2014, it’s been real.

What did you do in 2014 that you’ve never done before?

In February, we went to San Francisco together; we met Jeff’s cousins there and his sister came, too. Together, we scouted out snobby craft beers, attended the release of Pliny the Younger at Russian River Brewing and went to the San Francisco Beer Week Opening Night Gala. It was a really quick weekend (and it rained the entire time we were there), but we had a blast. Trips with friends and/or family are totally the way to go.

Then, late in the summer, kind of on a whim, Jeff applied for grad school. He’s had the itch “for more” for awhile now, and he thought maybe a master’s degree was the key. Within weeks, he was accepted, admitted and began a very aggressive 16-month, accelerated program for business leaders. I’ve already learned many lessons about giving never-ending support, even when it seems too hard or like too much work this year. And already, it feels like we’re in the homestretch; he has less than one year until graduation. I am so proud; I have spent a good part of the second half of this year being more proud of someone–my husband–than I’ve ever been of anyone in my entire life.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more next year?

You know, I need something good for 2015. It wasn’t really a new year’s resolution, but it was a goal when I joined Weight Watchers in the last week of June. I lost about 20 pounds–and probably gained 5 back during the holidays–this year. In 2015, I plan to keep plugging away at Weight Watchers. I love, love, love the app. When I did the program years ago, you had to figure out everything on your own and I think the app makes it so easy and doable.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

This year brought a new baby to our family. My husband’s niece had the most precious little boy at the beginning of September. Being an only child, I’m not–and never will be–a biological aunt to anyone. But this little guy, which i guess is our great or second nephew, oh my gosh do I love him. I’m embracing every second as “an aunt.”

Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no. But we did have a friend lose his dad right before the holidays. It was unexpected and heartbreaking, of course. It brought this weird realization to us–between my husband and I we have four (plus a step dad) intact, healthy and alive parents. We definitely thought a lot about this as our families joined us in our home for Christmas and we are forever thankful for every opportunity we get to have them all in one place at one time.

What countries did you visit?

This was not my year for countries. That said, my husband was recently named the next president of his Rotary club, something we are both very proud he was selected for. With that, we’re planning a trip to South Korea in for the international conference during the year of his presidency. That’s going to be awesome.

What would you like to have in 2015 that you did not have in 2014?

We bought our house at the end of 2013 and we’ve made some progress in “getting stuff done,” but not enough. When we aren’t in the kitchen, we spend a good chunk of our time in our den/TV room, which does not have appropriate furniture, is not painted (there is a section of one wall where the old owner’s TV hung that is in fact NOT PAINTED at all), and is just not a pretty space. I want to make our den into something beautiful this year. With a more than 100 year old home, it’s pretty much classic with a lot of wood in most rooms of our house. In the den, I want to do something a little bright and fun.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I kind of feel like it was the year of Jeff around here, and that’s really OK; we all shine and stumble at different times in life. A few months after Jeff started grad school, he lost his job–disagreements about his future, other opportunities that came to the surface, etc., etc., etc. We were devastated, in the way people are devastated when half of your income is ripped away in one not well though out second by someone you thought you trusted. Within days, he/WE (yes we, these things strike marriages hard, not just individuals) were back on our feet–doing, changing, making plans. As 2014 closes, we have landed in a pretty good spot–with jobs and opportunities and a great sense of “yeah, we’re just fine.” I feel like we overcame and achieved; I’m proud of us.

What was your biggest failure?

I should probably write more for fun–people ask me about it all the time. However, being a writer/content producer/creative-type for a living sometimes makes “writing for fun” a challenge. It’s usually the last thing I want to do after coming home from my professional life, which has be surrounded by words and thought processes. This year, I also took on some additional freelance assignments, making the task seem even harder. But, I’m also making a lot of excuses. I get that.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

No. But it was the year of glasses at our house. I laugh because we’re like the couple who had to get glasses or something.

What was the best thing you bought?

Many bottles of beer and (too many) meals out. DINKS jokes continued throughout 2014 and were strong.

We also did a little getaway to South Dakota a few weeks ago–so technically we bought car rentals, hotel rooms and a few fancy outfits–to be in one of my best friend’s weddings. It was a beautiful wedding–like nothing I could have planned or afforded. I felt honored to get to be a part of her day. Plus, it’s awesome to watch your friends get married once you have done it yourself.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

When my husband lost his job, there were simply people who stood up and out. There were friends and members of our community who called, picked up the phone to call someone on my husband’s behalf, who made things move and shake. We have kind of an unwritten “what makes you good at life” in our house and what it comes down to more times than not is showing up. If you show up–in whatever sense–you can usually make “it” happen. We are so thankful to the people who showed up when it felt like our lives were going to unravel.

Whose behavior made you depressed and appalled?

If you know a true bully, you will agree. That person sucks.

Where did most of your money go?

I think we made some positive strides in rebuilding some of our saving since purchasing our house. Grad school, our favorite downtown beer/wine bar/food place. Booze, coffee–yeah, we all have vices, I guess.

What did you get really, really excited about?

San Francisco and Sioux Falls. Friends visiting us from out of state. Hosting Christmas at our house. The new fancy knife my husband bought me for Christmas; it’s a really, really nice knife!

What song will always remind you of 2014?

This almost makes me laugh. I feel like job loss is a lot like a break up and have a theme song of sorts from when I lost my job a few years ago. But this year, I coined Jeff’s job loss song–“Cool Kids.”

Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

I’m happy. Thinner. And not quite sure if we’re richer or poorer–by the numbers, we’re probably poorer, but in life experience, I think we’re pretty rich.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Time with my family. Life comes and goes and happens, and I don’t always seen eye to eye with my family–there have been so many changes in the last couple of years. I’m admittedly lazy about making the relationships stronger, but especially as I get older, I value the family unit more. So yeah, that.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

I worry. A lot. I worry about things I can control, but more, I worry about things I have no ability to know, figure out or fix. I worry about things that affect other people–nearly as much as I worry about things that affect me. I think hard and I feel incredibly deeply. Now I know those aren’t necessarily bad qualities, but sometimes the amount of time I spend worrying gets the best of me. I don’t believe I can ever turn some huge corner and not worry, but I do think I could work on some tactics to learn how to turn it off sometimes–at the times when it’s really affecting my life and well-being in negative ways.

How did you spend Christmas?

After days and days of stressing and worrying (ha!) that everyone wouldn’t show and times wouldn’t jive, with our families at our house. I know we aren’t the only family out there who has a hard time getting it all together at the holidays, but I just wanted to put out a beautiful meal and have everyone sit down at the same time to eat it. And for some reason, that did not come easy this year. On Christmas, it all turned out fine, but I can’t keep doing the (lead up to the) holidays like this…that I know.

Did you fall in love in 2014?

As I lost a little weight, I felt more love for myself. Feeling good about the skin you are in does so much for self confidence, one’s smiles and the in general day to day. I didn’t lose a ton, but I did go down a size or two; I have not owned size six pants that have fit properly for a lot of years. It feels good to love yourself.

What was your favorite TV program?

Shark Tank.

Do you hate anyone one that you didn’t hate at this time last year?

Hate is not a productive thing, but we DID have a rough second half of he year and I find myself spewing out some hate sometimes. I will get over it.

What what was the best book you read?

I really liked Me Before You by JoJo Moyes and Otherhood by Melanie Notkin.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

I am not a good person for this question. I get caught up in the same playlists (see: our wedding playlist) I created years ago, I choose radio station themes that revolved around bands I already love and I (still) play many of my favorite songs on repeat while pretending I’m a rock star.

What did you want and get?

We spent our first summer in our house, which has a backyard. Since our house is truly the first house I’ve ever lived in IN MY LIFE, this yard thing was new to me. We spend so much time “out back” in the summer of 2014–tunes, food, cold beverages, our dog and friends. We bought and used more than 300 pounds of charcoal this summer–grilling up masterpieces, one of my very favorite activities.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My birthday is on the same day as my in-law’s wedding anniversary. This year, we packed up and took a little road trip to IKEA for the day. Turns out, I didn’t buy very much, but the day was fun. We shopped and ate a fancy lunch and spent a lot of hours in the car chit-chatting. I turned 31.

What would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Is it bad to say money? As we get older, I totally wish we had more, worry about not having more, think about the future and what we’ll need, etc. Lots and lots of money, people!

How would you describe your personal fashion style in 2014?

2014 was a little bit my year. My wardrobe has grown immensely to not include all cotton items. I’ve become a fan of the skinny fitting pants, I like tunics and things with stripes. I wore a lot of dresses. 2014 might also be the year my shoe collection grew to include an overwhelming number of pairs of flats. And, glasses are my new accessory.

What kept you sane?

My husband and my dog. My three best friends. The people who showed up.

Who was the best new person you met?

My job allows me to meet a lot of people–people I write and tell stories about. It really is hard to pick just one.

Tell us a valuable lesson you learned in 2014.

How long do you have? Haha.

Sometimes people are going to let you down–your family, sometimes your friends, the people you have surrounded yourself with professionally–and it’s going to suck and it’s going to be hard. But it is the good people who are going to rally around to pick you up–you’ll get phone calls from people you didn’t even know cared in the middle of your work day that will make you cry, your best friend will know that the best thing she can say is, “Yes Manda, that f*&%ing sucks,” your husband’s guy friends will show up with beer and chocolates in the middle of a weekday afternoon to drink instead of make him talk about what he is going through, your downtown bar will slip you a free drink or two simply because when you walk in they know by the look on your face that you are sad, people all around you will remind you that there are just crappy people out there and you aren’t one of them. So, people are going to let you down–but on the flip side, the important ones in your life are going to blow you away when you know what is hitting the fan. It feels like we’ve surrounded ourselves with some pretty good people–I suggest doing the same. That is the most valuable life lesson I’ve learned–it’s about the people.


Categories: Beer here, Beer kinda snob, BFFs, Cha Ching, Family, Foodies, Friends, Grilling, Holidays, In love, Just talkin', Our house

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