Since I had no time for writing in December, I missed the opportunity to bring together memories of the year. As I mentioned yesterday, 2017 was a challenging year, and I am happy to leave it behind. Years are long, though, and they all have their merits. In the spirit of starting this year off as positively as possible, I want to share with you some of the highlights from 2017.
1. We took our first family vacation
At the very end of February, after I had successfully pulled off yet another firehouse dinner dance, we packed ourselves into the car for our first family road trip. I will not even pretend that it was smooth or without stress. Nikki was just shy of 7 months old, and it took a lot of planning and a fair amount of arguing to make the trip work. Driving approximately 1,200 miles required lots of stops for stretching, diaper changes, and comforting hugs and kisses. However, we made it to Florida (mostly) intact.
We scheduled a few stops along the way including South Of The Border and Daytona Beach. My husband grew up without road trips and as such had never gotten the cliched experience of pulling off I-95 into South of the Border. It was nice to stretch, eat, and meander through tacky gift shops. Our stop in Daytona was a favorite, as neither of us had ever been there and my husband is a fan of racing. Our visit came two days after the Daytona 500 and the hotel I booked in advance ended up being right across from the raceway. Of course, we stayed later than planned the next day to have a full tour of the Speedway – which was incredibly fun.
Our final destination was Little Gasparilla Island where my grandparents spend their winters. A tiny island, with no cars or commercial businesses – so basically the perfect place to relax. It was a great visit with them and to get some relaxing quality time as a family. Plus, my August baby was born for the summer life and never wanted to get out of her bathing suit. It made me look forward to all the great family vacations we will share throughout our lives together.
2. I started my own stationery business
After falling into the world of pen pals in 2016, I started using my design skills to create stationery for friends. Before long I was receiving custom requests, and people were offering to pay for my work. It is something I genuinely enjoy doing, and I started looking into a way to monetize my hobby. After some logistical legwork and many late nights of creating The PostScipt Paperie was born. I launched my shop on mother’s day, two weeks earlier than intended and I have not looked back once. I’ve seen a steady rise in sales and popularity since the day I opened and I still love doing it.
3. My baby became a toddler
I used to roll my eyes when my mother would discuss the passage of time as she wept over us aging. Then I became a mother. A nurse handed me a swaddled beautiful bundle, I pulled her close to my chest and closed my eyes. When I opened them, she was walking, talking, giggling, and learning. That is, at least, how it feels. Her first year flew by, and she grew, learned, and developed at an alarmingly fast pace. Every day I am completely taken aback by how much she has grown and how smart she is. There has been so much changing in her since January 2017, when she was just five months old, and it has been remarkable to watch.
We celebrated her first birthday at Sesame Place as she was just mastering walking. Within a week, it seemed, she was running. Nikki rode in a fire truck with momma during the Labor Day Parade and waved to all the bystanders. She trick or treated with very little help (but lots of supervision) dressed as Minnie Mouse. She effectively communicates to us what she wants and needs. Now, she is saying a new word almost daily. She recently tore through stacks of Christmas gifts with the appropriate enthusiasm and fully understood they were all for her. I look forward to watching her grow, but, man, is it ever bittersweet. Some days I miss that tiny little nugget I held close in the hospital.
4. I stopped putting off my dreams
In September when I lost my job, I decided to take charge of my life. Leaving corporate America was the best thing to happen to me. It forced me to set my focus and reprioritize my dreams. Why wasn’t I writing? Why wasn’t I chasing my passion? What was stopping me from creating the life of my dreams? Like so many people I was stuck in an unfulfilling position and wasn’t sure of how to change it. Being let go lifted a huge weight from my shoulders, though, as I no longer had to justify anything to myself. I struck while the proverbial iron was hot, and I pushed forward. I launched my blog one month after losing my job, and while it hasn’t been smooth sailing, I haven’t regretted it. Blogging and freelancing have allowed me to redefine my life truly and I could not be happier with the direction I am headed.
5. I made some of the most AMAZING friends
I got more involved in the pen pal community this year. Something about a handwritten letter truly warms the heart. In April one of my pen pals was starting a new group on facebook and asked me to get involved. I joined the admin team in May and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I had already made plenty of friends worldwide through letter writing, but running a community of like-minded woman amped it up. The three other girls, Jessie, Jessica, and Venessa have become like sisters to me and I can’t even picture my life without them. It is so amazing to have best friends that are scattered the way we are. We often plan the day we get to meet in real life and I know it will be phenomenal because of how well we click. I went through a lot of difficult times this past year and they really helped me and supported me throughout it all. They came into my life at precisely the right moment and I am eternally grateful for them.
On a side note, if you are interested in sending some handwritten letters and having a mailbox full of love, I suggest getting involved in the pen pal community. There are so many groups on Facebook that will connect you with people who love all things mail. Of course, feel free to stop by Plethora, where I am an admin, and request to join. Be sure to mention I sent you. 🙂
Here is a highlight of my year in photos, showing all the other great moments of 2017.