Okay, cue the nostalgia! 2015 definitely deserves a thorough recap. It was one of those “big” years that pulled me right out of my comfort zone and along for the ride.
When Adam and I started planning our wedding, it’s as if the universe heard that we were maybe, sort of overwhelmed (you know, in a good way) and decided to test us a little. Opportunities we just couldn’t pass up kept presenting themselves to us— invitations to travel with family and friends, the time and resources to plan a longer honeymoon, plans to celebrate milestones with our loved ones, and room to create new traditions as we began our married lives together, etc. We also spent our time on important traditions and plans surrounding our wedding plans, like Jewish ceremony preparations, bachelor and bachelorette parties, engagement celebrations, and travel to meet each other’s extended family members.
My first trip of the year was a solo one, but very important nevertheless— I flew to Indiana to see my little brother graduate from Purdue University!! He got a great job lined up and is about to join the workforce in a few days! It's such an exciting time in his life, and I couldn't have been happier to celebrate his accomplishments and the tough, tough coursework he overcame to get a degree in both Computer and Electrical Engineering.
My in-laws threw us such a wonderful engagement party. Even though I had already been planning our wedding for months, this was truly the first time I felt like a bride. We had so much fun celebrating with family and friends, eating incredible food (my mother-in-law is such the expert baker... as evidenced by this big, beautiful cake she made from scratch!), and dancing to Persian music all night! By the way, you guys, seriously considering belly dancing as a second career option. I think I have the moves.
One of my favorite (and it turns out, at least for me, one of the easiest) parts of wedding planning— shopping for the dress!! I feel really grateful that most of my bridesmaids were able to come help me shop for my dress. I had heard horror stories about inviting too many people to witness the process (too many cooks in the kitchen and what not), but honestly, it was SUPER helpful. This was my first time out, and I was able to make the decision that day thanks to all the support, honesty, and encouragement from my mama and best girlfriends!
Another great thing about this day— almost all my close friends were in one place (just missing my fabulous cousin who I asked later that month), so it was the perfect time to ask them to be bridesmaids! I was so shocked when everyone said, "yes," without hesitation! Okay jk... I knew they would accept, but I was thrilled nevertheless.
Hands down, I had the greatest bachelorette. Like, ever. Out of anyone. Well, okay, it's all subjective. It was absolutely perfect for me, however. My friends know me well. Maybe too well. I guess I'm okay with being predictable if it leads to awesome weekends like this, though. See the details from my bachelorette here.
Adam's parents very generously took us on a trip to Israel, so I could meet their extended family there. I have so much to say about this beautiful country and the wonderful people I met there that, quite honestly, I've been putting off posting about it. The quickest recap I can give is that I've never experienced such a rush of warmth and acceptance from so many people who have never even met me before or a faster connection with a country I had virtually no prior knowledge of. I will definitely write more about Israel and Adam's incredible family in 2016!
THE WEDDING. I heard a lot of mixed reviews about weddings from my married friends— a lot of cautionary tales about the how stressful the planning process became and how all the pressure and the nerves affected their ability to really slow down and enjoy their day. I knew going in that, if I was going to plan a wedding, I wanted to enjoy the sh%#! our of our day... and I did. We did. We relaxed during the ceremony and really tried to be in the moment, we tried everything on our menu (including our custom cocktail and all the hors d'oeuvres). In the end, I think the success of our day came from the synergy of a truly professional and devoted team— from our wedding planner who made everything look seamless to our Rabbi who took such care with our ceremony and our photographer who crushed it at managing our wedding party and keeping us on schedule. I will forever be grateful to our parents for providing the support, financial and otherwise, our kick-ass team, and the close friends and family who made this day so special and gave us memories to cherish for a lifetime.
What can I say about our honeymoon? There's too much, and I will have to face this fact and condense it all into a post (or five) at some point early this year. For now, I think it should suffice to say that Thailand is unlike any place I've ever seen and it opened both my eyes and my palette to new and inspiring things— beautiful things. Adam and I spent exactly one month in each other's company, sight seeing, sharing close quarters, sleeping on trains and boats, navigating our surroundings, etc. At the end of those 30 days, we were not only still into each other, but we actually missed spending all that time together. A good indicator for how the rest of our lives might go, I think.
As they tend to do, our travels led us right back to our kitchen to explore new dishes and ideas we picked up abroad. We started cooking up a storm after Israel, where we picked up new techniques and learned about unfamiliar ingredients from family members, and Thailand, where we took cooking lessons in a few of the cities we visited. One of my resolutions for 2015 was to quit the frequency with which we were substituting regular meal planning for the convenience of restaurants and takeout and just cook at home— all the inspiration we gathered this year turns out to have been our final push in that direction. I’m finding home cooking and meal planning to be more enjoyable and sustainable than ever before.
Adam and I also prioritized exploration on a more local level. We tried to free up as many weekends as possible to spend time with each other, exploring our city. From new restaurants and coffee to farmer's markets, urban hikes, and museums— not only did it feel good to get out and better understand my surroundings, but each adventure also gave me a shot of inspiration and renewed energy in my creative outlets. See below.
Another resolution I had for 2015 was to put more effort into my hobbies— reading, writing, photography, going to see art and music, and of course, sharing bits of my life and creative endeavors through this blog. Expressing myself through these outlets has always been important to me, but I could never seem to make the time and space to pursue any of them in a meaningful way (cue excuses about energy levels, time management, etc.). In order to get past my own inertia, I carved out a weekly routine for myself in which I prioritize and set goals for what I want to accomplish in each of my hobbies. One important thing I learned in this effort is that hobbies are very different from straight-up “fun time.” They require your full attention, concentrated effort, and at least some idea of why you’re putting in the time and resources to do whatever you’re doing. Without this understanding, which I definitely did not have before this year, it’s near impossible to justify spending and entire weekend shooting and editing a photo essay when I could go drinking with friends and enjoy a few good hours with Neflix (not knocking those things, btw, they hold a meaningful spot in my schedule too).
Another important hurtle I overcame in 2015— fitness. Major inertia had always been an accurate description for this area of my life. I am not a gym person and have fully accepted that I never will be. Unless I’m committed to a specific time and place, I’m not showing up. With that in mind, I tried a bunch of barre studios in my area to figure out something that worked. Why barre? 1) I did it in San Francisco and thought the workout was both fun and directly applicable to the type strength and coordination required for ballet (something I also do regularly). 2) All the studios charge you an extra fee if you sign up for a class and don’t attend. Mean? Kind of. Motivating? Absolutely. I ended up committing (surprise, surprise) to a membership at the studio that is a) closes to my apartment, and b) matches my schedule the best. If there is any lesson for me here, it’s that the best kind of workout is the one you actually do.
Overall, 2015 was a year of radical exploration through through both traveling and navigating all the traditions, expectations, and unknowns of planning a wedding and being newlyweds. It was a year of ceding control and going with the flow, especially as wonderful opportunities for travel and celebration that we never expected opened up to us. It was a year of self discovery— figuring out what I love to do with my time and what I want out of it, what traditions I want to incorporate into our home now that Adam and I are a family, and how I want to invest my time and money to get the most out of life. I’m proud of the resolutions I kept and the unexpected accomplishments that weren’t on my list but are equally important, and I’m proud what Adam and I built together. Cheers, 2015, you were a good one!