Two and a half years ago today– I remember it like yesterday. It was a very, very special day.
It was at this time that Ryan and I spent our first Christmas holiday together, down on Sanibel Island with my parents.
It was two and a half years ago today that I woke Ryan up at 6AM, draaaagged him outta bed… and convinced him to help me haul an armload of blankets to the beach to watch the sunrise.
…Unbeknowest to him, I had his Christmas present wrapped up in one of the blankets.
And now, some background… When I met Ryan back in October of 2008, he was pretty much head over heels for me. Me on the other hand… not so much. I was super busy with my stint in the AmeriCorps, working 3+ jobs so I could afford rent, and commuting 2+ hours a day back and forth to South Carolina for work. Let’s just say I didn’t exactly have a lot of time to invest in a relationship (…or so I thought).
But then I started to see that Ryan wasn’t just the typical guy.
He would leave me funny messages and come up with fun weekend plans. He’d pop over to my house on weeknights just to say hi, knowing that I’d be kicking him out after an hour or two so I could get my beauty sleep. I made it clear to him that I just “wanted to be friends” at first. I wanted to test the waters, and see what he was all about. And he honored that. And that’s what did me in and made me fall for him – the fact that he was patient, and gave me time.
Nevertheless, Ryan still snuck in some smooth moves. The instance that stands out most is the time he showed up on my doorstep, bouquet of flowers in hand, minutes after landing in Charlotte after a weekend spent in Arkansas. He hadn’t even gone home yet to drop off his things, and there he was… on my doorstep. With flowers. Because he wanted to say “hi.” That’s the moment I knew I had fallen for him. And that’s the moment I let me guard down, and finally let someone in after years of trying to protect myself from pain and hurt. I realized this guy meant businesses, and for once, I liked being “courted.”
Anywho, not long after I met Ryan, I realized he was big into coffee-table books. One day around Thanksgiving we were chillaxin’ at a local bookstore and he picked up “Life – the Classic Collection” and started flipping through. I could tell right away that he loved it, as it’s not every day an actual *book* grabs his attention. (Sorry, Ry…but you know it’s true.) Granted, this “book” is the size of my torso and has hundreds of pages filled with pictures of the world’s greatest events/people, and mini descriptions of said pictures. This coffee-table book got my wheels turning… and soon enough, I had *the* perfect idea for what I wanted to give Ryan for Christmas. So, I bought the coffee-table book, and went to work putting my own little twist on it.
So what’s so special about this coffee-table book? Ohhhh nothing really, except for the fact that I crafted about 40 personalized pages and “hid” them in between the book’s pages for Ryan to come across while flipping through the pages. I selected meaningful pictures from things we had done together and events that had taken place during the first two months we had known each other. I even wrote little captions for each picture to match the layout of the original pages. To say I was pleased with how it turned out…is a major understatement. I was so excited to give this glamorized picture-book to him that I could hardly stand it!
Here are some pictures of me putting the final touches on it…
It was two and a half years ago today, that Ryan and I became “official.” The last page I created for the book showcased the silhouette of a couple sitting on the beach, watching the sunrise. (Coincidence? That’s for you to decide ). The caption to this picture was a few lyrics from the song “I’m Yours” by Jason Myraz. (Go ahead, call me a cheeseball, corndog, what have you… I know it’s true. And I love it). I’m pretty sure Ryan figured out what I was saying (he may not be big into reading books, but he sure knows how to read between the lines!), and I know that gift gave him a big reason to smile.
Oh, but the reasons for smiling don’t end there.
Yep, I’ve got even more reasons to share!
A year ago this past weekend, Ryan and I officially began our lives together under one roof. That’s right folks, I moved in. And no, there was no ring on my finger. Judge me if you want, but I wouldn’t have made that step if I wasn’t positive that he is my “forever.”
So yes, a year ago this past weekend… I began the best year of my life. (So far, at least).
Not only did I move in with Ryan one year ago, but I resigned from a financial development position that wasn’t making me happy. As a result I threw myself headfirst into my graduate school courses and health educator position at the Y. I’m tellin’ ya, whoever said, “if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” is soSoSO right. Being a health educator does not feel like work, and I love every second of it.
But that’s not all I’m smiling about. I’ve also accomplished some feats that I am very proud of. In addition to working a job I love, I also achieved my dream of being accepted into the nations 2nd best School of Public Health– UNC-Chapel Hill’s Master of Public Health Public Health Leadership Program.
Because of all of my hard work this past year, I am now ahead of the curve by one year and have now entered into my second year of classes. It’s a great feeling. (And yes, I am still in the midst of my first epidemiology exam that is due on Wednesday, so this statement holds a lot of clout!).
So, what else did I smile about this past year?
Oh you know, that whole marathon thing…
My experience running The Flying Pig Marathon was simply *amazing.* I loved the race, the people and the course (my hometown!)…and I even enjoyed that lame-o flat-tire that grounded us for a little bit (still laughing about that, actually). What’s more is the fact that I liked the training just as much! I know it sounds crazy, but I actually miss those longruns. I think the mentality I had throughout my training played a huge part in why I was so successful. I can’t wait to begin training for marathon numero dos– Savannah Rock N’ Roll!
Yep. All of those things have made this past year absolutely wonderful. But there is oneeee more thing that happened this past year that has changed my life for the better.
Adopting this little wee one.
Seriously y’all. I cannot image my life without her. It was fate that we randomly decided to go visit the shelter “just to play” with the pups (famous last words…). The love I have for my little pupsqueak is something I’ve never felt before. (Good lord, if I feel this way about a furbaby, I can’t even imagine the feelings I’ll have that’ll stem from having actual human babies).
So yes, the little Happster is most definitely the icing on the cake, if you will. And how appropriate… considering the fact that today is her 1st birthday!
(Make sure to check back this coming Sunday to see the celebrations…hopefully there won’t be any more choking on cupcakes like the last doggie-birthday celebration that went down…).
So yes, as you can see, this past year has brought me many reasons to smile. And my guess is that there are many more “best years of my life” to come. I can’t wait to see what’s in store. Especially with these two knuckleheads by my side.
Hold up. I lied. There’s actually one more thing that has made a significant impact on my smile-o-meter this past year. And that’s this blog. That’s right. Creating this blog has given me 100,000,000 reasons to smile. I am soooo glad that I randomly decided to start this baby back during the New Year. I can’t believe the people I have come across in blogworld, and I seriously cherish every person who has commented, emailed, tweeted, and/or facebooked me telling me how much they enjoy reading. Seriously, nothing puts a smile on my face more than hearing from you guys!
What are some things that make you smile? Has anything exciting happened to you over the past year? Did you/do you “live in sin” with your significant other? Do you think of your furbabies as real children?