2019 In Reflection

As usual, Life is passing by at an alarming speed, but I could not miss my annual tradition of sitting down at the keyboard to reflect on this past year… and decade as a whole. Since 2014 I have looked back at each year and shared some of the highlights in my life. So here I am, at it again:

2019 began in a whirlwind. I headed into the new year with two big “milestones” under my belt from 2018: being a newlywed and purchasing our first home. I entered this year without resolutions or goals, but rather the objective to focus my year on a single, all-encompassing word: intention. (Read more about this decision here!) For the most part, I believe I lived according to my plan.

I made it my intention to say “No” to more questions this past year. If I was asked to assist with a project, go out for a social event, or spend my time doing something outside my comfort, I weighed my answer heavily. There were more times than not when I replied, “No.” without apology and without explanation. In the past, my life was ruled by external situations and other people. In 2019, my focus became more internal, with all consideration on myself, my husband, and those most dear to us. By spending the majority of my time focused in this way, I discovered my passion for baking, found time to enjoy evening walks with Copper, and enthusiastically won countless games of Exploding Kittens against G. I may not have been increasing my networks in the community past my professional necessities, but I proudly took on the label “homebody” and transitioned our house into a home.

I also intentionally said goodbye to some relationships in 2019. I became more aware of the two sides friendships should expect. Friendship is not one always giving and one always taking; there should be a balance. I would reach out to those people I valued, but if the interactions were not reciprocated, I allowed the relationships to quiet and/or completely deplete. Not in a malicious way, but in an understanding that Life happens, directions change, and people can move forward wishing another the best while not remaining in their lives. This thinking also allowed me to focus on networks that fit my current situation in life and to enter into new tribes. Those relations who took the initiative to welcome me, I intentionally aimed to strengthen. So in 2019 and the future, my goal is to grow wiser with my relationships by actively pursuing meaningful connections while also understanding not all friendships are meant to last a lifetime.

2019 brought a bout of new challenges to my life as well. We welcomed Copper, an energetic ball of fluff, into our new home in January. The growing pains of raising a puppy have been a great insight for children in the future. Setting the chewed boots, destroyed rugs, and numerous backyard holes aside, there really is no describing the love we have for our little dude. Copper brings so much joy into our home, even on his naughtiest of days. He has become my daily walking companion and evening cuddle-bug.

In February I had a procedure to remove three sections of cancer cells. This was my first stint of any negativity in my health, and the aftermath led to a lot of changes in me physically. I was told getting pregnant would be difficult. I was not able to exercise like I once had enjoyed. I was in pain and felt fatigued daily. All of which ultimately led to gaining weight and putting a strain on my mental and emotion states. It took several tests, but we also discovered one major contributor to my health issues was an intolerance to gluten. As the year moved on, learning what harms my body has been a challenge in itself, but with each new day, I’ve begun to feel more and more like my old self and am no longer in daily pain due to the foods I eat.

As I regained my health, I also was given the clear to do more high-intensity workouts by my physician. So in September I joined a local CrossFit Box and fell in love with not only the exercises, but also my new fitness tribe. Unfortunately, the Box closed on November 30th, so my time with these new friends was short. The experience reminded me that I can put myself outside my comfort zone though, and that I have the drive to work hard for my health. I’m utilizing the lessons learned at CrossFit to move into 2020 with motivation to continue working to better my fitness, strengthen my mind, body and soul, and fit back into the totes of clothes in our basement. (Meh.)

One huge blessing in 2019 was the continued growth in my marriage. As with all married couples, G and I have several differences in our personalities, upbringing, and views on the world. Yet there is not another man I’d rather do Life with, or argue over what Netflix comedy special we’ll rewatch on a Wednesday evening. We were fortunate to explore new places this year: Indianapolis, Storm Lake, Geneva, Belfast. And with each new adventure, we spent quiet moments together, talking about our pasts, present, and futures. It may be cliche to say, but I fall deeper in love with G every single day.

As with any new year, moving out of 2019 has left some unanswered and open questions to what 2020 might bring. First off, the executive director at my agency resigned the week before holiday break. He had held his position for over 20 years, so his departure leaves our agency curious as to what changes may occur. Who will take his seat? Will there be internal changes? How will such changes affect our clients and community? I am one who strives on change, so the prospects of what is to come is exhilarating. Then there is the opportunity for G to complete his schooling by the year’s end. His graduation may mean changes for our little family as well. Finally, questions on my health are still taking place. I have an appointment in January to run a new test to see if children may be an easy possibility for us in the future. I am trying not to worry, but my heart yearns for an answer either way — just so we can decide the best method of becoming parents in the coming years. Thankfully, I have 100% faith in my physician. All in all, I know God will direct us on the best path for His glory in all manners of answering any questions that may arise in 2020 or any future year.

As 2019 and the 2010’s decade comes to a close, I can sit behind this computer screen in contentment. I have plenty of people, places, and things of which to be grateful. I saw a lot of loss in the 2010’s, but I also gained so much — the highs of the past ten years far outweigh the lows. As with any new year, 2020 has the promise to be something special. To change people. To change the world.

For me and my little corner of this grand space, I am looking forward to another year of positive growth, unlimited grace, and deep, deep gratitude.

Happy New Years, my friends,

2018 In Reflection

My Facebook Year in Review has officially chosen the most liked pictures and created a little video for me to reflect on 2018 so guess what else that means? It is the time for my own reflections as well! The fifty degree weather, lack of snow, and limited holiday decor at our home are leaving me a bit on the Grinch-side. However, I am looking forward to 2019 and feel so incredibly blessed to have had all the experiences of 2018.

In tradition of the past few years, 2018 is being hailed as the newest Worst Year of All Worst Years. I didn’t get the message though. 2018 was by far my best year yet. 2019 has a lot to live up to when I look back at this past year, but I am so excited for what the future has in store.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Before welcoming the New Year, I want to take a second and be grateful for all this year has given to me.

January: I knew coming into 2018 my life would be different by the time the ball dropped at its end. In January I was busily planning G’s and my wedding and prepping to become a wife. I had no idea what all was in store, so I took the year one day at a time. I was able to be a part of coordinating one of my best friend’s weddings after the new year celebrations, as well as a few holiday parties at the Winery. Then at the end of January I made a life-changing decision. I left my career path in the wine and event industry to join the finance department of a nonprofit. The transition was huge, and it ultimately placed me back on track of what my degree is focused. I miss the wine industry but am content with this decision — it feels good to know my job helps to make a difference in my community.

February & March: Luckily I am fortunate to continue event planning through my volunteer work. For the fourth year, I was on the Pink Tie Ball Committee. This year’s gala raised over $24,000 in funds used for research and awareness of breast cancer. Plus, one of my goals for 2018 was to strengthen my friendships and grow my Tribes. I am blessed to have grown even closer to this group of Pink Ladies and know I have an army of support behind me moving into 2019.

I also was invited to assist in planning my church’s first IF:Gathering event. This women’s retreat took place in March and allowed me to meet more women in my church and grow those relations as well. In addition to my volunteer work, I continued to play in the YMCA volleyball league and tried out a few different types of yoga classes. As Spring rolled in, I was staying active in the community, my relationships, and wedding planning.

April: Every month seemed to gain more momentum as we neared our wedding date. April brought a slew of bridal showers and traveling to visit family members, scheduling vendors, and purchasing wedding items. G and I had to block off weekends simply to keep our sanity. We attended House’s annual Spring Retreat with twenty of our friends over a long weekend. Then the last weekend of the month, the Pink Ladies and I held a slumber party in remembrance of our dear friend Denise. 2018 marked two years since her passing, and the anniversary of April 19th remains painful. Spending time with one another always helps us, so we took a break from our hectic schedules in order to be together.

May: By the time I flipped to May on the calendar, most of the wedding plans had been secured. Perhaps we had a project here or there, but overall G and I took the month of May to complete our marriage counseling, move him into my apartment, and enjoy the remainder of our engagement. Over Memorial Day weekend, we went camping for a joint bachelor/bachelorette weekend. G and the guys did some “manly stuff” while my girls and I jumped into a limo for a wine tasting tour. It was the perfect way to wrap-up our wedding preparation with our closest friends.

June: June was an overall unremarkable month. 😉

Just kidding…

June was the month I stumbled to an altar in front of my loved ones and locked down the best man in the world. The accumulation of the entire first half of 2018 came to a peak on June 16, 2018 when I married G. Our wedding remains the pinnacle of this year.

Following the wedding, we escaped to Tennessee for our honeymoon and then returned home to begin our married lives together.

July: As G and I started our journey as newlyweds, I shifted the focus of Uncorking Peonies from a wedblog to a Lifestyle blog. We began house hunting and welcomed our first nephew into the family. Life was perfect our first month as husband and wife.

August: I witnessed one of my best friends marry the love of her life on August 18, 2018. I will never forget watching the beautiful bride glow with happiness throughout the entire day.

G left his job in August after being sought by another company. He has been enjoying his new position since the change, and is also being sent to school to receive his Journeyman in machining. Though this switch threw a wrench into our schedules, we have become accustomed to his late workdays and take advantage of any time we have together. I am excited to see where he goes from here and find myself in awe of the man I married every single day — he is the most hardworking and dedicated partner.

September & October: After a few months of horrific house hunting adventures, G and I became homeowners in September! I said goodbye to city-living and my cute little apartment, packing up my bags to move to our fixer-upper. Since September we have redone the electric throughout the house, demolished a wall, replaced all our external doors, repainted and refloored the first level, and finished quite a few do-it-yourself projects. We are currently in the midst of gutting and remodeling our one and only bathroom this week as well. (Wish us luck! Eek…)

Besides all our house renovations, G and I also ventured over to Iowa to meet our handsome nephew for the first time. It was a fun weekend spent loving on little Z, exploring the area, and laughing with family. When we returned, I learned my work had nominated me to be a student in a leadership institute instructed by our State’s Community Action foundation. This was a pleasant surprise as the institute takes only 30 students a year across the state. I have had two classes thus far, and will graduate with a leadership certification in July 2019.

November & December: All in all, the last couple of months have been relatively quiet for me. This is a welcome relief from the beginning of 2018 though. I find myself with a lot of free time in the evenings. During that free time, I am busily planning Pink Tie Ball 2019, crafting, writing consistently on Uncorking Peonies, playing YMCA volleyball, and hanging out with my husband, family, and friends. I love not having every second of my day scheduled anymore. I love being able to do more of what I have passions to do. And I love the Life I’ll be rolling into 2019.

Life has never been better.

Happy New Years, my friends,