The Year of Love, Loss, and Change

As I look back at 2016 it brings up so many emotions.  This year was a year of love, loss, and change.  2016 was by far the best year of my life yet the scariest with more change than I could have imagined.  It was a year of highs and lows and went something along the lines of this…began with my bachelorette party (high) followed by not completing a half marathon I had set out to accomplish (low) followed by our wedding (high) and so on and so forth.

They say that your first year of marriage is the toughest and if that’s the case then I think we’re set for the long haul.  A VERY quick recap of 2016…got married, Mike’s grandfather passed away, moved (within CA), moved again (to Arizona), my step-fatherpassed away, got a new job, bought a house (which meant moving yet again), adopted a puppy…goodness I’m pooped! Getting married, moving to a new state away from all your family and friends, and purchasing a home are more than enough changes and decisions for one year.  Throw in 5 or 6 other weddings, losing two very special people in our lives, getting a new job, and a puppy and I’d say our year was maxed out.

So much change within 9 months really takes a toll on your body and your mind! There’s been moments that I thought I was literally losing my mind, which obviously wasn’t the case.  My mental focus was not nearly as strong this year and I didn’t accomplish some of my goals I had set out to accomplish but overall it was a very successful and incredibly memorable year.  We never could have imagined what 2016 had in store for us but it definitely made our relationship even stronger and proved that we can handle anything life throws at us.  As awesome as 2016 was I am looking forward to a hopefully mellow 2017 which will allow me to focus more time on my health both physically and mentally.  I’m ready to enjoy the simplicity of life and embrace moments of doing nothing.

“As we come to the end of another year, don’t look back in regret or anger or disappointment. Instead, take the time to give yourself credit for all you’ve accomplished and use the rest to motivate you, to help you grow, to help you strive forward.” -Devon Yanko

As we close out the last few days of 2016 I have a mixture of emotions.  I don’t want this year to end because it was so good to me yet I’m hopeful that 2017 will bring as much joy and less loss.  This year more than ever I’m reminded that everything happens for a reason and life always ends up the way it’s meant to.  Embrace change yet enjoy the stillness.

Happy Almost New Year!

Arizona Living Part 1

Before I start I want to give a quick shout out to my amazing friends who sent me off with a stack of the sweetest little cards to open while living in Arizona.  So thoughtful and I’ll cherish these little pieces of paper forever.  I am still continuing to open them slowly and love each and every one.  THANK YOU ladies, you’re the best and I miss you SO much!!

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As much as I do miss my family and friends, I have to say…I love Arizona!! Between the delicious restaurants, gorgeous scenery, abundance of lakes, and running trails galore we are definitely not bored and are soaking up all that Arizona has to offer.  The heat has been an adjustment but you just figure out ways to stay cool and wake up early to get outdoor activities out of the way.  We experienced our first haboob aka dust storm and quite a few thunderstorms which are pretty cool.  I could live without the dust storms but monsoons are pretty rad.  The sky is always different and even though the leaves don’t change, you can definitely feel the change in weather.

We are currently living in Scottsdale at a friend’s rental condo until we can buy a home in Gilbert which we are praying will happen by the end of the year.  Scottsdale is beautiful and has so much to offer but it’s a little fancy for us and out of our price range.  While we are here we’re enjoying the food and the view!  One of the best places to have cocktails and watch the sunset is Isabella’s Kitchen.  The food isn’t anything special but the view makes up for it and the Mexican Mule is perfectly thirst quenching. It’s a place you have drinks at after work then head home or elsewhere for dinner.

Another gem in Grayhawk (our community) is The Morning Joint aka Mojo’s! We typically have breakfast here at least once a week and it is super yummy.  Small little breakfast spot at the golf course that offers healthy options and one of the best iced coffees around.  Mike and I split a breakfast burrito and just enjoy the cool morning weather.  It’s close enough to walk to although I haven’t talked Mike into that just yet 😉  He’s warming up to it.  If you are in the area you must go to Mojo’s for breakfast!

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A few of our other favorite spots here in Grayhawk are The Living Room and Kale & Clover. The Living Room has an awesome happy hour and lunch specials and a super cool open air environment.  It was the very first place we went to when we arrived in Scottsdale and we’ve been a few times since then.  Kale & Clover has so many great healthy options and are allergy friendly.   The buffalo cauliflower is surprisingly good (even Mike liked it) and the Southwest Quinoa bowl has so much flavor and is super filling.  I couldn’t even finish it all.

That’s just a little sneak peek into our life here in Arizona.  I’ll be back soon with a few more updates and I promise I’ll get back to health & fitness posts! Don’t worry, I’m still running and eating healthy…most of the time 🙂

Everything Happens for a Reason

We are officially Arizona residents!  In my previous post I mentioned that Mike and I were moving to Arizona.  Well we made the move last Friday!  We’ve been here for exactly 7 days and so far we love it!! Yes it’s hot but surprisingly more bearable than we expected.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, even the bad stuff.  Had I not moved to Philly 4 years ago on a whim I would have never quit my job at Hill Brothers.  Had I not quit my job at Hill Brothers then I would never got the job at Shepard Bros.  Had I not worked for Shepard Bros. I would have never met Mike.  So there you have it, life has a way of working out and everything happens for a reason.

There’s a reason for my quick side track and how it relates to our move.  If you read Year of Love you know that this summer was crazy.  During the craziness I mentioned that we moved to Mike’s grandfather’s house (I’ll call this the YL house).  I was sad to leave our little apartment that I named our Love Nest the day we moved in.  It was 700 sq ft of perfectness in my opinion but I knew this was a move that Mike wanted to make and it had potential to be a good opportunity for us.  We planned on being in the YL house for about a year and then find a more permanent place to live.  Unfortunately a few weeks before we moved into the YL house Mike’s grandfather sadly passed away.  This meant that the house was going to be sold.  We asked our apartment managers if we could stay at our Love Nest but they had already rented it out.  I was sad, frustrated, and just overall really bummed about the whole situation.  I was sad that his grandfather passed away and frustrated that now we had to move everything into a different house that we knew we couldn’t stay at for very long.  Poor Mike spent 12 hours a day cleaning the house and landscaping so that it could be livable for us (Gpa had cats and I’m allergic).  So this is where the “everything happens for a reason” comes into play.  Had we not moved into the YL house we would have never been forced to look for a new place to live (I wanted to stay at the Love Nest for at least another year if not more).  Had we not been forced to look for a new place to live we would have never started looking at more affordable housing options (out-of-state).  Had we not started considering AZ Mike would have never discussed it with his boss.  Well here we are, 5 months into our marriage, 2 moves later, and living in a completely new state!!

Life often doesn’t go as you plan but I truly believe that God has a greater plan for us than we could plan for ourselves.  I didn’t plan for our 1st five months of marriage to be filled with soooo many changes but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  We are now living in Scottsdale temporarily (yes we have to move AGAIN) with plans of buying in Gilbert within the next few months.  Mike’s boss has graciously offered us his condo in Scottsdale until we can get our own place.  We have enjoyed every minute of our new life and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

I’ll post more pictures and more detail about our move next time but for now I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the gorgeous Arizona sky 🙂

Year of Love

Have you ever had so much to do that you don’t know where to start and end up doing none of it? Well that’s been me except with so much to write about and share that I ended up not posting at all.  I guess the best place to start is at the beginning…

As you know, Mike and I got married on March 5th and went on a wonderful honeymoon in Maui. Then we came home to a whirlwind of events and changes.  Let’s just say that between May and June I was home for a total of two weekends out of the eight and April had it’s share of bridal showers and weddings as well.  I am not complaining, it was all FUN and exciting but boy was it exhausting.  With so many weddings this year I decided to name 2016 the Year of Love.

In the middle of the love fest we found out we were moving into Mike’s grandfathers house which we needed to clean top to bottom and somehow move all of his furniture so that we could move ours in.  The weekend that we needed to be out of our apartment I was in Vegas for a bachelorette party so poor Mike had to move most of it by himself with the help of a friend (thank you John!).  So between work, packing, cleaning, and attending parties galore I couldn’t wait for July when I thought I’d have a moment to breath.  Little did I know that a week or so after moving into the new house we’d make the decision to move out of state!

That’s right, we’re moving to Arizona!! A lot of reasons went into our decision to move to Arizona but basically it comes down to a cheaper cost of living and a good career opportunity for Mike.  We move August 12th and couldn’t be more excited.  As exciting as it is, it has been a little stressful and has consumed much of our brain power.  I will share more about Arizona next time 🙂

Needless to say, the 1st five months of our marriage have been crazy! They’ve also been super fun and and we’ve been able to spend so much time with our friends creating countless memories and laughter galore.  I know one day when we’re stuck at home with kids (not anytime soon) we’ll look back on the past few months and wish we could relive the bachelor/bachelorette parties, weddings, and birthday parties.  You’re only young once so you gotta live it up, right?! 😉

Here’s a few special moments from a few of our awesome weekends away.

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Honeymoon Maui Style

I’m back! After a two month hiatus to take care of life I’m so glad to say hello again! I’ve been married now for 3 months and boy has life been crazy!! We got married and jumped into a whirlwind of events and changes.  Before I get to that I wanted to share our AMAZING honeymoon with you.  We were lucky enough to go to Maui for 6 days and it was absolutely perfect. 

We flew out bright and early the day after our wedding via Hawaiian Airlines (highly recommend) and got to our hotel in Wailea in the afternoon.  We stayed at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa who so kindly greeted us with a bottle of champagne and chocolates when we arrived.  We explored the surrounding hotels that night and had fun in the warm water.

Monday we went ziplining which was sooo much fun!!  We did the Haleakala zipline tour through Skyline Eco Adventures.  It was a fairly short but a fun five lines and made me eager to go on a longer tour next time.  This was probably one of my favorite moments of the week because it was so different from anything I’d done before and honestly so much fun.

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The rest of the week was filled with DELICIOUS food, drinks, amazing views, swimming, and enjoying our time together.  One of the nights we attended the luau at our hotel put on by Te Au Moana and it was amazing.  I had always heard, “luau’s are a waste of money” and I couldn’t agree less.  This luau not only had great food but was very entertaining, had gorgeous sunset views, and just overall an outstanding experience.  I would definitely go back.   To me it captured the essence of Hawaii and reminded me how lucky we were to be on such a beautiful island.

Leaving Maui was tough and we cannot wait to go back.  Everyone was so nice and welcoming, the food was outstanding, the views unbeatable, and the stress free relaxed vibe was exactly what we needed.  It was the perfect.

Oh and we got tattoos on the last day of our wedding date 🙂

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Aloha.

You Can Call Me Mrs. Cook

Happy Sunday, I have so much to fill you in on!! First and most importantly…I’m married!!! Mike and I took the plunge on March 5th and it was by far the best day of my life.  To be able to share our love for each other in front of our closest friends and family was such an amazing experience.  Nerve racking, yes, but nevertheless amazing.  The moment of walking down the aisle seeing my teary eyed husband will always be one of my favorite moments.  It was a moment of genuine true love.  The whole night was filled with love, joy, and beauty.  My love and admiration for Mike grew even larger that night.  I am so happy to call him my husband.

When I started this blog the 3 major things happening in my life were a 10K and half-marathon that I was training for and planning my wedding.  Two of the 3 items I successfully accomplished.  The 10K and wedding went off without a hitch.  The half-marathon on the other hand not so much.  I didn’t end up running it.  In my previous post I discussed some of my struggles and at the end of the day decided it was a better idea not to run; my body and mind weren’t ready.  I was bummed of course but I tried not to beat myself up about it too much.  I’ve done it before and I can do it again when I’m ready, not when I’m trying to plan a wedding and prove something to myself.  And to be honest, if I don’t end up signing up for another race I am completely ok with that.  I’ll always run, not the furthest and definitely not the fastest, but I will never give it up.  I am a runner and I don’t need to finish 13.1 miles to prove that to myself or anyone else.  I run for the joy of it and I need to remind myself of that every once in awhile.

Planning a wedding was a lot more time consuming and exhausting than I had expected but in the end totally worth it.  Here’s a few pics from our special day.  Enjoy!

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Photography: Christine Bradshaw @cbradshawphoto

Hair & Makeup: Maegan @makeupbymaegan

Flowers: Sherry Hagen

Dress: Love Marley Wren Dress by Watters

Venue: The French Estate, Orange, CA