Drew and I took a two-week backpacking trip across Europe. We visited friends in Copenhagen and they showed us around Denmark and Malmö, Sweden. Drew visited the renowned Cantillon Brewery in Brussels, Belgium while I spent the day traveling through Amsterdam, Netherlands and on to visit the tulip fields in Holland. We stopped in Paris for part of a day so that Drew could see the Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, before we took a train up into the Swiss Alps for several days of exploring the beautiful towns of Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Gimmelwald, and Stechelberg, Switzerland. We both fell in love with Switzerland — it’s quaint towns, breathtaking mountains, and crystal clear streams and waterfalls. We met up with my sister Kelsey as she studied abroad in Italy and explored the coastal cities in the Cinque Terre with her. She showed us around Florence and we ate the most delicious gluten-free pastries and more gelato in a week than I have in the rest of my life combined. We went on to eat the most amazing pizza in Naples and explore the ancient ruins of Pompeii. We ended our trip in Rome, seeing the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain and visiting Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel.
I applied to grad school at the Savannah College of Art & Design, got accepted, quit my job as a graphic designer, moved from New Orleans to Savannah, Georgia, decorated a new apartment, made it a third of the way through my Masters degree in Fibers/Textile Design, and lived apart from Drew for three months so that I could start school and he could continue working in New Orleans. (read more about grad school here)
Drew and I finished a 3+ year process of paying off all of our credit card, car, and student loan debt! (read more about our debt free journey here) We lived the majority of this year completely debt free for the first time in our married lives, even with paying for two apartments in separate cities and for my grad school tuition! We stretched our possessions to furnish two separate apartments, without buying much more than a Craigslist couch, trash cans, and a couple rugs. I also simplified my clothing into a capsule wardrobe and realized that I pretty much only wear black.
Many road trips happened between New Orleans and Savannah and I made the trip from Savannah to Jacksonville, Florida to pick up Drew from the airport many times. We made a few trips to Nashville and Southern Illinois to visit family. We also explored Tybee Island, Georgia and Hilton Head, South Carolina. I even evacuated Savannah from a hurricane — driving the 8 hours to Nashville by myself at night (with Violet). I also traveled to visit my sisters and aunt in Raleigh, Wilmington, and Kure Beach, North Carolina.
I worked my full-time job in graphic design for 8 months out of the year, made another quilt and another quilt top, did a 60-day daily practice of block printed patterns, starting painting with gouache, created a complete pattern collection with three colorways, did a lot of reading, writing, and research, re-branded my art portfolio website, and learned a lot about myself and my design style and where I want to go with my career.
I turned 25, celebrated 9 years together with Drew, lived completely alone in a new city by myself for the first time in my life, had to learn how to take care of a household alone, struggled with starting school again, missed my husband more than I can even put into words, appreciated him so much more, learned what it means to miss New Orleans, spent both major holidays away from family for the first time, and felt some of the deepest sadness and loneliness I’ve ever felt. For the first time in my life, I cared deeply about the US Presidential Election and was devastated by the results. In stepping so far outside my comfort zone this year, I’ve felt more emotions than I even knew were possible and I’ve also felt so much more alive.
I realized just how important getting ~10 hours of sleep every night is to my productivity and sanity. I ate healthier and drank green smoothies for breakfast almost every day. For the first time in over three years, I took time off not just for travel, but to rest. I spent the last month of this year back in New Orleans, clearing my head, re-evaluating my life and priorities, centering myself, and finding so much clarity. I realized the true importance of taking time to rest and recharge. I also realized how much better I design and operate when it comes from within myself and not to meet other people’s expectations. I also found so much more bliss in small, everyday moments — eating at my favorite restaurants, being back at SCAPC, and slow Saturday mornings with Vietnamese food at Singletons and a visit to a coffee shop with Drew.
2016 was a year of some of the highest highs and lowest lows for me. It was a year of growth in many ways, but growth in addition to being good, is also hard. I’m grateful for the ways that it pushed and strengthened me, glad I lived through it, but also glad to see it behind me. I’m looking forward to what 2017 has in store, but I know that much of it will also be full of good/hard growth. Here’s to new adventures, discoveries, patterns, places, and opportunities ahead.
“There are stars you haven’t seen and loves you haven’t loved. There’s light you haven’t felt and sunrises yet to dawn. There are dreams you haven’t dreamt and days you haven’t lived and nights you won’t forget and flowers yet to grow and there is more to you that you have yet to know.” –Gaby Comprés
P.S. Past old year reflections and new year goals: Goals for 2016, Reflections on 2015, Reflections on 2014, Goals for 2015, Reflections on 2013, Goals for 2014, Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013, Happy 2012, 2011 and 20 Before Twenty.