Bringing 2016 to a Close

Another year of our lives comes to an end tonight and as I reminisce about 2016 I feel nothing but thankful. 

For me this was a major growing year. I moved back to California with so much appreciation for the place that I’m from and the people I left behind only 9 months prior. I had the wonderful opportunity to move back in with my mom temporarily. After those 9 months of drastic change it was nice to come back to what I had been used to and get one more chance to feel like less of an adult. It was also when I realized that it was time to move on to the next chapter of my life since all of my friends were busy working towards their futures and we could no longer spend time together whenever we felt like it. Even though I knew that it was time for another big change, I almost had a harder time moving only two hours away just because I knew that this was much more permanent. 

Blake and I have celebrated our first wedding anniversary, bought our first home and to finish off the year we even bought a new car. To say that I’m grateful would be an understatement. 

However, this year has also brought many struggles. I had personal feelings of overwhelming anger towards someone I  care about which caused major anxiety and discomfort in my life. At the time I didn’t think that my feelings could ever change but time has a funny way of fixing things. I’m at peace because I was able to overcome those feelings. It’s never worth it to hold a grudge against someone you care about because ultimately you’re only hurting yourself. That’s one of many valuable lessons I’ve learned this year. 

Another difficult occurrence of this year happened just last week when my papa passed away on Christmas Day. It was early in the morning and we rushed over to the hospital because we had heard that he might not make it through the day. I took a moment to appreciate the beauty of such a sad place on what was supposed to be a happy day. I felt so thankful for the nurses and doctors who gave up their Christmas to help those who needed it. I felt humbled when I saw patients battling for their health. Most of all I felt like there was no place I would rather be than in that hospital room by my papas side. 

Death is never a happy thing, even when someone is in pain it’s difficult to be happy that their pain is gone when a person you love no longer exists in the world. But this was a special day. Even though I had to say goodbye to Papa this Christmas I know that it happened exactly as it was supposed to. The people who loved him were all there and he went from being non responsive to telling us all that he loved us. After a long morning in the hospital I left, but not before I could give him a kiss on the forehead and tell him I loved him three more times. 

He wanted to be alone and so we went on with our Christmas plans. About 30 minutes into our celebration at my aunt and uncles house, my uncle got the call. Papa left the body that was causing him so much pain and his beautiful soul went to heaven. I’m sure he was watching over us as we cried and hugged and comforted one another and carried on with our night with tears in our eyes. I was so happy to be with everyone and not back in San Diego and I truly feel that papa wanted it that way for all of our sakes. Because that just who he was, always looking after us. 

He’s the third grandparent I’ve lost and it never gets easier but I know that he is up there with my nana and poppy watching over me. And now death seems a little less scary since I know that whenever my time is up, I’ll have another person waiting for me on the other side. 

My hope for 2017 is that I can be more like him in all of the ways that made him so admirable to everyone he knew. I want to be able to push forward and make each year better than the last. 

So cheers to new beginnings, happiness, health and family. I hope everyone has a very fun and safe night bringing in the new year. Let’s make it a great one!

7 tips to lift your Christmas spirit!

December is here, do you feel the cheer? Well if you don’t then I have a few suggestions to get you into the same spirit of Christmas that you had as a kid!

  1. DECK THE HALLS

The most obvious way to get ready for Christmas is to decorate your home. Since it’s officially December now, you can decorate without getting grief from the people who get mad when they see Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. This year I decorated super early for my own reasons, but normally I try to decorate the day before Thanksgiving because I like to have a decorated home for both holidays. Also, don’t forget the candles! Cinnamon apple, nordic pine, and peppermint bark are just a few examples of the festive scents you can choose from.

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2. CRANK THE CHRISTMAS TUNES

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”

If you have a bluetooth speaker that connects to your phone I suggest downloading the Pandora app and listening to the Christmas station, there are minimal adds and it plays all of the great classics. If you have a smart TV or one that allows you to watch youtube, you can search christmas playlists. Some even play footage of a fireplace to give you that extra Christmas-ey feel. A real fireplace is always better but for those who live in an apartment like I do, it’s a decent alternative.

3. WATCH YOUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIE

My personal favorite is Elf, I was 11 years old when I saw this movie in theaters and knew instantly that it would be a classic. It honestly may be my favorite movie of all time, I even have a “smiling is my favorite” T-shirt that I found in the boys clothing section of target.. yeah, I might like Elf a little too much. If you’re also an Elf lover then you should know that it will be on ABC family this Friday at 9:30 pm!… can you tell I’m excited? ABC family will also be playing other Christmas classics every day this month until the big day and Netflix has some good options too if you want to skip the commercials.

4. BAKE COOKIES

Get some cute cookie cutters from Target and plan a cookie baking party! My aunt Jill host’s a holiday cookie party at her house every year and it is always so fun. It’s a great way to get all of the ladies in the family together and with each person making their own type of cookie or dessert, we always end up leaving with a huge tupperware full of different treats. If you have kids in your family it would be fun to bake cookies and then decorate them with frosting and sprinkles, it’s sure to be a big mess, but fun nonetheless . If you’re on a diet and would rather not eat cookies, you can still make them but put them in cute little packages to give away as little gifts for neighbors or coworkers.

5. GET TO GIFTING

As much as I like receiving gifts, I enjoy giving them even more! This is probably because I love shopping so much but it’s also because I like to find gifts based on each individual’s personality.  I also love wrapping gifts, I know some people hate it but wrapping gifts is what makes giving them so special. I love making gifts look as cute as possible with pretty wrapping paper and big bows. Once you get all those gifts under you tree it will really start to feel like Christmas.

6. LOOK AT THE LIGHTS

Once everyone gets the lights up on their homes, take a drive around town with family or friends to checkout the best spots near your home. Here is a guide to finding the best lights in the LA area. One of the places on the guide is the Balian house in Pasadena, the home of a famous ice cream manufacturer is covered in over 10,000 lights every year along with other fun holiday decorations. My best friend and I have gone to check out their lights for the past two years and it’s just as awesome every time.

7. TAKE A SROLL ON MAIN STREET

Every big city has a main street, sometimes it’s even called main street. If you’re not sure which street it is, just look for the one that’s covered in lights and wreaths. If your hometown has a Christmas parade, then get all cozy in your winter gear and head out for some Christmas spirit. If your city doesn’t have a parade, then just head to main street with friends or family to grab a peppermint mocha or hot chocolate from the local coffee shop. Maybe bring cards to play a game or just relax and talk about your plans for Christmas and New years.

I could quote Elf all day long but I’ll just leave you with this.

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“BYE BUDDY! HOPE YOU FIND YOUR DAD!” (sorry I couldn’t help myself)