Thursday, January 8, 2015

Holiday Traditions #5 {A Review of 2014}

Good Evening, Everyone! I hope you have had a great Christmas and New Year's surrounded by those you love and PLENTY of scrumptious food! :) Mine thus far has been wonderful...and the fun isn't over yet! I have another Christmas celebration that has yet to be scheduled!

But before that, I wanted to get in one last Holiday Traditions post :).

Every year after Christmas, I start feeling a little blue. I call it the 'After Christmas Let-Down'. The Holiday hype is pretty much over (except for those who celebrate BIG for New Years...which I do not...), and I find myself at bit at loose ends. During these times, I find myself thinking back over the year and reviewing the ups and downs of the roller coaster ride. This year has been no exception. And, I guess if I'm being honest, it started before Christmas this year. 

As I have mentioned several times, I am an avid photographer and frequently partake in photo challenges. I did a Thankful Everyday in November challenge last month and this month I have been participating in a December Reflections challenge. I enjoy these challenges. I feel they benefit me both on a personal level as well as a photographer. To give you an example of what I'm talking about, Day 20 of the December Reflections challenge was: "This Year was...". As a photographer, this challenged me to think outside the box as to how in the world I was going to find something to photograph that illustrated exactly how I felt about 2014. Then as a person, it challenged to me to take a very close a year that, frankly, I cannot wait to put behind me.

My life changed a lot in 2014 and I did a lot of necessary changing. The changes to my life were a mix of good and bad, but I'd have to say that the changes to myself were mostly for the good. However, 2014 brought quite a bit of pain that I am ready to put behind me. Not that I won't take the lessons I've learned this year into the future with me, I most certainly will. I'm just ready to put the past in the past and leave it there.

So, anyway, back to how I handled Day 20 of the December Reflections photo challenge: "This Year was...". I settled on this photo with this quote.

This Year was...Nothing I want to live over again.

It wasn't until a few moments ago what I was reviewing this photo and statement that I realized that that wasn't completely accurate. Yes, a lot of things happened in 2014 that I have no desire to live over, talk about, think about, or...have anything to do with. I'm ready to put them behind me and never dwell on them again. But there were good times too. It wasn't a completely bad year. There were moments of laughter and togetherness with those I love. There was quite a bit of creativity and spontaneity. There were LOTS of photos taken that I'm proud of. There was a trip down memory lane that I'm VERY glad I got to experience.

So, with all that being said, and in an attempt to pull myself up out of my 'After Christmas Let-Down', I'm going to share with you a review of the good parts of 2014 :).

January was cold beyond anything I can measure!

But I dealt with it by remaining indoors as much as possible
and drinking hot tea and coffee 
out of this lovely cup my cousin gave me for Christmas.

February was a bit warmer...
well, warmer in that my cousin and I felt it was safe 
to venture out to have a snow adventure :).

March is my birthday month....
and I really wanted to celebrate it with my TJ Kiddos.
Unfortunately, that means nothing homemade...
school rules...:(
SSSSOOOO, I compromised...
and I celebrated by making my own cake out of staked Zebra Cakes :)

In April I was kept very busy 
helping my cousins get ready for ACTS Student Convention.

After all the work I put in, 
you better believe I made time to go down
and visit ACTS myself!
This amazing (but very short) trip down memory lane
initiated the onslaught of ACTS Convention stories 
that seemed to take over my blog at that time...
and, no, I'm sorry for it! :)

In May, my darling cousin, Madi,
turned 18 and graduated from High School...
and I FINALLY got to interrogate,
I mean spend some quality time with the love of her life,
Mr. Nathan Doan who has become just like family! :)
It was an amazing time! :)

June brought summer and all of it's fabulous greenery.

July was...eventful. Particularly the beginning...
but I endured and got some amazing photos! :)

August was Back to School Time!
But I made sure to still have some FUN! :).
I got to take a trip to Rockome Gardens
with my grandparents, mom and some other people from our church.

Then my darling cousin, Maranda, decided she needed her photos done :).

In September, the TJ kids and I had a TON of fun
retelling  the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood.

You can find more photos and our version of the story here.

October was Pastor Appreciation Month.
And my church decided to do something a little different in celebration.
My cousins, Steve & Amber Kinney, were asked to write a song
for the children's choir to sing.
They asked me to come on board and help out
which, of course, I was only too happy to do. :)
The song turned out great and the kids had LOTS of fun singing it! :)
Here is a portion of it:

You can find the rest of the song here.

In November, my church held a Singspiration
that turned out to be a SMASHING success!
Our miracle boy, Mr. Taedyn Ray, totally stole the show!
 (Video by Jason Rushing)
Seriously, I cannot watch this without crying...
You can read more about our Singspiration here.

Also, in November, I was privileged to get to shoot
this gorgeous couple and their family
in the midst of a Lovely snowfall! :)

I am hoping to post more of this shoot soon :).

December, of course, brought Christmas and a wide variety of celebrations.
Every year I am privileged to work with the children
at church on their Christmas program,
but the for the past few years,
I've also gotten to help out with the Youth Group's program.
This year was no exception.
Actually, this year the youths' performance was such a success
that there were asked to perform it again.
And in that encore performance, I actually had to fill in
for a young person that was out of town :).
(Video by Jason Rushing)
Do I know some talented teens or WHAT?!?!?!? :)

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my point for writing all of this was to shine a positive light on a year that was pretty rough. But obviously, it wasn't all bad :). I grew a lot in my photography skills, read a TON of books, laughed until I cried on more than one occasion, and generally enjoyed God's marvelous creation. As for the opposite end of the spectrum, I'm choosing to not focus on that. It occupied too much of my time and energy while I was going through it. I'm not going to let that continue now.

You know, when I first saw this magazine cover (particularly Angelina's quote at the bottom right),
I sarcastically said to myself, "Uh, 2014 was NOT beautiful!" But now having written this post and reviewed the good times of 2014, I think I can honestly agree with Angelina. 

It has been a Beautiful Year.