NYE Surprise!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Today is super exciting as 2013 ends and 2014 awaits us at midnight. My favorite moment from this year was our wedding, a day that I hope to never forget. And the biggest surprise showed up in my email just moments ago...our wedding video! And holy cow, am I ever in LOVE with it. A huge thank you to our videographer who captured the entire day in the most beautiful way. I may never stop watching!

Thank you Steven Berkenkemper, of Birchfields for an amazing recap of the very best day! 

2013, A Look Back & A Lesson Learned

At the end of 2012, I knew the upcoming year was going to be one I would hate and one I would love. Yes, I had a pitiful outlook on a brand new year, while also feeling hopeful for what it would bring. It's a strange combination that mixes up all kinds of emotions, especially a person's sense of self. 

To explain it all, I have to start at the beginning, the way 2013 rang in for me. And that looked like the inside of an operating room three days into the new year as I was undergoing the second attempt at foot correction surgery, which was followed by seven weeks of recovery. 

A move to Maryland followed. A move, that I thought would be life changing, as my then fiancĂ© (now husband) and I closed the era of our long distance dating. Adjusting to a brand new location, one that didn't offer terribly much, proved to be quite a challenge. While I loved seeing the love of my life on a daily basis (a huge difference from 2012), I started losing myself inside an apartment I barely ventured outside of. I found myself losing my ambition and motivation. And my self-worth was plummeting, first slowly then more rapidly. I allowed myself to get down in all my self-loathing  and forgot my potential. 

Then May rolled around and so did a possible job opportunity. And with it brought back distant reminders of my (what I thought were lost) abilities and talents; I was feeling rather excited about the possibility of a change of pace in my life. However, my heart and brain were all tangled. Here was a job presenting itself, but it meant leaving Maryland to go back to Virginia. The long-distance relationship monster was looming. But needing a purpose in my life, I moved forward and pursued the job opening. Having made it through three rounds of interviews, my confidence was gaining momentum. Then the "thanks, but no thanks" letter came in the mail. That kind of crushed me. But, it did one positive thing for me, it gave me an itch for something more, something I had forgotten in my pity. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on at the time.

Spring turned into summer, and my life slump was still hanging around. Then, Pete and I made the decision to relocate after we married. It was sheer relief. I needed out of Maryland and back to a place I knew where I could rediscover myself. But, I was dreading the last three months, literally wondering how I would make it through 90 more days in the same predicament. And then I saw my cousin at another cousin's baby shower (I've got a big family). She inspired me to take life by the horns and get myself back together again, starting with exercise to strengthen my body and ultimately my confidence. 

Yet, in doing so, I had to make a decision that broke my heart. Stay in Maryland with my Pete and remain miserable without accomplishing some of my life goals or head back to Virginia early to get back to myself, but be miserable about the distance that would once again be between us (literally). I decided to pack my bags and leave my heart in Maryland, which resulted in a very sad and teary five-hour car ride. But Pete, the amazing man that he is, completely supported me and cheered me on from hundreds of miles away. 

So as the summer turned to fall, I started to get my groove back thanks to exercise and hope for a bright future with my best friend. In that happiness, though, there was also a lot of difficulties. My job hunt was stagnant, finding a home for the Hills come October was proving itself impossible, and I missed my love more than anything. As I was putting myself back together, I was also falling apart. Needless to say, that doesn't work too well. 

But I pushed forward, because that's all I could do. My week days were spent exercising and pouring my heart into wedding planning, while my weekends were spent traveling to a midway point to meet Pete. It became my routine for a solid 88 days and as long as I kept my eyes on the prize, I knew I could get through. 

Then October became only days away and I could feel a weight begin to lift. Life was going to change rapidly and I could sense it, even if I couldn't see it. And then my very favorite moment of 2013 (my life) happened when I married Pete. We had our fairy tale wedding and honeymooned in paradise. The long-distance forever ended and life together as the Hills began. 

Since then, life has been a whirlwind for us as we've happily been settling into married life. There has been so much joy in experiencing everything together and sharing all of life's moments, including the good and bad. In my spouse, I clearly see myself and that has helped me love myself, something I wasn't sure I could truly do. 

And of course, that something (a very big something) I had been neglecting all along proved to have never left my side in it all. If only, I had kept Him in the forefront, my struggles would have seemed so small. But, oh, what a humbling feeling to know that no matter how I may stumble, my God is always there to catch me and lead me on. 

For as much as I didn't like 2013, I wholeheartedly loved some very prominent, special moments, which made the entire year for me. I can confidently say that I am leaving 2013 a better person, with a new sense of who I am. I have begun to find my purpose in this crazy life, a prayer answered.

I am so inspired to make 2014 my best year yet, with my outstanding husband by my side. There is nothing but love for this new year ahead! Happy New Year to you, I hope it's a start to an incredible journey!

Lesson learned: I am finding the me I was always meant to be.  

To see more look backs on the year head on over to I Don't Have A Clue...But I'm Finding Out

Merry Birthday!!

Monday, December 30, 2013
Every childhood Christmas morning started off with a simple routine. Waking up, I would be full of excitement to see what Santa had brought in the night, only to quickly remind myself of two very important things. So with a pause in my antsy to get out of the bed and to the living room, I would quickly say aloud, "HappyBirthdayJesus.HappyBirthdayMama." (no breaths, nor spaces in between). A strange routine at best, but nonetheless a tradition indeed.

Yep, my mom is a Christmas baby and for every Christmas I have ever celebrated, her birthday has taken a back seat. Selflessly, year after year, she has let us enjoy the cheer of the holiday without a peep of her special day. So this December, I decided it was time the tide changed. My mom deserves a birthday celebration and that's what we gave her. Happiest of birthdays to my sweet Mama!

The view from the top of the Center in the Square was stunning. I've never seen the city look quite so majestic and I was completely taken with the beauty. Sometimes an elevator ride to the top floor turns into an unexpected, but lovely surprise! I'm already planning my return visit.

Star Light, Star Bright

Friday, December 27, 2013
Last night husband spent some time outside with the stars. Having played around and learned more about camera settings, he was excited to take our new travel tripod out into the night to capture some of God's beauty. Spectacular, isn't it? Now, I'm itching to try this myself. 

 ^^I can't help but wonder exactly what the red streak is. A bird, a plane, superman?^^
^^And this is my favorite.^^

Christmas 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013
There was a whole lot of holiday cheer to share with some of my favorite people this year. And so, Christmas went a little something like this:

See last year's Christmas festivities herehere, here, and here.

A Very Married Christmas

Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Christmas has been joyful. It has been a beautiful blessing to share for the very first time with my husband. And I am reveling in all the newness of today and the traditions that will evolve. As newlyweds, learning the ins and outs of the holidays, as we combine families and create our own memories, has been a building ground, but rewarding all in the same. I am in awe of the tremendous feelings of love I have felt. There are so many beautiful reasons for celebration today, and I wouldn't have wanted to celebrate them with anyone else. Here's to a very Married Christmas and many more! Husband of mine, I couldn't love you more.

I hope you and yours had a fabulous Christmas! 

12 Dates of Christmas: On Our Eighth Day of Christmas

Tuesday, December 24, 2013
...husband and I hopped to the burg's downtown sushi restaurant and snuggled into a window seat to admire the lights, take in the quiet of the streets outside, and enjoy a sushi feast. 

And a very Merry Christmas Eve!