2013.

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My first thought of 2013, is that it chewed me up and spit me out in a way that is perfectly exemplified by the fact that I spent the week of Christmas sick and wearing an eye patch...

Just in case you wanted proof. This was the best picture we could manage on Christmas Day. I look like I'm crying...

People always say when you look back, you only remember the good things and the bad seems to melt away. For some reason, I've felt the opposite this year. The hard times and rough patches have really stuck with me in spite of the fact that I have plenty to be grateful for. I've been trying to be more conscious of this and I recently started using a new app called "Gratitude Journal".

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Basically, at the end of every day, the app will show you a reminder asking, "What are you grateful for today"? It's a really simple concept, and something I probably should have been doing already, but having that little reminder has been really helpful in taking a pause and reflecting at the end of the day.  I already feel like I go to bed with a better perspective and sunnier outlook on life.

In the spirit of writing down what I am grateful for an in honor of the new year, I've decided to write down 10 things that I am grateful for in 2013 (in semi-chronological order).

Here we go:

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1. February 2013: I started my Etsy shop at the suggestion of my older sister, Stormi. 10 months later, I have found so much enjoyment Young Tradition Studio as a creative outlet and I can't believe I didn't start it sooner!

2. April-May 2013: I made my first Trans-Atlantic trip, traveling with a group of Chatham students Sisters to Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium. This trip really did change my life, in that intangible way that everyone says how traveling abroad does. I am in love with every city we explored and I can't wait to travel more with Anthony in the future. My favorite souvenir from this trip? The amazing friendship I made with my roommate, Amanda! Somewhere between the planes, bus stations, museums, educational speakers, shops and a few "near-death" experiences, I found a true soul-sister who I know I will be able to call a friend for life.

3. May 2013: After 2 colleges, 4 years and countless hours in the studio, I graduated with my Bachelors Degree in Interior Architecture! I couldn't have done it without my incredible Chatham sisters, 6 of whom traveled across the state (and country!) for my wedding, two of which were bridesmaids!

4. June 2013: It took leaving Pittsburgh to realize how much I had grown to love my "second hometown". Pittsburgh will always have a hold of my heart in a way that I can't explain. It's where Anthony and I first lived together, where we got engaged, where we grew into the people we are today. Its been six months and I still miss it/think about moving back all the time. I think it was Winnie the Pooh who said, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard".

5. Also, June 2013: We welcomed my second niece into the world! I can't imagine life without my Glory-girl now, even if she is going through an intense attachment phase and cries if she's not in my sister/her mother's arms after 10 seconds. I will gladly face that fire, someday you will love me back Glory!

6. June December It's a process: In June, I accepted my first job after college. It ultimately didn't work out, like many first jobs out of college, but I am looking forward to starting my new job on Friday! So I am very grateful that this year, I found not one, but TWO jobs in my field! Not everyone is so lucky!

7. Summer 2013: In the months that followed college graduation, something along the line of a diaspora happened among the ranks of my friend-group. Now I have one in California, one in Missouri, one in North Carolina and a whole bunch still in Pittsburgh, where I was the one who did the leaving. It's been easy to feel sad about having my closest friends spread all over the country, but I am grateful for the fact that I have such wonderful friendships that have survived being long-distance.

8. October 2013: After seven years together, Anthony and I finally said "I do". Our day was perfect and we wish we could do it all over again! It meant so much to us to have our families and friends there celebrating with us as we took this step in our lives together.

9. Also, October 2013: I was so lucky to be able to travel so much in 2013! For our honeymoon we cruised from Baltimore to Cape Canaveral, to Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas. It was a fantastic week and we talk about it (and wish we could go back) just about everyday!

10. Also also, October 2013: We are lucky that we have a place to call home together. While it may not be ideal, or our dream home, it is a step towards our goals that I know we will look upon fondly in the future.

11. November 2013: We spent the most incredible long weekend with my best friend Lindsay's family over Thanksgiving. Neither of us had ever been to North Carolina, and we fell in love with the beautiful ocean views and charming small towns. Most of all we are grateful for how the Brennemans made us feel like a part of the family. They are such a fun and active bunch!

12. This one doesn't really have a chronology, but I am thankful for the opportunity to rediscover our hometowns. We may be missing Pittsburgh, but we are planning on doing a lot of activities and exploration to prove to ourselves that York, PA isn't too shabby either! I'm looking forward to feeling like we are a part of a community again and putting down roots together.

13. December 2013: I am very grateful for the down-time I've been able to spend with Anthony over the holidays. Being able to slow down and enjoy each others company has done wonders for me and I am so thankful for all of the love and support that Anthony shows me everyday.