[dropcap]2[/dropcap]015 was a year for the books. In some ways, it was a bit of a trying 12 months. There were personal struggles I kept off the blog (which I actually plan on sharing sometime this year); there was the world’s most stressful process of buying a home (quite the hyperbole, but it was rough!); there were feelings of panic, devastation and displacement that came along with a destructive flood; there was the slow process of rebuilding, which is still going on; and there was misjudgment of how much work I could handle without going bonkers.
At the same time, though, so many absolutely wonderful things occurred. :)
So before I get around to talking about my goals for 2016, I think it’s important to highlight some of those wonderful things that I’m grateful for. Agree? You can’t respond, so perf.
I fell even more in love with Mitch.
I know that sounds incredibly hokey and sappy, but there it is.
As I mentioned before, 2015 brought its fair share of hurdles, some of which were easier to clear than others. Homeownership woes? Financial hits? Job troubles? Little stuff, in the grand scheme of it all. But there were other things that truly tested us–which, again, I plan on sharing this year–and those things made us stronger.
(Don’t worry. Nothing gossip-worthy!)
Our marriage isn’t perfect. Whose is?! But I’m really freaking proud of it. In regard to my life, it’s undoubtedly what I’m most proud of.
My family grew.
In June, my brother married the love of his life, Kim–and our family changed forever. Though it also feels like KBS has been with us since day one. ;)
When I was in college and in my 20s, I used to pine for the “old days.” You know: when we were all under one roof, and–I don’t know–when we were always together, I guess. And don’t get me wrong; I still kind of do. But I love what we’ve morphed into. While we’re family, we’re also best friends. And while we’ve grown up, we’ve also grown into each other.
My brothers do things like surprise me by flying to Chicago, and a weekend with my parents is pretty much the most fun ever. Holidays are a blast–we laugh so hard we cry, and we stand up our childhood friends (in the most polite way possible, of course, and make it up to them in the end) to ensure that we spend as much time together as possible. I FINALLY have a sister, and we do things like drink wine and stay up late and chat. Summer days in Ocean City have never more fun, and nothing ever feels forced or obligatory. We’re very lucky.
And I feel the same about the Larkin family. I adore them, and feel crazy lucky (see what I did there, Kim?) that I have two wonderful families. My in-laws treat me like I’m their biological daughter, and catching up with them is one of my absolute favorite activities. And my brothers- and sister-in-law? Riots. They have me in stitches whenever I’m with them, yet I can also really talk to them. Again, lucky.
(Emily, not sure why you’re missing from this pic. WUV YOU.)
I became closer with friends.
When I moved to Chicago, I was super nervous that A) I’d lose touch with my friends from home and B) I’d be friendless for life. But in 2015, I saw the opposite happening. And I’m very grateful for that.
I’ll admit that I’ve found keeping in touch with best friends from home to be difficult, especially in my 30s. I spend a lot more time alone with my husband than ever before, and while there’s still the occasional wild night, quiet nights and dinner parties are more the norm. (Crazy how interests and priorities can change like that!) And somehow that’s translated to me becoming a bit more removed from the social scene. And from my phone and Facebook.
But I think my friends are changing as well. They’re settling down and getting married and having kids, and they’re super understanding… because their lives are busy and different, too. I love that I can pick up the phone and call my best friend from high school, John, after months of not talking, and everything is just the same as it’s always been. Or how Allie–who lives in Thailand and I never see, haha–pops back into my life with an email and we have SO much to catch up on. Or how Tara and I text photos of ice cream back and forth, just to say we’re thinking of each other. (Long story.) Or how Beth still FaceTimes, even though she has a toddler who’s into everything. Or how suddenly, two of my very best friends–Katie and Rebecca–are marrying the guys of their dreams, and I’m a bridesmaid, involved in planning and all the excitement, even though I live so far away. (Thanks, Girls. Love you!) Or how Erica pops into Chicago for a dinner, and we gab so much that we don’t even realize we’ve been sitting at our table for, like, three hours. Or how Mandi books a spur-of-the-moment trip to Chicago because she senses I could use a visit. Or… Okay. I’ll stop.
But I’ve learned something important: Friendships change over time, just like people. We may not spend hours chatting on the phone every night like we did in high school, but this doesn’t mean those friendships are in any way diminished. They’re just different. They mold and warp and morph, and they become even more special.
On the Chicago front, I met a group of ladies that I can’t imagine life without. I feel like I talk about how much I love them entirely too much, but what can I say? I feel like they’ve been my friends forever. They motivate and inspire me daily, and a huge part of the reason I’m so happy in Chicago is attributed to them. Thank you. Emily is sadly missing from the above photo, but I think the pic also shows just how much fun we have together!
(This is us eating gyros from Athenian Room right after closing. The happiest!)
We bought our first home.
As I opened with, we’ve had a difficult introduction to homeownership. But we are in LOVE with our little home. Never in a million years did we think we’d find a place that feels like a house in our dream neighborhood, and in our minds, everything we sacrificed to get it was completely worth it.
Even with the flood, we’ve never once doubted our decision, and not a day goes by that we don’t talk about how darn lucky we are to have the life that we have. We moved 10 times in 10 years, and I can’t express how great it feels to finally have a permanent home! We’re real adults, guys. And we’re somehow making it work in a city! I still kind of feel like I’m playing house.
I learned from business mistakes.
Without a doubt, I took on way too much in 2015 on the work front. I think part of it was the terrifying flood-related bills, but another part of it was uneasiness about not having a regular, predictable paycheck anymore. I was always preparing for the worst, and taking on as much as I could in case I experienced a slow stretch. And I started to burn out because of it.
In November and December, I started to dislike writing, editing and photography–all things that had once been passions. And I realized it was because I was overwhelmed, and because I wasn’t excited about the vast majority of the work I was committing to–either because it wasn’t a good fit or because I didn’t have time to be excited about it. I’m not saying that I need to be passionate about every “job” I take on, but I never want to feel like I’m just churning out content. And I need to take on a reasonable amount so that I have time for myself, Mitch, my family and my friends.
Truth be told, I haven’t actually sat down and outlined my work-related goals for 2016 yet. That’s on the agenda for the next couple of days. But I do know that I’m going to significantly scale things back. I don’t need to be the best writer, editor or photographer in the world, or someone who can handle everything that’s thrown at her. I mean, I suppose all that would be nice, haha, but what’s more important is that I enjoy writing, editing and photography. And I’m going to figure out how to accomplish that this year.
I fell in love with Chicago.
I think it’s obvious how much I’ve come to love this city, but a year ago, I was singing a very different tune. (That’s simply a very NYC-obsessed post; I couldn’t even bear to look up some of the awful “homesick” posts I wrote.) While I’ll always view New York as home, I also now view Chicago as home. And like I’ve said before, two homes are better than one. Right? ;)
Chicago, you are a beautiful, friendly, exciting and comfortable city–and I’m proud to be a resident. :)
I no longer focus on “what’s next.”
It took long enough, but I can sincerely say that I am 100-percent content with the life phase I’m in right now. (With the exception of this little meltdown related to November and December.) It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the other life stages I’ve experienced so far; I just was always looking to the next phase. And somehow, I now find myself simply enjoying life–and not “trying to guess what’s coming up next,” in the words of Ben Taylor. It’s quite nice.
When I was in my 20s, I kind of viewed my 30s as, well, a death sentence. But I’ve loved my 30s. While they haven’t been without hiccups, they’re just so much easier and smoother. Less self-doubt and uncertainty in many respects, and more self-love and simply being. I guess I’m growing into myself!
But considering how long this is getting, let’s just cheers to 2016. I’m probably the last blogger in the world to post about goals, but brainstorming and writing ’em down are #1 on my to-do list today. :)