Where did the last 10 years go?!
The last few days I have been thinking a lot about New Year’s Resolutions, getting organized and setting some goals. However, what I have totally been forgetting about is that we are not only starting a new year, but we are starting a new decade! That is a big deal! When I think about how my life has changed in the last 10 years it is incredible. I have grown so much as a person and experienced so much in life in general. So, I decided now would be a good time to reflect on the events and experiences that have shaped me in the last 1o years.
My best friend & I in Valencia, Spain.
Let’s start by going back to the year 2000. I was a sophomore in college at the University of Northern Iowa. I thought I knew what the world had in store for me. I was getting ready to embark on an adventure which would forever shape my life, living in Spain for a semester. I was terrified and yet exhilerated to know I was going to be so far away and truly on my own. Well, ok almost on my own. My best friend was going with me! My time in Spain was incredible. I learned more about who I was and who I wanted to be. There is SO much out there in the world to see and I knew from then on I would spend the rest of my life trying to see it. At times it was so hard being away from family. I remember being on the phone fighting back the tears because I missed them so much, but in the end I wasn’t ready to go. I wanted more time. Spain would have to wait. I would be back, but for the time being I was leaving a piece of my heart. Oh, and even though I wanted to find my very own Spanish speaking love of my life there was no “Miguel” to be found for me. Maybe the next time would prove more successful…
In 2001 I lived in my first off campus apartment. This was a new sense of accomplishment, freedom and even responsibility. I started working as a waitress in a restaurant and made some great friends that I am still in contact with today. I turned 21 and started to realize going out until all hours of the night really wasn’t that fun anymore. Crazy right? That isn’t to say I didn’t still partake every now and again. I was in college after all!
My college roommates & amazing friends.
In 2002 I lived with some incredible girls that I still count as two of my closest friends. I don’t always get to see them or talk to them as much as I like, but they are always close to me in my heart. They helped shape me and helped me grow as a person. We had a lot of laughs, shared some tears and most importantly were really there for each other. This was also the year I graduated from college with my degree in education (specializing in Spanish of course). It was hard to believe my college days were coming to an end. I was scared. I was unsure and to be honest I just wanted to stay in my college bubble forever. I didn’t know what life had in store for me and unlike most who were ready to move forward I wanted to stay put. I had made so many friends and memories in college I wasn’t quite ready to give it up, but c’est la vie.
In 2003 I got my first big girl job (which I still have today thank you very much) as a high school Spanish teacher. That year had a pretty strong learning curve as a new teacher. I had to find that balance between being a good teacher and still being there for the kids. When you are young they tend to try and make you your friend. Although it is important to support them and be there for them that was an incredible important definition to make. I also moved in to my first apartment by myself in 2003. I realized it wasn’t all that fun to live on my own, so my younger sister joined me shortly after! We shared a lot of laughs in our “ghetto basement” apartment and I miss those days if for not other reason then we shared that together.
In 2004 I continued to work as a teacher, live life as an adult and most importantly I got to return to Spain! It was my first trip with students and it to held a huge learning curve. It was a lot of responsibility knowing you were keeping 12 students safe in another country, but it was so worth it to experience that with them. Plus, on a selfish note, I loved going back to Spain. A piece of my heart had been there ever since I lived there. I felt complete going back and knew that it couldn’t be 4 more years before I returned and it wouldn’t be…stay tuned!
In 2005 a lot of things happened that shaped me in new ways. Honestly, in a lot of ways it was the year I grew up. I know what you’re thinking…didn’t you already have a job? Live on your own? Yes, that is true. However in 2005 I began to see the world isn’t always a happy place and isn’t always filled with fairness and remembered it was God’s grace and strength I needed to get me through the tough times. In March of 2005 my hardest moment (still to do this day) as a teacher occurred. A student I was very close with was very suddenly killed in a car accident while returning from her spring break vacation. I will never forget that day or how I felt when I heard the news. My heart sank. I could hardly breathe. How could this happen? As I walked the hall to my classroom I couldn’t look her friends in the eyes as I knew they would soon learn what I just had. Sierra Mitchell was a light in this world and she was loved by many. With her death I learned not only the brevity of life, but also how much impact someone can have in such a short time. Sierra lived each day to it’s fullest and that is a lesson we can all learn. On a brighter note in 2005 I returned to Spain once more. This time it was for a job! That’s right, a job! I left at the beginning of June in 2005 to work with a study abroad program. I was there until the middle of August.
Although I loved being back in Spain ( I mean I could see the beach from my apartment window) living and working there wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. When I went to Spain to study in college I had freedom and flexibility. When I was working there I had responsibility. There were also a lot of things going on with my family back home that summer and to be honest all I wanted was to be with them. I found it a lot harder to be gone this time and although it had always been my dream to live abroad again it gave me a level of confidence that living back home was where I was supposed to be. I made a lot of memories that summer and was able to fulfill a few dreams I’d had, but I was more than ready to return home. What I didn’t know was that a few short months after getting back I would meet the man of my dreams (and know he isn’t Spanish….he can’t even speak it haha).
In 2006 I realized the man I had met was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Matt and I got engaged after only 6 months of dating, but we knew we were right for each other. Matt truly is the man I had been waiting for (really I literally had a list of characteristics I was looking for). I had “kissed a lot of frogs” in my day, but I had finally found my prince. I couldn’t have been happier. After we got engaged we bough our first home together. It may not have been the biggest or fanciest house out there, but it was ours and we started our story there!
Our wedding day
2007 was the year I became a wife. Matt and I were married on July 7th, 2007 (yes, that is 7/7/7). It was a beautiful, if not incredibly hot, day. Our friends and family helped us celebrate. I was so happy. I couldn’t wait to see where this crazy life would take us next. We spent our honeymoon in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and loved every minute. our first year of marriage didn’t come with out it’s tough moments. Matt started a new job shortly after our wedding that included a lot of travel. I don’t think I was really ready to be far away from him. To be honest a lot of times I felt lonely. It was a very odd feeling to know I was married, but my husband was basically living in a different city. He would be gone for 3 weeks at a time and home only for a few days to leave again. I was able to visit him once, but honestly it was so hard to leave him I don’t know if I could have done it again. The travel lasted longer than I would have liked (continuing in to the fall of 2008). Although that was incredibly hard for us, I think we learned a lot about each other and how to communicate, but I was so thankful when he changed positions within the company. He may have made more money while traveling, but I learned quickly that money isn’t always everything.
Visiting my hubby
2008 was also the year I started graduate school. I had made it my goal to complete my Masters in Education before I turned 30 and I needed to get going if I was ever going to get there! While completing my masters I met more great people and had a lot of fun. It stretched me as a person and taught me more about the teacher I want to be.
2009 was another year filled with life changing moments including the birth of my son and graduating with my masters. On April 9, 2009 my son was born.
Noah's fist moments
Noah Matthew was perfect in every way and with his birth Matt and I went from not only husband and wife, but to parents. This was a new role I gladly accepted. Noah is my world and I only hope I am half the mom to him that my mom has been to me, but we’ll get to that in a minute. In September of 2009 my family went through something I wasn’t prepared for. My mom had a very sudden heart attack. I have always known I would never be ready to lose a parent, but on that day I came face to face with that very possibility. I was a mom myself, but I still needed mine! I have never been more terrified in my life. To be honest we really didn’t know if my mom was going to make it. Every minute that passed felt like an eternity and I just wanted to know without a doubt she would be ok. If you’ve ever been in that situation you know that level of fear. I shed a lot of tears that day and the days following, but I was lucky. God chose to leave my mom with us and I couldn’t be more thankful. I think all of us in my family were changed with my mom’s heart attack. Cherish each moment. That is what I learned. You really never know if you will be able to tell someone you love them or give them a hug again. Not to get all serious, but I really didn’t know when I left the hospital that first night if I would get to see my mom alive again. All of my siblings stood around my moms bed and said goodbye to her that night not knowing what tomorrow would bring. Walking down the hallway, away from her room, we were silent (aside from tears being shed). That is a moment I will never forget, but wish I never experienced. I caped the year off with completing my Masters degree and was so glad I was able to share that day with my family (especially my mom).
That brings us to 2010. Really, 2010 has been a year of new beginnings. We have celebrated my mom’s second chance. I have gotten my health and fitness back in line losing 30+ pounds from lots of hard work and I even completed my first half marathon in under 2:30. 2010 was the year I realized if I push myself I can achieve so much. I also learned there are no dreams to big. I really didn’t know if I’d be able to run a half marathon, but I did it. I am proud of that medal and am so glad I was able to share that experience with my sister Emily. She helped push me through those last few miles. That’s what we need in life. People to push us through those extra miles. The ones that get rough and test us as a person. I am so thankful to have a wonderful family and circle of close friends that are always with me on those “extra miles”. I hope to teach my son these lessons and so many more as he continues to grow in to a little man more and more each day. Oh and did I mention in 2010 I said goodbye to my 20′s? They say 30 is the new 20 though so I think I’m still good! haha.
My fist 1/2!
As 2010 comes to a close I look to 2011 with excitement. What will this year hold for me? What challenges will I face and ultimately overcome? What exciting things will happen? I guess that is yet to come. What I do know is this. I am blessed in this life I have been given. I am so thankful for my family, my husband, my son, my friends and so much more. I am continuing to push myself with new adventures including owning my own fitness business. I am planning to run a second (and maybe third) half-marathon this year pushing myself towards my ultimate goal of running it in under 2 hours. There will be babies (not necessarily mine), weddings and more. What has the last 10 years done for you? What have you learned and who have you become? Where will you be 10 years from now? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. To be continued…