Last year I wrote a post about my Top 18 Moments of 2018 that detailed my time abroad and my life since I had returned home. I wanted to write a similar article for 2019, but as I sat down to write, I hesitated for a second. Both that year and that article were, simply put, unbeatable. 2018 was the best year of my life, by far. I lived out my dream of seeing the world; I backpacked; I made lifelong friends; I was so inspired that I started The Foreign Fork.
I had a really hard time on New Years Eve of 2018. I spent a lot of time crying, actually, over the year that was ending. How could the next year of my life– or any year, really– compare? Would I ever feel that inspired, that adventurous, that happy, again?
I know for a fact that 2019 didn’t live up to 2018, but I ALSO know that 2019 was better than anything I expected for myself. I won’t lie, I had a pretty bleak outlook on the working world and what my life would be like once I entered it. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but I have had PLENTY of incredible moments in 2019 that I can’t wait to share with you!
PS this list involves a lot of people with the title “Best Friend.” Yes, I have a lot of them, and they’re all my best friends in their own perfect way 😉
19. Started the Year Off Right in Louisville, Kentucky
New Years Eve last year DID involve a whole lotta tears, but it was also a pretty special day! I went to Louisville, Kentucky, where I rang in the new year in a floor length ball gown from the top of the fanciest restaurant in town.
We toasted the end of a year filled with adventure and dream-chasing. What’s more, we looked forward to what was to come. It was scary looking at the blank slate of a new year and not knowing how I would make the most of it. But I was also reminded that sometimes the best moments in life are the things we don’t expect. So I clinked glasses (& winced a little), watched the lights below us, and decided that I was going to make this year the best I possibly could.
18. Became the Fastest Promoted Person In Region History at ADP
When I started my job at ADP, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I had never tried sales, and I knew pretty much nothing about payroll processing (who does? lol). But I have this tendency to push myself, and when I saw that the fastest promoted person in region history got promoted in 30 weeks, I wanted to beat it.
It took a lot of persistence, phone calls, pep talks from my dad AND my boss, but we were victorious! It wasn’t easy, but I did it; I was promoted in 24 weeks at ADP, making me the new fastest promoted person in region history!
17. Started my YouTube Channel
Honestly, this is kind of a weird thing to have in my top 19 for 2019 because at first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this one. I knew that I had wanted to start a YouTube channel to go alongside my blog (it’s always so much easier to see how to make something than to follow written instructions), but when it actually came time to start, I got really nervous. It was a weird adjustment and definitely (DEFINITELY) outside of my comfort zone. But I’ve been having fun in the process 🙂
16. In-N-Out Disaster of 2019
Over Memorial Day weekend, I flew to San Francisco to spend a weekend with some of my favorite travel buddies! Kayla wanted to show us all the beauty of In-N-Out, so on our way to Napa Valley, we stopped for a burger and fries. Under Kayla’s advisement, the three of us each got double animal style– basically a burger AND fries, each with a whooooolllleeee lotta mayonnaise.
It was all fun and games until the CRAZY hit. Soon, we were pulling over in the middle of our road trip, and all three of us were sprinting to separate bathrooms… I won’t tell you much more, except that a painful story became a funny memory.
15. Giggling with Lindsey in Wyoming
There’s nothing better than giggling with your best friend, amiright? In July I took a trip to Wyoming to see Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park with my best friend Lindsey! The sights themselves were indescribable. We camped outside, ate lots of s’mores, saw a moose (!!!!), and spent some wonderful, much-needed time catching up. I’m grateful for any time I get with my forever friend 🙂
14. Dancing like a Crazy Woman in The Bahamas at ADP President’s Club!
I drove through the night from Yellowstone, boarded a plane in Wyoming, and touched down in…. The Bahamas? Yep! I was one of the top new hires in the country at ADP (the third best in the country that had been hired that year), so I won a trip to The Bahamas!
I brought Hannah, who was the life of the party, and we enjoyed time on the beach, swimming with the piggies, and a whole lotta good food. The highlight of the trip, though, was the last night of the trip when ADP hosted an awards ceremony and then an after party. My coworkers and I (and Hannah, duh) spent what felt like hours jumping and dancing on the sandy beach. Finally, after months and months of hard work, it was nice to jump around and shake that stress out.
13. Dyeing my Hair
For some reason, I have always wanted to be blonde. But, I’ve always been too nervous to dye my hair… I tried once in college, but I was so nervous that I wouldn’t let the hairdresser do anything too drastic, and in the end, you couldn’t really tell I had dyed it at all.
Finally, I grew some cahones, and I was ready. I dyed my hair blonde, spent a few days crying, and then loved it. I think I’ll stay like this for a while.
12. Overcoming a Situation that Wasn’t Right for Me
Sometimes growth in the right direction is painful, and with this situation, there was a lot of pain. But God is pointing me in the direction I need to go and giving me the strength to go there. And that is a blessing 🙂
11. Visiting Cleveland, Ohio
A few of my friends did a girls trip to Cleveland for a weekend! It had been a while since I had seen my college besties. We got all dolled up and spent one of the nights feeling fancy at a fundraiser, which was so much fun! But we also spent lots of time cuddling on the couch and chit chatting. It reminded me a lot of my favorite moments of college. Going out for a fun night, and laying around the next morning just enjoying each other’s company. And really, it doesn’t get much better than that.
10. Nights in the Library with Nick
Moving home after college/Europe was tough, mostly because I came home, but none of my friends did. I was suddenly in the same place I had always been, but with none of the people that had made it manageable before.
Nick moving back to Rochester was the biggest blessing ever. He adopted me into his group of friends, was by-and-far my biggest shoulder this year when I needed him. This year, Nick and I have spent many a silent (and sometimes not-so-silent) hour across the table from each other as we each grind out our own projects. Get you a friend that can talk to you for hours or sit next to you in complete silence…. those are the best kind of friends.
9. Visiting Nashville with Mom
Over Labor Day, mom and I went on a little girls’ trip to Nashville, Tennessee. We had both been talking about Nashville for YEARS, and finally decided it was time for us to get up and go! We spent a long weekend visiting museums, laying in the sun, and dancing to surprise concerts by Trisha Yearwood. We also went to the Grand Ole Opry, which was so fun! Traveling with momma is always so fun <3
8. Being surrounded by My MF People in Portland
If there was one thing that absolutely changed my business, it was the Tastemaker Conference in Portland, Oregon. I took some awesome classes that helped me grow my business, participated in such fun excursions, and networked with great brands and people. By and far, though, the most valuable part of the experience was the friends I took away from it. It was so refreshing to be surrounded by people that were so passionate about the things I was passionate about and cared about the same things that I cared about! I felt like I had found my CREW!!
I had the pleasure of sharing an Airbnb with a few strangers-turned-friends: Karli, Alli, Rebecca, and Terryn. Karli and Alli are at places in their blog journey that I strive to be at. Every day they push me, hold me accountable, give me advice, and a whole lotta laughs. I am so lucky to have these great friends!
7. Teaching My First Cooking Class
In October, I taught my very first cooking class at the Brandon Township Public Library. I was sooo nervous and definitely panicking throughout (I may have whispered to my mom a few times, “I am NEVER doing this again.”), but in the end, once the dust had settled and the stress was gone, I realized I had had SO much fun! I taught my class how to make homemade pasta, cacio e pepe, tomato sauce, and tiramisu… all in 2.5 hours. PHEW!
In the coming year, I already have three more cooking classes lined up… I can’t wait!
6. Dad Finished Radiation
This one is a big one. After months of constant poking and prodding and zapping, dad finished his last day of cancer radiation!!! We won’t know for a while if it worked, but we are just so happy that he’s done! I never thought I’d find a day when I was cheering for the University of Michigan again, but I’ll give those wolverines some credit.
The nurses all talked about how dad was the best, most pleasant patient they could have asked for. When he finished his last day of treatment, they let us ring the victory bell! We are lucky he had such wonderful nurses and doctors taking care of him. If the cancer is gone, maybe they’ll even get a Go Blue.
5. Visiting Elizabeth in Texas
A LOOOOTTT of good came out of my time in Europe, but one of the very best things was Elizabeth. Elizabeth and I traveled a lot together in Europe, and we kept in great touch after we came home. She has quickly become one of my best friends, and someone I know will be in my life forever!
Elizabeth came to visit me in Michigan in January from Texas (and endured -3 degree temperatures in the process lol), and then I went to go visit her in Dallas Fort Worth in November! She did a greeeaattt job at being a tour guide… She took me to see the stockyards, gave me a tour of Dallas and TCU, and even took me two-stepping! On par with trend through: the best part of our trip was the time we spent catching up and laughing <3
4. Won Saveur Magazine’s Award for Most Groundbreaking Voice of 2019: Reader’s Choice
Okay, first I will say that even being NOMINATED for Saveur’s award was a highlight in itself. In a time when I was worried about the blog, at a time when I was wondering if people even cared, I got nominated for the most prestigious award in blogging. Even to just be picked by Saveur’s editors to be a finalist (out of 16,000 nominations) was enough to make me cry.
Then, on top of that… I won. It wasn’t even the winning that was the real joy. In truth, it was everyone that messaged me– people I didn’t even know– to tell me that they were voting every single day. People that were so touched by my blog that they went out of their way to vote and help me to win.
Saveur put on a GREAT weekend of activities, including panels, tours, restaurant visits and more. I had a press pass with Saveur’s name on it. AHH!!!! Mom, Dad, Brandon and Nick came down for the awards ceremony. They drove 8 hours to spend 12 hours celebrating with me, because they’re wonderful humans. I wasn’t expecting to win, that was just the icing on the cake 🙂
3. Two-Stepping in Arizona
During the first quarter of the new fiscal year, ADP puts on a competition for all of the sales reps. I was one of the top four reps in my region, so I won a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona! I brought Kayla with me, and we had a freaking BLAST taking jeep tours and trail riding horses. It was fun to spend some more time bonding, hanging out, and eating/drinking with my ADP coworkers 🙂
The best part of the trip came when I asked (forced?) Kayla to go out two-stepping with me. We found a bar faaaar from our hotel, and made some friends there. We spent the night learning how to two-step from them! I need to move somewhere with a two-stepping bar, because that is my going-out of choice, for SURE. I could have danced until the sun came up! We also rode the mechanical bulls, too. It’s safe to say that Kayla and I were tired and soooo happy at the end of our night.
2. Christmas Shopping for Foster Kids
For my entire life, my parents have bought Christmas presents for kids in the foster care system. This year, I was making my own salary, so I figured it was about time for me to give back myself. I “adopted” two kids for Christmas, and went on a shopping SPREE buying them everything they might need/want for Christmas.
Then, we went to help wrap the presents for Christmas as well! The best part was that on Christmas morning, all I could think about was how happy my kids probably were with the presents they received.
If you want to give back any time of year (not just at Christmas!!) this is the company I went through: Friends of Foster Kids.
1. Dolphins Swimming Under My Boat in San Diego
The day after Christmas, mom, dad, Brandon and I hopped on a plane to San Diego. Each of us got a request for an activity that we would build into the trip. Mom’s request was whale watching, so I set up an awesome excursion with Spence for an AirBnb experience.
Captain Spence took us on his personal sailboat to watch for whales and dolphins. We didn’t see any whales, but we got a GREAT show from a pod of dolphins. The dolphins were so playful and swam underneath the bow of the boat, doing underwater twists and flips. They were so cute! I may have squealed so loud that Brandon is still making fun of me.
So folks, I guess that’s it. 2019 is over and 2020 is rolling in soon. 2019 never felt like a big year to me, even before it started… I always knew that 2019 would be a building year, a year to help get me to more exciting things. But there’s something about 2020, man. It’s brewing, and I can feel it. 2020 is going to be a life-changing year, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me!