As we move into a new year I am not as keen on setting resolutions or goals as I am about reflecting on the last year, particularly the good things that happened and the lessons I have learned. This year for me was pretty great, I started a really significant relationship, became more confident in a new role of mentoring students, strengthened friendships and (hopefully) found more focus blogging. Perhaps the most significant difference this year, making it stand out amongst others, was the amount of traveling I did for weddings, bachelorettes, and just plain fun. It was a privilege I don't take for granted and has me feeling very grateful to have seen so much of the world. And if I dare add, a bit more intrigued about all the other places I still would love to go. But on another note, I have also learned a lot of real important lessons from a lot of real life hardships - conflicts at work, the dissolution of friendships and some growing pains best handled with experience. These things have been difficult, but I have chosen to see them as good tests in strength and vulnerability, two things I think matter the most when being faced with any insurmountable problem. Without struggle, there is really no pleasure, right? Overall, I think this year has proven pretty awesome. Here are my top five memories from 2017. Enjoy!

{ Pestana Palace in Lisbon }

1. #Fantastic Voyage 2017.... (eloquently named by my boyfriend) and perhaps fitting for the amount of travel we seemed to cram into a two week vacation - Lisbon, South of France, Amalfi Coast and Israel - surviving just the flights alone have me feeling like a superhero. It truly was my highlight of the year, I just loved every place we went, every meal we rapidly consumed, and every magical sunset I can't wait to frame sometime soon. I had been to every country except Portugal but the experiences and cities we visited were truly spectacular in their own right. The south of France was too large an area to really master in four days but I think we made very good use of our time. I still wish I was eating pizza on the most magnificent terrace our tiny hotel room in Positano provided. I think the terrace was actually larger then the room itself, to which I actually preferred. Lisbon was such a pleasant surprise and I definitely have a visit to nearby Porto on my bucket list for the blue and white azulejos alone. My second time in Isreal allowed me to see a much more cosmopolitan side of the city and the wedding we attended in nearby Caesarea was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. 

2. My epic 'drake on cake'... How could I not include this delicious and beautiful cake? It was perhaps, my best one yet if I do say so myself. Drake is one of my favorite rappers and I just LOVE this little trend of writing his lyrics on cakes. Of course the cake was designed by the most incredible bakery, SusieCakes, in my favorite marble flavor. And the birthday table I decorated to match I think did it justice! Not sure how long I'll be doing Drake on Cakes for my birthday, but I know this one would be tough to beat. 

3. Reuniting with my college girlfriends... and seeing our first Zeta wed at our alma matter! It was the first time I had been back since graduation and quite nice walk down memory lane. I went back to my sorority house, the psychology building and all the old bars we used to tear apart in our themed party costumes back in the day. It was a fun way to reminisce and kind of like seeing your grandmother's house as an adult, the campus looked somewhat smaller to me, a little less overwhelming perhaps. After seeing and participating in the bigger world, I guess the campus appeared more nostalgic, as it is after all, just a moment from the past. In true Illini fashion my friend had her reception overlooking the football stadium, lucky for me, since I not so surprisingly didn't see too much of it during my time as a student. 

{ Bazaar Mar in Miami }

4. Trips to Chicago, New York, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Cancun, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs... So much travel! All except for Miami are places I have been before, however, each trip definitely provided a new experience. Going to Miami for my first (and second) time this year I had no idea how much I would love it. Palm trees, bright colors, latin music, cocktails by the beach? It's got all the makings of a great tropical resort but within the context of a large, world class city. Going back to NYC was also a major trip as it was my first non-bachelorette girls trip in quite some time. I went with two other girlfriends from LA to visit a good friend who recently moved back to the big city and ever since she left we have been dying to visit her. It was a real treat to trot around the city and have a Carrie Bradshaw moment for a weekend, I always saw myself living there and even though I love LA, still have that small bit of temptation to Whitney Port it and try my luck in NYC. But the weekend was quick and wonderful, leaving me with just more desire to head back soon. Cancun was a super romantic and relaxing vacation, definitely different from my first trip on Spring Break in college and a very memorable one. I have seen more airports and hotel rooms this year then I can count and it's been incredibly fun and exciting, but also more confirmation of just how much I love Los Angeles and my life here. There really is no place like it and I am very lucky to call it home! Looking forward to spending more of next year here and less on the road. 

5. My ten year high school reunion... was not all it's cracked up to be but even better, it was so fun! My high school knows how to have a good time and that it was. I think people probably stayed up until 4am, despite my venture to deep dish pizza before midnight, no wonder we had a reputation. I was impressed with how nice and mature everyone was, so many familiar faces and nice times looking back on those four, incredibly influential years. More about that here. Most of all I realized how lucky I was and still am to have such great friends for his long. Even though we live in different cities and lead our own lives, it's always the same when we reunite and it's really one of the best things about life. 

What memories from 2017 are you most grateful for? 


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