Looking Back on 2014

It feels like it was only weeks ago that I happily closed the door on 2013 and began the new year with hopes that it would be my best ever, but here we are about to say goodbye to 2014. While there were definitely some hard times this year, there were also more good ones than I ever thought possible. As I do every year, today I want to take a look back at 2014 and all the wonderful things that happened to me. Here are some of the highlights:

 

The Seahawks won the Super Bowl. ‘Nuff said.

 

I fell in love with seeing bands at smaller local venues, thanks to Bill. I met one of my favorite bands, the Jezabels. I also got to go to a ton of other awesome shows at cool local venues, as well as the Capitol Hill Block Party, Everett’s Fisherman’s Wharf Music Festival, Bumbershoot, and Lollapalooza in Chicago. Seeing bands I like has become something of an addiction.

Jezabels

Bill and I with the Jezabels!

 

My cousins graduated from high school and college (my cousin Camryn earned his high school diploma and his Associate’s degree, and my cousin Caitlyn earned her Bachelor’s degree and immediately began her Master’s program). I got to attend their graduation ceremonies and couldn’t be prouder of them!

Graduation 1 Graduation 2

 

I turned thirty, and got to spend my birthday with my dad (we share our birthday), my mom, my cousins, and a lot of great friends. I know a lot of people who dread their thirtieth birthdays, but for me, it was a welcome milestone. While I learned a lot in my twenties, I was more than ready to leave them behind.

Me

 

I visited Chicago for the first time and absolutely fell in love with the city. In addition to my first Lollapalooza, Bill took me to my first Cubs game and introduced me to cool neighborhoods, great food, and the tallest buildings I’ve ever seen. I also got to meet up with my dear friend Marcie and her daughter and now-fiancee, and seeing them meant the world to me. I can’t wait to go back to Chicago for Lollapalooza 2015!

Lolla

Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Chicago. August 2014.

 

I made a couple of trips back to California and got to spend time with my family (and enjoy my parents’ newly landscaped backyard!). I also got to introduce Bill to my brother and sister and show him around where I grew up. Hopefully I get to go back soon…once their snowstorm warnings subside, anyways.

Family

Family love, October 2014

 

I cut my long hair, first into a chin-length bob in April and then a pixie cut in June. It was a bold move for me, as I’d always believed I would never look good with short hair (even though I had wanted a pixie cut ever since I saw Winona Ryder’s super-short hair in Girl, Interrupted). When I decided to take the plunge and try going shorter, I did it with the mantra that my hair WOULD grow back and that if I hated it, it wouldn’t be forever. But I didn’t hate it. I loved it, I love having short hair, and I can’t really imagine ever wanting to grow it long again!

Veronica 2

April 2014       

A Profile Pic

June 2014

 

I moved to Kirkland and got a house with my first roommate ever. Living with Amy has turned out to be awesome and I am SO glad we live together. Our house is cozy and comfortable and I actually enjoy being at home now. Now I can’t wait for summertime, so that we can build a fire pit and spend warm evenings outside in our backyard toasting marshmallows and relaxing.

Jammies

My roomie and I in our matching pajamas on Christmas morning

 

I fell in love with Bill. He is my best friend and the love of my life. Together we have a bond that I only dreamed could exist. Being with him makes me happier than I ever knew a relationship could make me. This year we have taken trips together, seen bands together, laughed and cried together. He’s supported me through good and bad.

Bill and V

Saying goodbye to 2014 is definitely bittersweet for me, since it’s been such an amazing year. But I’m excited to see what great things 2015 has in store for me!

Here I Go Again

Last June, I wrote about accepting a six-month temporary position at work. At the time, I was hoping that it would ultimately turn into a permanent job for me. The six months have passed, and it hasn’t worked out that way. I was given the choice of extending my temporary assignment through February, in continued hopes that maybe it would turn into a permanent position, or returning to my former job in Customer Relations.

It was a difficult decision, but ultimately I decided to go back to Customer Relations. I am so grateful for the experiences I’ve had in the last six months and am glad I had such a great opportunity.But I discovered that I miss the fast-paced work days and the sometimes-hectic environment that I’ve grown fond of over the last three years. I feel really good about going back and I’m excited for it.

A Very Merry Christmas

Yesterday was Christmas, and it was the best one I’ve had since moving to the Northwest. Over the last week I’ve had intermittent bummed-out moments because I was missing my family. I always have to work on Christmas Eve, which prevents me from being able to travel to California for the holidays. But I felt better because this year, I opened presents with my parents and sister on Christmas Eve via Skype. It was so much fun actually getting to watch them open their presents, and being able to thank them “in person” as I opened mine!

Christmas at the cozy new house was great. Both Bill and Amy’s boyfriend came over on Christmas Eve, and we all sat around and played Cards Against Humanity and laughed hysterically. On Christmas morning, Amy and I wore the special matching pajamas we got just for the occasion. Santa-Amy had come the night before and filled our stockings, and we all sat in the living room and exchanged gifts. I felt spoiled rotten with all the thoughtful, wonderful presents I received, and I think the gifts I picked out for everyone were a hit. After presents, we cleaned up the wrapping-paper storm that had hit the living room (much to my cats’ chagrin – they love playing with discarded wrapping paper) and Bill cooked breakfast for everyone. He’s a fantastic cook, and I love his breakfasts. For the rest of the day, the house smelled like bacon, and who doesn’t love bacon?

The rest of the day was very low-key. We watched TV, took naps, and relaxed. I didn’t change out of my PJ’s until after noon. My friend Maggie came over for a bit to see the new house and to exchange gifts, and in the evening Bill and I went to Waverly Beach Park near my house to watch the sunset.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, I know I did!

In Defense of Happy Holidays

It’s the holiday season. Everywhere I go, I hear festive music and see beautiful decorations. My favorite shows have had holiday specials running since Halloween. Oh, yeah, and my Facebook feed is dotted with the posts that some of my friends make when they get all bent out of shape if someone tells them “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas”.

In case you’re not familiar with the United States, we have a society comprised of a lot of different nationalities, origins, and religions. Families here celebrate a variety of holidays, like Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. I’ve never met a Jewish person who got offended if I said, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Happy Hanukkah”, but boy do the Christians get ticked if you generalize the season and don’t wish them MERRY CHRISTMAS.

I happen to find this behavior incredibly stupid, as I don’t think it should matter what words a person uses as long as the sentiment is kind. If I wish someone a happy holiday, I do it with the same sincerity as I do when I say Merry Christmas. I think that picking apart what exact phrase a person uses when wishing another person well is ridiculous and makes me want to wish everyone who has tantrums over this pettiness Happy Holidays just to annoy them.

I came across this lovely gem in my Facebook news feed today (I wrote this as-is, so please excuse the poor grammar and know it was not my doing):

What a crock! …we can’t say Merry Christmas now we have to say Happy Holidays. we can’t call it a Christmas tree, it’s now called a holiday tree because it might offend someone? If you don’t like our “customs” and it offends you so much then LEAVE…I will help you pack. They are called customs and we have our traditions. If you agree with this post as your status!! IT’S MY FREEDOM TO SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Do you have what it takes to repost this? I did and I will continue to say “Merry Christmas”. 

(Side note: who the hell says ‘holiday tree’?? Never heard of that one. Totally calling it that from now on!).

Now, I don’t know anyone who has actually gotten offended because someone says Merry Christmas to them. But I know plenty of assholes (sorry, to my friends, but you are being assholes when you act this way) who get offended if someone opts for Happy Holidays over Merry Christmas. Yes, those who celebrate Christmas are in the majority in the U.S. and I have no problem with that. But we are a nation founded by people from a variety of places, with a variety of traditions and customs. It’s what makes our culture so rich. We are promised religious freedom, and with that comes the right to choose what traditions and holidays we want to adopt. I’m not a Christian and as a whole I dislike religion. I personally celebrate Christmas out of a sense of nostalgia, because I enjoyed it when I was little and I like recreating those memories (and because it’s fun, and because a lot of Christmas parties offer open bars).

To sum up this rant, if someone wishes you Happy Holidays, it’s because they’re being friendly and wishing you well. Don’t be a jerk and get offended because they didn’t specifically cite the holiday YOU celebrate in their greeting. Just know that it was meant to be friendly and kind…and hell, let’s go crazy here, maybe you can even say it back to them.

 

Pushing Forward

Today I had a really hard time getting psyched up for my workout. I don’t know why there are days that I dread the gym, because I always feel fantastic after I exercise. I always regret it when I miss a workout, but I always feel happy when I finish one.

On top of feeling lazy, I was food-lusty. I fantasized about eating a cheeseburger. But I’m planning on having lasagna for dinner, so I knew I really needed to stick to a light, healthy lunch.

. Finally, I reminded myself that I’m only four pounds away from my second weight-loss goal, and that I’m feeling so much better about myself now that I’m dropping weight. I decided that I have until the end of the month to hit my second goal, and if I don’t, then I’ll go back on Medifast in January. And while Medifast definitely works and can help me shed pounds faster, I would much rather just eat healthy foods and exercise to lose weight. It’s very tough mentally to stay on such a restrictive diet, so it’s definitely not what I want.

So I went to the gym.

Workout

And you know what? I feel great.

I really wish that I had gotten myself under control earlier, before I’d gained so much weight. But the important thing is that I’m aware of it now, and  am taking better care of myself. This screen shot from my Lose It account helps keep me motivated:

Weight Loss

Maybe losing 8.6lbs in almost two months isn’t that fast or that impressive, but I definitely feel a lot better physically and emotionally with that weight gone. I want to drop about 8 more pounds, which means that if I can keep on my current place I’ll be right where I want to be by February. That’s pretty encouraging. Even more than my self-imposed threat of going back on a diet, feeling healthier and more confident motivates me to keep going when I’m feeling tired or lazy. 8.6lbs ago, I didn’t feel good about myself at all. As the weight drops off, my confidence is coming back strong. I will keep going, because I will feel amazing for it.

Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving was absolutely wonderful! Bill and I left (very very very very) early Wednesday morning and flew from Seattle to Chicago (thank you to Amy for staying up all night and driving us to the airport! Much love!). When we landed at O’Hare, I could see just a dusting of snow on the ground outside and was excited by just how “winter” everything looked. As we walked off the plane  I could actually see my breath. It was very different from the last time I flew out of O’Hare last August!

We drove from Chicago to Fort Wayne, which I liked because it gave me the opportunity to see a lot of northern Indiana. I liked how spread-out everything is there – very different from the traffic jams of Seattle – and really enjoyed seeing old brick and limestone buildings. There are a lot of little lakes that I’m sure are a lot of fun to visit during warm weather.

We spent Thanksgiving with Bill’s family. They are incredibly nice and were very welcoming to me. I felt more like part of the family than a person they were meeting for the first time. Dinner was beyond delicious (Bill’s mom is a fantastic cook!) and I really enjoyed spending time getting to know everyone. After dinner Bill and his brothers took me to my very first hockey game, and I loved it so much that we ended up going to a second game on Saturday night.

On Friday Bill took me for a drive, showing me the places where he grew up and where he used to work when he lived in Fort Wayne. He also took me to see Amish people! He’s told me about the Amish community just outside of Fort Wayne before, but I actually got to see a family riding down the street in a horse-drawn buggy, and a man using a team of huge horses to plow a field.

I didn’t want to concern myself with dieting during our trip, so it was pretty much anything-goes with regard to food. I gained three pounds over the weekend, but have already lost it all by going back to the gym and my much-missed Zumba class. I’m trying to eat healthy, but I’m not dieting anymore, and if I can keep dropping weight this way then I’ll be really happy. And I know I’ll lose weight more slowly, but I also know it’ll be easier to keep it off by doing it gradually. And it feels SO good to be back to my workouts!

We’re now officially into the Christmas season now. I’ve done the bulk of my gift-buying, we’re putting up the tree and decorating the house on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to some holiday parties coming up over the next few weeks. It’s going to be a fun month!