As December comes to a close and we get ready to welcome 2014 with open arms and eager hearts, I believe it’s really important to reflect on the past year, especially in the form of showing gratitude for the good we’ve received these 12 months.
Here are my favorite things about 2013, the things that I am most grateful for and that I will always remember as defining my 2013:
Our New Home
In May, my husband and I reached a hugely exciting (and slightly terrifying!) milestone when we purchased our first (and we plan, forever!) home.
We’re the sometimes-bewildered-but-always-blessed keepers of a big ole’ four-storey house on ten acres in the middle of nowhere, complete with deer-stomped fields, berry-filled woods, and two ponds just perfect for fishin’, swimmin’, and skatin’.
With all the headaches and reality checks that go along with being a homeowner (including BIG unexpected expenses like a new boiler and roof), it hasn’t all been a dream … but still really, it has. We are blessed with the most amazing miles-long view off our back porch, and the sunsets are to die for. We truly live in paradise, and we are so thankful for that honor.
One of my biggest goals for 2013 was to focus on putting my best self into my relationship with my husband, Tomás (or Tomasi, as I like to call him!). I’ve loved him to pieces since the day we met, but over time I had let daily stressors and worries take themselves out on our relationship in the form of snappiness, impatience, and not being fully present when we were together. As I worked through my plan for 2013 in January, I realized that this was something I needed to change this year.
Thanks to heartfelt efforts on both our parts to communicate better and appreciate the little things more, I am so happy and grateful to say that our relationship has really grown and sweetened this year. We argue less (and argue smarter), we cherish each other more, and as new homeowners, we’ve had loads of fun building our own routines and traditions. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not perfect and neither is our relationship (there’s no such thing), but we have grown wonderfully this year, and I’m really proud of (and thankful for) us.
Tomás and I are both very close with our families, so it’s no surprise that they’re at the top of my 2013 gratitude list, but I have to say, they just really blew us away this year with their amazingness! Both of our families helped us tremendously with our new home, both with moral support and actual hard work and sweat.
The coolest thing? In addition to helping us go through the house hunting and buying processes, helping us move in, helping us clean, helping us tear down and put up walls, helping us eradicate mice (ew!), they’re just really fun to be with. I know that just being able to say that about our families makes us very lucky indeed.
At the end of the summer we adopted two kitties from the local shelter, one with special needs (no vision in one eye and only partial in another) and another who’s very “special” just in her general craziness!
Shadow and Jodi make us laugh, they give us cuddles, and they just make daily life sweeter. A home isn’t a home until you share it with a pet!
Adopting pets in our new home felt like the first step in growing our little family … pretty exciting!
Our Travel-Conducive Lifestyle
This year we spent three weeks in Spain, took a mini vacation to Portugal, visited a crystal cave in upstate NY, treated Tomás’s family to a long weekend in Lancaster County, and booked a 2014 trip to Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.
I am SO thankful that Tomás and I both have teaching jobs that allow us to travel during the summers. I’m thankful that we’ve formed habits and made choices that allow us to afford our travel. I’m thankful for the experiences we have while seeing the world together, and I’m thankful for how we both enjoy travel so much and how it brings us even closer together.
This year I got a big girl camera (best purchase of the year — next to our house!), took a workshop in manual settings with my amazingly talented friend Kim Winey, and learned to use both Lightroom and Photoshop. It has been SO. MUCH. FUN.
My favorite thing about photography? I’ve found that, for me, taking and editing pictures is an exercise in gratitude itself. Noticing the beauty around me with my camera has made me more aware of how prevalent that beauty is in my daily life and immediate surroundings.
So, tell me: What are the top things from 2013 that you’re grateful for? Share in the comments!