When I look back on 2013 as a whole, there are three words I would use to encompass the past twelve months: travel, love and loss. I know most people say, "it was a year of ups and downs," but until this year, I can safely say, I had it easy. The highs were so high this year, but the lows were extremely low. Those low points, however, reveal those that are willing to stand in the storm with you while also showing you who's not willing to walk in the rain by your side.
This year was the year of travel for me. I've always loved traveling and make a point to do it each year, but this year held several amazing trips with amazing people. I spent four days in Nashville, TN in March and fell in love with one of the most amazing cities in the south. We went to the Ryman Auditorium, the Parthenon, the Blue Bird Cafe, Music Row, saw Kelli Pickler, Martina McBride and Taylor Swift's homes (among many others) and the American Pickers' shop. We even made it out to the Jack Daniels Distillery. Nashville had always been on my bucketlist and getting to check it off this year felt amazing.
|Found this over by the American Pickers' Shop|
|The stage inside the Ryman Auditorium|
|Reba McEntire's Country Music Hall of Fame Plaque|
|Whiskey tasting at the Jack Daniels Distillery|
|Tequila Cowboy-Featured in Season 1 of Nashville|
Next, I went cross-country with my mom and sister to San Francisco in May. All my sister wanted for her college graduation was a trip to San Fran., which I happily jumped on board for. I have been a lot of places, seen a lot of things and met a lot of people, but nothing in the world compares to San Francisco. I don't know what it is about the city, I can't even come close to putting my finger on it, but as soon as you arrive, you get swept up into the city and you never want to leave. Everywhere you turn, something is important or historic or known world-wide. We sat at The Buena Vista, right where Meg Ryan sat in the movie, When a Man Loves a Woman. We drove past Danielle Steel's home, we parked at the corner where the Zodiac killer murdered a taxi driver and was seen by kids in an upstairs window. We rode the cable cars and the streetcars and spent the day at Alcatraz. We toured Napa and spent an entire day wine tasting. We enjoyed fog-less San Francisco. I didn't even know such a day could exist, but we only had two full days of fog and the rest of the time we had blue-bird skies. San Francisco was a trip of a lifetime that I will remember and cherish forever.
|The Painted Ladies from "Full House" in foreground, Transamerica Building just left of center in background|
|Perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge on a clear and sunny day in San Francisco|
|The streetcars were our favorite mode of transportation. Especially since the F Market line started right next to our hotel.|
|The most gorgeous view just outside of Pescadero on the Pacific Coast Hwy.|
|We had to get to the real Chinatown for pastries|
In the beginning of September, we spent a girls weekend in Jacksonville/St. Augustine to celebrate my 27th birthday. We did a lot of drinking and shopping on this trip and we had so much fun doing it.
Towards the end of September, I went with some friends down to Miami for the Redbull Flugtag event. I'm sure it's cool to go to the event on a normal day, but going to Flugtag and watching people that you know, compete in the competition only makes it a million times better. It's also the trip I sprained my ankle by missing the curb on our walk to the bars in Brickell (I was completely sober when this happened too). The good thing was I was able to stand and walk on it the whole weekend, which came in handy on Sunday when we spent the day tailgating at the Miami Dolphins game. I've never been a huge football fan, but being in the stadium makes it so much better.
|The intracoastal at night, on our walk to Brickell|
|Cheers to the main event, Flugtag Miami 2013!|
|Game day, Miami Dolphins!|
October rolled around and we took our annual trip to Western North Carolina. Each year it's always so relaxing and it's nice to have friends up there at the same time as us. One of the first nights in the cabin, we had everyone over for Sunday dinner and drinks. It was so fun to sit out on the back deck, looking out at Whiteside Mountain and surrounded by a great group of friends. That was probably one of my favorite days of the whole trip.
|Our view of Whiteside Mountain from the back deck of our cabin|
|Mommie and me|
|A blow weed on the Blue Ridge Parkway outside of Cherokee, NC|
|We caught the most breath-taking view of the clouds moving across the lake one morning. Yep, that's clouds moving through the mountains, not steam coming off the lake.|
As for love, I find that I become more and more aware of just how much I love the people I have in my life. I have the most amazing friends and family anyone could ask for. My mom would do anything in her power for me and while I've always known that, it really hit home this year when I needed her most. She was my shoulder to cry on and my support during one of the worst times I've ever experienced. In my opinion, she hangs the moon.
I know we all experience loss at some point in our lives. We lose friends, loved ones, pets and many other forms of loss as we move through life, but it's those moments of "this can't be happening" that really shake the solid ground you thought you were standing on. It seems lots of people have experienced that kind of loss this year and it breaks my heart as I realize just how many tragic events have taken place in this one year.
This year has been one of the most life-changing years I've ever had and I know that most of that stems from the life lessons I've learned through both the celebrations and the storms that took place this year. Through it all, I think I've learned how to be a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend and just a better person all around. I'll be the first to admit, I'm still a work in progress, but the opinions of those closest to me are all that matter anyway.
So, as 2013 closes, I am looking forward to a "great big beautiful tomorrow" (Carousel of Progress anyone?) and can't wait to see and learn and do in 2014.