so here i am, almost completely through the first month of 2014 (seriously, you guys... seriously?!) finally deciding it's time to dust off the old blog and share an actual update or two. i've had a lot to share these last little bits of time, but the last part of 2013 really escaped me. besides being terribly ill, i had a great deal of work from my busy season to catch up on, a fiance visa (!!!) to acquire, + some television (five seasons of breaking bad, ten of grey's anatomy, two of scandal, six of private practice, and then some...) to watch. but in my defense, all of that binge watching was done either a) whilst editing photos or b) laying in bed, too sick to do anything else. and i did read a novel or two (or four) to prevent complete brain rot.
moral of the story is, i'm here. i'm alive. i'm recovering. i'm with my love and my wonderful family in my cozy home prepping for an inevitably crazy year.
but, i realize i slipped into some forbidden blogger's abyss during arguably the most exciting year of my life. i left so much out! i neglected to share so many incredible travel stories and photos. a few poignant thoughts. and probably a million pictures of mateo. you're all missing out a lot more than you might think ;)
so although i'll likely catch you all up at some point on most of the important stuff, i figured i'd start it off by sharing thirteen things that i learned in 2013, cool experiences that proved growth, + tidbits that i find important or particularly poignant.
1. people matter. through everything, i always keep coming back to this. how every single person out there is so important. and how each person has struggles and joys and everyday challenges... and when it comes down to it, it's one of the most important and transcendent parts of life-- to care for others, to connect with others, to think of others. and even the smallest, most simple things (like sincere pleasantries to strangers you come in contact with and going the extra mile a time or two) can make really big differences in people's daily lives.
2. eating yourself silly through europe (and australia and peru and chile) may end up in a 12-pound weight gain. but it will probably be worth it. i promise that you won't find any gelato in the united states like the real deal you found back in italy.
3. i am all grown up. i realized that i officially became an adult this year... not because i paid my own rent or got engaged or turned 23 or traveled the world alone, but because i bought a retainer. i had a retainer that functioned decently, and my teeth looked awesome pre-retainer. this completely non-cosmetic, $270 purchase was rooted in a gap that had formed between two of my back molars, causing discomfort and potential gum disease in the future. so i used (nearly) a whole portrait session's earnings on a ruddy retainer and declared myself responsible. i guess it's about time.
4. god knows us. he knows every single one of us-- our needs and and our desires and our struggles. and although sometimes i don't understand why things happen in my life (the good and the bad), i'm grateful for the faith that i have in god. i do know that time and time again in my life, he's given me blessings that are better for me than i could've picked out on my own.
5. the best wedding diet around is a south american parasite. still trying to figure out how to rid myself of said mystery parasite, but that's beyond the point, right?
6. family is everything. i have some pretty incredible friends (who i pretty much consider kin), but i'm endlessly grateful for the friendship i have with my family members-- immediate and extended alike-- for their love, support, + jokes.
7. adventure feeds the soul. this was easily the most adventurous year of my life, and now i just want to adventure more and more and more! this year, i traveled by taxi across africa with four people i had just met. i pet koalas. i was proposed to by a spaniard (again. same spaniard, different year). i talked politics with a swedish family in their 17th century farmhouse. i showered in a concrete box while looking out the window at the andes.
8. life is fragile and precious. i had a few traumatic experiences that really shook me this year. i don't want to be dramatic and think that they were worse than they actually were, but i do believe that i had a guardian angel or two looking out for me. and even just coming this close to something terrifying reminded me that life is so fragile. it can end or change drastically in a second.
9. life goes on. i had a few setbacks this year-- with school stresses and missed flights and shattered windshields and health problems and broken cameras and the like. there were times i felt like i just wanted to quit it all. but after those dark moments, time inevitably passed, and things inevitably improved. minor setbacks made me stronger, more experienced, and more knowledgeable.
10. showers are not overrated. please, please, please never take a hot shower for granted.
11. gratitude matters most. i think this could be one of the most poignant parts of my year and of what i learned. looking back on the year, i struggled a lot emotionally in regards to reconciliation. after traveling so extensively and seeing the many different ways in which people live across the globe, i just couldn't figure out how it all works. why it works the way it does. why some (seemingly undeserving) people are blessed with so much and why other kind, hard-working individuals live in such dire circumstances with really no hopes of escaping them. i was the happiest and most grateful when i forgot myself and my troubles and spent my days serving others. and i was the most miserable when i sat around worrying about myself. so i know, one hundred percent, for a fact... gratitude changes everything.
photos ® red poppy photos by stacy thiot
i feel like this post needed to be exceptionally awesome to make up for the serious lack of posts for the past five months. sorry if it disappointed, but it can only go up from here, right?
bring on 2014!