Where to begin! The past few years there’s been one big event that marks the year. A wedding, graduation, move, job, trip… there has always been one thing. I sat down to reflect on the past 12 months and couldn’t put my finger on this year’s mark. I have been flying by the seat of my pants trying to keep up, learn and experience it all at the same time. This year has, thus far, been the most unpredictable and multi-marked year of my life! ~Thanks to you all! ~
Last year I started this blog, moved to Chicago, Gus and I bought our first home, and I stepped foot into my first real cooperate job. Okay, last year was multi-marked too but it seems like stepping stones compared to this year. I guess that’s what each year is though, right? Layers of seasons and decisions that lead us, in my experience, right where I wasn’t expecting! It was the beginning of exactly what I thought I wanted and 2017 proved me wrong.
Gus and I are still in Chicago, actually settled in and getting to know this beautiful city! I’m such an advocate for The Windy City, if you haven’t been here yet, add it to your bucket list for 2018. Then let me know so I can fill you in on all of its’ little treasures!
West of Felicity has taken quite the turn. It started as a side hobby, a place to share the abundance of pictures I took of cookies, gifts, and travels. Looking back, it wasn’t good, but it was fun! (For those of you who are originals and stuck through the amateur posts of my first year, you’re a trooper, thank you!) Until now, I had a vision but no time or knowledge to actually create it. This year, I’ve left my cooperate career and took on the joys and challenges of working for myself and starting a business. HELLO SELF EMPLOYED! Who’d have thought?! More about that transition in this post! As for the condo, we still call it home and somehow I’m not finished decorating. Gus and I learned a ton about the process of hunting, buying and owning. Then, our property was bought out and we learned all about selling, renting, and the ease of calling maintenance… ahhh! Just about everything changed and here I am grateful for every lesson, transition, and decision along the way.
THE BEST OF 2017
We found a church to call home this year, Soul City in the heart of West Loop! We’ve moved, we’ve traveled; we’ve always had an excuse not be regulars as we bounced around Chicago. It was a friendly invitation that introduced us to this life-giving community. Y’all, it has been the highlight and foundation of all the good this year has held, for two reasons.
I WAS BAPTIZED THIS YEAR! A long time coming, I made the decision to invite Christ into my life 3 years ago but it wasn’t until 2017 that I accepted his love and sacrifice in public.
Every Monday night I get together with the sweet and serving souls of the ladies in my small group bible study. This group has been so a blessing and uplifting way to kick off the week. I look forward to it every week as a place to be held accountable, challenged, and lifted.
I’ve unexpectedly checked off most of my bucket list this year! A spontaneous trip to Bali with my sweet friend Jules started this jet-setting trend and I never seemed to slow down. There were a few months toward the end of the year where I was only home for 4 days at a time between trips. Five trips to New York, Bali, Switzerland, Banff National Park and Alaska… Nights in my own bed were few and far between in 2017. I’ve become quite good at packing with all the practice. Not packing less, I still pack way too much, but I can fit it all in easy-peasy now! You’d be shocked what I can squeeze into a carry on….
MAY | BALI
The trip of a lifetime! I’m itching for any chance to get back to their un–bali–viblely fresh food, crazy roads, and tropical waters. My friend Jules and I spent 2 1/2 weeks stuffing ourselves full of fresh nut milk and local specialties. I learned to ride a motorbike and navigate Bali’s traffic rules (which basically don’t exist- total chaos.) This was the catalyst for a year full passports, packed bags, and wonderful memories.
I share My Trip to Bali and a Bali Travel Guide if you’re looking for a little slice of heaven!
MARCH – NOVEMBER | NEW YORK CITY
My first trip to New York was to meet Jules, a new wonderful friend that somehow I didn’t meet until I was 25 years old. Even though we grew up down the street and went to the same high school! Since then, I’ve been back a hand full of times between visiting her and shooting with my talented friend Anna. I always end up eating too much and spending more than I want (usually on food…) but I’ve come to love this city. I’ll never be able to uncover all the unique charm and character of New York and that’s my favorite part!
NEW YORK CITY POSTS
JULY | BANFF NATIONAL PARK, CANADA
Banff National Park actually took my breath away. I took a family getaway with Gus, his twin Nick, wife Melissa and their brother Luke to see the icy blue waters and towering peaks for of the Rockies. We picnicked over Peyto Lake, hiked through the mountains, and rowed through the Valley of Ten Peaks on Lake Moraine. Sights I will treasure for the rest of my life! I’ve never seen anything quite like it. What made it even better was enjoying it with four of the people I love most!
JULY | ALASKA
We planned our Canada and Alaska trip around a marathon my sister-in-law, Melissa was going to run through the mountains in Alaska. Yea, she’s bad-ass! How could I miss a victory like that? Well, turns out there were 3 recent and fetal bear attacks… whoah… so the race was canceled. Alaska is no Joke! Gus and I actually walked right by a blck bear on our way down from hiking a glacier, probably 30 feet away. He or she, looked over their shoulder right at us and miraculously turned back and walked away. Thank you, Jesus! Instead of the race, we hiked a few mountains of our own, my legs and lungs were struggling, but I felt quite literally, ON TOP OF THE WORLD!
The third truly spontaneous trip of the year, thanks to my friend Anna! We spent a little over a week bouncing from Zug (the cutest small town EVER; right out of a storybook!) to Lucerne, Zurich, and Lugano. We snuck in a hike and visit to the spa in between train rides. There was a lot of pretzels, cheese, and chocolate involved. Record amounts if you ask me! So much beauty on this adventure, you wouldn’t believe how many pictures we took. Even for a blogger and photographer… we captured a lot!
I left the excitement of a buzzing office with happy hours and constant conversation for the comfort and flexibility of my home. Which I love! The option to wear leggings, a dress or let’s be honest my PJ’s… never gets old. But I can go days without speaking to anyone other than Gus and the occasional barista. My current job –serving you all- is socialized through a keyboard; it can be very isolating (thank goodness for our sweet pup Leroy) especially for a social butterfly like myself! At first, the me-time was pretty nice, I soaked it up until I craved community. Relationships are so important to our happiness, security, and fulfillment so I embarked on a journey to build more.
This year marks the beginning of many new friendships! Powerful and inspirational women from church and blogging have flooded my life; thank the Lord! They’ve brought me knowledge, adventure, joy, opportunity, and comfort. The more the merrier! Gus and I are so thankful for the friends we have here in Chicago, they’re the cherry on top of a beautiful year.
This is 100 percent in the best of 2017, but honestly, it’s a roller coaster! Most of the time it’s the source of all my struggles, fears and failures but it’s the only way to grow and learn my purpose in this industry. The trail brings out my strengths and my failures have paved my road to success.
I don’t always enjoy the dips. Obviously, in the moment they absolutely stink; I question my work, my purpose, myself, it’s exhausting and discouraging. BUT, I LOVE WHAT I DO! I’m so grateful to be here and truly thankful that you all show up! This year has taught me so much about what it means to serve you. You are the only reason I’m here; we’re partners in joyful living and I pray I can double the joy you live out in 2018. I’m working to bring you the inspiration and resources to love well and enJOY being the person God created you to be.
Thank you for following along this year! What wonders 2018 will hold for us, I can’t wait to navigate them with you!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!