Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Recap

This has certainly been a year for the books. I've experienced so many ups and downs this past year but through it all I have rediscovered - or realized for the first time - just how strong I really am. This post will not only be a recap of all of the good moments of 2013 but also a short list of what I've learned this year plus, an announcement at the very end.

Take a look at my 2013 through pictures!

(We didn't get a picture of this but on January 1st, 2013, I ate 12 grapes at midnight CST -even though I had a bad stomach ache- and made a wish to go back to Spain in 2013. I think many of you know whether or not that wish came true. ;)

I started the year off flying back to Jacksonville with a free First Class upgrade thanks to all the qualifying flights I took in 2012.

(First class in United just meant round the clock drink service! haha)

I discovered new spots in my San Marco neighborhood to see sunsets or to just take a walk.

(Sunset behind the shops in and around the Square)

Not only did I reconnect with a friend, Christine, of Sucre Sucre, but I was influential in helping her attend One Spark 2013 (a huge crowdfunding event for artists, musicians, innovators and entrepreneurs in Jacksonville!)


In May, I took off on a month long adventure back to the country that captured my heart: (Sevilla) Spain!!!


En el patio de los naranjos afuera de la Catedral en Sevilla
I actually cooked while I was there in two different houses! (my host mom in Triana wouldn't allow us inside her kitchen back in 2010!)
In Rincón de la Victoria (Malága)

En el piso de Andre en la Macarena (Sevilla)

And to top it all off, I got to see my brother while he was visiting Madrid...


and then again in Sevilla! :D



I reunited with old friends and made new ones!

Nathan, Santi (my intercambio) and I in Puerta Jerez (Sevilla)

Nathan, André, Dámaris and I after dinner in her flat 

Loida, Miguel, André and I just before saying hasta luego at the Sevilla airport!


And when I got back, I realized I had fallen in love with the Portuguese language (after two layovers in Lisbon, Portugal) and want to become trilingual before I hit 30!

                        It's going to take a lot of work to perfect my skills in all three languages,
                                                       but I am ::determined::



I worked on improving my health and probably ate the healthiest this year than any other year in my life thus far

My favorite meal creation of the year (besides the tortilla de patatas): chicken and avocado tostadas with mozzarella cheese and a spicy sauce! Mmm...even Fred wants a bite! ;)

                          Saw a dear friend of mine marry the love of her life in June!

Amanda, Dustin and I in Daytona Beach, Florida


                       Attended my first "Willats" family wedding as an adult in October- so happy for my cousin                            Emily and new cousin Tyler!

Almost the whole family together at Emily and Tyler's reception in Iowa

                      Went to the beach and enjoyed seeing many sunrises and sunsets there



Closed out 24 by making my first paella using a real paella pan my aunt got me for Christmas 2012



I spent part of my 25th birthday in my country's capital - Washington D.C.

                                     With the under construction Washington Monument in the background

              And last but not least, I reunited with a very dear friend - mi hermanita en Cristo, Abigail!


Abby and I reunited in our hometown of Dayton, OH after her one year term in the DR!

As, 2013 comes to a close, I look back and give thanks for every good and bad moment that happened in my life this year. I learned who my true friends were again (which seems to happen each time you travel internationally) and received a lot of support and advice the people closest to me. I have learned so much about myself and other people, what I am capable of and who I want to be in the future.
While I have enjoyed learning and discovering the wonderful and challenging world of marketing, I have learned that it's not my main passion in life. My first love in life is God, but, until a man captures my heart, my second love will always be Spanish.

I spent a small part of this year being in a country that was not my own, speaking a language that was not my native one and honestly? I couldn't have been happier and have never felt more at home in Europe. Which is why I have decided to stop running from my desire to live and teach English in Spain. I have decided to go full steam ahead into applying and getting things in order so I will be able to do that. I want to say the end of hte 2014-2015 school year in Madrid (hopefully) that I am bilingual in English and Spanish. I will take a lot of work to get to that point but I am ready for the challenge! We will see what other opportunities come my way as the year 2014 unfolds!

So, my friends near and far, as I write this, I will soon be heading into my last winter in Jacksonville, Florida as a snowbird and in March 2014, I will be saying 'see you later' to a city that has been my home away from home for the last 6 years.

Life is too short to not follow your dreams and live each day to the fullest and that is what I plan to do! Stay tuned for updates and potential changes to this blog next year.

How was your 2013? What did you learn?

I pray that you will be surrounded by people you love as you ring in 2014 and strive to make this coming year your best year yet!

Feliz año nuevo a todos mis amigos y lectores en Espana o cualquier sitio vosotros estéis!

Besos! xxoo