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2019: A Year in Review

2019 – damn were you a year. Like everyone else on the planet, there were highs and lows and days that just felt fine. 2019 brought me lessons, laughter and my fair share of tears. 2019 brought me travel and adventure with the people I care about. So before 2019 melts into the other years, I want to reflect on what happened and what I learned.

Travel

If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably understand the role that travel plays in my life. It’s always been important to me, but it’s importance grew during my first two years of teaching. I wasn’t able to find much joy in my day to day life, so I escaped by planning trips. Maybe it’s my vice or my coping mechanism, but honestly, I’m okay with that. 2019 was a travel heavy year for me.

In January, my husband and I wrapped up our road trip through Texas, during which we learned that pick-up trucks take a LOT of gas and that creative pursuits are worth spending time on. This year also brought me to New Orleans with one of my best friends, where I saw my first Banksy piece and binge watched too much Yummy Mummies.

Studio Be in New Orleans
Obligatory beignets in New Orleans

I had two trips out to Denver to see another best friend of mine, one of which had me gambling for the first time (I lost a whole $10). The other trip brought me to New Mexico to see the hot air balloon festival, which absolutely blew my mind.

The hot air balloon festival in New Mexico

For spring break, my husband and I ventured to Italy, where we ate some delicious charcuterie boards, but were overall not that impressed. We did get some dope matching tracksuits and made some pasta from scratch though!

Vintage tracksuits, vintage building (!)
Pasta making classes

During the summer, we traveled to Singapore, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Of those places, New Zealand is the spot that truly took my breath away. As my husband says, cities are cities are cities. New Zealand, however, had nature that we don’t get to see very often.

The black sand beaches of New Zealand
Marina Sand Bay, Singapore
Kawaii photo in Japan

I rounded out the year with a trip to Spain with my mom. It was great to be able to spend quality time with her, especially as I grow older and life gets busier. While we did get on each others nerves, it was a trip that I will hold dear to my heart.

Mama y yo in Barcelona

Work

2019 was the year that I finished my first year of teaching outside of Teach for America. It was the first year I didn’t hate what I did. When I decided to teach for a third year, I was nervous. What if it wasn’t where I was teaching that I hated, but just teaching in general? Thankfully, I discovered that I love teaching. I love working with kids and seeing their excitement when things click for them. I finally can say that I love what I do. I am so grateful for that – how many people can claim the same for their jobs?

My first day of my fourth year

I was unsure if teaching was the right path for me, so I completed a fellowship on career choice this spring. While a lot of paths seem interesting to me, the fellowship reinforced my decision to stay in the classroom, at least for now. It was great for me to be able to have dedicated time and space to really think out my career plan. To be honest, I don’t have much of a “plan” at the moment. All I know is that I am happy teaching right now, so happy I will remain!

The fellowship I was so damn grateful for

2019 was also the year that I bit the bullet and got my real estate license. My husband had been encouraging me to get it for quite some time, and I finally sat down and did the damn thing. Working with real estate on the side allowed me to work skills that I don’t generally have to work while teaching – like talking to adults! While I didn’t do much with it this year, I look forward to what kind of endeavors it brings in the future.

Relationships

The older I get, the more important quality relationships mean to me. This year, my husband and I celebrate four years of marriage and five years of being together. I would say that this year brought us so much closer to one another, through the hard times and the good times. Leaving 2019, I feel more confident than ever in my relationship with my husband and excited to see what the future holds for us and our growing family.

My incredible husband

In terms of friendship, I invested in the relationships that mean the most to me and drew myself back from those that did not bring me joy. The older I get, the more I realize that one or two solid friendships is all I need. If I’m not truly thrilled for a person when good things happen to them, then I know that I can’t be a true friend to them. 2019 is a year that brought me a tight circle whom I truly trust and care about.

Self-Improvement

I worked on myself a lot this year. For the first time in a long time (maybe ever), I felt comfortable in my skin. I attribute a lot of that to hot yoga. One of my friends convinced me to give it another shot and I fell in love. The fact that in one hour, I can sweat, meditate and grow stronger absolutely amazes me. The funnest aspect of yoga is watching myself improve. To see my body move into positions that it previously couldn’t made me think about how incredible the human body truly is. While I’ve had to take a break from hot yoga during the pregnancy, I am excited to head back in 2020!

My happy place
My form isn’t perfect, but damn was I proud of my body

In 2019, I also invested in my health in other ways. I (very casually) took up meditation and mantras, and found peace and relief through acupuncture. My body and mind had gone through quite a lot this year, and I am grateful that I found coping mechanisms to help me rise above it. Listening to and making music helped put my soul at ease. Books helped me get lost when I needed to escape the most. Writing played a role in my self improvement as well. While few people may read this blog, every time I post, I feel relief. Writing makes me feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I hope to do more of it in 2020.

Cupping therapy

Overall, 2019 has been wonderful to me. I had new experiences, both good and bad. I felt low so that I could feel really high. I surrounded myself with people I love. I became a better version of myself. 2020 has a lot of changes in store for me (cough motherhood cough) and I’m excited for it all. But for now, I pay respect to what 2019 brought me. Cheers to 2019, and to 2020 vision.

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Thoughts

Breathe, Loudly

Just don’t do it in someone’s ear. Don’t be that weirdo.

It’s been a long month. Things have happened that have made life difficult for me – emotionally, physically, and mentally. I took a break from writing, and quite frankly, a lot of other things as well (like kale and yoga).

One thing that has helped me out during this period of time is breathing. LOUDLY. Let me explain. When I’m frustrated, I sigh. You probably do too. It feels… good. It feels like relief. Now close your eyes and sigh, but don’t suppress the sound that comes with it. Doesn’t that just feel SO much better?

I think my point is to be verbal about your emotions. Don’t hide them, especially from yourself. If you’ve ever been to a Corepower class, they often talk about your “lion’s breath.” It’s that loud, throaty breath you take throughout class. You feel it not only in your mouth, but throughout your body. It’s as if your whole body sighed relief.

Use you lion’s breath. Be loud. Allow yourself to accept the frustration in life, and let go of it, loudly. Now apply that to all the other emotions you have in life. When you’re happy, embrace that shit and feel insanely happy. When you’re sad, accept it and figure out what you need to do in order to not feel so sad. Do not belittle your emotions people. Express them, loudly.

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Travel

36 Hours in Denver

I have a LDBF (long distance best friend, for those of you who aren’t aware) who lives in Denver, which happens to be one of my favorite cities. One of the reasons that this LDBF relationship works so well is that roundtrip tickets from Chicago to Denver (and vice versa) are often less than $100. Shout out to the real MVPs – Spirit and Frontier! If one of us lived in the middle of nowhere Kansas, where flights are exponentially pricier, this friendship likely wouldn’t be a thing. So anyways, I booked a flight out for this past MLK weekend.

A few days before my flight is due to leave, Chicago gets a winter warning for a storm that will drop oodles of snow on us. Airlines start canceling flights and allowing for passengers to make alternate plans. My flight wasn’t canceled, so I decided to wait until the day of. I wake up Saturday morning, and the flight is on time. Sweet! As I’m packing, I get a notification. Flight is delayed three hours. Okay, that’s fine. Another hour passes, and it’s delayed five hours. Thankfully, that was the last delay. My 41 hour trip to Denver has been reduced to 36 but that’s fine! I got to O’Hare and was blown away by how empty the airport was. It looked like a ghost town. Despite the shut down, I get through security in less than 5 minutes. That is unheard of for Chicago! There wasn’t even a line at Starbucks. To make it even better, my flight was half empty.

So here’s what I got up to that weekend. Keep in mind that I’ve been to Denver 5 times over the last 3 years, so this was definitely not a tourist trip.

Saturday: My LDBF picked me up from the airport. The one thing that always amuses me about Denver is how nice the drivers are. There’s no honking. There aren’t cars weaving through traffic like the jerks in Chicago do. Everyone keeps their distance from the car behind them. They’re just so dang nice. We stopped at a tea shop, then headed to her place. She and I are both trying to figure out our life’s purpose, so we made vision boards. Both of our vision boards ended up with a lot of yoga and travel inspiration, due to our limited magazine choices. A year of flexibility and airplane rides is a-okay with me! We rounded out the evening with some dank steaks (have you ever had a steak from a Traeger grills?) and a bad game of bowling.

Sunday: We woke up the next morning and wandered around Denver for a bit. We grabbed breakfast bowls at a spot called Illegal Petes and then continued on to drive up to Boulder, which is the cutest town ever. I picked up a few mugs, and some CBD oil from the most enthusiastic man I have ever met. I never mentioned dogs, but he ran through a 10-minute spiel about how good it is for them (for the record: I am not an animal person). We ended up at the casino because her dad is an MVP there and we could get free food. My friend and her boyfriend killed it at blackjack, while I lost $20 on dime slot machines. Gambling is a vice I will not be getting behind. That night was the blood moon lunar eclipse, and we ended the night with that!

Monday: My flight was due to leave at noon so we started our morning rather early with a hot yoga class. The class was very meh. The instructor didn’t cue well and the music didn’t fit at all. (Note to self: go to more yoga classes). She also mentioned Martin Luther King a ridiculous number of times. We went back, showered, had smoothies and coffees, and then she dropped me off at the airport with a bag of snacks, like a real best friend does. A quick two hour ride later, and I was back home with a full heart!