2013 Reflections

I like to prepare for a new year by reflecting on the last one. I wrote posts for New Years 2013, 2012, and 2011.

Yesterday morning, I sorted through some 2013 news-making moments: the Boston Marathon bombing, Cleveland women escaping their kidnapper, the Oklahoma tornadoes, the Philippines, an inspiring ground-breaking Pope, and, of course, Jennifer Lawrence being an incredible actress and generally awesome person.

I like to look inward and reflect on my personal year, too. 2013 was huge. It was my first full year in Florida, and I love the sense of home that Bret and I have built here. I’ve been doing so much moving around the past few years, it is nice to feel grounded and situated in this Tallahassee world. I like our routines. I like our freedom.

In 2013, we got married. We visited new places: Las Vegas, NV; Panama City Beach, FL; Charleston, SC; New Orleans, LA. Bret completed his preliminary exams and is officially A.B.D. (all but dissertation). I became a proficient cake decorator. It’s been a great year and today, mostly, I’m grateful for our health and togetherness.

I usually like to get introspective, but I’m in more of a list-making mood, so here’s what 2013 taught me:

January | Traveling is WORTH IT Month
Featuring: Our Engagement Party!

After traveling for the holidays, it may not seem like the most cost effective time to hop on a plane and travel north again, but last January, Bret and I flew to Virginia to spend some time with our families and friends before the big day. My sister and bridesmaids planned the event at the perfect setting. It was so good to spend time around familiar faces. My sister organized the most fun game, and my awesome photographer friend (who did our engagement portraits!) made us a slideshow.

Engagement Party_1engagement party_3

2013-01-19_19-27-37_840 engagement party_2   engagement party_1

In short, I’m just really glad this happened.

When we were in the midst of wedding-planning and talking about doing some kind of pre-wedding shower/festivities/etc., I remember calculating how much we’d spend on the travel, and stopping myself before I finished crunching numbers by just deciding it’s worth it. We haven’t been able to make every long-distance commitment that we’d like to since moving to Florida, but it’s worth the cost and it’s worth the time to visit with your favorite people before your wedding day because you probably won’t get to do this enough on your actual wedding day.

February | Dancing Makes You Feel Better Month
Featuring: Ballroom Dancing Lessons

It’s really too bad that we don’t have a picture of this, but I bought a LivingSocial deal and we signed up for ballroom dancing lessons. We did this mostly so we wouldn’t look ridiculous dancing at our wedding, but I loved doing something new and fun together. It was really memorable and the class allowed me to relax during our first dance without worrying about tripping in my dress because I wasn’t sure where to step.

dancing nicole.bret.2

March | Married Month!
Featuring: Our Wedding

After months of planning our wedding day, I remember trying to focus on everything I’d heard: treasure every minute, dance til you sweat, don’t sweat the small stuff, and take mental pictures because it goes by so darn fast. Some things were a blur, but I legitimately ate dinner, I visited with friends and family, and I loved the whole celebration.

Wedding_1 0154_Zawilski 0670_Zawilski   0862_Zawilski  0820_Zawilski  0902_Zawilski 0949_Zawilski

It was great, but whenever it comes up, Bret and I both say we’re just glad it’s over. We made great memories, but I’m so glad we can just enjoy our time together without having to plan another wedding again ever.

April | Mallory to the Rescue
Featuring: my sister!

Whenever I feel sad or homesick or, well, any emotion really, I call my sister. Even though I still talk to her almost every single day, I miss her like crazy and I loved loved loved having her here for a week last April. I tried to squeeze in every Tallahassee attraction while still working 9-5 every day. And, of course, we went to Disney World:


Having her here reminded me that no matter how far apart we live, we are still connected.

May | New Discoveries
Featuring: Panama City Beach

Before I moved here, Bret spent most of the Florida summer indoors in the nice cool air-conditioning. Last summer, I was unemployed/miserable/broke, so we limited out ventures to our apartment pool and the occasional evening stroll to get frozen yogurt. Okay, and we went to Disney because we had already invested in annual passes #DreamComeTrue. We LOVE day trips, so we spent the beginning of this glorious 2013 summer exploring. We discovered Panama City Beach and, also, we found out we could rent some water sport equipment for free in Tallahassee because Bret is a student at FSU.

IMG_0858 IMG_0902 panama city

I just love exploring and making memories. I know that sounds incredibly cheesy but these kind of adventures are good medicine to me and it’s all I remember when I think about our Tallahassee summer.

June | Cupcakes Part I
Featuring: My cousin competed on Cupcake Wars

I really admire people who follow their dreams. I now have TWO incredible people in my life who are in the cupcake/cake-decorating business! One of them is my cousin, Akemi, who competed on Cupcake Wars in June. Her business is in California, but we had so much fun watching her at our viewing party (at my house) in Tallahassee. I made desserts:

cupcake_4 cupcake_3 cupcake_1

Do what you love.

July | New Traditions!
Featuring: Fireworks on the 6th of July! And Charleston, SC.

I was pretty bummed when the Tallahassee fireworks were cancelled, but we had fun playing Mario Kart and dancing with sparklers at my friends’ house. A couple days later, a local neighborhood put on their own firework show, and we got to enjoy that, too. It was a good lesson to chill out when things don’t go according to plan. July was also awesome because my family met “halfway” in Charleston to celebrate my sister’s birthday. It was wonderful to spend some time with my family, and it fun to explore a brand new place together. Also, it was Velveeta’s 3rd birthday. July was great.

IMAG1925  IMG_20130715_191609IMAG1999

IMAG2020 IMAG1980

August | Bret’s 29th Birthday

Here is something Facebook statuses are good for. I get so nostalgic about Bret’s birthday because I always think of the first time we celebrated his birthday together. We weren’t dating yet. I wouldn’t even consider us “close” friends at this point, but we had so much fun.

Sentimental FB status: Two years ago today, after eating at El Charro, I was wandering through some Harrisonburg apartment halls with Jessi and Brandi. We were knocking on stranger’s doors and asking them if we could please borrow a lighter so that we could light the candles on a birthday cake we’d made for my friend and classmate, Bret, even though he INSISTED that we did not need to light candles or sing him Happy Birthday. I’m glad we did. Thank you, random neighbor of Jessi, who gave us a lighter in exchange for a piece of birthday cake. Who would have guessed that I was singing Happy Birthday to my future husband?!?!?!

I can’t really remember what else we did in August.

September | New Adventures!
Featuring: New Orleans with a couple great friends!

I’ve wanted to visit New Orleans for YEARS and I was so excited to get to explore this city with some close friends. When I was in college I made my friends take a break from studying to go on “Sunday Adventures”. Tiffany was one of those friends so that’s what this reminded me of.

1_1_3food_3  1_1  zoo_2 

October | Most Stressful Month
Featuring: JMU Alumni Counsel, my work convention + Bret took his pre-lims

This was a stressful month that carried a risk of failure. What if the convention wasn’t successful? What if Bret didn’t pass his pre-lim exams? What if I don’t get to attend the first Alumni Counsel meeting because work things are just too crazy? October was a reminder to stay strong and ask for help when I feel in over my head. The gleaming light in the craziness that was October was the Alumni Counsel meeting because I got an all-expenses-paid trip to visit my family in Harrisonburg, VA a.k.a. my favorite place:

JMU_Oct13_2  JMU_Oct13_6 JMU_Oct13_5

I guess the lesson here is stay strong and keep your head up.

November | Grateful Month / Cupcakes Part II
Featuring: 3 trips to Disney World + I took a Cake Decorating Class

We were so darn grateful that October was behind us. November was awesome because BOTH of our parents visited us and we got to stay with them in Disney World…multiple times. Work even eased up a bit because the convention was behind us, so I decided this was the best time to take a cake decorating class. It was just a good, fun, happy month. We got to spend Thanksgiving with Bret’s parents in Tallahassee, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I made regular contributions to a “Grateful Jar” in our kitchen. I plan to do this exercise next year as well.


December | My FAVORITE
Featuring: Jingle Bell Run, Christmas Things

Gosh, December is the best.

Christmas)2  Hats_1


2013 is written and a brand spanking new fresh year begins. Whether you had a great year or a challenging  year, I hope 2014 has amazing things in store for you. Happy New Year!

One thought on “2013 Reflections

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.