2015 in review

2015 is drawing to a close, and it has been quite a year. I’m not going to sit here and tell you how fast it went, or that I can’t believe it’s over, because you already know and everyone says the same thing. I said a year ago that 2015 was going to be a year of commitment and stability, and I was right: I’m writing to you now from the same Brooklyn apartment, where I live with the same roommate (plus one!) after a long day at the same job. It was a good year, don’t get me wrong – but I’m looking forward to some excitement in 2016. Before that, though, here’s a glimpse of the past 12 months in this delightful life of mine.

 

Winter Storm Juno 2015 in Manhattan

January & February

I’m clumping these two together because they were frankly the same: Work, schlep home in the snow, repeat. Before winter began I joked about hibernating from first snow to my mid-April birthday, and it ended up being a little more real than I anticipated. My friend Nicole did visit in February, and we ate our way around Manhattan for two days, which was a nice way to break up the monotony of the coldest New York February in nearly a century!

Also: I lead my first community group at Liberty Church, spent a day on the Upper West Side, prepared for a blizzard that never came, and went 21 days without social media.

The suburbs of Cleveland

March

In March I finally snapped out of my Brooklyn routine and flew to Cleveland for a girls weekend with my family! It was just the spark I needed to snap out of my winter funk: I reunited with my mom, sister, aunt and cousin – and remembered just how cool my birthplace can be.

Also: I celebrated one year in New York City with the best friends I could ever ask for.

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

April

With April came the spring we had all been waiting for. I spent the month cherishing the opportunity to be outside, venturing to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens to soak up the sun and admire the cherry blossoms. April also brought my twenty-fifth birthday and all of the reflection that comes with such a milestone.

Also: The first-ever She Is Free conference, and Becca and I welcomed our third roommate, Faby!

One World Trade Center on a foggy day

May

May was supposed to bring a vacation, but I couldn’t get my act together in time and ended up with a New York staycation, one of my favorite things! Unfortunately, I got hit with a pretty bad head cold in the middle of it, and May got boring, but at least I wasn’t out of town when I got sick – and didn’t have to use sick days at work. Before I became bed-bound, I did see Mamma Mia!, visit One World Observatory for the first time, and pop by the Whitney – one of my favorite museums.

Also: I picnicked at Prospect Park for Memorial Day, and welcomed a slew of friends to my neighborhood as Crown Heights suddenly became “cool.”

Boston as seen from the Prudential Tower

June

In June my long-planned vacation finally fell together, and I headed off to Boston on my first solo trip. I had an incredible few days doing whatever the heck I wanted: Basically a dream come true!

Highlights included going to the top of the Prudential Tower, walking the Freedom Trail, and catching a game at Fenway Park.

The Venice Canals of Los Angeles

July

I kept up my summer travel streak by hopping over to the West Coast to reunite with some of my favorites:  I crashed with my college bestie Kathleen (also my unofficial blog adviser) met up with my aunt and uncle, and took a vow to never ever go two years without visiting California again!

Highlights of my LA trip include seeing the Venice Canals, visiting the Getty and hanging out in my favorite LA neighborhood, Santa Monica.

New York City as seen from the Top of the Rock

August

I kept still in August, but the excitement found me! My sister Ally came to visit over her nineteenth birthday, and we had adventures including a picnic dinner, a trip to Top of the Rock, and as much junk food as I could shovel into her health-conscious body. Hosting visitors is one of my favorite parts of living in New York (seriously, come visit), and I cherish getting to show off “my” city to people who have only seen the touristy parts before.

Also: I took a cruise around New York Harbor with my besties, started using Vimeo, and celebrated one year of A Genuine Delight!

New York City as seen from One World Observatory

September

The beginning of fall brought more visitors, with my parents and cousin overlapping their visits – and my best friend Jordan following shortly thereafter! There was a lot of sightseeing, including a one-day whilrwind, and catching up with loved ones. Bonus that I didn’t have to leave New York to make it happen!

Also: I launched my delightful guide to NYC!

A giraffe at Kruger National Park, South Africa

October

October was the defining month of my year: I took my first trip to Africa, mainly to do missions work with Children’s Cup, but ended up having the most transforming week of my entire life. From hitting the plains on a safari to getting to know my sponsor child in person, I am absolutely not the same person I was when I left, and I have a suspicion this trip was really only the start of a journey for me.

No “alsos” here. Africa defined October – and 2015 – and that’s perfectly fine by me.

Santa Claus at the 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

November

I was worried November would feel like my life screeching to a halt, but luckily I fell right back in love with New York City – and even with fall! I spent the month jumping in piles of leaves, eating tacos in the neighborhood, and celebrating Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones – even if we don’t share blood.

Also: I checked “Go to the Macy’s Parade” off my bucket list, and tricked my travel bug into thinking I’d left the city by trekking out to Queens County Farm.

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza

December

December has been blissfully, blessedly uneventful. I spent lazy days with friends, had some freelance work published for the first time in years, and celebrated Christmas in Brooklyn for the second year in a row. I really cherish getting to slow down when it feels like the rest of the world is going crazy!

Also: I ate my weight in snickerdoodles and saw a lot of Christmas trees.

Other highlights of 2015 include reading 38 books (on a goal of 30!), having my photos featured on Instagram by @travelmail and @nypost, and becoming a little more comfortable with commitment (to the city, to my job, to a blog). Tomorrow we’ll look to the year ahead – but for tonight, I hope you have the loveliest time celebrating all we’ve done in 2015.

Happy new year, friends!

Cleveland is cool

Last month, when New York was still a frozen tundra and I was dreaming of tropical getaways, I boarded a plane to one of my favorite places in the world: Cleveland, Ohio.

IMG_3576

I know. Cleveland?! In the winter?! Cleveland isn’t even considered a popular destination when the weather is nice, let alone in March when it’s buried in snow. But my mom and sister were there on an extended trip, so my cousin and I (she lives in Atlanta) decided to fly out at the same time and make it a girls’ weekend.

So why do I love Cleveland so much? Well, it is one of my many “homes,” having been born there to two parents who lived in Cleveland for decades. I have a lot of extended family in the area and make my way back every  couple years. But even if not for these connections, I think Cleveland is awesome.

IMG_3589

It’s stunning, for starters. I’m a city girl through and through, but come on: Look at all of that SPACE! Look at the TREES! You can actually watch the sun set without peering around buildings. And this is my aunt’s yard in the suburbs, not the countryside. And all of that snow, completely untouched even though it’d been around for days. Anyone who’s spent an hour in NYC during the winter knows that this would be ugly slush in the Big Apple.

IMG_3597Here’s something that surprises a lot of people: Cleveland has a fabulous museum scene, and not just the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I try to visit a new museum every time I’m around and I’ve yet to be disappointed. This trip, we went to the Cleveland Museum of Art – which is free! – and had so much fun exploring the new addition. Check out all of the natural light!

Of course, having my family around made the trip pretty fantastic as well. One of our first stops (after a stop at Bob Evans so I could devour all the breakfast foods) was the grocery store, where we stocked up on junk food. Yup, five ladies consumed all of this garbage over the course of two and a half days.

IMG_3578 IMG_3591 IMG_3650

And of course, it wouldn’t have been the same without these girls – and our very own Grumpy Cat, Scully.

Yep – Cleveland is awesome.