I don't really like recapping things. I like moving forward, moving on, much better. But I want to learn how to reflect better. Introspection always teaches me something about myself, and I want to learn.
A couple weeks ago I placed an order for a book of our first year together. Instead of doing the calendar year I chose August 2016 to August 2017 to chronicle our year in marriage. Because I will probably insist that all our books match from here on out I think I'm locked into that decision. Oh well! For this post however, I'll stick to just 2017.
I nearly finished making the book several months ago, but couldn't quite finish it because I accepted a new job position. I'll be really, really excited to pick up next year's book with that highlight as the beginning, because it could not have come at a more perfect time (I got the call as we were driving towards our anniversary retreat in Palm Springs). After 3 and a half years of working way too many unhealthy hours, I said yes to some balance and a chance to learn some new design skills that I'm passionate about. It made for a great early birthday present.
Flipping through the images I'd already chosen as I went to complete the book, I couldn't help but smile at all the small moments that shone through just as brightly as the really big ones. In the last months of the summer I was so deeply discouraged. I felt like I wasn't being creative at all, I felt like any skills I had were slipping away, and I was exhausted to my core and couldn't recover. If you asked me then, I probably would have said it was not a good year at all. But proof that it in fact WAS a good year is in those pages.
There are pictures that aren't good or artistic, because they are real moments of laughter and silliness with our best friends. There are some that are more composed, but that doesn't make them any less real because they hold the smiles of our families and moments that were greatly enjoyed. Photos of the most beautiful places on earth. Photos of coffees brought to me in bed by my sweet husband. The extraordinary and the mundane, side by side.
All those little moments upheld me in the dark when I didn't realize it. God gives good gifts every day, if I choose to look and count them. I am most thankful for the persistent encouragement of my friends and my family - I really needed it. I am looking forward to having the strength in 2018 to return some of that grace, now that I am back on my feet.
Last January found us working hard on making our new little apartment together. A year later we have a routine and a system and it feels good. We celebrated Ryan's mom's birthday. We visited my little sister in San Diego and had the best coffee and the best laughs.
February meant celebrating two of our best friends' marriage at a little club in Napa. Dancing like crazy with them is one of my favorite memories. We celebrated R's birthday by taking a little trip to the central coast to rest and do nothing but read and spend time with each other.
In March we made a lot of pancakes on Saturdays, I bought lots of flowers and insisted on rearranging the whole house. Ryan went to Scotland and Ireland and though I missed him, I snuck in some good quality time with friends.
April brought the superbloom everyone was talking about, so my mom and I drove out and sat in the wildflowers. R and I hosted Easter at our place for the first time and made a meal I was really proud of (I don't really cook). My sweet kitty that was my best furry friend for twelve years was attacked and killed by coyotes and the sudden loss stung for weeks. I actually cried at work one day because I was remembering all the nights he slept on my chest as I mourned my dad's passing in high school and he could tell I was distressed.
I was so excited for May to come because my mom and I had a trip to Paris on the books. I packed three weeks early and gave my mom travel themed goodies for mother's day. Visiting that beautiful city was every bit as dreamy as I imagined and I can't wait to go back someday.
June took us down to Santa Monica for a month. R's job led him down there and I was so so lucky mine allowed me to work remotely from the nearby office in Brentwood. To not have to be apart for that long, to spend time with a high school best friend who lives in the area, and to be so close to the ocean and feel the sunshine made for a truly healing month.
In July, R and I got to stand side by side in another dear friend's wedding as bridesmaid and bridesman. We drank so much good wine from the backyard of their parent's new place in my old hometown, and saw people and friends I grew up with but hadn't seen since I moved away for school. We went camping with R's dad and took my sister with us, spending a weekend in fresh air and getting our hands and feet gloriously dirty. We welcomed our best friends' baby Aiden at the end of the month and he is pure joy in a tiny bundle.
August brought so much goodness, though it started off slowly. We went sailing for my mom's birthday.. We said the hardest goodbye to my baby sister, who is currently still abroad in Spain for the academic year, and celebrated her birthday from afar. Then came the most amazing weekend where on the drive to celebrate our first anniversary, I got the call that offered me a new, incredible design position. We got home to find our wedding album that I had designed waiting for us, and I felt the happiest I'd been all year.
September is my birthday month and it felt so good to kick it off by finding a new Acai place in our city to beat the heat (it was almost 100 several days in a row). R supported me so much during the weeks of transition as I closed one chapter and opened a new one. I made some bridal shower invites for our third lucky bride of the year and though it's a small thing that most people didn't keep for very long, I was really proud of them and it was the first time I'd felt proud of my creative work in a long time. I turned 25 and had so much to be thankful for. I obsessively updated my website and have never made something so true to who I am. It feels a lot closer to where I want my personal style to be.
The first weekend in October my best friend and I hosted a bridal shower in my mom's backyard. The bride works not far from my new office and we started a weekly habit of vanilla cold brew at one of our favorite coffee shops. I got my first blog collab offer, and though I was super nervous I shot three outfits with some amazing pieces that have since found a regular place in my wardrobe. It is so incredible to look down when I'm wearing something and know how hard I worked for it.
November was a month of working hard. We headed back down the coast for the last wedding of the year. We hosted Thanksgiving and I was in my element, decorating the table. I bought a ridiculous velvet jumpsuit that makes me feel like a queen. We became members at our church and we feel so at home and content.
December was a whirlwind, as ever. Making our little apartment as Christmassy as possible, entertaining friends and family, buying gifts. In the midst of it all I took on two full wedding suites and our dining room table didn't resurface until the new year. We finally took a moment to breathe and headed to Tahoe for a bit of a spiritual retreat, which was so very needed. We prayed and listened and read. By the time we rang in the new year, I was really ready and excited to tackle what 2018 holds.
I am most excited to grow again in my craft, and in my faith. The two are so interconnected sometimes it astounds me. I'm going to lead a work and faith initiative at our church and it has already taught me so much even in the preparation stage! Work is such a big chunk of our lives that it makes sense...the two are inseparable. I'm hoping I can write more about my findings this year.
I do have some goals as we move into the new year - we'll see if I can keep them. The first should be easy but it really isn't - no sugar for the month of January. If it goes well, I may extend it another month. It's time to listen to my body and give it the nourishment and attention it needs after carrying me through so much stress the last few years. Another one is to write more, and especially about things that matter, while elevating the work I do and not pushing out things I'm not proud of. Aim for the moon, right? As always, I'm going to try to continue to do it for my personal growth, not for how many people are reading or following - but if they are, I want to give as much hope and encouragement as I can offer, not feed into the noise of what all this world of sharing can be.
Here's to looking forward.