As I sit back and reflect on this past year, I honestly don't know where to begin. It's common practice at the end of one year to reflect on all that it brought and that's why I don't really know what to say about 2011. It threw me for a loop.
At the end of my 2011 Resolutions post, I wrote this: "Here's to a new year full of surprises we haven't even dreamed up yet." And that is exactly how I would classify this year - full of surprises.
In 2011, I:
- Moved into a new home - one with a backyard! Mike and I found out our new home looks spectacular decorated for Christmas.
- Survived a blizzard that shut down the city of Chicago for a couple days.
- Got a promotion at work. It wasn't a position that existed at my firm before. It was something I thought I could do, I wanted to do it, so I asked if I could. It's amazing how much you can get in life just by asking for what you want.
- Got invisalign (only two months left!)
- Took a ton of photos. I couldn't tell you how many but I can tell you that I had more shoots this year than I've ever had. I photographed everything from families of 11 people to dogs in costume. And I took some photos that I am really damn proud of.
- Made enough money from my photography business to purchase the computer of my dreams.
- I traveled to New Orleans, Wisconsin, Michigan and spent an extended weekend near Philly with some of my favorites ladies in the whole wide world.
- Got engaged. (!!!) That was by far the biggest and best surprise. And even more surprising is that it's not anything I have ever mentioned on my blog before.
Mike proposed on our trip to New Orleans in February, and while I mentioned our New Orleans trip on this blog (here and here) I never actually got around to writing about the proposal, which is a shame because it was by far my best moment of 2011 - one of the best moments of my life actually. I tried to write about it several times, but every time I sat down the words failed me. It was too big, too precious, too perfect, too unreal that I never found the words to adequately convey how I felt in the moment. It was a moment I tried to imagine for a good three years, and when it finally happened it was more wonderful than I had anticiapted. Just how do you write about the moment when your hopes and dreams turn into a glorious, beautiful reality?
And for the record, the proposal was perfect. It was like a scene out of a movie mainly because it was in a place that has been used as a backdrop for movies. Case in point:
While Mike and I were in New Orleans we drove out to an old southern plantation called Oak Alley. It was a 60 degree day with a bluebird sky overhead and not a cloud in sight. As we walked among the 400 year old oak trees, trees so massive their limbs grew down into the ground and back up, Mike got down on one knee, asked me to marry him and then gave me the most gorgeous ring I have ever laid my eyes on. I of course said yes.
To sum up, I was given this:
And I was given it here:
As fantastic as that was though, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the general state of restlessness and anxiousness I felt this year. Trying to buy a house is a lot of work. Moving is a lot of work. Trying to plan a wedding is a lot of work. Trying to run a successful part time business on top of a full time job is a lot. And I did it all.
Right after we got engaged, we put in an offer on the house. And all those months we spent waiting on the house, we put off a lot of plans. We couldn't very well give deposits to wedding vendors knowing that at any moment we'd be withdrawing a significant amount from our savings to close on a house. We couldn't book a week long vacation anywhere knowing that we could possibly have to cancel it if we needed to close on a house at the end of the month. It was frustrating to say the least. So that's why after five months of waiting around, we decided to wait on the house no more and moved on with our lives. Moving on with our lives meant moving into a new house and that was right about the time that my photo shoots really started picking up and they didn't let up until December.
I feel like I have been running nonstop since August. I've generally been tired and cranky. Just ask Mike. Really only these past few days have I begun to feel the stress lifting. The holidays are over. I only have two shoots left to edit. For the most part, Mike and I are settled into the house. Our routines are established. Wedding plans are beginning to fall into place. It's a good feeling, one that I hope continues into 2012.
If 2011 was the year of surprises I couldn't even dream of, I really hope 2012 is the year of balance. I still will have a wedding to plan (and get married at!), a full time job and my photography business, so my plate will runneth over. But if I want to make it through this year still sane, I need to also take care of myself and my family. I want to not only get through 2012, but to enjoy it. I want to appreciate the small moments. I want to enjoy the big moments, and I want to create many moments that leave me happy, content and fulfilled.So to you I say, here's to a year of enjoying many things, big and small.