2017... You Changed Me

This year has easily brought many life lessons, major life changes, and most of all a HUGE shift in my perspective. I could easily sit back and say what a S&%tty year it has been, but I refuse to fall into that trap. While I have lost 4 major role models this year, and I have seen many friends go through that same loss, I have also seen growth and true positive changes take form in my life. I have a better understanding of just how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken from us.

The following is a summary of the major life events that took place for me this year. It is a long list, but my god, 2017 you have been quite the year. I wrote this because I know how easy it is to only remember the bad moments. I found that 2017 was actually filled with a lot of great memories. I share this to inspire people to look for the good when you seem to be hit time after time with loss.

January was pretty awesome. I kicked off 2017 with some of my best friends in Dallas, TX. It was truly what my soul needed at that time and I still look back on that trip and smile. We laughed (A LOT), caught up on life, and celebrated one of my sweetest friend's dirty 30. We did a motivational cycling workout (yes, I traveled and worked out- my mom loved to make fun of me for working out while on vacation), bar hopped in our "Adultish" T shirts, and closed the weekend with the ever famous wish lanterns that ended up falling right into the lake (not sailing away into the sky like we imagined). I remember, almost 12 months later, what I wrote on that wish lantern. I wished for clarity. Be careful what you wish for people because in a twisted way, my wish came true. I also stood by my best friend on her wedding day in January. She is one of those friends who always says the right thing, shows up when you need her, and is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met. Megan, I was honored to stand by your side. Jeremy and I had a blast at that wedding (our Uber driver may say we had too much fun). Lastly, I started my health coaching journey through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which I will wrap up in the next few weeks!

On February 11, my world stopped. My mom, best friend, and role model was called home. She was remarkable, and is missed dearly, but let me tell you, she is very busy watching out for all of us. While I miss her voice, her infectious laugh, and her warm hugs, I have grown to love our new way of communicating. She shows me that she is with me, sometimes smacking me in the face with her signs. When I have a bad day, it never fails that she shows up. Sometimes it is a friend who, out of the blue, reaches out to me and says the right thing, sometimes it is Wyatt randomly bringing up Mawmaw without being prompted, and sometimes it is just a feeling that she is there with me. One of my favorite examples is when I was Christmas shopping this year. For the record, I never use coupons, mainly because I forget. Mom ALWAYS used coupons, usually multiple at 1 store. I was finishing up my holiday shopping and when I was ringing out, a coupon for the exact store I was out, fell out of my wallet onto the counter and saved me $10! Thanks mom!

Spring brought a very SWEET surprise. I found out we were expecting our second child in March! I slept a lot, and got some much needed time with Wyatt. Jeremy went on his annual "all guys" fishing trip, while Wyatt and I tried the magic house for the first time, which was a huge hit.

May brought our family another blow. Jeremy's grandmother, Clara Smith (name ring a bell?), was welcomed into heaven. You ever meet someone and when you leave you think "wow, that is a really neat person"? That was Grandma Clara. While I only knew her for 9 years, she was one of those women who left an everlasting impression on me. She was a true leader with a heart of gold. Some of my favorite memories of her include Christmas caroling in her neighborhood (whether it was 2 degrees or 30 degrees we caroled), enjoying family meals and her laugh. She was such an inspiration, and I am lucky to have known her.

Summer was a blast! June was truly bittersweet from a mother's perspective. My little man turned 2! I am really enjoying this age. He learns something new everyday, and has recently learned the word "Why" which has made for some fun conversations :) July was filled with a lot of travel. We took a few trips with friends and family to the lake which involved boat rides, fishing and fireworks (which I still hate by the way). We also found our new home in July, which meant we had a lot of packing to do. We hit the jackpot with our new house. Jeremy feels like he is out in the middle of no where, and I still feel like we are living with the rest of civilization. He gets to take his boat out whenever he pleases, and him and Wyatt can walk to a little pond and fish within seconds. Wyatt even caught his first fish this year! Dad was there to see it, but was so excited he forgot to take a pic for mom.

In August we said goodbye to my sweet Grandmother, Rosemary Winkler. This woman was incredible. She was one of the most laid back human beings I have ever met, had the biggest heart, and was hilarious (the whole package if you ask me). I always enjoyed my time with her, and loved hearing her stories. I can only hope to be as compassionate, loving and laid back as her one day. She always put a smile on my face.

Fall is my favorite season, and it didn't disappoint this year. September means vacation time with my family. Every year, my family packs up and leaves for our little paradise at Table Rock Lake. We absolutely love it there. We swim, fish, have campfires, watch movies, play games and eat waaaay to much. It is always a fun trip, and great time to get away. This October marked our 6th wedding anniversary! We celebrated by going to a Notre Dame game :) That is 2 years in a row that we celebrated with a Notre Dame game (I may or may not be up for the wife of the year award). November flew by. I was very pregnant, and anxiously awaiting our second child's arrival. We celebrated thanksgiving in our new house with the Smith clan. Jeremy cooked his first turkey, Nana brought almost her entire kitchen to my house, and somehow we threw together our first thanksgiving meal. It was a blast and truly fun to host. Oh, also, my sister and my DAD planned a baby shower for us!

To wrap up the year, December came with a bang. Little Miss Clara Ann Smith was born on December 11, 2017 and has been a gem ever since. I never saw myself as a "girl mom" but she has stolen my heart, and I can't imagine life without her. Wyatt is head over heels for his little sister and makes sure she has all of her toys (all 2 of them) anytime she is lying down. I didn't know how he would be with her, but he is the sweetest older brother a girl could ask for.

The day after Christmas, my rockstar of a grandmother, Margaret Brendel, also was called home. While we weren't expecting to say good bye so suddenly, she did get to see almost everyone at the Christmas party the day before. Wyatt gave her not 1 but 2 hugs/kisses goodbye (which is very out of the norm for him) and she got to meet our sweet Clara before leaving us. She loved her time with family so I think it was very fitting that we all saw her and without knowing it, said our goodbyes.

I can easily say I am not the person I was in the beginning of 2017. I am stronger, I have a much better sense of self, and I know who and what is important to me. To my family and friends who called, texted, checked on me throughout the year- THANK YOU. You have no idea how much that meant to me. 2017- you have been life changing in ways I never imagined.

Julie

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