Wife to my high school sweetheart, boy mama to sweet baby boy Macrae, and two fur babies Shiloh and Milo, a full time high school history teacher, and overall enthusiast for life. Avid podcast listener, iced coffee drinker, and organized chaos manager. My passion is to encourage and inspire. To cultivate an intentional life, a life full of joy and an abundance of grace.
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2019. Recap. Reflections. Thoughts on the year. Let’s go. One of my favorite things about writing (for me, personally) is the fact that I learn and discover so much of my heart in the process. I begin to write, knowing a tiny bit of the direction my hands and keys are going to go, but then usually am carried away, pouring out my soul and learning a lot about myself along the way.
Fortunately, we were able to get away the last few days of 2019. We went to Pigeon Forge with my family and escaped and loved and then J and I extended the trip with a night in Asheville – one of our favorite local escape cities. And while on these trips, while excited I was to be with my people who mean the most to me, I couldn’t help but feel off. And after talking it out with J while in Asheville, I realized my sentiment. I feel exhausted. 2019 was amazing. It was difficult. It was emotional, oh but it was SO fun. And there will never be another year like it. I know that’s for certain. So let’s dive on in!!!
If you are around this space often then you are well aware that traveling is a big part of who J and I are. We have made it a point in our first six years of marriage to invest in ourselves and travel and take the trip. We are firm believers that we want to enjoy the moments now as the future isn’t guaranteed. Therefore, we make a point to travel and spend time together that way. And a lot of times when we do get away it’s truly the time that we can put work aside and treasure moments together. And granted, we spend a lot of time looking for deals, using different promotions and benefits to make the most of where we are going. And this year we were able to see so many things and we feel so incredibly grateful!
2019 brought the most travel any year has. And it has been so incredibly amazing. We spent SO many weekends away. Escaping the Monday-Friday workweek, completely unplugging and immersing ourselves in different cities. We explored Chattanooga a couple of times, enjoyed several late Friday night flights and early Monday am arrivals to get us back to work in time as we enjoyed Washington DC, Austin and San Antonio, and Chicago. Probably one of the most fun things we did included sneaking off to Philadelphia for a weekend and the craziest thing is we never told a single soul. We were completely unplugged for a weekend and it was the best.
I was so blessed to work with the Inn at Serenbe for an amazing weekend stay and that is truly one of my top favorite moments of the whole year. We were treated like royalty and spent the weekend eating the best food, enjoying a beautiful farm stay and watching the most magical production underneath the stars. It was a dream come true and I am so thankful to Serenbe for the amazing opportunity.
Moving along, the summer of 2019 was my most favorite summer yet. As we embarked on two crazy, amazing trips. J and I had planned a trip of a lifetime to London, Venice, Rome, Florence, and Paris. And that week was absolutely incredible. And I still haven’t blogged any of this yet. Whoops. And then we returned home from Paris and left two weeks later for our family vacation of a lifetime to Hawaii. Probably the best week of my entire life. I think I struggle to put into words what my family means to me. And I struggle with expressing my emotions fully. I sometimes miss incredibly being a little girl growing up with my family and friends all right there in the same geographical corner. Life was easier than and safer. So whenever I can spend that significant quality time with my people, it does my heart really well.
In July, I traveled to Asheville for a week to coach at a running camp (one that I actually attended as a high school cross country runner) and that whole week itself holds another special place in my heart as it truly is another big happy family). I am a girl who just likes family, what can I say.
And then in September, J and I took a trip back to our favorite places including Boston, exploring New Haven for the first time, back to Portland, Maine (an absolute favorite) and then Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I seriously cannot wait to finally share all of our adventures on the blog, and I promise its an early 2020 goal, so stay tuned (and maybe subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out)
October – took another trip of a lifetime as we took the top seven boys and girls on our cross- country team to New York. A trip that I actually went on as a high-schooler and had an incredible 4 days racing, running, and exploring NYC.
This year seriously brought SO much travel. And reflecting on all of it makes me think just how much work I need to do and how many blogging stories and posts have been left incomplete in 2019. Which brings me to a goal for 2020 – actually publish one blog post a week.
Completed year 6 of teaching. Truly a passion of my heart. I love being a teacher, I truly believe I thrive in the space of the classroom and it is just a place that I love to encourage and pour out positivity and hopefully inspire a love for learning along the way! In addition to teaching, our boys’ cross-country team won state – that was incredible. One of my favorite moments in life ever. To be so excited for a group of kids that have worked so hard and watching them achieve their goal brings me to tears every time I think about it.
Also this year, I took a BIG chance and decided to go to Pure Barre school to become certified to teach Pure Barre classes. That was something that I didn’t even realize that I had wanted to do, but the opportunity presented itself and after much prayer and thought and discussion with J we decided lets do it. So I went to training, and then embarked on the 100 hour journey to learn, practice, and successfully pass the TOV (test-out-video) and then I added teaching pure barre classes to my weekly schedule. And oh what a blast it has been!
The opportunity to learn choreography, plan classes, teach according to music and encourage throughout the process is SO much fun and I am so excited to continue to take and teach Pure Barre for another year. Excited for all the fun things it brings!
Well, we are officially crazy and those crazy dog parents. Another crazy change of the year happened in October when J and I made the very quick decision to bring home a new puppy to our household. Sweet little Milo, an adorable golden retriever puppy joined our family in early October. And now the craziest part of this story is that we were just entering the busiest time for us as a family. J was entering his busiest time of the year at work, and I was in the midst of the crazy 12 week period of the semester where the grades are pilling up and we were in the final four week period of the cross country season and things were CRAZY. So pile up a seven week old puppy and adjusting to that schedule made October a whirlwind in so many ways, but absolutely worth it.
We LOVE sweet Milo and he has truly made such a special imprint in our lives. Now him and Shiloh bud are the best of friends (well, getting there!) and we have so much joy in our hearts looking at them and all of the pup cuddles.
Now if you are reading this list you are probably thinking well dang Haley, you are just sitting here bragging about how great and amazing your year was. And you could think that way absolutely. But let me discuss the matter of my heart. From the outside looking in everything above is what 2019 looked like. But from the inside here is more of a raw version of 2019:
2019 began with a really sad and heart-breaking tale as my sweet Mimi, my grandmother who means everything to me passed away. And for knowing that she wasn’t doing well, surviving after an almost ten-year battle with ovarian cancer, it was pretty sudden how it happened. She was upbeat and her normal self at Christmas, and on her death bed by January. And processing her death, and the feelings I am consumed with in regards to not really having a moment to say an official goodbye. By the grace of God, our whole family was able to make it to her house in time before she took her last breath, but in those last hours, the pain was too consuming and the medicine too strong, that I am not really sure she knew we were there. (I know in her spirit, she did) but in regards too physically, I selfishly wanted a moment with her before she died to feel her love and her hugs once more.
So the grief of my sweet Mimi’s passing is something that I have dealt with all year long and am still processing through. Honestly, probably will always be processing through.
Additionally, just dealing with myself has made this year one to be called bittersweet. The whole purpose behind this blog is to advocate for a life lived in grace and freedom, a life lived removing the desire for perfection, ignoring the sting of comparison and living a life freely.
And as much as this is my platform that I stand on, I still struggle with it. I started the year 2019 with a gigantic planner of ALL the blog posts I would publish. I had so many ideas, so many plans. And I have maybe seen through 1/8thof them. I had goals of how I would grow the blog and the different social media followings. Yet didn’t even come close.
I had goals and plans of keeping up with the grading in the classroom, coming up with new and better ideas for more engaged and creative teaching. Of reading more books, learning more, finding more time to rest and feel rejuvenated.
I had goals of finding a community. Goals of building and expanding my business side of Young Living essential oils – and that has been the biggest feeling of failure for me. And I can get so caught up in the overwhelming feeling of what if I had hosted another event, another oil party, shared more. What if I were able to overcome the feelings of fear of not belonging.
Because honestly I struggle with relationships. I have solid friendships, but my heart has always desired a COMMUNITY of relationships. A BIG friend group where everyone gets along and I feel like I always have hung on the outside of so many different circles, yearning for acceptance.
Additionally, this year has felt more tired than most. And this is something that I have done completely to myself. Trying to do it all. Teach, coach, barre, blog, on top of normal everyday necessities. Throw in be a wife, daughter, friend and dog mom.
J and I celebrated six years of marriage this past summer, it truly is crazy how fast time flies by. And, if you had asked me this time last year, I probably would have told you that J and I would be expecting this time this year, however we selfishly aren’t quite there yet in our path of life. We love our travels, our adventures, our dogs, our jobs and aren’t ready yet to open that door.
So this year has definitely been a mix of emotions. A mix of grief, tied to adventure, feelings of loneliness mixed with joy, feelings of failure, combined with smiles and pride. This year has been a year that I will always remember.
But that is just it. That is life. And I am learning so much about taking EVERY day as the chance for a new start, a new beginning. We don’t need New Years, we don’t need the first of every month or a new season to start over. We can do that every single day. The true gift we have received and been so freely given – the whole purpose of grace. To be able to walk in a life that is loved and purposeful – knowing that every moment, every second is a chance to start a new. A chance to dream more. Be better. A chance to be more. All because of grace. A grace given so freely, from a God that is so loving. And it’s for this reason I am clinging to joy in 2020. Grace. Hope. Joy.