Without a doubt, 2015 might have been one of the hardest years of my life.
Looking back, the past year was one filled with countless change, an inordinate amount of stress, and many lessons learned the hard way. It is also a year that taught me so many lessons about myself and the unpredictable nature of the “unknown.”
2015 started so innocently, a New Year’s Eve spent at home and a January as typical as any other in the past. February rolled in and the man of my dreams proposed with the most romantic photo shoot (thanks to my great friend Eric Garcia) and my dream engagement ring. I was over the moon, and was sure this year would be perfect.
If you are snickering now, I’m looking back and agreeing with you. It was a beautifully naive thought, and one I think so many bride-to-be’s have in those first few weeks. Such bliss! The next few months rolled on, including the preparation of a big work event I was leading- a fundraising luncheon featuring Chuck Norris. Stress paid off, and the event was a rousing success. The luncheon sold out for the first time in history and we were well on our way to the fundraising goal. Just a week after the big event, add another life change. I parted ways with that employer and set out into the world of consulting and a big fat question mark on the remaining months in the year. The wedding was being planned, we had found our dream venue in the heart of old Dallas, and I was tiptoeing into the world of working for myself.
Anyone else nervous for me?
During the stressful following months, I learned some very important lessons. I found the beauty of sitting on a porch overlooking the ocean, and the serenity of marveling at God’s grace while simultaneously crying on my soon to be sister-in-law’s shoulder in wonder. I saw the man I was about to marry step up and lead our relationship in a time of stress and financial instability. I learned that I am FAR too reliant on my own abilities, and that “letting go and letting God” is not nearly as easy as it sounds. I found the strength of friendships knows no bounds, and that sometimes hurt comes out of nowhere to blindside you.
My priorities changed, everything from where I wanted to live to how I wanted to live. I wanted to be a better friend, a better (soon to be) wife, a better everything. I also found that in wanting to better I also found some crippling insecurities that had been revealed in the most painful manner. To say that I am grateful for all of these lessons learned would be misleading. The learning hurt. It was terrifying and if I am honest I much would have preferred that 2015 would have been kinder in it’s delivery of lessons. But we don’t get to control that do we? Just our perspective.
July/August revealed a new chapter. Our wedding venue was foreclosed upon, and I learned about the foreclosure not from the venue but in a job interview via a news article. I’m grateful for my years of training with Mental Management Systems, because I was able to get through that job interview with composure after a bomb had been dropped on my plans- again. The next several weeks were a frenzy, and it was finally confirmed that 1. the venue was indeed no longer available (2 months before the wedding) and 2. I had been offered the new job! It was an odd feeling, embarking upon a new career path that I was so excited for while also simultaneously being panicked about planning a wedding from scratch in 2 months time. Talk about being torn.
It is in this moment that I must pause and tell you that I have incredible in-laws. From the moment I stepped into their house a little over 5 years ago, they have been nothing but a kind and loving force in my life. Not everyone gets that amazing experience from in-laws, and I know too many friends who have had less than desirable experiences in the wedding planning process. I am beyond grateful to say that the man I married was raised by two incredible individuals who share their love not only with their children, but with anyone who seeks it. If you think I’m brown nosing, I’d like to tell you that one of my bridesmaids still talks about much she loves them- she spent all of two days with them through the wedding. They leave an impression, and it’s one that Grayson and I hope we can one day emulate when we have children.
–Back to the story–
Those in-laws I just told you about? They offered up their beautiful home to us as a wedding venue. No strings, no “stay out of these rooms” or “lets do this instead.” Nope, not a caveat to be found. They let this crazy little event planner put holes in their front yard to install light posts, and direct the rehearsal as only my perfectionist little persona could. My mother-in-law even flew down from Virginia (where they had recently moved) to be at my bridal shower. I think I cried when I heard she would be there. Family means a lot to me, in ways that perhaps others don’t get. I don’t process certain things in “normal” ways because of the loss of my parents. Moments pass me by without being acknowledged, and others shake my world to it’s very foundation that might mean nothing to anyone else.
The wedding was a dream come true, not because of the perfect weather or the scene it presented, but because of the love and joy that surrounded us that night. It was a small wedding, mostly family and a few dear friends. That day would not have happened without our wedding party and our family, and I will be forever grateful beyond words. I could write pages upon pages about that night, but that is for another time entirely.
We honeymooned in Mexico on a phenomenal Dreams Resort (again, I could write pages), and made it back home just in time to miss one of the largest hurricanes ever. In the next month we moved twice, out of my apartment downtown and into Grayson’s in the Cedars before finally moving into our new place in Deep Ellum. In that span I learned that “home” means SO much more to me than I thought. Being unsettled brought back far more memories of that awful transition time when my parents passed than I ever expected. I have missed them more this year than almost any before. In a year of so many life changes I cannot tell you the amount of times I wished I could collapse into their arms and let them rescue me.
The holiday’s sped by far too fast as Grayson and I settled into our new roles of husband and wife. Here I sit on our couch on the morning of New Year’s Eve without a plan in sight for tonight and I am grateful just to be writing again. With everything that transpired this year, I simply couldn’t publish a single thing I wrote. I believe in hope, in looking on the bright side of life even in the harshest of circumstances. There were so many beautiful and wonderful things that happened in 2015, but my heart could not let go of fear and pain either. 2015 was by far one of the hardest years of my life, from wedding planning to life changes. I confess that I am looking forward to 2016, to at least the imaginary line the delineates a new beginning. There is no guarantee that 2016 will be any easier, but perhaps through the lessons learned and a new partner in life gained, I will be better prepared for the next 365 days. New support systems, knowledge and experience gained, and a new opportunity to set out about life with a perspective of gratefulness. Grateful that 2015 was hard so that perhaps 2016 doesn’t have to be, grateful that God saw fit to bless me with a husband who is far more loving and patient than I deserve, and grateful to have amazing friends and mentors in my life who will stick by me through it all.
Tonight Auld Lang Syne holds a very special meaning, looking back and seeing the good as well as the rough of the last year. I’ll be saying farewell to 2015 with mixed emotions and raising a glass of champagne in commemoration.
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine†;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.