you know, birthdays and i have always had sort of a love/hate relationship. i’ve never been too scared of adding another candle to my cake -age truly is, just a number. rather, each birthday was just another reminder of what i hadn’t accomplished, or what life stages i hadn’t quite reached yet.
but this year feels different.
i’m in a really good place. for the first time in a long while, i’m really enjoying the season i’m in. there’s a lightness about me, as if the weight of insecurity i have been carrying around for the past nine years has finally been lifted. so even with all of the awesome things that transpired over these past 365 days (yes, even australia), i think that has been the best gift of all -this intangible realization that i kind of love who i am. so with that inner confidence finally in tact, i’m really ready to take full advantage of this final year in my 20’s.
bring it on 29. you’ve got some big shoes to fill.
you may recall reading those words before. in fact, you may have read them exactly one year ago. they are the final thoughts of a post i wrote recapping the 28 reasons i loved my 28th year of life. and they are tangible evidence that i was finally in a place in my life to receive everything that has transpired over the course of these past 365 days.
and what a year it has been.
to put it simply, year #29 has been my best year yet. you may or may not have a slight idea on why that is 😉 … but i’ll save you the reflective monologue and let the stories (and photos) do the talking instead. cue the music montage, y’all. here comes the highlight reel!
29 reasons i loved 29 (on my last day of being 29, and in no particular order):
in my 29th year, i…
one || met the love of my life. july 3rd, 2014 will forever be the day my life changed for the better. on a whim, i allowed two friends to set me up with their co-worker. S and i went on a blind date a week later and now, just a month away from our one year anniversary, i cannot even begin to describe how much he has enriched my life with his presence, jokes, talents, support, grace, acceptance, and unconditional love. he is the reason my 29th year was my favorite to date. and he is the reason i smile every single day.
two || became a studio barre instructor. it’s ironic really, i was painfully shy as a little girl but somewhere around high school, i began coming out of my shell. and after years of taking barre classes and dreaming of becoming an instructor one day, this year i finally had the opportunity to help make my dream a reality. it has been almost a full year since i put that britney mic on for the first time and i honestly cannot believe how quickly the time has flown. having this position has challenged me in countless ways, yet has blessed me even more. it’s a rare gift to watch one of your dreams unfold before your eyes, and i consider myself very lucky to be a member of the studio barre family.
three || began to make my house a home. in addition to deciding to begin #operationredecoration on my entire condo, this year i also finally bit the bullet and purchased big kid furniture for my living room. after having ikea staples and hand-me-downs for so many years, S helped me pick out the perfect new oversized chair, ottoman, and couch from living spaces. we painted the walls grey, purchased a new area rug, and slowly began transforming the once beach-inspired decor to a neutral, and more rustic aesthetic. of course in the process, we may or may not have had a few issues with our couch selections and say, the measurements of my downstairs hallway, but sometimes life requires enduring a little trial and error before we get it right, right? (three times to be exact). at any rate, things are slowly coming together and i can’t wait to spend the new decade transforming the rest of the house into my dream oasis.
four || celebrated seven years at LJCC. no seven year itch for me, after spending nearly a decade at 7301 high avenue, i still feel fortunate to be able to call this place my work home.
five || took planes, trains, and automobiles. i managed to cover a lot of ground in my 29th year. in august, i visited M & M in san francisco and two weeks later, had a girls’ weekend in austin. in october, i touched down at nashville international for a 7th time to visit B and in december, S and i took our first trip together when we visited dallas for a wedding. then at the end of january of this year, we got international with our travels and spent a few days touring the pacific northwest – vancouver & seattle (more on that in number six). needless to say, it was a good year for travel.
six || learned that a couple that travels together, stays together. perhaps one of the highlights of this past year was having the opportunity to travel with S. not only was it fun to explore new cities with my best friend, i was also happy to learn that our “team S” attitude made tackling the inevitable travel challenges a breeze (lest i remind you about this little mishap). as long as we were both kept properly hydrated and fed, we were fine. better than fine, we were great! so i’m looking forward to jet-setting with my main squeeze in my 30th year as well. first stop, san francisco next month, then who knows?!
seven || celebrated my first thanksgiving away from home. if you know me, you know i take thanksgiving very seriously. it’s my favorite holiday, hands-down. after all, it encompasses all of my favorite things -family, food, football, and fun! this year, after 29 years of spending my favorite holiday with my family, i finally gorged on turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pie with a group of people other than my next of kin. S and i ventured northward to spend the delicious day with his family and it was so special to be included in their annual tradition.
eight || attended all the weddings. some of my favorite people got married over the course of my 29th year and i was grateful and honored to be a part of their special day. L & M, my cousin A & K, R & J, T & T, and L & M. the best part was, i got to bring S as my date to four out of five of the weddings and turns out, like everything else he does, he’s also the best at being my plus one.
nine || celebrated a year of JEB. i know i may be a little bit biased, but my nephew is seriously the cutest, funniest, smartest, all-around best tiny human. last july, we celebrated his first year. despite having a rocky start to his tenure outside of the womb, he has blossomed into the sweetest and most precocious little guy. he has his momma’s humor, his daddy’s hair color, and i’d like to think, *cough* his auntie’s eye for fashion and affinity for delicious food. he’s the apple of all of our eyes and i know i speak for everyone when i say we are so blessed by his presence.
ten || attempted to grow a green thumb. no matter how much miracle-gro you use, turns out, you can’t grow a green thumb. following S’s construction of a palette planter for my tiny patio, i was so excited to fill it with herbs and succulents. after buying out home depot’s garden department and filling the planter’s rungs, it was only a matter of time until the poor herbs met their demise. thankfully, succulents are hearty little things and survived my clear lack of botanical prowess. we scratched the idea of an herb garden and went straight to succulents instead, and what do you know? i haven’t killed a single one since. perhaps there’s hope for me yet!
eleven || rang in my 6 month anniversary with S in coronado. in honor of our mini-milestone, we headed south to the quaint beach side city for an overnight getaway. it was the perfect way to commemorate half a year of love. especially since coronado was also the site of one of our first day-dates during our first month of dating. and subsequently the site of our very first photo together (and S’s instagram debut!).
needless to say, it’ll always be a special place for us.
twelve || survived four christmases. one of the best things about having a main squeeze over the holidays is that you get to double your celebrations. or as was S and my case –quadruple them. we spent christmas eve with my parents, christmas morning with his family, stopped by my dad’s house on our way back home, and finally, had a mini celebration that evening just the two of us. it was a packed 24-hour period but left me so full and #blessed.
thirteen || had a photo shoot with S. in march, somehow mom and i roped S into doing a photo shoot at one of our favorite local venue gems -leo carrillo. we planned our outfits, practiced our smiles, and spent the morning moonlighting as amateur models as mom captured over 600(!) still frames. amidst the mid-laugh shots and occasional half-closed eyes (usually from yours truly), there were a handful of photos that stopped us in our tracks; little moments in time that perfectly embodied the essence of S and my relationship. they were too good not to share, so with S’s permission, i posted a few here. appropriately enough, after months of hiding behind tim riggins’ mug, those pictures were the first time S’s true identity was revealed on the blog, making the photos that much more meaningful.
fourteen || DIYed, a lot. thanks to S and his inner carpenter, this year saw a whole lot of craftiness/handiness from yours truly. over the course of the year we worked together to make a tv stand, a desk, a palette planter and patio table, book shelf, and a pair of lap desks.
fifteen || perfected my country club sports. one of the first activities S and i shared together was implementing “tennis fridays.” nearly every friday (weather permitting), we headed to my parents’ community tennis court for a little friendly competition. having grown up playing tennis since the age of 6, and having tennis enthusiasts as parents, the sport is all but ingrained in my DNA, so it has been a joy being able to share an activity so near and dear to my heart with my bestest friend. in the same way, S has always enjoyed the game of golf, so in an effort to continue to pursue each others’ interests, i promised to go with him to the driving range for the first time in years. to my surprise, the outing went better than expected and i may or may not have caught the golf bug.
sixteen || got a bike for christmas. it takes a lot to surprise me, but he managed to do it! after a long day of celebrating christmas with both of our families, we took a walk around S’s neighborhood to wind down the evening. as we rounded the corner back to his apartment, S hit the garage door to reveal a shiny new mint green beach cruiser. i have wanted a beach cruiser for as long as i can remember, so the fact that he got me one was incredibly thoughtful. but the fact that he managed to completely surprise me with it in the process was the icing on the cake.
seventeen || enjoyed adult libations. i may always be a lightweight, but i will say, i grew my alcohol tolerance this year with a visit to both a local brewery and temecula wine country. S and i kicked off 2015 with a day trip to danza de sol and leoness cellars and on a rainy weekend in march, we visited the belching beaver, a local brewery known for their peanut butter stout and other tasty creations.
eighteen || ate pie in julian. sometimes, you just have to get out of town in search of cooler weather and homemade pie. on a chilly november day, S and i bundled up and drove eastward to the quaint mountain town of julian for a taste of fall and apple pie. we walked hand in hand down main street, indulged in a slice of confectionery perfection, and were home in time to catch the end of sunday night football. it was just one of those days/dates that makes you thankful -for colder weather, for delicious pie, and for a special guy with whom to enjoy them.
nineteen || made grandma p’s famous lemon sugar cookies. i met S’s grandma on thanksgiving. after hearing wonderful tales of her kindness and wit, she was every bit of fabulous as she had been described. so when the christmas season came along, i was honored for the opportunity to recreate a tradition she had started years ago -baking and decorating her famous lemon sugar cookies. on a weekend in december, S and i carefully followed GP’s recipe, replicating as best we could the famous cookies that S had helped make (and eat) in his youth. i’m fairly certain that after hours of decorating, i had frosting in my hair, and sprinkles lodged in places they have no business being, but carrying out S’s family tradition with him not only brought us closer, it made the holiday season a little more special than most.
twenty || visited AP in ventura (and got one of the best massages of my life). everyone should have an AP in their life. someone who is as generous as she is kind, strong as she is warm, loving as she is encouraging, and always up for a good time. after years of offering up her beach house to me for a weekend getaway to ventura, i finally took AP up on her invitation in late june of last year. we caught up on life, ate delicious food, got pampered at the ojai valley inn spa, and simply relished in each other’s company. it was the perfect relaxing rejuvenating weekend away. and i’m grateful to have such a lovely lady on my home team.
twenty-one || took 300 studio barre classes. in april, i entered into the 300 club, marking my 300th class at studio barre la costa. the best part, besides wearing a tiny yellow tutu, of course, was the fact that the amazing instructor who had taught me on class one, was also the one to tuck me into #300. she has since become a treasured confidant and friend.
twenty-two || watched breaking bad in its entirety —yep, all five seasons! that in and of itself was noteworthy.
twenty-three || celebrated all of the mothers in my life. this mother’s day, i was fortunate enough to extend the celebrations beyond my own family. S and i joined his mom and grandmother in the morning for breakfast and finished out the day honoring my momma with takeout and a beach sunset. it was the perfect day paying homage to our favorite ladies and a reminder of just how lucky we are to call them our own.
twenty-four || double-dated with the rents. as you know, my family is my everything. so it warms my heart to no end to see how seamlessly S has fit into our clan. i’m happy to report that i’ve exchanged third-wheeling on my parents’ dates to double-dating with them and my main squeeze. S and i have been lucky enough to accompany m+t on many a scrumptious evening out -including dinners at market restaurant + bar and vintana wine + dine (where the photo below was taken). they are always so generous to include them on their culinary adventures and i know i speak for S when i say we are grateful for the opportunity to dine at some of san diego’s finest eateries, but more importantly, to have a fancy evening out with two of the best humans in the world.
twenty-five || celebrated another year of my momma. may might as well be called “momma’s month” with her wedding anniversary, mother’s day, and birthday all nestled within its 31 days span. so to honor another candle in momma’s proverbial cake, S, toppie, and i joined her for dinner for at eddie v’s in la jolla a few days shy of the big day. we enjoyed ocean views, ate delicious food, relished in each other’s company, and felt grateful for the opportunity to share in another 365 days of a woman who truly is one of a kind.
twenty-six || commemorated easter with a hike at torrey pines. in exchange for braving the crowds at easter brunch, S joined my family on a morning hike of one of san diego’s most picturesque trails. following the hike, S participated in our long-standing family tradition of going on an old-school egg hunt in my parents’ backyard. we finished off the holiday with a homemade breakfast spread and his & hers easter baskets.
twenty-seven || learned to embrace quality over quantity. this year i really tried to focus on the mantra that less can be more. i streamlined everything from my closet to my schedule and tossed/donated/or let go of things that no longer brought me joy. in a word, it was liberating. i have chosen to invest in quality pieces -whether they be wardrobe staples, meaningful friendships, or well-planned and saved for adventures. and i plan on continuing this practice in this new decade as well.
twenty-eight || took in a baseball game with my boo. there’s nothing quite like taking in a baseball game at petco park. the energy is electric, the weather is the perfect sunny (or starry) 72-degrees, and you have the option of ordering everything from pizza port pizza to kale & quinoa salad from seaside market to appease your ravenous appetite. so to kick-off summer (and round out year 29), S and i ventured downtown to witness the padres take on the pittsburgh pirates last saturday night.
twenty-nine || learned timing really is everything. in some ways my 20’s passed by in a blink of an eye; in others ways, they seemed to have lasted well over 100 years. regardless, this past decade was choc full of tears, trials, transitions, and triumphs, each of which was precisely aligned along my path to usher me to the next portion of my life’s journey. when and how each experience happened from years 20-29 was exactly as it was supposed to be. i can say that now of course, with the gift of 20/20 hindsight vision, but even when i couldn’t see the forest through the trees, i’d endure it all again if only to be where i stand today — at 30’s threshold, with nearly everything i’ve ever dreamed of having -a committed, thriving relationship with a man who is my lover, teammate, and very best friend, family whom i adore and who love and support me unconditionally, friendships old and new that keep me grounded, laughing, and encouraged, two jobs that challenge and inspire, as well as help me pay the mortgage, a playful spirit that continues to fuel my desire for adventure, new experiences, and travel, and finally and maybe more importantly, an acceptance of self -mind, body, and soul.
accordingly, i meet the threshold of a new and unknown decade with little trepidation or fear. instead, i feel excited. hopeful. grateful. hashtag #blessed. if these past 365 days are a glimpse of what year 30 will bring, i better buckle up,
because it’s going to be one incredible ride.