2013 has been a year of several monumental life-altering events.
I come from a very small family. This year, both my aunt and uncle passed away, leaving me as the final member in our family. Sure, I have some distant cousins somewhere (Iowa, Utah?), but I've never met them. It has hard enough when my uncle died in April, but I never could have imagined that last week, my aunt would join him.
I'm still more stunned than sad, although I'm sure that emotion will take over in the new year. I miss them, but I'm relieved that they are no longer physically suffering. In particular, I know that it was very hard on my aunt when my uncle passed. Her grief was overwhelming.
In addition to the loss of my family, I'm also transitioning out of a caregiver role. I've spent the last several years helping my aunt and uncle, often spending several days at a time living with them. I accompanied them to doctors appointments, helped around the house, cooked, gardened and ran errands. It's strange to go from being so needed to nothing. 2014 will be spent closing out their estate and getting their home ready to be sold. It's going to be a big task, but I feel like it will help with the grieving process.
Even with the loss of my aunt and uncle, 2013 wasn't a bad year.
Dan and I got engaged at Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) and we married a few months later at the Aria in Las Vegas. It couldn't have been more perfect and the joy has spilled over, making the most difficult days of 2013, a lot easier to bear. Dan has been my rock. In many ways, this has been the happiest year of my life. I feel blessed to be part of Dan's wonderful family, which include his two adorable children.
I traveled more in 2013, than in any previous year. We spent two weekends in Las Vegas, one weekend in Big Bear and three nights in Portland, adding Oregon to list of states I've visited.
This year marked my first trip to Europe. We actually visited the United Kingdom twice, spending a total of seventy-six days and visiting three countries. On our second trip, we did a 3300 mile drive around England, Scotland and Wales.
The United Kingdom is beautiful and diverse. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to explore so much of it and yet, I'm also left wanting more! Contrary to what some may think, it is not a small island!
I read 55 books in 2013. More than last year, but less than in previous years. I've found that I read more when I'm happy. While we were in Europe, I plowed through books. When I was dealing with family health issues and death, I barely read a chapter. Trashy television is more my speed when I'm stressed.
I started a new part-time job at the end of 2013. I'm now a professional dog-walker. Don't tell my cats. It's a good fit. I love being outdoors and with animals. Starting in January, I will have several clients on a regular basis, including the most adorable golden retriever puppy in the world.
As usual, we went to tons of movies and events throughout the year. My favorite event was seeing Josh Ritter perform in Hollywood. It was magical. We are going to another Josh Ritter concert in January and I can't wait!
We attended our first NASCAR Race, which was hot, loud and a lot more fun that I ever would have anticipated.
We went on more outings with the SoCal Smarties, our local Smart Car club, including a memorable visit to the Battleship Iowa. We even leased the first Electric Drive Smart Car in California.
I learned that Zip-lining and Segway tours are more adventure than I can handle. Both were more terrifying than thrilling.
In 2013, we went through paperwork hell to refinance our house and in the end, it was all worth it. I'm far better off financially than I was this time last year.
My health and weight are about the same. We did a few solid months of exercise, including waking up before sunrise to go on long walks. It didn't stick or become a lasting routine, but I'm hopeful that things will change in 2014.
We did several home improvement projects in 2013, including new wood floors for our stairs and bedroom. Our house has really taken shape and it looks nothing like it did when I inherited it from my mom back in 2008. I can hardly believe this is my childhood home.
2013 was a year of highs and lows. I spent most of it feeling unstable and unsteady emotionally. Again, it wasn't a bad or unhappy year overall, but I'm looking forward to 2014 being more peaceful and calm.