It’s that time of year when you can sense the freshness of new beginnings and best-intentioned resolutions in the air. When the feeling of people who are eager to take on challenges, quizzes, and new behaviors to try to kick bad habits or live their best lives surround us at every look and turn.
It perplexes me that within the next few days this resolution glow will always inevitably stars to fade. Within weeks, it’ll been gone completely for the majority of us.
Come February, those resolutions will be so far gone, the world will start feeling like we might as well be in November again, waiting for the next January to come around to reset our intentions, ambitions, and goals.
I don’t know why we’re programmed to reach this level of deep, obligatory reflection only once a year. Or even more so, why we’re then over it so quickly.
Over the years, I’ve increasingly started to think more deeply and frequently about my life – where I’ve come from, and where I’m headed…but like the masses I find myself more deeply digging into these things at this time of year.
So, for my first post of 2019, I wanted to express my gratitude for the year behind and excitement for the one ahead, as a hopeful pledge I can maintain these sentiments throughout the full year ahead.
Here’s a look back at my 2018 and a few things I learned along the way:
1. January – Make Adventure a Priority
Mitch & I started our year the only way we know how, with an epic road trip.
Our first trek was road-tripping back from Florida to Colorado after visiting family for the holidays. We journeyed through Mobile, Biloxi, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, and Amarillo, to name a few.
On our journey, we drove up the Capulin Volcano in New Mexico and visited a very snow-covered Cadillac Ranch. In a few days, we had already crossed some very big to-do’s off our bucket lists, and we still had 360 days of 2018 to go!
What I loved about the start to this past year was that it was filled with things that make my soul happy – adventure, my loved ones, and exploring the world around us.
By the time we got home, our new puppy had officially been to more states than months she was old! Start ‘em young folks.
2. February – Take a Risk
After initially thinking about having a longer engagement, Mitch and I decided we didn’t want to wait that long to be married to each other. in February, we officially locked in our wedding venue to get married in September of 2018.
There was only one catch, the venue we picked wasn’t built yet.
For those who know me well, the anxiety and trepidation of not being sure if you’d actually have a wedding venue for your big day, or let alone knowing what in the world it would actually look like, would not normally sit well.
But for some reason, this time it didn’t feel that scary.
We had a feeling it was our place, even just by the construction site that sat before us. More on this later, but spoiler alert, it worked out pretty damn well and we couldn’t have imagined being married anywhere else!
3. March – Go with the Flow
Last year I travelled to more places in one year than I probably have ever before. Not only was my work travel calendar hectic, so was our personal travel schedule – due in part to three weddings in Mitch’s family, all over the globe!
March kicked off this craziness for both travel calendars. For work, I found myself in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Orange County. In between these trips, I snuck in a trip to Fort Myers to celebrate my new sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s wedding, right before my own birthday back in Colorado.
If you’re tired just reading this, don’t feel bad…it was a lot.
At the time, one of my coworkers gifted me the gem of her motto “Embrace the Chaos”. I cannot tell you how much I have returned to this mantra this past year since.
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do except to go with the flow and match the rhythm of the world around you and just enjoy the ride. Things always have a way of balancing and sorting themselves back to normal eventually.
4. April – Go Off the Grid
One of the key takeaways I had for myself in 2018 came from the importance of both physically and literally going off the grid.
In April, Mitch and I took a trip to Moab, UT with the pups. It was a dream for me to experience Arches & Canyonlands National Parks, as well as Deadhorse State Park.
Watching the stars come out from behind the iconic red rock and light up the sky is a favorite memory that will stay with me forever.
Later in the year, I made the leap from limiting time on social media to getting rid of my Facebook all together. Getting space, both physically and mentally from the world around us is so important. It’s something I’ve started to make a priority for myself and encourage you to give it a try too.
5. May – Family & Friends Over Everything
This one is something I’ve felt like I’ve always tried to prioritize, but came back tenfold when Mitch and I returned home to Pittsburgh for our engagement party hosted by my parents. We were showered in love, from family and friends who had supported us both individually and together as a couple through thick and thin.
Feeling the love and support from our loved ones made Mitch and I feel over the moon. Celebrating the good times with your dearest and truest are things you have to prioritize.
Right after our engagement party, we were on a weekend trip to Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota when our dog, Max, started experiencing symptoms that we later learned were a result of his stomach flipping. In the middle of the night, in a heavy rainstorm, over an hour’s drive to the only open emergency vet, we were able to get him in for an emergency surgery. We were able to get him the care he needed and he has since then made a full recovery.
Although it took our trip for a terrifying turn, it also became a re-centering moment for us. It was a bold reminder that in the end, it didn’t matter if we didn’t make it to Custer State Park to see the buffalo. All that mattered was that our boy was ok and that we were together.
Sometimes wanderlusts like myself can get caught up in our love for adventure and exploring. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean anything without your people (and pups) by your side.
6. June – You’re Worth it
Every once in a while, you have to treat yourself to the fancy life. This past June, Mitch and I did just that when we attended our first film festival – Series Fest in Denver, CO.
During the festival, we got to meet some actors James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti from one of our favorite teen dramas One Tree Hill as they launched a new pilot for their show. After our meeting, we even got a Twitter & Instagram shout out from them.
Yeah, we were on Cloud 9.
Our lives got fancier when one of my close friends from college surprised us with VIP passes to the feature event at Red Rocks where we got to enjoy the VIP event, premiere of Yellowstone, and musical performance by Lady Antebellum!
It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. And you know what the funny thing was? When it was happening, it didn’t feel that out of reach our out of our ball game. We fell right into step and we pulled it off quite well. With a little luck and great friends, sometimes all you have to do is show up for an incredible experience that might just become a favorite new memory.
7. July – People are People
In July, we ventured to South America for our brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in Cali, Colombia. It was our first time to Colombia, and first time in a while since I got to brush up and use some Spanish.
Being outside of your comfort zone is always an equally thrilling and nerve-racking experience. During the week, we stayed with my sister-in-law’s family on their finca in the beautiful lush mountain side of the country.
While we were there, a wonderful thing happened that tends to happen often when you visit other parts of the world. You recognize that no matter where you go or where you are, humans are all the same at heart. No matter the language you speak or where you live, there’s always something that can bring us together, in this case love and celebration.
Our friendships and relationships forged in South America are ones that we’ll carry with us forever.
8. August – The Way the Cookie Crumbles
In August, my heart was broken. After several months in and out of the hospital, my grandmother passed away on August 18th. My relationship with my grandmother was a huge and special part of my life, and I still miss her deeply every day.
She passed a week after Mitch & I got back to Pennsylvania, on the day I was supposed to have my bachelorette party. I’m incredibly blessed to have such good girlfriends who were so understanding and there for me through this week, and countless others for that matter in my life.
It breaks my heart we didn’t get more time with her, but I am forever thankful to get to see her and spend time with her when we did. We always wish there was more time, don’t we?
My grandmother always used to say “That’s the way the cookie crumbles” when things happened. She accepted life as it happened, and rolled with the punches with such grace unmatched by anyone else I’ve ever known.
This was polar opposite to my reaction of trying to put together the pieces when courses of events happened in my life – analyzing why things happened, what could’ve happened if things had been different, what could be done if x,y,z.
Even in her final days, she was so calm and accepting. If I can try to maintain an ounce of the composure that she had when things go astray in life, I’ll be much better for it.
9. September – Love Conquers All
On a beautiful day in September, I got to marry the love of my life in a beautiful picturesque ceremony in the mountains in front of our nearest and dearest. A weekend in the mountains to celebrate with our loved ones was all we wanted, and the day was even better than our wildest dreams.
Coming off of such heartbreaking pain and loss, I was reminded how lucky I am for my husband, and all of my loved ones for that matter. My grandmother loved my husband deeply, and it still makes me so happy that she met and got to know the man I decided to give my heart to.
The realization that I’ve finally found my person and I can feel at home, is the best feeling there could ever be. We started our marriage the same way as our year, with a cross-country road trip back to Pittsburgh, making fun memories along the way for the first time as husband and wife.
10. October – Home is Where the Heart Is
Being home in Pittsburgh has been a mixed bag of some tough and happy times. We miss Colorado and the mountains we love so much. It’s hard to top being able to surround yourself in such beauty just by walking out the door, and being surrounded by like-minded people who appreciated the outdoors the way we do.
But being able to be close to our family, particularly in this challenging time has been the most incredible blessing. There are still challenges my family is up against, and being able to be here to help and be a part of it is something I wouldn’t change for the world.
11. November – Gratitude is the Best Attitude
Every Thanksgiving as long as I can remember, my family would load up our minivan to travel down to North Carolina to celebrate Turkey Day with our relatives down south. There’s a lake house that’s been in the family for ages in the middle of nowhere in the countryside of North Carolina that I’m convinced could be one of the most perfect places on Earth.
This year Mitch experienced his first Carolina Thanksgiving and it warmed my heart in so many ways. Being able to announce him to my extended family as my husband, and share this special tradition with him was truly a memorable trip.
12. December – In the end, it will all be ok…
Across the past few weeks leading up to December, my work travel had increased again. Traveling during the winter, working hard, and running myself down caught up to me.
After returning home from Chicago, I ended up being diagnosed with pneumonia. After initially taking antibiotics, I had to go to the ER and be admitted for a week to combat the severe pneumonia that had developed in my right lung.
I’d never been admitted to the hospital before this happened. I never had to go to the ER before. I was scared. I had never been so sick in my entire life.
As the days passed, I did my best to heal and slowly get my body back to normal. I’m still recovering now.
And then, days after my terrible nightmare, a beautiful daydream emerged. Our new niece came into the world right after Christmas and let us kick off 2019 with one of the most wonderful holidays gifts you could ask for.
Slowly, beauty started coming back to the world. This is when the saying of if not’s ok yet, then you’re not at the end started to come through loud and clear.
Have grace through faith. Our stories are ones that are continually being written and told.
A song by Young Rising Sons is playing as I write this last line. The lyric – “Just let it go and enjoy the ride. Without a low, there ain’t a high” echoes through my room. And I couldn’t agree more.
Cheers, friends. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and adventure-filled 2019 ahead!