Friday, February 28, 2014

2013: a year in review {alternatively titled: a really long run-on sentence that smashes all that has happened in my blogging absence; 91 blog posts summed up in one, if you will...}

I realize that it's already mid-February {and by the time I hit publish, it may very well be March} + that most bloggers post their yearly recaps {my past reviews: 2012, 2011, 2010} sometime around January 1st but I was too busy having fun in Tahoe on New Years  for some strange reason, it feels really weird to write a random post about Houston {ahem, I live here now.} and overlook all that happened in the past year... because a lot of special things happened + a few not-so-happy changes occurred, too. But alas, they are all the tiny things that mold life into the one big beautiful mess I've grown quite fond of, really. I would forever feel a bit unsettled to move forward without doing a proper tribute to 2013 so I took every pretty place, life lesson + cup of coffee I consumed last year and put them in to one ridiculously long post...
Still recuperating from Hellwaii, January was the perfect place for restoration, in the form of vivacious two-year-olds and squishy, newborn goodness. Midway through a rather exhausting travel nurse contract in Knoxville, I felt lucky to be quietly ringing in the new year at home with Grams {in our matching moomoos} while Reesey slept soundly upstairs. Kara + Creed celebrated a new little life in the NICU and in just 5 days, they would get to bring the little man home... where we would all spend the next four weeks competing for {preston} cuddles.
Also, Christopher performed + I was reminded of the importance of seeing the world through the eyes of your heart. Always.
February was challenging, in a make-my-brain-hurt-from-climbing-a-steep-learning-curve kind of way. I flew to Houston to complete my final quarter of grad school at Texas Childrens Hospital +  crammed 200 hours of clinicals in to 24 days, polishing my master's manuscript by moonlight... taking just 1 night off to watch little pips ride sheep + eat giant corndogs to the tune of the Zac Brown Band at the Houston Rodeo.
Most of February was a bit of a blur but if there was one magnificent life lesson I took away from that month, it was the importance of investing in fantastic friends; ones who will drop their life when they receive a text midday that reads "Can you talk? I just had the most awful experience with my mum."... and while they won't have the answers to the questions you repeatedly ask as you unfurl a decades' worth of hurt into the other end of the phone... "is this it? is she gone for good this time? how will i know?"... they are there for you; to listen to you wholeheartedly + to remind you that sometimes it's okay to be strong for too long, to take the evening off from your usual happy-go-lucky state of mind + take pity on the cards you were dealt... you're only human so take that hot bath, drink that bottle of wine + cry yourself to sleep. Before you hang up, they will assure you that your world will be all right come morning... for tomorrow is a new day that will demand to be lived again.
March was glorious. On a gloomy Friday morning, I {a nervous degree candidate} returned to Seattle to defend my final project in front of a panel of the most brilliant professors... and by that very afternoon, I found myself chugging a microbrew on a sunshiny patio with close friends, cheersing our frosty mugs to becoming A MASTER. The celebration carried well in to the next week... I attended a beautiful wedding on a boat + traversed through every niche of one fabulous city to hug every Seattlelite {that I love so much} good-bye. 
With a new found feeling of freedom + a coordinating pep in my step, I took my crumbled paper certificate + ran for the Rockies before anyone could rescind my degree. I drove with reckless abandon across the country to start a travel assignment in Colorado + that is where I fell hypoxically in love.
April was awesome. Falling head-over-Sorels in love with mountain life mentality, Denver's endless supply of sunshine was the perfect antidote to altitude sickness + once I climatized to living a mile high, I spent every day off doing as the Romans... snowboarding in Breckenridge, perusing oxygen bars, hiking through the Garden of the Gods, et cetera...
...but ironically, my favourite moments of the month were when I left the mile high city. A couple mini escapes to Kara's to welcome spring with splash pads + strawberry picking, wagon walks + froyo dates.
One whirlwind weekend in LA that involved a private jet + the meeting of Boys II Men, + a surprise weekend in D.C. where I ate fantastic meals + conversed with the original foodies: the Gallo family. Like I said... Awesome.
May was an extension of April's awesomeness. Megan {a fabulous friend I met on assignment in Seattle + crossed paths with again when I arrived in CO} + I went to closing weekend up at Vail where we perfected our "hug + ride" chairlift dismount. We spent opening day on a rooftop patio in LoDo + I did the splits in a crosswalk {true story}. We derby'ed with unicorns + I discovered the awesomeness that is RenttheRunway. We went to an incredible concert at Red Rocks + I found a new appreciation for homemade pop tarts. We shopped for the perfect "interview outfit" + I headed off to Houston for my first big girl job interview. Shit got real. Kinda.
June was surreal. The first month of summer brought me my best friend via a tour bus, the courage to attend a Taylor Swift concert {by myself!} and the answer to the burning question, "If you were given the opportunity to spend the rest of your summer in Seattle, how quickly could you pack up your life?" Two hours. Two freaking hours + one long, contiguous drive, I arrived back in the Pacific Northwest with just enough time to unload my car before picking up all my best from the airport for a celebration weekend. 
While a commencement at the graduate level is reason enough to throw yourself a party {at an oyster annex in Ballard}, I really just wanted every single person who has shaped me into the person I am {and most days, the person I am still very much striving to become...} to be in the same room at the same time 
so I could {briefly... ha!} thank them, from the bottom of my blubbering heart, for being such an incredible influence in my life + tell them how much they make heart smile, just by being in it. 
I would get a million master degrees, stand on a barstool {barefoot in a glittery dress}, handing out oysters + champagne every day if it meant I could have all those people back in the same place. Truly.
July was great. I mastered the art of summering by watching fireworks from the perfect perch on the 4th of July. I attended sunset nightly. I lived for our midweek backyard BBQs + chocolate almond croissants at Honore on Saturday mornings. I wino-ed for a weekend in LA. I interviewed in Alaska + had drinks with a high school BFF. I cossetted every friends' baby born that summer {four to be exact}. I frequented the Ballard farmer's market every Sunday. I hiked often. I read books for leisure. Oh, and I passed my practitioner boards {J. Kirk, MN, APRN, NNP-BC}. You, my darling July, were simply divine.
Ahh, August. You were a combination of happy + humbling. Happiness was the arrival of my Megalina + an incredible five days spent with someone who knows me better than I know myself. Drinking ginger beer, walking along cliffs, eating scrumptious coconut-flavored cotton candy + galavanting through the streets of Vancouver for 13.1 miles at sunrise were just a few of the happy highlights.
But a third + final interview, that left me feeling uncharacteristically angry + horribly sad, shed light on just how serious bullying in the workplace can be. In need of an escape, I called up Sammi + demanded we go somewhere to unplug from the {sometimes cruel} world... Poppy in tow, we ferried over to the Pacific Rim + had a fabulous time in Tofino, whale watching + what not.
I headed back to reality//work for a couple of days before heading home for a great friend's wedding. Humbling was the moment when elevator doors opened + I felt the world come to a sudden stop. My heart sank + my eyes immediately welled to the brim. In a way only my fickle heart will ever understand, a rambling of words + a feeling of validation as a single crocodile tear rolled down my cheek made me finally realize that it takes even greater strength to let go gracefully than to hold on hopelessly... + in that instant of clarity, I set my heart free + the world began to spin again, lighter than ever before.

September was bitterly sweet. Still in denial that I would be leaving soon, I carried on in PNW bliss crossing things off my Seattle bucket list. I hiked Mount Rainier. I indulged in crab pot by the Sound with Carly + boated through Lake Washington to celebrate a beautiful bachelorette.
I learned to sew just in time for Reesey to turn three in adorable superhero fashion {capes all around!}. 
I storm watched on the Olympic Peninsula with the McVeighs + rather serendipitously, I worked my final shift as a NICU nurse on my twenty-seventh birthday, exactly five years after my very first shift in the NICCU at CHLA.
My rad coworkers donned an all-black scrub attire as we were all in some serious, serious mourning that day. Oh, how I miss having a cohort of best friends for colleagues.

October delivered. I was honoured to be invited to the destination wedding of two of the most wonderful people; the LeBeau's are one of those rare couples that {no matter how much your cynical self tries to resist it} make you believe that true love most certainly does exist. I knew our week in Mexico would be nothing shy of amazing but before arriving in Cabo {and consuming mas micheladas}, I didn't know the level of amazing we would experience even existed. I'm talking booze cruises at sunset, jam sessions on the beach under the stars as a tortuga lays her eggs in the near distance, perpetually laughing by the pool all day + dancing in clubs until sunrise. 

The ceremony was a dream with the most beautiful backdrop + a reception right on the beach. With the sand between our toes, the perfect playlist made it hard to leave the dance floor to indulge in the adorable churro bar nearby. {Photos courtesy of the cutest photographer couple ever.} I reluctantly left Mexico + headed for Texas... feeling thankful we live in a world where there are Octobers.  
... but then November came + I found it increasingly difficult to adjust to my new life as a Houstonian. Complications with the Texas Nursing Board kept delaying the start of my new job + I missed my network of friends//family immensely. Houston is huge + full of uneven concrete... + conservatives. The culture shock I was struggling to adjust to was finally offset a tiny bit by my discovery of a little yellow bungalow {Read: my first permanent address in three years} + I shifted my focus on making my new house into my very first home.
Although I had to sacrifice attending my best friend's bridal weekend, I was finally able to start my first {and most certainly not my last} job as an NNP. Much of December was spent sorting through all the adultisms most twenty-somethings don't wait until they're closer to thirty to situate... like the realization that you still don't know how to make toast or that you are not the owner of a single piece of furniture {like a mattress}. It was quite scary waking up one day around Christmastime to the actualization that somehow in the last few years, I forgot to grow up...

... so I did what any logical person would do + booked the first flight out to Tahoe to get as far from reality as possible + ring in the new year surrounded by great people in the surrealest of settings.
Status post, I returned to Texas with a restored faith in my abilities + have been able to slowly start to find my feet, finding satisfaction in simplicities like morning routines, Vitamin C cream + a healthier amount of zzz's. I can't promise that I will be writing next year's recap from this very same coffee shop in Montrose {or anywhere close to Houston's city limits} but I can promise that no matter where life takes me, I will always stop to wander off a beaten path to sit on a cliff's edge + breathe this one wild + precious life in.