My Year in Review: 2014

There has been some debate lately about the year in reviews Facebook has been posting on countless Facebook users’ feeds this week. Reviewing one’s year has seemed to be a trend for 2014, and even WordPress emailed me a beautifully designed stats sheet sharing information about how my blog did this year.

However, and not to brag, but I have been reviewing my past year since 2008. I started doing so because my 2008 had seen a lot of changes, and around New Year’s Eve I needed to focus on the positive. In 2008 I had graduated high school, received my first kiss, started college, had my first boyfriend and ultimately my first break up. Days after, and hours before midnight, I took to Facebook, created a new note, and started pouring my heart and soul into everything I had learned that past year.

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I have continued the tradition since then (with the minor exception of making the move to WordPress), and some years have been equally hard to focus on the positive while others have been hard to write anything down for because the year was overall relatively great!

2014 was an interesting one. I won’t sugarcoat it-it was at times a very rough year. When it was rough, it was rough…but when it was good, it was truly, wonderfully, incredibly, good. So without further commentary, I give the mixed bag that was my 2014:

1) I started my first official “big kid” job in January, on the second.

2) Word of advice? Try to start jobs on the first, not the second if you can, because sometimes this means you have to wait an extra month before those pretty adult things called benefits kick in.

3) Benefits, in case you were in the dark like I was, are these wonderful things that help you survive as an adult in the real world. Sadly, I didn’t quite get how insurance and 401ks worked because for some reason, How to Be a Competent Adult In the Real World is not a course you can take at any college or university-you just have to learn at some point.

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4) I went sledding for the first time in years. It was magical, and beautiful, and entirely fun. It was lightly snowing, we had soup to keep our bellies warm, and I was surrounded by friends that loved me and were in love with each other and life. I took a moment to treasure the moment mentally, because I knew deep down the moment wouldn’t last forever.

5) In spring, Z and I trekked to Seattle to visit some old college friends.

6) With some college friends, even being divided by several states can’t divide your friendship.

7) Washington state has mountains, forests, coast, and ocean. And copious amounts of good coffee.

8) Don’t drive to Vancouver, BC, Canada during rush hour on a Friday whilst with a full bladder. Just don’t do it. Trust me.

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9) Speaking of downtown Vancouver, it is…interesting. Memorable to say the least.

10) Z and I were able to see the sun set and the moon rise simultaneously from our tiny airplane windows as we flew around dusk. It was incredible.

11) On a side note, Z and I celebrated 5 years together in December. We didn’t celebrate on our actual anniversary, and instead commemorated after Christmas. He cooked me a delicious dinner, and we also went to the movies for cheap. We also binge-watched White Collar while drinking white wine. Ladies and gents, this is romance to us-and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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12) Relationships are hard work. Don’t let anyone else tell you differently. Even if you have one of the best, healthiest, and most loving partners on the planet, there will still be tough times. Working through those tough times with them however, is worth it and extremely rewarding.

13) Speaking of relationships, Z could have very well saved my grandma. He was in the right place at the right time, and I am can’t express how grateful I am for what he did.

14) Life is short, and in seconds everything can change. Cherish and love those near to you. Now every time I see my grandparents, I always say “I love you” and I hug them a little too long. They are okay with that.

15) Luke Bryan talked to me. It wasn’t that cool.

16) Motley Crue payed my brand new laptop. True story. No, really, I’m not kidding.

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17) Confession: I did not stand up in a wedding party nor did I attend a single wedding this year as a guest…and I enjoyed it. The last time this happened was seven years ago. That is not to say I hate going to weddings or standing up in them. I just also like saving money. Which brings me to my next point.

18) I paid off one more of my school loans last week. 2 down, one to go. I can’t express how excited that makes me.

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19) I had a traditional Labor Day for the first time in years. We picnicked by the lake, flew kites, and road bikes in the beautiful tame sunshine. It was wonderful and relaxing, and just what I needed.

21) Working full-time in the private (creative) sector is hard work.

22) I would never have survived my first year at my new job with my wonderful co-workers. Seriously. They are beyond great.

23) I entered a competition during the summer. A local theater was seeking monologues on the theme of banned books for their monologue festival in 2015, and I wrote something. It ultimately didn’t get picked…but it was apparently a finalist.

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24) I also had my first “paid” freelanced writing gig go extremely well.

25) My blog surpassed 4,000 views of all time and features over 40 followers.

26) These last three points have helped me realize that my writing doesn’t (always) suck. So thank you, to everyone, for reading anything I have ever written, and for uttering those two simple words, “It’s good.” Really. Thank you.

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2015 is right around the corner, and I am very excited to see what this year brings. No trips planned (yet), and the entire year is like a beautiful, fresh, blank space (see what I did there) ready to be filled with memories. I can’t wait to see what those memories, lessons, and stories will be.

Happy New Year, to you and yours

Sincerely,
The Shoe

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The Last Five Years: A Love Letter from A to Z

Spoiler Alert: I am branching out from my usual writing today to dedicate this following piece to someone of major significance today. The following post will contain the words ‘love’ and ‘relationships’ more times than some individuals will like, overtly affectionate phrases, and a semi-in-depth look at me and my significant other. To aid in my tale, I will be using GIFs featuring famous couples from film and television, including some of my all-time favorite OTPs (One True Pairings for you folks playing at home). If at any point you feel uncomfortable with this post, please feel free to stop reading and click away as I textually ramble on. 🙂

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Dear Z (and everyone else reading this),

Today is December 17th. If you recall, six years ago this was approximately four days after we had just broken up. I remember the date because we broke up on your birthday. You initiated, while I held a Tupperware container filled with lemon poppyseed muffins-your favorite, one of the few things I knew about you at that point. It was also the first time I had ever written you a letter.

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In my case, lemonade into lemons and back into lemon poppyseed muffins. But I digress.

Five years ago today, there was snow on the ground but it was oddly warm. Finals at school were just finishing up, and we were walking to Subway for dinner. It was the first time I wore your dark red sweatshirt (the one that now takes residence in my closet). We picked up some pre-dinner hot cocoas, and I can literally pinpoint on a Google map the moment everything changed-I was in mid sentence one second, and the exact next one you were kissing me.

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In this particular scenario, I was more like Flynn. Which makes this story even better. 🙂

At that point, I was amazed at how much had changed in one year.
Now as I sit here and write this, I’m amazed at how much has changed in the five years since.

The first six months we were inseparable, which led to driving our roommates and close friends absolutely nuts. In all honesty, we didn’t notice or we did but didn’t care. That sounds callous, but it’s true. I’ve seen it happen with other friends and their significant others and we weren’t any different. We walked around with big goofy grins on our faces, walked each other to every single class no matter how inconvenient, and made single friends and established couples feel awkward with our constant affections of hand-holding, hugging, and making eyes at each other.

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Regina is totally right. They totally make eyes at each other.

We felt this infallible certainty that we were meant to be together, we chose a song to be ours, and you boldly stated you could see us getting married.

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This was also before I appreciated Firefly, but clearly the ideal marriage. Wash and Zoe, and Serenity never happened.

And then…graduation happened and so did reality.

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For the past five years, 4.5 of those years have been spent apart. You in one city, and I in another. Divided by over 100 miles and two hours, we have crammed the in-person aspects of our relationship in tiny windows of time resembling not-long-enough weekends. To say the least, this has lead to a very unique dynamic of our relationship. Our time together is limited and precious, and some friends feel alienated, hurt, or confused when we don’t want to spend time with them while we are together. Others scoff as we have labeled this a “long distance” courtship, because we haven’t had to endure being states or countries apart. We’ve had to balance our conflicting schedules (school, the inconsistencies of retail, and working on weekends), we’ve had to work around living arrangements due to not having our own places, and above all, we have had to answer the question “So when are you guys getting engaged?” from countless friends, co-workers, family members, clients, pastors, and even random strangers.

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No commentary necessary.

We’ve been asked that question so many times that if I received a dollar for every time either of us were approached with that question we would have enough money to pay off my loans, a down payment on a house, and enough left over for a month long venture around the world.

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For the past five years, our relationship and where it is headed has been at the fore front of many conversations. Where some couples when dating can merely sit next to each other on a couch and binge watch Netflix when they see each other every night, we have to cram the following into 48 hours (and less if we exclude the hours we spend sleeping): every conversation we started while apart over the phone but decided was better discussed in person, life goals and aspirations, basic and general dating questions such as “how many kids you want?”, “Are you a dog person?”, or “Where do you want to live someday?”, learning about each other from basic observation (Pet peevs: Feet on pillows-me and excess hair on my hairbrush-him), and talking about the big huge M word (money) and the even bigger huge M word (marriage).

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Most couples discuss these things over the course of a month or two. We get a weekend. Or two. If we are lucky.

For the past five years, we have certainly learned a lot about each other. You like to cook, and I like to do laundry. We both can find the humor in Six Days, Seven Nights, and have a vast array of inside jokes (well, not only). We have traveled together, to the mountains in Colorado to the cherry blossoms of D.C. We have survived camping during an awful thunderstorm and a huge fight over a water ride. I’ve edited your Facebook posts for grammatical inaccuracies and you’ve attempted to help me understand the basics of math.

We’ve critiqued each other, which has led us to some of our best work-after our pride was slightly damaged because of how much each other’s opinion means to the other. We have gone clothes shopping together, where you have encouraged me to spend money and will honestly tell me if something doesn’t look good-or if it does. We’ve gone grocery shopping together, and have both taken turns telling the other one to put things back on the shelf because “we don’t need it.” You’ve pushed me because you’ve seen my potential, and I’ve challenged you on more than one occasion, making us equals and well-matched when it comes to our feisty spirits.

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For the past five years, we have definitely been there for each other. I was there for you when you graduated, and all the emotional baggage that came with. You returned the favor two years later, proudly looking on as I walked across that stage, and stood by me when I went through my own rough patch after graduation.

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We’ve been there for each other through unemployment, the uncertain future of business ventures, job rejections in the form of email, failed job interviews, and sharing a mutual understanding of the hell that can be working retail. We’ve been there for each other at funerals and at hospitals where the lives of loved ones were uncertain or being remembered. We have been there for each other as we have double teamed babysitting for friends and their kids, and have learned just how intense children can be. We’ve been there for each other for birthdays and anniversaries, taking turns picking up the tab on dinners and vacations pending on who was more financially stable at the time. We’ve been there for each other through receding hairlines and graying strands, through weight gain and loss. We’ve even been there for each other when we weren’t sure about our future, and that is a pretty big-and awesome-thing.

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For the past five years, if there is one thing I have learned is that I have a friend in you and you in I. The past five years have been far from easy, and I’m sure life will only throw more curveballs the older we get. However, the past five years have also been filled with countless hours and moments of sheer joy, and I honestly cannot find the right words to express just how grateful I am for it all.

I am so grateful for the hours of laughter to the point of being out of breath, the respect and admiration that has grown for each other, the million little things we do to say “I love you,” the complete honesty and bluntness we bring to every hefty conversation, the moments we can just revel in each other’s company, the hugs that feel like home, every single car ride no matter how many times we debate the accuracy of the GPS, the frank talks about our deepest fears and faith, our trips to Barnes and Noble when caffeine pulsates through our veins and our ideas take flight, and every single moment where we communicate with our eyes with knowing glances or raised eyebrows-every single of these millions of moments I am so grateful for and glad to have been able to share with you.

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Too often I look forward, wondering how this will all turn out. Some may say after reading this I have spent too much time looking back. No matter which direction, I just want you to know how much I love you and how no matter what happens, I am beyond blessed to have you in my life now-as my boyfriend yes, but more importantly as a friend.

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Today I was talking with a friend, and she flat out told me this:

“He’s a good one. He really is. Don’t lose him.”

I think too often I don’t appreciate you or what we have, and what’s good and great about us can get lost in the everyday nonsense that we let take over our lives. You really are a rarity among men, and I want to brag about that to the masses. Thus the reason for this piece. No, not to rub it in someone’s single face that I have an awesome boyfriend. And no, this is not to be construed as a major outcry for some overpriced finger jewelry.

This is simply a girl telling a guy that she still really likes him, and she just can’t keep it to herself.

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Happy Anniversary Z. I love you. Lotza. 😉

Sincerely,

Your Shoe

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