Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014: Year in Review, the Good

I told you I'd be back! My last post recounted, in dramatic detail, all of the terrible, awful, no good, very bad things that happened in 2014. About a week or so after the post, this article popped up in my Feedly feed.

So yeah. Sorry to have dwelt on the negative, but I'm feeling a lot more hopeful and positive about 2015.

But before I get to 2015 (and I have some fun ideas I'm going to share next time), I want to end 2014 on a high note. A lot of the positives surrounding this last year actually came out of surviving/dealing with/handling/living through the negatives. There were a TON of blessings in disguise this year, and several just plain old blessings.

As I mentioned last time, I started the year "unemployed". This was probably the best thing to ever happen to me. That's so crazy to say, but truly I can't imagine my life would be half as fulfilling or meaningful if I was still working at my supposed dream job.

For starters, being fired is, to me, probably the WORST thing that could ever happen to my career. And, in fact, my marketing career is pretty much over. So the WORST thing ever actually happened, and you know what? I came out on the other side. I took all of my talents and skills, and I found a new job in a new industry, with a company that values its employees and provides a TON of training resources. As much as I miss the creative aspect of marketing, I'd pretty much call this a net win. I'm paid more, less stressed, and have a fantastic work/life balance (most of the time).

A photo posted by @jencanread on

On top of that, I gained a lot of confidence. Sure, immediately following my dismissal I was an absolute wreck - don't get it twisted. Being fired for cause will shake you to the very core. But, almost immediately after I lost my job, I started working at a boutique wine shop. This wine shop? Another blessing. The owners are some of the most genuine, kind, helpful, lovely people you could ever hope to meet. And supportive. So incredibly supportive. They really helped me gain perspective on my job loss, helped me rebuild my confidence with tons of encouragement, and just straight up helped me by giving me a job. They didn't have to hire me, they had no need for a full-time employee. But they did.

It's hard to exactly put into words what those 2.5 months at the shop did for me. I was so ashamed of being fired, but within weeks I was able to hold my head up, just a little bit higher. The WORST happened, and I was still here. And, dare I say, happier?

A photo posted by @jencanread on

A photo posted by @jencanread on

For 2.5 months, E and I had almost identical schedules. We'd wake up and have breakfast and coffee together. We'd make dinner together, we'd go grocery shopping together. We had a lot of quality time to talk about Important Things.

I also had a lot of time to spend on the internet. Pinterest became my constant companion. For a while, I'd pin clothes or furniture thinking "when I'm back on my feet, this is what my life will look like." But then one day, I saw a pin for this blog about a minimalist wardrobe, and a lightbulb went off. Later that week, I detoxed my closet. A few weeks later I did it again. Then I talked E into joining me. Over the course of a month or so, we gave away about TWELVE(!!) trashbags full of clothes. Then we started on the rest of the house, and gave away probably FIFTEEN BOXES(!!!!!) of stuff, ranging from boardgames to kitchen utensils and appliances to books.

We continued minimizing, decluttering, and organizing over the next 6 months, and it felt amazing. I'm 100% certain that this would have never happened if I'd been working at my previous job - a job who's sole purpose is to sell sell sell stuff stuff stuff. I'm not a minimalist, and I'm not sure I want to be, but I love being more intentional with what we have in our home. I'm not perfect, and my house can still get cluttered very easily, but I have a completely new outlook on what actually comes into my home. More on this later, because this is a huge driving force behind my goals for 2015.

Being unemployed also completely changed my outlook on finances, for a time. As soon as I started my new job, I paid off all of my medical bills and a majority of my credit card debt, and I started a decent savings account. (Then I fell of the wagon, and am now climbing my way back, but that's a different, lamer story - again saved for 2015).

So, to recap - January 2014 included a great and fulfilling job, a new perspective on the American dream, an opportunity to connect with my incredible boyfriend, a new confidence - and I didn't even mention the showers of love and support we received from our friends and family. January 2014 was pretty awesome - and then I got a new salaried job!

But as you know by now, a new job wasn't my only major life event in 2014. This year has been difficult, but fall has been the worst part of it. Dealing with the breast cancer "scare", my grandmother's death, and E's less than ideal work situation - all within a few months - has been draining. But somehow I feel like we are coming out on the other side stronger. E has held me up, helped me beat back depression, and just been a fantastic cheerleader throughout. I'd like to think that I'm able to do the same for him as we handle another few months of "un(der)employment". I think it's fair to say that we've struggled a lot in our 5+ years together, but there has been something stronger and more serious about this past year than any other. I'm so incredibly grateful to have such an amazing partner by my side. We don't always agree on what's best, but we challenge each other, support each other, and (I think) make each other better.

Okay - so those were all of the blessings in disguise. Now, let's talk about the regular ol' blessings!

In June, E and I left behind our apartment of 3 years (the longest I've ever lived in one place my entire life - true story), and moved into a beautiful-to-us 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house in the city. Our house (which we rent) is probably not THAT much bigger than our apartment, but the floorplan is much more open, we have so many huge windows, and we have a yard. The yard, man. That is a G-dsend, for real. This guy couldn't be happier:

A photo posted by @jencanread on

Our neighborhood is slightly sketchy full of character, and we're walking distance to a park, farmer's market, coffee shop, yoga studio, and several restaurants. I'm in love.

A photo posted by @jencanread on

We celebrated weddings this year for 3 couples who we love and adore. In April, we traveled to Cashiers for E's cousin's gorgeous mountain wedding, and in May, we traveled to Charleston for another cousin's perfectly southern affair. We had the opportunity to visit with family that E doesn't get to see very often, and it was a lovely and exciting time.

A photo posted by @jencanread on

Then, in October, we were both members of the wedding party for two of our closest friends - Jenn & Jerod. Weddings can be a huge time commitment, they can be a financial strain, and they can try friendships, but these three weddings only brought us smiles and full hearts.

This year was also big for me and my best friend, K. We both turned 30!! I still can't believe it. I remember meeting her our senior year of high school, when we both went to Oglethorpe to compete for a scholarship. She was so happy and friendly - and smart! Our friendship really began our freshman year of college when we decided to rush Alpha Phi Omega together, and it was cemented when we became roommates the following year. We've seen each other through school, heartaches, career advancements (and setbacks, obvi), life, loss and everything in between. And I CANNOT BELIEVE SHE'S 30! That's SO. OLD.
A photo posted by @jencanread on

We celebrated her birthday in June with some party time, then more party time, then one "look at your life, look at your choices" moment (we decided both life and choices were pretty awesome). We celebrated my birthday in August with a classy affair at the wine shop. Then, because none of that was enough for us, we went to the redneck riviera with our S.O.s where we drank obnoxiously large rum drinks, every flavor from the Bud Light "Rita"family of beverages, and water. So much water.

Then we celebrated E's 30th birthday! Holy cow!

This photo was taken at E's 30th birthday party. Not pictured: E.

Another absolutely wonderful thing that happened this year is that I was finally able to visit my sister, who I hadn't seen since I was 14, and meet my 3 adorable nephews for the first time. Look at them!

A photo posted by @jencanread on

Now look at us!

So 2014 was a really tough year mentally, emotionally, and financially. But I also have a lot to be thankful for. I'm so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by an abundance of love and understanding. As much as I'm ready for 2014 to be over, it was a year of such tremendous growth and learning for me that I can't say I wish it had turned out differently.


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