It was a pretty good year…

        I’m not so sure why I find it necessary to write and blog my year-in-review but after beginning the tradition last year, when I was searching my memory banks very hard for anything precious and good that had happened I realized just how gratifying this small cognitive act can be.   Now that I am over thirty the years really do seem to be just flying right by.  This coming year in February, I will be thirty-four years old; that is the same age my lover was when she met me six and a half years ago.  It is crazy amazing to see how much I have grown and interesting to see what kind of woman I am today, these years that fly by so quickly can shape us, just as the river waters shape the land.
        2012 really brought things together for my love and I, both personally, as a couple and as professionals.   In hindsight, I realize that without surviving the devastating year before perhaps things would not have been in place for things to be so right, right now.  Due to the overall sadness of the entire year, last year I had zero expectations of the coming year.   I was a drained and empty vessel, or at least I thought I was but I was feeling everything, raw, real and ready to begin again.
        January was still very difficult!  There were some terrible things going down in my job that left me angry and hurt and I was about to have to contend with Carrie’s first birthday since she died in April, but I strapped my boots on, took a deep breath and found ways to solve the problem.  Reached out to my jobs competitor and got an interview.   It is so funny how scary stuff happens with when you are the most raw, but it builds character, or I know it built mine!
        On February 1st I turned thirty-three and had a good-morning breakfast with my other mama (Carrie’s mum.)  It was the best time… I sashayed into work with a pink boa and was very happily celebrated by a few good co-workers. IMG_0147  Valentines was most perfect… hand picked flowers delivered to work by 030my beloved with lunch on the roof of a parking garage with heart-shaped cookies and love.  I interviewed with the new company and definitely got the job but it would not start for some time. Though my relationship was still very strained with my co-workers and my attempts for growth were stalled, I made clear choices and really felt I grew a lot in that.  This year I also spent my mother’s birthday with her… we enjoyed a lovely brunch and a good old-fashioned nature hike… a little to her dismay!
        March found my beloved turning 40 years old and growing through her very own professional issues.  She also took matters into her own hands to find a real solution to her unhappiness.   There will be more on this later though…   We also fostered two kittens in March, sweet little Pip and darling calico Charlotte.  My coworker had received them fromIMG_0480 her old place of work and when they came to us; their eyes were barely open, possibly one and a half to two weeks old.  Because my coworker was dealing with her own medical issue046s she could not provide the care they needed so I was more than happy to scoop ‘em up.  Early March brought a few romantic walks in my favorite park with my love.  This year, the flowers came so quickly, with the first forsythia actually blooming in late February… cherry blossoms and my bleeding hearts were abundant this year.   Lover also out-did herself with food…
        April came by so fast.  It brought the first anniversary of Carrie’s passing and then unexpectedly, the passing of our little foster kitten, Pip.   However, with sadness comes joy and my very good friend Lesley had her third child, a little baby girl and I became an unofficial auntie (Tia Pie, actually.)082  It was also my first attempt at doing a newborn session, which, my goodness was very delightful!  If I could photograph babies and baby bumps, I would be a very happy woman.  Still on the search for happiness, Jennifer landed a job interview in Massachusetts.  It was for a dream position back in a state that brought us both much happiness.   My own job interview came to fruition but because there was a possibility of moving further away, I declined the position and stayed with the company.  I got myself a well-deserved raise and buckled down in the hopes of getting out.
        May came, but not soon enough for both of us.  We celebrated six years of real, amazing love.  On a side note, I am so very lucky to be in love with and loved by my very best friend.  She truly was the right gi009rl and we found each other at the right time.  For all those who do not believe… it can happen! Pictured left is the diner 010we met at on that beautiful, wonderful day.  May also found us celebrating my little sister Kelly’s birthday with her. For her birthday we went APE and did some zip lining and climbing in the trees!  Later that week we also took her out and enjoyed a scrumptious dinner and to-die-for desert.   I adore this child.. so much!   On May 10, Jennifer flew out for her first interview in Massachusetts.  It was a flight up and back and it went amazingly, twas a little tease of happiness when she realized that the hospital and area were exactly what we were looking for.   By the end of May, she had been invited back for a second, longer interview.
        Jennifer flew to Massachusetts again on June 3rd.   Not only was she going to have her final interview but she was going to look into housing as well.  As luck would have it, she was able to look at several different homes: some terrible, some amazing and then the very last one, perfect in every way.  014 My friends were all in awe of the fact that I would trust her judgment to find us a place to live.  I did though, trusted her with all of my whole heart and per usual she delivered everything lovely and good… but I will go into that a little later.   We ended the month of June with my Carrie’s little brothers wedding.  It was the highlight of the year, I enjoyed myself very much, great to be there and Matthew, well, he has done so well for himself and I am very proud.  I know his sister would have been too.  Actually, I lied… we ended the month doing what lover and I do  best… rescuing animals.  Norman was a way cool cat whom we fell madly in love with.  If we hadn’t decided to keep Charlotte (foster) we would have kept this big mush of a cat who adopted us so quickly.  Jennifer used her connections and found a rescue that would take him, so we packed him up and gave him a home.
        July… wow…blink of an eye…. Packing and getting everything all squared away went very quickly. c Oh! Did I fail to mention she got the job! Yes, the secret was out — we were moving back to Massachusetts!   Before I left I had a bit of unfinished business with a very 017special and childhood friend.  We reunited after oh fifteen years… I am very grateful to have this amazing lady back in my life!  We both celebrated our last day at our jobs on Friday, July 13th.     My office mates made it an all day affair and provided breakfast and lunch.  A few presents and cards but not one tear, for I was ready to move on.  We picked up the Penske truck and trailer that evening and then packed it full.  We had goodbye guests who brought pizza and beer over and then bright and early on the morning of the 14th we were up and out the door… forever.   My sweet sister Kelly came along for the ride.  She and I transported all the kitties while Jennifer drove the truck with the dogs. 019  It was a very long day and my nerves and excitement were all over the place.  I could not wait to see our new home!  It was amazing, everything I could have ever dreamed.  Set up in the mountains of Western Massachusetts with four acres of land, trees… it was also a very big (and welcome) culture shock.  We settled in quickly and enjoyed a three-week vacation with each other and our new surroundings.  It was wonderful, so wonderful that I cannot even begin to supply all the details.
        Jennifer started work on August 1st while I started exploring and looking for a job.  It is scary being unemployed but I kept my wits about me and quickly landed three interviews and did so well that I received three offers, too.  I chose to work for a Temp Agency based out of Leominster who was hiring an HR Assistant for a hospital in Gardner, Massachusetts.   I chose it because the gal who interviewed me was amazing and seemed like she would be a knowledgeable mentor and well, overall cool girl du jour.  I was very right in that and quickly picked up what I needed to do to support their small team.  We also went up to Maine to visit my in-laws, it’s very nice that we’re going to be so close to them. 123 We enjoyed a family barbecue with lots of delicious food and I was able to get some much needed kiddo time in with Jennifer’s great nieces, whom I just adore.  I received very bad news about my friend and former co-worker, Yulia mid-august.  After having been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in April of this year she was hospitalized for a lung infection that was devastating her system.  She was put in a medical coma and while in that coma she suffered a stroke that rendered her brain dead.   I can not even put into words how devastating this was.  When I had said goodbye to her and she was happy, had just cleared her PET scan, she was happy for me and giggled about her and her husband coming up to visit for Lover and I’s nuptials…  Yulia was a good person.  She was kind, loyal, smart, funny and sassy and really, the list could go on.  She had a beautiful heart and soul and the world is dimmer because she is gone.
The beginning of September found me mourning once again.  Yulia’s life ended on September 5th, it’s very hard to say that…  I traveled back to Virginia and stayed with my mom; attended her funeral, reconnected with my buffaloes as my friend Lesley would say and then was very anxious to get back home. It was nice to spend some time with my mom, she hooked me on the HBO series Game of Thrones and now I cannot stop reading it.  They are large books!  Once back home life was kind of just life… we were both getting into the routine of our jobs, trying to get the house set up and really exploring our new surroundings.   We ventured back up to  Maine for a weekend and enjoyed more in-law family bonding.  Actually, to touch on that.. my relationship with my in-laws really blossomed this year.  There had been some very rough starts in the beginning of our relationship, but now.. well, perhaps I’ve proved myself worthy.
October was golden, my goodness, I have never seen such beauty.  Our backyard was gorgeous as the leaves changed colours.  I have never felt so blessed in my life.   It is so beautiful! 055 October was a fun month.  We traveled back to Maine again for the Damariscotta Annual Pumpkinfest & Parade! It was so much fun, true Americana.  I’m looking forward to going again next year. October was also my final photo-shoot as a business! I’m all done doing families.  Should I ever be interested in photographing people again I think I will stick with newborns and maternity.
November slumbered in quietly, the real start of fall, I suppose.  On November third we traveled to Salem, Massachusetts to get our history on as well as attend an authentic seance.  I went in desperate hope of trying to reach my beloved Carrie.  I carried around her photographs, a pin and a book hoping that something might happen but it didn’t.  The strangest thing is that my lover seems to have been a conduit for spirits… in fact, her pup that had passed about 7 years prior visited her during the seance… not only that but the medium saw him.  It was terribly interesting but truly disappointing for me.   November is also the month that I 082participate in The Gratitude Project.  This is my fifth year participating! I’ll photograph one thing I am grateful for every day for thirty days.  I do this for many reasons: to invoke creativity, cultivate gratitude and stretch myself as a human!  I love doing it and this year I participated solely with my iPhone, which caused me to stretch a bit more.  I vow next year to photograph half of the project with my Nikon.   I realized my poor baby hasn’t gotten much love this year.  I digress though.  Mid-November we lost heat!  It was terribly fun (for the weekend) we camped out in from of the fireplace, snuggled and watched the second Twilight before seeing the finale.  It was such a phenomenal series to watch!  We spent our first Thanksgiving with the in-laws this year,  it was the quietest, most laid  back holiday.  105We showed up around noon, still in PJ’s… and immediately sat down to a grand dinner with lots of yummy fixings.   I baked two pies — they were both new to me, a pecan and a mince-meat.  The mince-meat is not my thing but I feel like the others who did like it enjoyed it.  I probably won’t make it again though.  The pecan pie was deeelish, though a little overcooked.  I now know what I need to do to make that one perfect.
Ahhh, is it really December? I cannot believe how quickly this year went, this month however has seemed very long.  The month began very joyfully with Jennifer and I joining her work in our first Run/Walk for charity.  The charity is called Safe Passage and it is an organization that helps women and children involved in domestic violence.  The event is called The Hot Chocolate Run and this year $225,000 was raised during the event.    Next year I have intentions of running the  5K instead of walking! A double plus to attending the event was that I was able to meet one of many femmes in the area.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a network of friends with whom I could enjoy time and this move has made it possible for me to have many amazing ladies very close and available, I am very excited!   After the race the month moved still, so slowly and then the next thing I knew it was time to start thinking about the Christmas Holiday.  Lover and I marathon baked for well over 24 hours for our co-workers. cookies1 cookies2 It was amazing and may I please just exclaim how much I absolutely love our big kitchen?  We each had a list of goodies to prepare and we nailed it and I think that our receivers were very pleased and happy.   We picked up our beautiful tree on December 15th at quite the bargain.  Jennifer had a $5 off coupon for Ace Hardware and it just so happened that their trees were $25.  Quite the steal for a tree that turned out to be one of the prettiest ever.   We spent the next day, a Sunday decorating the house and tree… twas an all day affair and I have the fondest memory of looking over at my love wearing the Santa hat as she strung garland.   116On December 22nd we drove up to Jennifer’s parents home to celebrate the holiday.  It was the first time in six years that all the family (minus only one) were in the same room.  It was a bit overwhelming but lovely just the same.   We came bearing great gifts for her parents and stopped and got little gifts for the little kids. That felt really good!  christmas2We drove back the next day and took our time — it was very nice to be back home.  We both worked on Christmas Eve, not too late, but for awhile and then came home and enjoyed the holiday together.  I awoke sweetly on Christmas Morning to whispers of Merry Christmas and the realization that Mother Nature bestowed the single best gift, a white Christmas.   Jennifer prepared a decadent breakfast and we delighted in giving the pets their presents.  Our Christmas was a humble one but likely left a larger mark on my heart than others that were not so humble.  I am so grateful to be back home, where we belong.    The last week of the year went by quicker than the rest of the month.  I crafted an “Everything Lovely & Good” jar which will hold all of our happy moments in the New Year.   All of the sudden it was New Years Eve and I found myself in my PJ’s next to the love of my life having a picnic in our living room and enjoying season two of Lost on her iPhone.   We kissed at 11:30 and while she dozed I finished a few more chapters in my book.   Twas a normal night without real celebration but I feel open and ready for a new start in this, the new year.
This year far surpassed any expectations I could have even dreamed of.  It was surprising, unexpected and beautiful.  I feel like I grew quite a bit and am looking forward to what this New Year has to bring.  I am wide open and willing and ready to invite beauty into my life.  I have no set expectations of the new year, no resolutions only intentions, but that, my friends is another post.
Happy New Year to all!  I wish you peace, abundance, health and love on whatever journey you are on.
Yours Truly, Amanda
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3 thoughts on “It was a pretty good year…

  1. Samantha Moore says:

    What an amazing and full year you’ve had! So much opportunity for growth and you take it all on with grace, love, humor, and humility. I’m so grateful that over this last year I’ve come to call you “Friend” (and to have you nearby!).

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