I didn't realize how much I was living until I looked back on the memories.
Life tends to pass by in a blur, dotted with formative moments, the occasional surprise that moves you, and can only be remembered with the fleeting space we have in our minds. This year I made a point to document as much as I could - to take photos, write in journals, create plans and lists and save them for later. Packing everything I owned into a bus mid-year had me regretting my memory hoarding, but looking back this week, it was entirely worth it.
In 2017, I loved, lost, gave away, resigned, blossomed, shared, learned, fought, forgave, took chances, and started fresh.
I did some very big things:
I sold my house to a dear friend who saw the vision for it even more than I did. Tragically, that house burned to the ground one dry evening in November just before they finished their renovations. We both saw future and possibility in that house, and both are changed in our loss.
After three years, I resigned from my position of Manager of Strategy + Business at Wakefield Brunswick and Chief of Staff at Mahila Partnership. This work formed my professional identity and gave me skills I couldn't have learned anywhere else. Without the risk taken by the organizations' founder Angela Devlen on me at twenty-one, I couldn't live this independently entrepreneurial existence.
I decided to not complete my undergraduate degree in Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. My intuition told me the time had come and gone for a degree to be necessary for my position and that the time I gave to my academic studies would be better spent on my professional experimentation. It paid off.
The slow rolling home became a reality for me and my sweetheart, who at the time was still very new to me. Our burgeoning relationship took on a new challenge: purchase, convert, build, and move into a tiny home. We're still in progress, which you can read about on our blog: slowrollinghome.com
We moved to a small town called Oak Ridge in East Tennessee, about 25 miles from Knoxville, the nearest city. To focus on our school bus, to be closer to family, to start new lives away from the hometown we'd shared and loved. In July, we packed all of our belongings into our newly deconstructed 40-ft Blue Bird bus and drove 700 miles to our (temporary) new home.
In our new home in a small town, I started freelancing full-time through connections made face-to-face, often by accident. I didn't know how I would make money in Oak Ridge / Knoxville. I took a hiatus from photography and began making myself available to serve clients in the areas of social media, web design, business strategy, and content creation. This work sustains us and our bus conversion to this day.
With all the downsizing and increased interest in minimalism, I sold my car and became a walking/biking commuter for the rest of my time in Downtown St Pete. I saw my city differently and loved it more than I ever thought I could. Upon moving to Tennessee, it was apparent we needed a car to do absolutely anything, so we bought a rickety old Subaru Forester and named her Ruby.
By plane and by car, I did some traveling.
A quick jaunt to Dallas for work brought me to Texas for the second time, giving me a few hours on either end of the trip to see the local neighborhoods.
The yearly Mahila Partnership board retreat brought us to Washington DC, Arlington VA, and Alexandria, where I discovered Old Town. We celebrated tremendous accomplishments and I was fortunate enough to extensively explore each of those cities.
Not wanting to miss the GA Tiny House Festival, we made a weekend trip up to the Lilly Pad and on our drive home saw the biggest tiny home spectacle to date!
Five days in NYC + northern New Jersey is a trip I will treasure forever. That trip included seeing my idol Sara Bareilles in her Broadway debut (of a musical she wrote) Waitress, spending copious amounts of time with my dear friend Mari, and exploring one of my favorite cities on earth.
Orlando was only a couple hours from my hometown but three days at a blog conference with two of my best girlfriends Alicia + Meg taught me a bit about blogging but more importantly gave me insight into what I wanted to create in my world.
Twice since moving to Tennesse I've enjoyed the close proximity of Asheville. The shops, food, creativity, and culture of the city are beyond explaining. But, I did my best in my retelling of my Girls' Day in Asheville. In addition to Asheville, journeying out to Hendersonville to tour the Sierra Nevada brewery was a memorable experience.
I relinquished my fear of food and reintroduced gluten, dairy, sugar, and the occasional mystery/processed food.
Moving away from my family was tough, but I've spoken to my parents more in the last five months than I did for years of early adulthood. They've opened up to me, I've opened up to them, and the affinity between us is greater than I could've hoped.
2017 by the numbers:
Published 95 blog posts across 5 platforms
Wrote for 6 different brands
Built 8 websites
Brought more than 50,000 photos into my life
A few monumental moments:
When one of my dearest friends and her sweetheart joined us for the August solar eclipse right in our backyard. My doctor giving me the news that my thyroid was healed (!!) and that my pre-diabetes blood sugar levels had decreased to a healthy range. Seeing the leaves change in East Tennessee for the entire fall season. My first snow at the Lilly Pad. Serving as an "Expert" on photography and helping multiple makers at The Maker City Summit 2017. Solidifying the bus layout and realizing my childhood dreams of being an interior designer. Drinking my first glass of homemade, fizzy, delicious blueberry basil kombucha. My wonderful parents calling me to tell me they're engaged after 17 years together.
Even in writing this I discover new appreciation and wonder for this year. 2017 was the year of friendship.
Learning to be friends after I've moved away. Keeping a weekly call with a dear friend I had the luxury of visiting across the country. Forming a friendship with my former employer. Forging deep relationships with women I've met on Instagram (who live across the country). Learning the stories of inspiring women during my Women Taking Leaps series - women who I barely knew but who became friends in those conversations. Making new friends by happenstance in Knoxville who have steadily become my crew. Becoming family at the Lilly Pad, where I've never felt more at home.
Thank you for sharing this year with me, wherever you are.
I encourage you to take a look at your own year! No matter what, there is cause for celebration. We are here and we are here by the grace of our choices. That alone is spectacular. Will you share one of your favorite memories from 2017 with me? Share in the comments below or on Instagram where the magic happens.