It’s been 17 years since the 9/11 attack on America when terrorists hijacked airplanes and it’s kind of hard for me to believe. I still remember sitting in 7th grade typing class when a classmate told me that “terrorists were running around NYC”. I don’t know why, but I envisioned people with backpacks running around Central Park (I still have no clue why this exact image is what came to mind), but I distinctly remember it. When I came home from school, my parents explained what was going on and I remember thinking that terrorists were going to come blow our house up and I was terrified. I didn’t want to leave the house or my parents’ side. A few summers ago, Dane and I visited The World Trade Memorial Museum and it is one of the most moving museums either of us have ever visited. It is exceptional and very well done (I sobbed through most of it) and would recommend it to anyone visiting New York City.
I’m back today with my seventh prompt of my September Blogging Challenge – hard to believe we are motoring through week 2! If you missed my blogging challenge announcement post, I’ve been feeling a little bit uninspired by blogging and social media and I wanted to bring it back to where it all began…little old me behind my keyboard tapping away. And so – that’s what is happening! I know there are “blog every day” challenges, but honestly – I don’t blog every day as it is, so committing to 30 days was intimidating for me. Instead, I put together 20 prompts that really inspired me and whipped up a list for when you can expect them here. Today’s prompt is highs + lows of the past year and if I had to pinpoint a prompt all month that really forced me to think, it’s this one. This past year has been a wild one and I’m happy to sort of spill my soul today…
Highs + Lows Of The Past Year
This time last year, Dane and I were just returning home from our trip to Bali and were in the midst of settling the sale of our first home. It felt like our lives were in a state of upheaval and we were eager to see our life settle down just a bit. You see, our turmoil had gone on for months thanks to some unforeseen neighbor issues that had escalated month after month and before we left for Bali, I was mad at God. It’s kind of cathartic to finally admit that here in this space. I couldn’t understand the “why” behind a lot of what was happening and I sort of threw my hands in the air and said look…I love you, but this shit has got to end. I need you to show me! Prove yourself and make your point because I’m close to the edge here. In short — I was breaking. Now, I’m not what I would deem an overly religious person, but even in bad times — I believe God exists. Everyone told me…if there’s a place to find meaning and clarity, it’s Bali! So, I found myself wandering all over Bali in and out of temples talking to God like an old friend like “hey, how are ya? When are you going to give me answers?” And it dawned on me…I was talking to God far more than I ever do normally and in this time of major crisis and uncertainty for me. .I was closer to Him than I’ve ever felt before. I came home with a religious closeness I haven’t felt in a really long time and it has carried me.
In a lot of ways, I feel like we got robbed of the joy everyone talks about from their very first home buying experience. The excitement of new projects and making a house a home were emotions we never got a chance to relish in, because we were constantly worrying what our neighbors would do next to us, the dogs or our home. While I occasionally feel pangs of jealousy when I see happy, smiling photos of new homeowners, I’ve accepted that God doesn’t shatter people who can’t rebuild themselves. I’ve stopped mourning the vision I had in my head of what life was ‘supposed to be like for us’ and started embracing the peace from pieces. Through all of it – I was made so undoubtedly aware of God’s grace that it kind of awes me today.
After we settled into our new rental home and found a routine, I started to really find my groove again. I started cooking more, I felt more creative, I was excited for adventures and just had a completely renewed sense of self that I had sort of lost amongst the chaos and it felt good. I celebrated my best friends bachelorette party in New York and spent some time on the mainland with friends and family. In November, I headed back to Hawaii, welcomed my in-laws for a visit, celebrated Dane’s promotion to Major, enjoyed Thanksgiving in Tahiti, I ran the Honolulu Marathon and we welcomed in 2018 with friends in Scottsdale. Let’s be honest, we ushered 2018 in with open arms, because although things were slowly settling down, we still felt like life was going 1000mph.
Selling our house was a pretty big realization for Dane and me that we really didn’t see Hawaii in our long-term vision like we once had, but it was one we felt peaceful about. We knew that it would have probably been really difficult for us to come to the decision to “stop living in Hawaii” one day, particularly if we continued to spread roots, but it felt a little bit like our life had been ‘uprooted’ for us, so our 2018 goal became to move back near family on the mainland.
January brought my 29th birthday celebration and the very next day – the fake missile alert in Hawaii. In the moment, I didn’t realize how profoundly it would impact me for many weeks and months to come but it taught me a really important lesson – so very little in life matters aside from your health and family. In those moments, I didn’t care what was in my bank account, who read my blog or how many followers I had on social media. None of it mattered. I only wanted to call my parents and tell them how much I loved them. I remember saying to Dane through tears “You have made my life everything I’ve ever wanted.” My perspective changed on a dime that day.
I think Dane felt the shift in perspective and that next day, we laid out a pretty serious plan of all the things we wanted to get done in 2018 and at the very top was travel. We set a pretty lofty goal to travel to a new place every single month. We were doing really well for awhile! In February, we visited Maui for a long weekend. In March we spent 3 days in Tahaa and 3 days in Moorea. In April/May we were in Italy and in June we cruised to Alaska!
We were derailed by some extended training with the Army this summer, but truthfully – no complaints from either of us. I think taking a breather this summer to enjoy Hawaii, catch our breath, spend time with Bill and Judy and just b-r-e-a-t-h-e was well timed. Dane being gone allowed me to really dig deep on SEO for my blog and get serious about writing project goals I have for myself.
And I guess that brings me to today…We are still living in Hawaii (despite booking a trip to Iceland from Baltimore this spring with the idea that we would have long moved by now – HA!), gearing up for a crazy fall full of adventures (Iceland, D.C., Pennsylvania, Germany + Africa!), and with Dane and I both wholeheartedly content in our jobs. One thing that has really been on my heart lately is making a conscious effort to feel content in all aspects of my life, whether that is my job, my life, my blog…all of it. The calming feeling of being perfectly happy and at peace is a feeling I cannot describe, but being able to embrace the sometimes-messy seasons of life can be really challenging. I’m a work in progress!
The past year has taught me patience. Ironically, the very tip-top of my “2017 Goals” was PATIENCE, so hi, hello, I hear you God, and I love you. I’ve learned to love myself when I feel most-unlovable, to seek help when I need it (why is asking for help so hard?), to let myself feel mad about circumstances, but not to dwell on things that cannot be changed, to push through professional barriers that feel stifling, to ask for what I’m worth when it comes to my writing rates, to drink more freaking water, to exercise in a way that delights both my body and awakens my soul, and to take breaks when I know I’m about to lose my mind. I’ve ‘failed’ more in the last year than I ever have in my life, but I’ve also felt more validation personally and professionally than ever before. At the end of the day, failure means you’re trying and the only way to succeed is to get out there and make an attempt.
As I look back, I wouldn’t change any of it. Hurdles are what make us stronger, it’s how we grow and it’s how we learn. In the midst of this ‘highlight reel’ post of my highs and lows, we also shared milestone events like birthdays, anniversaries and meeting goals (professional + personal), as well as dealt with annoying vet visits, stressful days at work and unexpected expenses that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. But that’s life, right? It’s truly in the everyday moments where I look around and realize just how grateful I am for the path I’m on, because all things considered, I feel blessed beyond measure, even though I have definitely had moments that make me want to rip my hair out and cry this past year. Dane and I have shared laughs, tears, excitement and bitter defeat, yet through it all, I am grateful.
I kind of feel like this blog post has been a long time coming, but it felt really, really good to spill my heart today, so if you read all the way here, thank you. And thank you for reading my blog, coming back here day after day to check in, read my ramblings, share my vacations, photos of my life and beyond. I love that this September Blogging Challenge has given me a reason to really get back to why I love blogging and at its very core – the sense of community is what keeps me here. So thank you. Tomorrow I’ll be back with something a bit more lighthearted – 5 Celebrities I Find Attractive…AND WHY! If you shared your highs and lows of the past year, feel free to link them up below 🙂