2015, you surprised me!
As a reader of blogs, end of the year recap posts are some of my favorite posts to read. I love seeing how people spent their time and what is important to them. That part of life intrigues me as their words and actions give me ideas on activities I may want to include in my life and how to spend my time. Today, I get to write my first and very own end of the year post. I truly feel like a blogger in this moment!
This was my 2015…
In January, I prepped for Mardi Gras with my family. I spent a weekend in New Orleans helping my mom purchase tons of goods to throw. She left with a car full of luggage and beads. She used those goods to celebrate my stepfather being a Duke in a local krewe in Morgan City. I spent Mardi Gras photographing the bead loading events and Mardi Gras balls and parades. You can see a glimpse into that experience here.
At the end of January, I walked into a yoga studio for the first time with friends. I signed up for a 30-day trial that I thought I would never enjoy or use. Turns out my initial thoughts were wrong, and I loved yoga. From that experience, I learned that one of my favorite things to do after work is to spend an hour or so stretching and breathing and relaxing. I signed up for the year after that, and I still enjoy spending time their each week.
I celebrated my 28th birthday in February. I had two close friends come into town, and we grabbed lunch together. At work, we began a walking challenge, which forced me to purchase a FitBit. Before this challenge, I never paid attention to my walking habits. I sit at a desk during the day, and what I learned from this was that taking a few short walks throughout the day can really add up. I initially purchased the FitBit for work, but I know this is something I will continue to use.
In March, I said to yes to go out on a date with a friend. It being the first date and all, you have to pull out the “moves”. And by “moves” I mean be yourself and have fun. And if that means embracing your clumsiness then so be it.
He picked me up. We drove to great a seafood restaurant that I was excited to try. The conversation flowed as we waited for a table. Then we sat down. After that, it was nothing but laughter. Before our main course arrived, I may have knocked over a glass of water and completely drenched the tablecloth. I mean who doesn’t do that on a first date. I was so thankful when my pasta arrived to cover to the wet spot. The pasta was delicious. After a few bites, I may have accidentally flung a fork full of pasta into my lap. I promise… I do have manners. I actually thought I got away with that one because at the time nothing was mentioned about the fork-n-lap incident. Until we were almost done with dinner and he cracked a joke about it. I knew at that point that he had a good sense of humor.
Charles and I still laugh about the night today. Obviously, I have “amazing” dating skills. Whether it was my “dating skills” or my charm, I got a second date. And a third. We have been enjoying life together ever since.
My family and I walked for the Miles Liner Foundation in April. It is one of my favorite hometown events to participate in. You can check out the recap of that event here. In my free time, I read If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher (I love her blog and was excited when she announced she was writing a book) and Make It Happen by Lara Casey.
Alligators. That is what happened in May. I got to knock off a bucket list activity for my mom this month: Airboat Tour in the Louisiana swamps and seeing the gators. What can I say… This is how our family celebrates Mother’s Day. You can see more of that day here.
In June, I visited Destin with my family and enjoyed a beach trip with my niece and nephew. They loved every part of it, and I am so glad I was able to be there with them. While I was relaxing, I read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
In July, my mom and I traveled to Washington, Alaska, and Canada for a week. One of my goals for years has been to travel to all 50 states. This trip helped me knock off two more states on that list. We walked the streets in Seattle, whale watched in Alaska, and drank tea in Canada. It was absolutely beautiful to visit and photograph. With time on my hands, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst, Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
When August came around, Charles participated in a paleo challenge at his gym. To help him out, I opted to cook paleo recipes for the month. It was fun trying new recipes and seeing how diet can affect your mood and energy levels. I discovered some really good recipes that I still enjoy cooking today.
September. October. November. I decided during this time to really make leaps with my photography. I made myself shoot in manual mode more. Even if the pictures came out terrible, I shot in manual until I figured out how to do it. Then I researched Lightroom and Photoshop to figure out what would work best for me. Once I gained confidence there, I began thinking about putting together family sessions for the fall. I emailed two local photographers (Melanie Harrell who does gorgeous newborn photography in the area and Kaela Rodehorst who shoots beautiful lifestyle shots and editorial photographs for local bloggers). They graciously answered all my questions as to how this would all work and put my mind at ease knowing that what I wanted to accomplish was possible. After discussing ideas with them, I felt more confident and knew that shooting for families was something I wanted to try. And I did. Between October and November, I shot six family sessions. I am hoping to blog a few of those sessions soon! When I wasn’t shooting or blogging, I read Essentialism by Greg McKeown.
In December, it was time to put my condo by Louisiana State University up for sale. I have been living there since I moved to Baton Rouge in 2005. It was my first home away from home. I grew up so much in between those four walls, and I am excited for the next person who gets to enjoy it. Packing and celebrating the holidays and fighting a terrible sinus infection. That was my December. I ended this year with taking a week off from work to rest and get better and finish a few loose ends, which was much needed. I also dived into Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.
To say the least about this year, I did not expect to make such huge leaps in my photography. I have always wanted to shoot better, but I never expected this would be the year to make that happen. It took a lot of poorly shot photographs before I reached a point where I loved my photography. I never expected to go on a date and have a blast. And I never expected from that date to gain someone who I enjoy spending every day with. And not to mention gaining a sweet chocolate lab named Bruno that Jack now gets to play with quite often. And packing and moving. I did not see that coming either. This year has taught me that being patient is worth it. And to continue to try. Even if you aren’t very good at something, just try. Continue to try.
I am beyond grateful for 2015. It was more than I ever expected. And with 2016 here, I feel blessed and at peace with life. I am excited to enjoy this new season. Happy new year, friends! May this time in your life bring you everything you need!
XOXO – Ashley