Always fun to relive the year and think about the highs and the lows.  This year I did get my fill of traveling.  I started home renovations and it was relatively painless and such an improvement.  I went to my youngest child’s college graduation (and celebrated the oldest son’s graduation from law school which occurred the same day).

I got married!! And even though I worked full time, I went on three amazing international trips: Iceland, Greece and South Africa.

Along with the best moments came the awful realization that my mom was getting older and she left us on October 3rd. I was blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my mom and we did bond these past few years as I suffered the loss of my husband and father of my children, dealt with grief and eventually met a new love to share the rest of my life with.

Here is my touch on lessons that this year has brought.

Spend time with your sister, if you are lucky enough to have one.  We had the best trip to Iceland.  Taking a tour and spending some time on our own gave us memories and a love for travel that we plan to continue to develop in the future.

Home renovations are messy but sooo worth it.  I changed a small hall bathroom and closet in my 80 year old home to an (almost) ensuite bathroom.  I also equipped the closet with a new washer and dryer from the basement to steps from my bed!  Such a great move.

A weekend in NYC is always amazing, especially with tickets to the hottest show on Broadway and time spent with my fiancee.  I love a good show and meal out and I don’t always have to travel far to experience such a great city – a one hour train ride opens up so many opportunities for adventure.

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Impressed and proud to announce that my youngest graduated from University of Mississippi in May.  After a rough start with the passing of his dad one week after moving into his dorm, he persevered and made it through 4 years including a semester in Japan.  When he puts his mind to it, this young man can do anything.  I will always be his biggest cheerleader!

Family and friends helped share the excitement building as the date for my wedding got closer. Who doesn’t enjoy a surprise bridal shower or a day at the beach!! Planning the wedding was such fun and the day was a blast.  So glad we made the decision to have a big celebration.  The sad times will come anyway, we need to celebrate the good times with loved ones when we can.

Dressing my sons alike to walk me down the aisle in flip flops. Somedays I pinch myself and wonder how they grew up so fast. I remember and miss those baby and childhood years. I love those young men fiercely. I’m so proud of them and know they will always be a top priority in my life.  And I am so glad they like my new husband and are happy for me.

Marrying Pete – a man who has made me smile again and feel so special and happy.  He is kind, generous and handsome and my life is better with him in it. Knowing loss, I now appreciate life and love and the people who we have in our lives so much more.

At our wedding, I did invite my in-laws.  My brother in law has been so steadfast and supportive over these past few years, especially dealing with the lawsuit.  And Mike’s mom has graciously shown me how to be a mother-in-law.  She was always the kindest and happiest of guests when they stayed with us.  She and her husband would cook, build stuff, shop and take care of us when they visited.  We would laugh over a glass of wine and she would exclaim how amazing I was as a mother! Couldn’t ask for a better mother-in-law.  She passed away 3 weeks after this photo was taken at my wedding to Pete.  She was crying – happy tears for me and I do miss her.

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Greece for our honeymoon was actually planned before the wedding! A dream come true destination. We traveled in style in a balcony suite room on the cruise ship to different islands and excursions. The salads and fresh fish in Greece are out of this world – we will have to go back again, just to enjoy the food!

Africa!! A major bucket list trip that I was fortunate to experience this past summer.  With 3 women from my book club we planned a trip to South Africa that included a 6 day safari and visits to 2 major cities.  Our days were filled with new adventures and animals that I had only seen in books or zoos until now.  The poverty and history in Africa is alarming and made us appreciate where we live.  Of course traveling to this country also made me realize how much I do love to travel and see new places.  I will be adding new places to that bucket list soon!

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This is the last picture I have of my mom. We checked her out of the nursing home rehab center and took her for lunch at her favorite restaurant. She’s been a regular for years and she enjoyed her lobster roll and the sunshine that day. Taking time out of my busy schedule to be with her that last month was my best decision- just wish I had taken more time.

This year I spent a lot of time in the hospital visiting loved ones.  I learned that it is very important to know your health needs and that we can’t really count on the hospital to make us better.  That needs to begin with us.

And for me that is a huge wake up call.  It is time to make my health a priority.  I would like to imagine that my retirement years are not too far away.  I would also like to imagine that I can live a healthy, care-free, active lifestyle for a few more years.  That does not come guaranteed.  It takes work.

More exercise, less sweets; more fruits and veggies, less pasta; more water, less wine.  It seems so easy.  One day at a time.

What habits are you building to improve your life and health this year? Pease share…