2018 is coming to a close, so it’s time for me to do my annual review! This is really just a good time for me to look back at my year, celebrate all of the awesome memories that we made, congratulate myself (and my husband, I sort of make this into a joint review since we are a unit) for any personal successes, and pinpoint items that we want to work on in the future. If you would like to read our 2017 recap, you can do that here.
Let’s kick this off by talking about the number 1 priority in my life – my husband! This was our first full year of marriage, and anyone who known John and I knows that we are some annoying ass lovebirds. Everyone keeps telling us that we’ll get sick of each other as time goes on, but so far that hasn’t happened, so keep hoping haters! Hahah, I’m just kidding 🙂 On a more serious note, marriage can be difficult at times but there are a few things that we keep in mind that I’m happy to share.
- When you disagree, are angry with each other, or feel hurt, continue to move forward with love. We phrase our feelings in ways that make the other one feel secure and loved. “I love you, but it hurts my feelings when you ___” or “I love you but it makes me feel angry when you ___”. This works because it’s never our intention to make the other feel angry, hurt, or unloved. By reaffirming that, it builds a bridge so that we can move forward. It’s difficult at first to drop your pride when you’re feeling really angry or defensive, but it’s essential. As we continue to do this, we’ve really built a safe space for each of us to voice our feelings without being hurtful or argumentative, and it has given us even more confidence in our relationship.
- For every problem, offer a solution. There is no value in arguing just to argue. We always look for solutions and try not to linger on or obsess over the problem.
- Forgive quickly and as often as is necessary. You can’t hold on to anger, and resentment can destroy any relationship pretty fast. Let it go. Kiss and make up, re-affirm your love for each other, do something exciting and special together and move forward as a stronger unit.
There are many more lessons that we’ve learned, but these have definitely been the takeaways for me this year. There is strength in being vulnerable in a marriage. We have a vision board in our bedroom that has one of our favorite quotes “It’s you and me vs. the problem, not you vs. me”. There is no downside that I’ve found to being married to my best friend, and we are so grateful to be able to go home to each other every day.
One thing that John and I love to do together is to experience new things! Frequently this comes in the form of traveling, and we have done a lot of traveling this year. We kicked off the new year last year in Atlantic City, and I traveled to Denver for a long weekend to visit my best friend in February which was an amazing few days! We visited DC a number of times. My sister-in-law and one of my best friends both live there and have kindly invited us down for a few fun weekends. We went to Clover Festival for St. Patty’s Day and explored the Navy Yard when our friends moved in together. John and I took a trip down to Charlotte, NC in spring and had an amazing 5 days exploring the city and having a very relaxing mini-vacation. It was still cold in PA at the time, but Charlotte was filled with warm breezes, sunshine, and flowers! We took a weekend trip to Philly with two of our best friends who live in Harrisburg with us, and that was probably one of the best weekend trips we’ve ever had! I was able to go to Atlantic City again in June because one of my best friends was having a weekend-long bachelorette party!
The weekend after that bachelorette party, John and I went to Firefly music festival with a couple of friends. Firefly was hands down the hottest festival we’ve ever attended, I think we actually almost died from the heat, but the music was incredible. We got to see Eminem, Alt-J, Kendrik Lamar, Ookay, Logic, San Holo, Hippy Sabatoge, Alice Merton and a bunch of other incredible sets! Firefly was our big music festival this year, but we also went to Peace of Mind fest in fall with a big group of friends, and had an incredible time. Small fests are a totally different vibe than large ones and I’m happy that we do a mix of both every year. Outside of music festivals, we saw Brit Floyd again this year, along with Fall out Boy and Kendrik Lamar (twice in two months – worth it).
In July we flew down to Florida to visit my sister, our nephew and brother-in-law, who moved down there in June! We had a great time running around the beach, lounging in and around the pool, and catching up with them for a few blissful days. Our big vacation this year was in September, when we traveled to La Romana in the Dominican Republic to celebrate our one year anniversary! That was an incredible trip filled with new friends, beach parties, jungle adventures, and lots of mamajuana shots! If you don’t know about mamajuana, google it. Don’t leave the Dominican without having at least 3!
In October we went up to the Poconos for Ashe Family Vacation 2018, where we played games, hiked around the mountains, and had a great long weekend with the Ashe side of the family. We did a lot this year, but I think that pretty well summarizes our travel highlights.
In the midst of all of our adventures, John and I have also had a lot of personal development in 2018. I joined a group for young professionals under 30 called LINC, which is one of the United Way’s affinity groups. It is one of the first LINC groups in the country and I have had the honor of being the first Chair! John also joined the group and we’ve enjoyed attending many volunteer and networking events. LINC made and distributed blankets for people in our community, built a new community garden, put together dental kits for local children, and donated lots of time this year. Helping lead this group has been an awesome experience for me and I’ve had the opportunity to sharpen up on my leadership and public speaking skills.
John and I have both been given more responsibilities and opportunities at work, and received bonuses and raises for our efforts. Without getting into detail, we have done really well with our personal finances this year. We managed to get both of our cars paid off and we aren’t holding any debt other than our student loans. My car got totaled in June after I was in a car accident, but we were able to get a new car for me without taking on more debt. We’ve done a great job of not adding more expenses to our budget this year, which gives us a lot of flexibility to travel, save, and feel financially secure. We really enjoy living well below our means and have definitely found that experiences bring us much more joy than material items do!
We have a lot of side hustles that we’ve dabbled in this year, but a major accomplishment was that John made significant progress writing his book this year. He is almost 70,000 words into a high-fantasy novel (in good form), that he started in January! That is a huge accomplishment for us, and I am working on my own small book that I would love to self-publish in 2019/2020. I have taken my Instagram to the next level and now I am successfully making a small amount of money from running my Instagram account each month through small advertisements, collaborations, and promotions. I’m becoming more established within my niche, and have learned so much this year about how to grow and leverage a social media following.
In addition to his book, John spent a large portion of his year writing for an Ohio sports blog. Born in Columbus, John is an Ohio sports fan through and through, so he really enjoyed the opportunity to write about that. I obviously have my blog (admittedly I did slack a lot over summer), plus I made a little side money writing for other peoples blogs, which was also a great learning experience! I wrote a couple of travel guides for Trips by Skyscanner, wrote a bunch of crowd content descriptions for Caring.com, wrote a piece on sustainability for a children’s clothing store that I am extremely proud of, and I also had a number of unpaid writing opportunities. John and I were both able to put together small writing portfolios this year, which was one of our big goals!
I think one of the things that I didn’t devote enough time to this year was my Etsy shop, and I am at the point where I need to either re-boot it or shut it down. I am pretty sure I’m just going to shut it down, since my priorities have changed and I really need the time to devote to other things. I opened in 2016 and I feel like having an Etsy shop the past 2 years has been an amazing experience! I learned about running a small business, working with customers, driving sales with social media, and a lot of time management skills. All of my customers were happy with their purchases, I received a lot of positive feedback, and I really enjoyed being creative in that space while it lasted! The chances of me opening another Etsy shop one day are pretty high, and I think if I do I will have even more success than I had with my first shop.
We are spending the final few days of 2018 at HiJinx Festival in Philly listening to EDM sets with a bunch of friends, we’re having a seafood boil on New Year’s Eve, and we will be hanging out downtown in Harrisburg to ring in the new year!
2018 was another wildly eventful year for us and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the journey. Life is so good sometimes it’s really difficult to wrap our minds around it. I believe that everyone goes through highs and lows in life, and we are very grateful to still be enjoying incredible highs. We’ve been very fortunate to have a wonderful support system in our friends and family who encourage us to pursue all of these endeavors, whether it be for business or pleasure. We already have some massive plans laid out for 2019, and I can only hope that we continue to have small successes that keep us motivated, learning, and having lots of fun along the way!
Thank you all for supporting us one way or another throughout this journey. Here’s to an incredible year, and many more to come!