Phew, folks! We made it! Today is the very last day of 2021. Every year since I’ve started my blog, I’ve kept the same tradition of wrapping up the year with a blog post describing my top moments of the year (Top 18 Moments of 2018, Top 19 Moments of 2019, and Top 20 Moments of 2020). It’s one of my favorite ways to look back on life, and I love reading through them every New Year’s Eve!
Normally before writing these articles, I spend days picking the perfect moments, sorting through the best photos to represent them, and writing the most lovely paragraphs to truly capture my happiness.
And this year was a great year. In fact, it’s probably been one of my favorite years of my life so far!
But before we get started, let’s get something out of the way…. I’ve been putting off writing this list. Don’t get me wrong, this year was GREAT. And when I look back on it, I know that there were some amazing, absolutely life-changing moments that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life!
However, in the spirit of transparency, I do want to say that while this year held some amazing gems, it got pretty rough in the middle.
The summer months of 2021 were spent filled with lots and lots and lots of tears…
- We lost my grandma (one of my favorite people in the world) just a few days before her 97th birthday.
- We spent weeks in the hospital helping my dad overcome his semi-emergent open heart surgery. This was a really scary thing to watch.
- COVID destroyed 2 weeks I had been really looking forward to (I got it right before a trip to Acadia National Park and Matt got it on Christmas Eve)
- I got into a pretty scary car accident that ended up with some permanent scars (though it could have been much worse), a totaled car, and a huge negative effect on my mental health.
Now trust me, I know the point of this list is not to relive the bad stuff, but I do think it’s important to acknowledge. This year was fantastic. But it would be dishonest to not recognize the hard stuff in the middle that Matt and I trudged through together. Things felt pretty bleak there for me for a while.
But the year is coming to an end, and I’m proud of how I overcame the hard stuff and made the absolute best of what life had to throw! So enough with this acknowledging the bad, and let’s move on to just how GOOD life was <3
PS this list is in chronological order
11. Moving in with Matt
On the last day of January, Matt and I moved in together!!! And I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my entire life.
We had received a lot of advice before our move from friends and family, cautioning us about how living together can start off… By the end of all of these talks, I was CONVINCED that Matt was going to want to dump me after our first two weeks in our apartment lol.
But my fears could not have been more wrong. Living with Matt is by and far my favorite part of this year. We adjusted rather easily (our biggest “fight” after moving in together was that I use too many water glasses lol) and every single day feels like a sleepover with my best friend.
I love watching movies together, making dinner together, and just having him near to always spend time with! We never get sick of each other, and it’s the best feeling ever.
Plus, mega bed…. The pride and joy of our joint existence. Need I say more?
10. Blogging Full Time
If the year started off at its strongest with the move, it certainly didn’t slow down in February, when 3 weeks after getting our new apartment, I up and quit my job.
Now, if you’ve read my previous yearly wrap ups, you’ll know that my job at ADP was in my top moments every single year! I truly did like the job, and, even more, I liked that I was good at it.
So when it came time to take a leap and pursue my blog full time, the logical side of my brain really struggled with that choice. Blogging has never come as naturally to me as sales does. Plus, I enjoyed my coworkers, I was making good money at my job, I felt valued and respected as an employee, I had a 401K….
But there was something at the back of mind telling me that, while it was scary, taking this leap was the right thing to do. And since the day that I committed to this choice, I haven’t looked back.
Owning your own business (and being your own boss) is HARD. It comes with lots of anxiety and stress, and a constant, never-ending list of to-dos. But gosh dangit, I just LOVE IT!!!
I love working from home, changing my day based on my mood. I love working hard at a goal and seeing the growth of my business as a result. I love touching people from around the world when I represent their cultures. I love that my business allowed me two whole months of not working during The Bad Months and everything turned out fine. I just love it all!
In the moments when I was scared to make this life change, I told myself that I had one year to change my mind. At the end of this year, if it wasn’t growing like I had hoped, I’d go back to corporate life, no harm no foul.
I can say, with how I feel right now, I see myself pursuing THIS forever 😉
9. A Trip to Minnesota and… OMG. The Mall of America!!
In May, we got the absolute honor and privilege of watching my first college roommate ever marry the love of her life! Anika and Dom’s wedding was beautiful and fun and everything a wedding should be.
At the reception, Niks ran across the room to give me the biggest hug in the world, and that moment just made me feel so blessed! Even after actual years of not seeing each other, that huge bear hug we gave each other reminded me of how real friends are never far from your heart!
PLUS, there’s this:
Growing up, I had a friend whose grandparents lived in Minnesota. Every year, they would go visit their grandparents and come home telling me about their day in the AMAZING MALL OF AMERICA.
I know that Minnesota isn’t necessarily the dream travel destination for vacation-goers but man oh MAN did my little childhood self dream of visiting.
So when we scheduled our trip for Nika and Dom’s wedding, I declared it an absolute MUST that we spend a whole day in the Mall of America. I’m not normally the type of traveler that dreams of spending an entire day in a mall – actually that’s normally last on my list of desires.
But this mall…. Oh this mall was different. So, on one of our free days before the wedding, Matt and I went to the Mall of America right when it opened and stayed until it shut down.
We played mini golf, went to an old school arcade, did some shopping, went to the M&M store, and even rode rides at the amusement park all without leaving the mall. When I tell you my 8 year old self was in heaven, I mean it lol. It was the best day ever!
8. A Week with Lindsey!
Lindsey came to visit in June! She came just to hang out and catch up, and she got to see our new apartment, help out with The Foreign Fork (my god this girl went to so many grocery stores with me) and we even did some hometown exploring!
The wonderful thing about best friends is that even when what you’re doing together is normal, it feels special. We went to a movie, played board games, had existential (??) talks with an artist, went to happy hour… The normal stuff. The stuff that you miss when your BFF lives in another state.
Just having a week of laid back normalcy with my best friend was perfect <3
7. A Girls’ Trip to St. Maarten
One of my favorite things this year was the girl’s trip that we went on to St. Maarten! My mom had organized a vacation that took all of my aunts and cousins to the Caribbean for a week of sunshine, unlimited food and drinks, and SO much fun.
I think as far as families go, mine spends quite a bit of time together. And yet, I really feel like this trip was just straight up some quality time (and time away from everything else in the world) that made it so much fun!
I swear, I don’t think I have laughed that much in a week in…. Maybe ever?
This trip was strange timing, because it took place about a week after my grandma’s funeral. And while the trip was planned for months before we knew the funeral was coming, it ended up being perfectly timed. In a week that could have been really sad or lonely, we got to spend it together and be reminded what’s really important in life.
That and going smouth 😉
6. Hiking in the UP
Wow….. Elizabeth in a Top Moments post? Is anyone surprised…? No? Me either 😂
In the last few Top Moments posts, Elizabeth has visited Michigan quite a bit. I told her that she needed 3 different Michigan experiences to really feel like she’d done it all. A Michigan winter (2019), a Michigan Lake day (2020), and a Michigan Up North Trip (2021).
So when she was driving from Texas to Connecticut for her big move, she stopped by for a few days so that we could fulfill the last thing on her Michigan To Do list! A trip to the UP!
Matt had also never been to the UP, and Kenny, Elizabeth’s boyfriend, was roadtripping with her. So, we turned it into a couple’s trip! We camped, played board games, watched sunsets, walked around a sculpture park, and cooked campfire stew.
The weather had left something to be desired that week, so our big plan, the Chapel Rock Hike, was pushed off a few days until the weather was better. Finally, on the last day of the trip, the hike was a must, despite crappy weather.
We all woke up and drove to the start of the hike. I had spent YEARS telling Elizabeth about this beautiful part of Michigan that so often gets overlooked, and I just couldn’t wait for her to see it! But after an hour (and 3 miles) of hiking, we emerge from the woods to see the gorgeous sight, and instead…. Fog. A blanket of fog so thick that we couldn’t see anything.
I was devastated. 3 years of waiting, a 14 hour (round trip) drive to the UP, 3 days of camping, and a 14 mile hike for this? For FOG?!?!
But, of course, my lovely friends make the most of shitty situations. So we sat on the beach, in the fog, and Elizabeth told me she liked it even better this way. And Matt convinced everyone to lick the Pictured Rocks because he bet we’d be the only ones in the world to do that, right (???).
And while we were in the middle of making the most of a crappy situation, the fog… lifted! Suddenly we could see the sights I’d been dreaming about showing them, and it was magical.
In the end, as it always ends up, the hike was lovely, but it was the company that made it perfect 😉 <3
5. Making Pizza at the Cottage
Kids these days looooove their YouTube, so when my little cousins found out I had a YouTube channel, they made me feel like a celebrity (LOL). They were always begging to be on my YouTube channel, so one day I brought some supplies to the cottage to make individual pizzas and we had a Foreign Fork pizza-making day!
I took little clips and turned them into a YouTube video for them to watch. These kiddos are some of my favorite people in the world, so it was really fun doing this special project with them and getting to see how excited they were!
Check out their video above.
4. Celebrating Allie and Matty
In September, I was given the honor of celebrating Allie and Matty’s wedding as a bridesmaid! <3
Allie and Matty have been dating since long before I met Allie, and it was so fun to see them finally get married!! The view from their ceremony was seriously gorgeous, their vows were perfect, and it made me so happy to see how happy they were.
We danced and took silly photos and saw old friends (lookin at you Alexa <3) and made new ones (Matt and I are still talking about how much fun we had with our Columbus friends) and it was just the perfect weekend.
3. Solo Days in Washington DC
For how much I absolutely love solo travel, can you believe that I haven’t traveled alone since 2018?! That’s crazy!!
Well, I’ve always wanted to go to Washington DC, and when I signed up for a blog workshop an hour outside of the city, I knew I had to spend a few days there! I drove myself to DC, checked in to my own hotel room, and spent days exploring.
I went to museums when I wanted, ate what I wanted, slept when I wanted, stopped and looked at the sights for as long as I wanted…. It was purely magical. Sharing trips with loved ones is amazing, but traveling alone (at least for me) is it’s own kind of perfect.
Plus, I just loved DC!
2. Connecticut with Elizabeth
Elizabeth again?! Still not surprised? Me either 😉
If you remember, Elizabeth had come to visit in June because she was on her way to live in Connecticut. So in November, I visited Connecticut to see her new home!
We got to spend TEN whole days together (our longest ever!) working remotely during the week and exploring on the weekends. My favorite part of the trip was meeting her friends for Friendsgiving and Harry Potter Night, AND our trip to Newport!
We had so much fun exploring Rhode Island and Connecticut, and it was a great last trip of the year!
1. Growing our Community in Michigan
It’s no secret to anyone that knows me that I had always wanted to move out of Michigan post-grad. Life sometimes turns out differently than you’d expect, so I had ended up staying here. But I always felt like I didn’t really have a community here… All of my friends had moved away from Michigan after college, and while I knew I had a lot of friends, most of them were only accessible via facetime or a short visit once a year.
This, coupled with the pandemic and the fact that I was building a business from the ground up while also maintaining a full time job, had made finding a group of friends kind of difficult over the past few years.
This year, though, Matt and I finally started to really form our community in Michigan. It’s a hodgepodge of his friends and my friends and friends of friends, and old friends, and new friends, and a sprinkling of family, but it feels wonderful. It’s finally (for me) starting to feel like home again.
And there you have it! The Top 11 Moments of 2021. Now, I’ll be honest, I’m not too sure what 2022 is going to hold. At the end of 2020, I already knew I was going to be moving in with Matt and quitting my job. I was able to plan for 2021.
But 2022? It’s completely unwritten. So…. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see 😉 I can’t wait to see what’s on this list next year! Thanks for reading!