It's hard to believe that the last time I posted on this blog was back in April. I remember sitting down to write that last post about our visit to the concentration camp like it was yesterday.
Turns out that visit basically defined the rest of my 2023 and it shaped me differently in terms of my priorities and even my feelings about life and living in general.
It seems fitting now to wrap up another great year with some thoughts about it.
These thoughts may or may not resonate with some people, but as I always say, I write for myself and that's purpose enough. I also wanted to do a wrap-up post because life is worth documenting.
- 2023 was a GREAT year. We got to travel as a family and visited several new places that sparked many unknown interests for me. Iggy and I also got the chance to travel as a couple a few times and that's always refreshing, so I am very grateful for that one-on-one time. I also grew a lot as a person, as a wife, as a mother, as a friend...
- Spain in January (Madrid, Barcelona, Avila). All places in Spain are beautiful (it's one of my favorite countries!) but I particularly enjoyed our visit to Barcelona with Oliver since the last time we had been was when I found out we were expecting a baby boy so this trip was very symbolic for us, and also our day trip to Avila, where Gaby's confirmation saint was born. Faith is very important to me so it was great to experience that visit with Gaby.
- Poland in April (Warsaw & Krakow). I will admit that if my best friend of almost 30 years wasn't from Poland, visiting it would have never been on my radar, but I will also admit that it's one of my favorite places in the world, and traveling with a "local" makes it even better. This time we also got to see our family from Finland who flew in to visit us there. How amazing! Memories for a lifetime!
- Personal growth was the theme of the year. I wrote a post about "Living with Intention" back in March and that is EXACTLY what I did. I invested in our marriage, spent my time doing things I truly enjoy, and made every effort to make a difference. Also, it was refreshing to cut off negative/toxic people from my life, to say "no" when I felt that was the right answer, and to stand for my beliefs even when it made some people "uncomfortable".
- Faith: this year more than ever, I made my Catholic faith a priority. I actively sought out activities that aligned with my faith and enrolled in a 4-year long Spiritual Accompaniment course, which I hope to complete in the allotted time. I improved my prayer routine, attended weekly mass more often, and made every effort to make my faith "contagious". What a joy it is to feel like I'm fulfilling a purpose that God set out for me. This year I intend to continue down this path and I am confident that it will bring me even more joy, a joy that I hope to share with everyone around me.
- I have TWO kids in high school! Although it may sound silly, this one hit me really hard! I was terrified of Gaby starting high school; somehow I saw her as too "fragile" or maybe just "unprepared" in general, but as it often happens with kids, she impressed me and proved me totally wrong. Pretty quickly she was navigating the high school waters bravely and proudly and my stress levels went down a notch. This is also the first year Oliver is alone in his school so I was feeling all the feelings.
- I have a daughter who drives... and has a boyfriend! Seeing my kids grow up has never made me "sad" but I would be lying if I said there aren't "omg, when did they get so big?" moments and these two were definitely that! Olivia started driving alone in September, and this December marked a year since she started dating her boyfriend Sam. The driving has been good but stressful, and Sam has been great! I love seeing her handle her life so maturely and graciously and I can only thank God for the work He has done in her and for continuing to guide me in being the best mother I can be. I love you, Olivia and I am so proud of you!
- Family and friends are everything! I don't have many friends...I know A LOT of people but very few I can call "friends". I am forever grateful for the amazing family that God gifted me and all the friends that enrich my life on a daily basis. This year we were blessed with my aunt Laurita moving back to the USA temporarily (we hope it's forever), for all the time we spent together as a family and for all the deep conversations I had with the ones I call friends. In the new year, I plan to continue to nurture my close relationships and reconnect with those who are missing in my life. These are pictures of *some* of those special people in my life <3
- Health is a gift we should never take for granted! Iggy had minor surgery to remove a head lipoma in October and even though it wasn't a big deal, he did have to be put under and I was terrified. So many thoughts went through my mind and I broke down several times. My mom also had a few health scares and so did my dad. I am thankful for my faith getting me through the dark days and I pray that God continues to bless us with healthy lives. I'm also thankful for Iggy's positive outlook no matter what. I love you so much!
- One thing I'm going to PAUSE.
- One thing I'm going to START.
- One thing I'm going to STOP.