Goodbye 2013, HELLO 2014!

Greetings from the other side! You guys, WE MADE IT!!! It's time to say "Goodbye 2013, HELLO 2014!" If my excitement for 2014 isn't obvious already, then let me just reiterate how thrilled I am that it is a fresh new year. It's kind of silly when you think about it--the fact that we think of time in terms of a linear structure and we measure it thinking that if we just make it to January 1st, things will all be OKAY, as if something magical happens between December 31st and January 1st.

But maybe something magical does happen. Maybe it's just a matter of choosing to believe in that magic or not. I know that, logically, not much has actually changed now that it is 2014. I still have the same employment status, the blog doesn't have any more written posts ready to go, and my relationships with others haven't changed. However, my attitude and spirit soared when the ball dropped on New Year's Eve, ringing in 2014. Finally. This is MY YEAR!

There is a small part of me that worries that I'm putting too much stake in 2014--that I have way too high of hopes and expectations for a small year. In reality, 365 days goes back rather quickly, and while so much can happen, so little can happen, too. I fear that I might not come out of the year with the accomplishments and happiness I so long for. But in the end, it's all up to me, isn't it? What ultimately becomes of us is, in large part, due to us. Ringing in the new year is merely a symbol of making a promise to oneself and I promise to make progress.

Resolutions are an interesting topic of discussion, especially on the blogosphere. Some people go the traditional route but make an effort to make resolutions SMART goals, ones that are realistic and measurable. This is what I tried to do last year, when I made 13 Resolutions for 2013. My progress on those is a post for another time. Other people choose a word or a phrase that will set the intention for the year. Even more people forgo resolutions and specific intentions all together and focus on just being a better version of themselves. In any case, I think it's admirable and crucial to take time to reflect on the past and set a vision for the future.

I have big dreams for this year. I don't know how much of it I will accomplish, how much control I have in what occurs, or how much will change. But what I do know is that I am determined to fight for myself and my happiness. I will trust that God has a plan for this year for each day and have faith in knowing that no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. What are your thoughts on the new year?

The holidays were pretty great. I sincerely hope all of you had relaxing and enjoyable holidays with your friends and families. I thought I'd share some snapshots of my Christmas and New Years.

So there was this time that Ashlie dressed up as Elf on the Shelf.

Ashlie Elf on the Shelf

Naturally, I made her climb up on top of our refrigerator, making this one of our many apartment memories I will never forget. Pardon our messy kitchen.

Christmas 2013 Apartment Tree

Apartment-sized and adorable. Ashlie and I had our Christmas morning before we left for break and it was pretty freaking precious. Hot chocolate, buffalo chicken dip (Mmmm breakfast), presents, and lots of happy tears made for an unforgettable morning.

Butter Spritz Cookies Christmas 2013 Tree Christmas Eve Outfit 2013 Christmas Eve Outfit 2013 Dress: LOFT (on sale + extra 60% off= $30!) Belt: LOFT Tights: Kohl's (similar) Heels: Payless Earrings: Kohl's

My Christmas Eve ensemble came mostly from LOFT, naturally. The picture quality isn't optimal, but this dress is navy and super classy and comfortable. I really loved the flattering silhouette and I can't wait to style it in a variety of ways.

Justin and Me Christmas 2013 Every year (and for pretty much every occasion), my brother Justin and I pose like this. I don't know when or why it started, but this is what we do! It was so awesome having him, his fiance Kate, and Kate's brother spend Christmas with us. We played games and watched a lot of TV shows and it was so nice to just bond as a family.

I was able to see some friends over the holiday break, but the week was mostly devoted to family. Two days after Christmas, my grandma passed away. She had been suffering from dementia for almost five years, so in many ways, her passing was such a blessing. Even so, it was a difficult realization that the last grandparent was now gone and that everything was forever changed. I had been thinking about Grandma for a while and writing a eulogy in my mind, so when it came time for the funeral, I volunteered to deliver mine on behalf of the grandchildren. It was an honor to share what Grandma has meant to all of us and how we remember her in all that we do. As difficult as the whole situation was, it was truly wonderful to spent some extended time with family, especially those from out-of-town.

When I came back to my apartment, I came away from break with three realizations:

  1. Family is truly everything.
  2. Pittsburgh is calling my name.
  3. I am on the brink of something.

Ashlie and I rang in the new year downtown with some of our buddies and it. was. a. BLAST. I'm so grateful to have had a wonderful evening with friends.

Ashlie New Year's Eve 2013 Dress: Maurices Tights: George Necklace: c/o Me (Forever 21)

Marissa New Year's Eve 2013 Dress: Goodwill (hollaaa) Tights: Kohl's (similar) Necklace: LOFT Heels: Payless

New Years Eve 2013

And so, if you've made it through this ridiculously long-winded post already, I'll leave you with this. Everybody jumped on the Flipagram bandwagon, and I was no exception. Along with it, I included a letter to 2013--which seems fitting after a year that focused a lot on writing letters.

Dear 2013,

I am going to muster up all of the strength I have to say this: Thank you. Thank you for being the lesson I didn't want to learn, the heartache I never imagined I'd experience, the cruel and unjust reality I had to face, and theunsung blessing in disguise. You may have pushed and beat me down repeatedly, but you always forced me to get back up again and never give up. You taught me that life doesn't always go according to your hopes and plans, and that's OKAY. Most importantly, you've shown me that family and friends are, and will always be, everything.

While I am still bitter that you've taken some of my idealism and replaced it with a hint of disillusionment, you've also encouraged me to continually fight to be the best version of myself. And I guess I should give you some credit--you've made me laugh. A lot. Even if it was at my own expense.

I know it won't come as a shock to you to know that I will never miss you, but I will think of you often and recognize that you prepared me for a major turning point in my life. We shan't be meeting again, as I've just met your older and more positive sister, 2014, and decided I'm going to be her new BFF. #sorrynotsorry. I'm sure you'll understand.

To my family, friends, students, colleagues, fellow bloggers, readers, and prayer warriors, I thank you. I wouldn't have made it without you.