the library so I could go whenever I wanted and get a backpack full of books!
I got to sing solos in school plays, got really good grades, played tons of "Oregon Trail" on the computer, and had really good friends - including my little sister! My mom showed what a good musician was all about, so I joined the Junior Bell Choir and Senior Choir as soon as I could!
The local sports teams started winning championships when I was in elementary school: Michigan won the 1997 National Championship in football, the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997 and 1998. I started watching ESPN and SportsCenter became my favorite show. My Dad took me to sports games and taught me everything he knew. Though I loved sports, I still watched a lot of Arthur and Magic School Bus in the mornings, followed by Rugrats, Doug, Animaniacs, and Tiny Toons in the afternoons.
Plus, Star Wars came back, and my Dad took me to see it in the theaters...at 4:00 a.m! On a school night!
Yup, my elementary school years were the best years of my life.
My high school years were the best years of my life.
Ever since I can remember, my parents talked all about Michigan Lutheran Seminary. We went to football games and concerts, and I loved making the trip up the highway to that big campus.
So as soon as I graduated from elementary school, I was ready to hitchhike up to Saginaw! And those years did not disappoint.
As soon as I got there, I became the manager of the girls' basketball team. I stuck with that job my whole high school career - freshman team, JV team, and Varsity team for two years. I never regretted that decision, because I made my closest high school friends and had some incredible experiences. Our team went to the state quarterfinals both years of Varsity, and we won the conference! The team had more superfans than the men's team, and they followed us all over the state, packing the gyms with more visitors than home fans!
I got to be in both spring sports - softball for two years (once year as a STUDENT COACH - something that I'd never seen before!), and then track for two years, where I improved in my skills so quickly that I got to go to some of the weekend meets and get medals!
Oh, and did I mention I also was the watergirl for the football team - one year of JV and one year of Varsity - before becoming their statistician with my best friend and roommate? I got a letter in football!
Not only did I do a ton of sports, I also got to be in two musicals and the first MLS Children's Theater production EVER! In one of the musicals I got a solo! I really liked being behind-the-scenes, too.
And let's not forget the choirs. I was in Concert Choir and we went on tour all the way down to Florida, and then we went east to Pennsylvania. I saw so many amazing sights on those tours! We sang some beautiful songs, and I was asked to be a STUDENT CONDUCTOR for two pieces when our director couldn't be with us on our senior tour. That was when I realized what I wanted to do when I grew up!
My grades were pretty good, too. I really enjoyed my professors and learned a lot of stuff. During the last two years I was there parts of the school were remodeled and I got to use the new additions my senior year. They were so awesome!
My first year my big brother took me under his wing and we hung out all the time! We even had regular Wednesday walks to the local comic book shop and we would talk about everything! Then my last two years my sister was there, and it was so great watching her play volleyball and be in the plays and musicals!
I got to play organ all four years - you usually have to wait till sophomore year to start organ! I got to play in morning chapel a ton of times, and accompanied a few choirs. And when I graduated, I got to play the final hymn in the graduation service.
Yup, I loved high school. Those were the best years of my life.
My college years were the best years of my life.
High school was just the beginning. College was amazing. I had a car on campus and could drive anywhere, from Mankato to Minneapolis and all the way to Wisconsin if I wanted to see my Grama! I loved driving all night to get back home, and see Chicago in the dead of night.
The campus was so much bigger than MLS! Their fitness center was HUGE! I was there all the time, and loved every minute of it. I kind of had to, because the cafeteria was also awesome, and a lot of times they would have peppermint bon-bon ice cream (AKA mint chip) and I would always get a cone. In my fifth year they had late-night caf hours, and you could get chicken strips whenever you wanted!
I learned so much in those five years. My education classes gave me a good start in what to expect as a teacher, but it was my hours in real classrooms that let me see what teaching was like. I loved my student teaching experience.
But I had a double major, and all the music knowledge I gained there was incredible. I didn't think I could learn any more about music, and then I did! I got my first conducting baton, and got to direct the College Choir for my Advanced Conducting class! I got to spend a whole semester doing the music at a church and school, and I had two hours every DAY when I could practice organ!
I still stayed involved in drama - I acted in a musical, a Shakespearean outdoor production, and a Children's Theater weekend before becoming the producer of a Reader's Theater event. I met so many amazing and talented people in those years.
I also met my lifelong friends in those years. We hung out all the time! I was roommates with one of them for two years, and the only reason we didn't stay roommates after that was because we both became RAs. The five of us went on trips, camped, went to the orchestra, and cheered each other on in whatever we were doing! I'm still friends with all of them today.
I got to be in the College Choir for four out my five years. I got to accompany the choir twice and go on four tours, covering the western US, the midwest, and Mexico! The host families we stayed with were incredible, and we would be served so much amazing food. The pieces we sang brought my choral experience to a whole other level.
I really became outgoing in college, and was confident in so many things. Those were the best years of my life.
My twenties are the best years of my life.
I thought I was good at stuff in college. And then I got better at them after I left. Take organ playing. I was only starting to scratch the surface of my abilities in college. Now I am playing large pieces with confidence. I can put together difficult pieces in a shorter amount of time. I am being asked to play for large weddings on large organs.
My conducting skills have also improved. I've conducted Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" as well as a 50-person choir for a Reformation service and a couple of Advent concerts. I have organized countless church services and choir pieces. I would have freaked out with that much responsibility in college!
I have my own place, and I have two cats that love me to bits. I can take vacations to wherever I want, and I have! I've visited Walt Disney World five times in five years and made a part-time career blogging about it. I've spent time in China and the Czech Republic. I've been able to fly around the country and support my family as they take on new endeavors.
I have made new friends and kept the old ones close to me, as well. I've learned how to be a better friend, and can't believe people were friends with me when I had no social skills and probably said some pretty stupid things to them.
I've learned how to be a better teacher, too. I've learned to appreciate my coworkers and ask them for advice. I've learned how to communicate better with teachers and students, and I know that I still have a lot to learn about teaching.
All the stuff I learned from birth on up till college made me who I am today. So without a doubt, these years are the best years of my life. I'm going to try to enjoy them as much as I can. And when I'm feeling down, I'm going to come back and read this article and realize all the blessings God has given me in life, and thank Him as much as I can for all that he's done, and all he will do for me in the future!