my better happier year in review

the ups, downs + all around tumult that has made 2017 a year that will not be forgotten


Discussing 2017 as a whole for me should be done over a large glass of wine, with a lot of time for some long pauses and quiet reflection, while I sigh heavily over the months past. Kidding. But I say this with such dramatic flair because, 2017 was in no way shape or form supposed to shake out the way that it did. That's life for you, and in all honesty, I couldn't be more thankful to life for doing its thing, throwing us a couple of curveballs and making some waves. 

Things we managed to tackle in 2017 include the following

  • leaving a rental in the city that we were over the moon in love with, quite suddenly after a series of robberies.

  • this was followed by moving in with Robert's mother and step-father, while we figured out our next steps. 

  • after a casual conversation about "wouldn't it be funny if we put in an offer on the house next door to your dad?" we put in an offer on the house next door to Robert's dad (not next door to where we were living with his other set of parents, confusing I know).

  • if you read this blog then you already know, we got the house! this included navigating a series of shady back and forth dealings with our house closing process. that was weird and not fun. 

  • while still living with Robert's mom and step-dad, the house purchase was followed by a massively rewarding / frustrating / invigorating / sometimes insane / but always meticulous renovation project that consumed every available moment of Robert, mine and his father's summer + fall (a project that is still going on, for the foreseeable future, so I guess you could stay it's still consuming everyone's lives, but we love it!)

  • now because I like to keep things interesting, this was then followed by a decision that took me a long time to make, but also maybe not time at all- I left the stability of my full time job to be a freelance photographer, officially.


Leaving my job was timed perfectly in sync with all of this change, and not necessarily on purpose. That timing was perfect to the point that my last day of work was the day before we moved everything that had been sitting in our storage unit for six months, and ourselves, into our soon-to-be fully livable house. Our bathtub may have still been sitting in our bedroom, but we were beyond ready to get in there as it quickly became exactly what we wanted it to be. I also got a tattoo somewhere in the middle, oh and cut all my hair off!

When you're in the same work routine for five years, and that routine has felt really off roughly half of that time, it's nearly impossible to not make a change without losing your sanity. Deciding to make the jump when I did probably seems a little crazy, I know this because many people told me so, but it was just one of those things. When you know it's time, it's time. I don't think I felt ready to discuss all of the change as it was happening, or think about it too hard. Rather than that, I plunged head first into a completely new routine, a new home, a new way of working, a new everything pretty much.

You'd think that after I was burning the candle at both ends for the past five years, freelancing on top of a full time job, on top of maintaining a blog, on top of putting myself out there in that very modern side-hustle till you drop kind of way, having the time to focus on what I love doing should feel breezy, right? The space I've been creating at Better Happier was so used to getting 1/10th of my attention and energy, as I crammed our content into evenings and parts of weekends, that having the time to focus on it leaned much more toward awkward feeling, than easy breezy. Perhaps because the purchase of our home was sudden and unexpected (which I've since found out is a lot more common than I realized), sharing the renovation process here is really what took the blog to a very different place. This space slowly has felt so much more in sync with actual goings-on, and with a let's try this and see how it goes attitude, I'm so happy we've been sharing more of home and life here. 


Things I got over this year.

-My fear of living in the suburbs. Actually to be honest, it was more a fear of living in New Jersey. I got over my fear of living in New Jersey. 

-My fear of handing in a two weeks notice letter.

-My self consciousness and second guessing about putting myself / ourselves out there in the space that is Better Happier.

-My fear of not being relevant or being "demoted" in a sense if we didn't have a city address. Pffffffft. i can't pfft that one enough.

-My fear of thinking I'd want to stick my head in the oven if I went freelance and had too much time on my hands at home (opposite happened, I don't know how I got anything done before)

My resolutions for 2018.

-carve out this space into exactly what I want it to be.
-Throw more parties.

-have more date nights.
-Drink more water.

- okay okay. attempt Whole30 without the weekly wine this time. I make no promises though. 

-send more letters + thank you notes. 

-print more photos and hang them up where we will actually see them frequently.

-Tell our families how much we appreciate them more often. 


It's been four months since all of the change coincided, and between our sudden move, house renovation, leaving my job and every other insignificant detail in between, we have never felt more like a team, and our relationship never stronger. I attribute most of that to the gutting a house together part. If you want to put your marriage to the test, you know just for fun, I highly recommend a renovation project. I can no longer count the number of times one of us either said "holy shit we bought a house on a whim and renovated it!" or "holy shit I actually left my job!", the sentences that truly defined our year.  We've had the same conversation a handful of times, it always starts with how grateful we are that a sudden and vast amount of uncertainty about our life decisions led us to a unexpectedly stable situation, a home we love and made our own, and gave us both the guts to take a chance on me sustaining myself in a very different way than I had been. My favorite thing that Robert kept saying to me during this time, and to himself I'm sure was "one thing at a time", mainly because that mantra epically failed when we did a bunch of big life things simultaneously. Classic. Because of that, I think we both have felt a real need to just get through 2017, and close the chapter on a year that was full of a lot of tumult, surprise, growth, and compromise. 

The demarcation of the calendar year feels celebratory for a lot of reasons. It's why we make resolutions, why we feebly attempt to go to the gym more often, drink more water, practice better self-care, do Whole30 without drinking wine this time (I will literally never hear the end of that one, or get the piercing eyes of judgement out of my mind when I told strict Whole30'ers that's how I did it, sorry guys.) We all have that very real urge to start anew and better ourselves, or maybe just to figure it all out with the previous year's freshly found clarity, at least I know I always do.

Our Christmas card this year probably says it better than this longwinded essay of mine, "Here's to the good that found you, and the great that awaits". It's a line that when I read it, I realized it quite simply summed up these past months perfectly. So much good found us, and we know a lot of great awaits. This is the first year in a really long time where I'm not feeling anxious as I look to 2018, trying to figure out how I'm going to claw my way towards the next step of what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm feeling absolutely no need to claw my way through a new year this time around. I've never been happier, or felt more grateful, and I think that is worth cheers-ing to.  

Happy New Year.