We had some bad years. Primarily they started with my mom getting sick and ending with me getting sick. 2013 started to turn things around, but last year was good. Really, really good.
Sure, we are still struggling out of a financial hole from those dark years, but whatever. Money is money. If I have learned anything this decade, the most important thing is the ones you love, then the experiences you have on the journey. No collection of 365 days can be perfect, nor would I even want them to be.
But 2014 was pretty damn awesome. I am so incredibly thankful.
Here are my highlights.
Alt Summit in Salt Lake City, January
Gabby and the Alt crew put on a creative design summit every year and I love how they are expanding it across the country for mini-conferences and classes. I was honored to speak this year, but also – frankly, Alt is always fun because you get to see all the latest styles in action. You would think a gathering of experts would be intimidating, but I have always found everyone to be overwhelmingly nice. In fact, this year I met mom and daughter bloggers (Si from Bountiful Kitchen and Corrinee from Mint Arrow) who I now consider good friends. Not to mention all the “old” friends I was able to reconnect with.
BFFs Meetup in Dallas, February
There are three ladies I have been friends with since I was pregnant with Dex. We met online on a Babycenter message board, before the explosion of blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Over a decade later, Anne, Christina and Teresa are like family. We share the big and little things about our days – and everything in between. Anne’s sister arranged a special Dallas trip for just the two of them to celebrate Anne’s birthday, but neglected to tell her that she also invited the three of us to come in as well. Best surprise party ever.
I am blessed with many close friends and Monika is like a sister to me. She and her husband Jonathan surprised us all by getting married after only knowing each other for 23 days, but a year later, they finally threw a wedding party to celebrate the occasion. I know Monika’s immediate family very well, but it was wonderful to get to know the ones I always hear about but never knew. Running around the Fort Collins late night bar scene with her oldest friends was pretty fun too.
Two Days In Seattle, March
The Seattle Tourism board reached out to me about their campaign, Two Days In Seattle, where they bring in bloggers of all kinds to experience Seattle and document the town on various social networks, which gets rolled up into their site. I thought it was a smart, authentic, tech-savvy campaign but also – we just plain ole love Seattle. Not only were we able to see about 10 of my favorite people (local Seattle bloggers) but we explored things both new and familiar in a really fun city. Here is my Flickr set of photos from the weekend.
Spring Break in LA, March/April
The impetus for the trip was my favorite musician, Neil Finn. He put out a new album and was only hitting about 8 dates in the US. Lucky for us, our good friends Michelle and Pierce live in LA and also like Neil Finn, so a trip to California ensued! We went to all the sights, and Dex saw Disneyland for the first time in his life.
Race Track Driving with Continental Tires, April
Even though I rarely drive anymore (since I work from home), I was thrilled when Continental Tires invited me out to check out their racetrack in Uvalde, Texas. And I mean REALLY check it out, because apparently I am fearless while wearing a helmet in the car. I also got to see some more wonderful blog friends, and visit San Antonio’s famous riverwalk area, which honestly, I had no idea was that awesome.
PBS Annual Meeting, May
Every year PBS gathers people from all the local stations, the people who work on shows, media and their bloggers in to talk about what happened in the past year and show off new shows for the next year. I have been to three Annual Meetings so far, and I love how they are mix of fun (because TV is fun) and smart (because PBS is smart). In particular, we get a preview of PBS KIDS shows – this year was Odd Squad, which, if you haven’t checked out, is hilarious. Also. I MET COOKIE MONSTER. ‘Nuff said.
X-Games Austin with Lumia, June
I am not a sporty person (AT ALL) but I do like taking photos of such things, which is why Lumia invited me along to check out the X-Games in Austin. Thus started my relationship with Windows Phone, and I did end up switching from iPhone (GASP). In Austin, we got to watch not only the sports, but also the music, including Kanye West – who I decided I disliked as much live as I did online. But who cares right? Events like these are all about the experience and making friends. Like Jason, Felicia and Gina.
Firefly Music Festival in Delaware, June
So Jason calls me pretty much the day I got home from Austin; they had an opening for Firefly in Delaware. Could I scramble and come with them? Could I bring a friend? UM YES YES YES. Firefly was not only a highlight of the year, it was a highlight of my life. Again, meeting new people like Karen, Pete, Ali, Danny. But dudes! Monika and I saw FOO FIGHTERS at a huge festival, AFTER seeing like 50 other bands and GLAMPING. Damn. That was fun.
Further With Ford in Detroit, June
I got home from Firefly to fly back out about 12 hours later for the Further With Ford Conference in Detroit. This annual event looks at design trends not only in car technology but, basically – trends in general. I had to shift gears quickly because I had been running around a dirt field for 4 days and plopped right into business casual attire and big ideas. My good friend Shannon was there, so she helped me with the transition and then was scared to death as I applied what I learned in Uvalde to the Ford test track. A huge highlight of Further was meeting game designer Jane McGonigal. My former company focused on health education games, so when she posed for a selfie with me: BOOM.
KTCL’s Big Gig, July
It’s no secret that I love our local indie radio station, Channel 93.3. I especially love their annual Big Gig because they always have great bands, in the heat of the summer. This year I photographed it too, so heck yeah PANIC AT THE DISCO.
Summer Tubing at Snow Mountain Ranch, August
We love vacationing with our best friends, but our timing hasn’t worked out in a while. Thanks to YMCA of the Rockies for having us all up to check out their new tubing hill – where, for reals, you fly down super fast while cool mist sprays up at you, then ride the magic carpet right up to do it all over again. I love that our mini-friend-family got to do all these fun things together in our home state of Colorado.
Riot Fest Denver, September
Second year in Denver and only in three cities globally, Riot Fest is a premiere rock festival. It is basically, well, a riot. Loud music for three days straight and I got to photograph it all. Weezer, Flaming Lips, Social Distortion, Descendents, Rise Against, Violent Femmes, you name it. I also got to watch local friends like My Body Sings Electric, Wiredogs, The Epilogues and In The Whale perform – showing everyone how much the Denver music scene kicks ass. I already have the third weekend in September 2015 marked out as “probable Riot Fest” because this family is going nowhere else.
ROAR Retreat in Costa Rica, September
My clients/friends Andrea and Nadia had been planning this social media conference all year and I got to help. Then I got to attend, and speak. In COSTA RICA. Another major highlight of my life here. All the women in attendance were hugely inspirational, smart and FUN. We learned about blogging techniques, writing, and all those things you talk about in the hallways of conferences with people you really respect. Oh yeah. Then I rode a 600+ foot tall zipline.
ONE Campaign’s AYA Summit in DC, October
Talk about an honor. I joined ONE and 80 other bloggers in DC to hear about global issues from the top people in every field you can imagine. Mindblowing. Overwhelming. The information I processed in these few days may be the most important things I learned all year. I will continue to speak about ONE Girls and Women; the organization is now ingrained in me.
Quantum of The Seas Ship Launch from New Jersey, November
Nadia from Childmode could not attend the press trip from Royal Caribbean‘s new cruise ship, and asked me to take her place. I am still writing about all the things this thing can do! I had never been on a cruise (ever) and I really don’t know how any other ships will even compare in the future. Thanks for the fun, Nadia!
Not So Silent Night, December
Again with the KTCL! This time it was their annual NSSN concert at 1st Bank Center, where the winner of last year’s Hometown For The Holiday contest (Modern Suspects) opened for bands like Vance Joy, Fitz & The Tantrums and Cage The Elephant. Monika met me there, as well as lots of other concert buddies, and this show feels like the night cap on a really awesome year. But perhaps that is because I had *a lot* to drink that night.
I am so lucky. I am so grateful. On top of an amazing family, great friends, good health (we are talking comparatively, right?) – I traveled so much this year, listened to great music, met wonderful new people.
Thank you to everyone who helped me do all these incredible things this year.
More importantly, thank you for bothering to even read all that.
When you have bad times, the brighter days seem that much more special and this year certainly has been just that. Really really special.