2015: The Year of Celebrations & New Beginnings

Amand and Eric wedding.

This post is my way to figuratively place my highlights of the year in a pretty box, tie it to a balloon with 2015 written across, and let it sail into the stars. The box will have two tags on it. One will say, “The Year of Celebrations.” The other, “The Year of New Beginnings.”

Though I’m not typically a year-end round-up poster, 2015 was too exhausting (in the best way) and too bright to let slip into 2016 without some acknowledgement. It deserves a nod of thanks, a firm handshake, and a genuine smile.

~1452288812~Kwiecen Wedding

The Year of Weddings

Eric and I were invited to celebrate eight weddings in 2015. Eight. Eight days of witnessing wonderful commitments. Eight toasts to lifetimes of love. Eight nights of dancing the night away. Our weekend schedules crammed quickly with ceremonies, showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and (of course) recovery days.

We had the honor of standing up in two weddings in support of our friend and family, something that will always be cherished.

This year, we leapt for joy with the news of several friends’ engagements — signs that the “year” of weddings will not be exclusive to 2015.


The Year of Life Changes

Speaking of weddings…

Along with the eight aforementioned weddings, we celebrated another important wedding — ours.

Amand and Eric wedding.

Hello, forever human.

We tied the knot and made our vows of forever on an overcast, mild, summer day. Over 200 friends and family joined us as we threw the biggest celebration of our lives. Wedding planning is no joke. Many months were dedicated to saving & spending, decisions & small disasters, meetings & coordinating, celebrations & parties, and worries & excited anticipation. What a whirlwind. What a joy.

I moved.

There are plenty new territories that come with marriage. One of those territories is the place to call home. Moving itself is a massive timesuck, expense, and life adjustment. It’s overwhelming to be thrust into homeownership. There’s too much to decorate and clean and maintain. But it’s worth it to have that place to call “home.”

I changed companies.

Burned out and acknowledging my lack of interest in insurance for banks, I said yes to the opportunity of a new job. Despite the average hour commute (each way), it was easy to make this career move. It’s for a company whose mission amazingly aligns with my passions about travel and culture. I am more suited to apply my marketing skills and creative energy. It’s a great new challenge. The company culture is vibrant, my work schedule is flexible, and my coworkers are so much fun.  Plus, my new team is obsessed with cats (like me).


The Year of Travel

I’m still wondering how I had any time and money to travel. Even with the busyness of the year, I’m pleasantly surprised at the amount of places we were able to visit.


We are never going to Mexico. Eric uttered that phrase anytime we discussed travel. Guess what? We went to Mexico. Four nights in Cabo San Lucas, hanging out on the beach, eating all the tacos, drinking all the tequila, and SUPing to el arco quickly changed his mind. The timing was ideal — we just emerged from a brutal Michigan winter, we were about to leap into the first of our wedding events, and it was right after I accepted my new job offer and prepared to give my two weeks to my employer. It was essentially a pre-honeymoon.


Though not the most typical choice, a honeymoon in Iceland was the perfect adventure to launch our marriage. We spent nine days road tripping around the country, falling more in love with the landscape, the culture, and each other. Iceland is easily one of my favorite places in the world.


A few weekends were spent in Kentucky for my cousin’s outdoor barn wedding on the highest hill at a beautiful orchard. Visiting Kentucky always fills me with joy: it’s not just the rolling bluegrass hills, horse-dotted pastures, and southern attitude, but spending time with my family. Kentucky wins most beautiful sunset of 2015 when sky lit up with brilliant purples and pinks after my cousin’s drizzly ceremony.


I escaped to Florida for a week for a couple reasons: (1) to finally visit one of my best friends and (2) to attend a blogging conference. I met some amazing bloggers (including many that I admire), visited the Seminole Nation, finally experienced the Everglades, played on the beach, failed at Spanish in Miami, but returned home feeling fully networked and inspired.


They say the first married holiday is one of the most memorable. It wasn’t a gift exchange or holiday party that will stick with us, but a weekend Christmas-themed trip to Toronto.

The Year Ahead [hello 2016]

The Blog.

You’ve probably noticed some design changes. I hope you like them!

If you already follow this blog using WordPress (there are over 200 of you!), I’d love you to SUBSCRIBE with your email to my monthly newsletter. Why? A few reasons:

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The Travel.

This year I’ll be falling into rhythm with my job (or looking for a marketing career specifically in the travel industry) and figuring out this whole home-ownership thing (and how to decorate… yikes!). What about travel? It’s the last year that both Eric & I will have Saturdays & Sundays off together. Cue sadness and future complications when trip planning. We’ll be taking advantage and going on a LOT of weekend trips. We’re thinking a lot of time will be spent exploring Michigan (I’m looking at you, Upper Peninsula, Grand Rapids, Traverse City). We’ll likely visit friends and family in Kentucky, Dallas, Chicago, Indianapolis. We’re considering our first trip to Milwaukee, a romantic date in at Hotel de Glace, exploring our neighbor to the north (hello, Ontario!), and anywhere else that we can wander in a weekend.

The thought of celebrating our first anniversary in Costa Brava sounds ideal. I won a Context Travel contest where we can choose three nights in either Rio, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Bangkok, Athens, Berlin, Montreal, or Philly (flights not included). Where do you think we should go? I’m leaning for Rio. I also have a $500 Expedia voucher that expires in the very near future. I’m going to take my sister on a mini trip after she graduates (she deserves it).

2016 will be a good 2016.

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