At the end of each year, like many people, I reflect on all the things I am grateful for. What was good? What was fun? What was hard? What was easy? What surprised me? What would I like to forget? What could I do better in the year ahead? And what about those non-eventful moments? The little ones are often quiet, unplanned, and quickly shadowed by the more significant life moments that require theme parties or Pinterest boards. The secret sauce to happiness is found in the little moments, usually when being of service to others.
Before diving into the 22 moments in 2022 I am grateful for, I did have to take a peek down memory lane and see what I was thankful for in 2020. You know, the year the entire world stopped (literally). Gratitude list of 20 things from 2020. (In case anyone cares; apparently, I skipped 2021. Is it just me, or did the conception of time change post-pandemic?)
Looking back on that post, it reads more like a long-winded diary. As it turns out, you can bore yourself. ZZzzzz! Why take 5 minutes to tell a 5-minute story when you can stretch it to a full hour? I assume the only people reading these posts are myself and my mom. So, if you’re here reading and scrolling, thanks for taking the time to care about what I think. Sorry about that last time (if you read it and stayed awake). I’ll keep it shorter and sweeter this time around. Hello, progress!
This year, I’m opting for the less is more theory and to become more intentional. Ahem. Here we go! (And yes, we all know I’m a maximalist)
#22. Discovered my love of tiny Art Museums
If you follow me on social media, you know I’m obsessed with hunting for street art. Usually, the street art I hunt for is graffiti artwork and building-size murals. I’ve appreciated tiny libraries in quaint neighborhoods for years, where you are encouraged to take a book or leave a book. As it turns out, tiny Art Museums work the same way, and I am here for it!
In 2023, I’m considering building a tiny Art Museum for my front yard. Ask me about it! (Aka, hold me accountable). Also – if you know how to build a tiny art museum, don’t hesitate to contact me.
#21. Lots of date nights … with myself
I mean, look at me?!?!! I’m adorable. Why wouldn’t I want to date myself? No, but really, this year, I became much more comfortable in my own skin. I enjoyed and appreciated my alone time, not taking it for granted. My sister and many friends have little ones right now, which means long days and sleepless nights. Been there, done that.
I do what I please when I please. I go where I want to go when I want to go there. I sleep. I sleep a lot. I may have a sleep addiction, but I don’t care. I’m not giving it up until someone tells me it’s causing problems. Instead of being lonely, I chose to be alone, and damn, it felt good—most of the time.
#20. Meeting friends IRL!
This is one of my online friends, Michelle Smith of @recoveryisthenewblack, that I met during the pandemic. We finally met in real life, and I knew a solid friendship had been formed. Plus, is it just me, or do we kind of look like sisters?
Her new book Living Sober, Living Free: A Guided Journal for Women Who Want to Stop Drinking just dropped and you can get it on Amazon!
#19. We met at The Met! Even more friends IRL!
OMG These two! I made a host of good friends during the pandemic years and these two hold a really special spot in my heart. Katie Mack www.fckingsoberpodcast.com and Pop Buchanan of www.soberisdope.com. Both live in NYC, which means I’ll get to keep seeing them every time I visit the big Apple.
#18. Kate’s 1st Runway @ New York Fashion Week
This is my friend Kate. Yes, another friend I met online during the pandemic. She writes the Walk Your Talk column for The Sober Curator. Kate debuted on her first runway at the Break Free Fashion show during New York Fashion Week in February 2022, and I was right there in the front row cheering her on.
Lucky for me, Kate lives locally to me, so we got to see each other many (many) times this year. She walked in more fashion shows, wrote more articles, and there were many long phone calls and time spent sitting on the floor of her Cloffice, talking about fashion and life. I recently helped Kate build her website, www.katevitela.com. I adore this friendship and have appointed myself head of the Kate Vitela fan club.
#17: New York! New York!
Remembering 2022 would only be complete if I mentioned the FREEZING days Kate and I spent walking all over Manhattan. It was so cold. COLD! Since we were only partially out of the pandemic, finding good spots to eat and shop was more challenging than anticipated.
We visited The Met, caught Moulin Rouge on Broadway, and ate multiple times at a fine dining bodega near our boutique hotel. I scored a super cool piece of graffiti artwork that now hangs in my bedroom. You can learn a lot by traveling with someone and I would 100% travel with Kate again.
#16: My favorite nephew Bryson
Out of respect to his parent’s wishes, no photos of my adorable nephew are allowed on the world wide web. And yes, I did gift him a pillow with my face on it. How else will he remember what his Aunt Lovie looks like?
Bryson was four, turning five this year, and I saw him three times in real life between December 2021 and July 2022. He’s a busy kid with a creative imagination, and it will be my goal to always see him in person 2-3 times per year going forward. Don’t worry, little man; the FaceTimes can be unlimited.
#15: We can act like a family because we are one
While it doesn’t happen that often, I am grateful that Jakob can simultaneously spend time with his parents. On this particular outing, we headed up to the ski lodge and listened to one of Jeremy’s bands Deadly D perform during a snowy Saturday afternoon dance party. It was epically fun, and I’m pretty sure Jakob will never forget his parents’ shit-talking to each other and dancing in a sweaty ski lodge with a bunch of strangers.
#14: I became a 1st time homeowner
I’ve never really had any desire to own a home, and that changed during the pandemic years. Before interest rates got too high, I jumped into the real estate game to pursue this investment. I suspect adventures in home ownership blog posts will come in the future. It’s for sure had its ups and downs. Don’t get me started talking about the city Auburn.
However, I am confident that God has us exactly where we should be. (It would just be super awesome to eventually someday know why! LOL) Want to read about my adventures in buying my 1st house? Check it out HERE.
#13: I celebrated my Sweet Sober 16th Anniversary
I rented a very cool Airbnb in Kent that was 80s themed. Each room was filled with radical memorabilia from my youth. (The 80s and 90s) I was surrounded by friends and truly felt the love.
Read about this epic party HERE. The cameo video they ordered of Miss Piggy wishing me a happy soberthday was the sober cherry on top!
I continue to be grateful for my journey in recovery one day at a time.
#12: I got more ink!
Mom and Dad, scroll past this one quickly, and it will feel like it didn’t happen. Well, except when I wear a shirt with short sleeves.
I’d wanted this butterfly tattoo and “God is greater than the highs and lows” tattoo for a while. I met a young woman who is a tattoo artist and later became her sponsor in AA. Watching her flourish and grow in her recovery from alcohol and drugs has only added to my love of this fresh ink on my arm.
#11: Sober Besties Meet-Up in Portland IRL
I’m sensing a theme. This was the year of meeting all of the amazing people I met online during the pandemic in real life. Lane and Tamar are two women in recovery that I consider my sisters. Lane, with over 25 years is my big sis, and Tamar with 10 years is my little one.
In addition to being a guest on their podcast The Now What Society, these two have become my rocks and often are the voice of reason when I need it the most.
This is also the trip I discovered the store Wildfang and my new love of coveralls. And Tamar and I spontaneously got matching Wonder Woman tattoos.
#10: Smith Family Reunion – Bend, Oregon
With the pandemic in the rearview mirror, the Smith family (my mom’s side) finally got back together for the family reunions we attempt to have every three years.
I love my family. I love that I’ve grown up with this family. Their love of God and serving others is the foundation of who I am today. I appreciate our family’s obsession with games, themed activities, and Mafia. It was fun to see Bryson running around with his cousins. My parents were greatly missed due to my dad’s heart surgery. But we FaceTimed a lot, and I know they were there in spirit.
#9: I said Goodbye to KING 5
After six years at the mighty KING 5, I said goodbye to my career in media. I will forever be grateful for my time at KING 5 and the co-workers that became real friends.
Working at a TV station is just as glamorous as working at a magazine or newspaper. Meaning it’s not as glamorous as people think. But I truly loved the work. I loved the people. I loved the shows I worked on. And I loved being able to find creative solutions for our clients. Many memories from my time there will be anchored with me forever. (#seewhatididthere)
#8: I continued my love of service work by advocating for the recovery community
In addition to running The Sober Curator as a side hustle and supporting all of the Sober Curators within that community, I also continued to spend my time being of service with the Recovery Cafe (as a board member), the King County Recovery Coalition (Recovery Day @ Mariner’s Game committee), and the Washington Recovery Alliance.
Plus, I worked with multiple women with weekly calls, meetings, and bookwork to help them find a solution within their recovery journeys. Service work truly brings me joy and is a solid insurance policy for my recovery.
#7: Time with McCabe, my son 2.0
McCabe is my 2nd son. Not only is he the best friend to my own son, but we also have our own relationship too. On this particular day, McCabe and I visited Emerald Downs and watched hundreds of people race on the track wearing inflatable dinosaur costumes. It was a spontaneous outing.
McCabe is such a good go with the flow dude and he’s always around to help me with the dogs or be my Uber to and from the airport. He’ll happily watch re-runs of Friends with me and help me reach things around the house that I’m too short to reach.
#6: I called and visited these two a lot!
What can I say about these two? They are my entire heart. When my dad ended up having emergency heart surgery earlier this year, it made me realize they won’t always be here with me.
I call them almost every day. All I want in their time left here on earth is to make them proud. It’s the very least I can do for the decade or two of stress and lost sleep I put them through in my younger years.
I am so grateful for my dad’s speedy recovery and his return to pickleball. And I love hearing stories from my mom about all of the ladies that come over weekly to quilt. Attending her quilt show at CCS in the fall was incredibly special.
#5: Revenge of the Nerds – Also known as Revenge of the Dan’s
For Halloween this year, Elan, Libby and I dressed up like our boss Dan. I like to think of Dan as my Boss-Friend. A Boss-Friend is like a best friend, who also happens to be your boss. If you know Dan, then you know that this is his daily uniform. Seriously, he wears the same outfit nearly every day. (He’s got a few alternate black shirts)
Dan was instrumental to me in my earlier years in recovery. Never in my wildest dreams did it occur to me we would end up working together. 2023 is going to be the year of big things. Here we go!
#4: Viva Las Sober!
This sober squad hit Vegas in style. When my friend Amy Liz Harrison, Author, mother of 8, and podcast host of Eternally Amy, invited me to spend a week with her in Vegas at a book conference, HOW could I say no?
With a new job that allows me to work from wherever I want, I fully intend to use this luxury to my advantage. In addition to the book conference, we ate, shopped, and danced our way through several fun attractions in Vegas, proving you can still have fun sober. When Jayne and Becky arrived, the fun-o-meter got turned up from a 10 to a 20 and I’m secretly hoping this becomes an annual Sober Mom’s Friendsgiving tradition.
#3: We finally officially said Goodbye to Ms. Rita B.
Losing Rita back in late 2021 was hard. I still wake up and think about calling her, realizing no one will answer. From time to time, I play one of the many voicemails I’ve saved or watch a video I made of her.
We gathered at St. Paul’s in Ballard in November to honor her with a lovely service. While it still doesn’t seem real that she’s gone, I know her presence is with me always. Thankfully, I have many of her sayings that keep me going when times get tough. She passed at 92 with 47 years sober under her belt.
#2: I moved to Tampa for two weeks
Again, with the luxury of remote work, I jokingly moved in with my friend Sonny and her wife Trina for a few weeks. They moved to Tampa during the pandemic, a place I had never visited.
Sonny and I went hunting for street art in St. Pete’s, while eating tons of poke bowls and laughing our asses off. Seriously, my cheeks hurt we laughed so hard. I renamed their guest room the ABnb (a playoff of Airbnb) and strategically left a few personal items behind, so I have to return in the spring.
Sonny and I are nearly at 10 years of friendship, and I know that we have a friendship that will last until the end of time.
#1: I lost my friend Heidi
This one is hard to write because it’s so damn fresh and was completely unexpected. My last conversation with Heidi happened while I was in Tampa. She had gifted me a 7-day all-expense paid cruise that she had previously won by being on the Ellen show. She was leaving herself on a cruise out of LA down to Mexico, and she couldn’t use this 2nd cruise before it expired. While I didn’t go on the free cruise, I will never forget her generosity.
I’m trying to figure out what I can learn from this turn of events. Heidi was a powerhouse. She danced to the beat of her hip-hop drummer. She was unapologetic about her love of fashion and her love of shoes. Heidi never turned down any opportunity for a good theme party or costume. She lived a big, bright, and bold life – just like her laugh.
Heidi also was sometimes not an easy friend to have. And with her passing, I’ve realized that those hard times don’t matter anymore. In the end, I will remember her big, huge heart, her big, huge laugh, along with the many (many) memories we made over the years.
In the words of my friend Fitz, Heidi was the best fidget spinner there ever was.
If you made it this far, then I owe you an apology. I promised I’d keep it short, and I didn’t. (You aren’t really surprised, are you?) After reflecting on 22 memories, I am grateful for from 2022, I realized that I have the good fortune of having so many beautiful memories in 2022 I couldn’t capture them all. If you don’t make it into the top 22, it’s not because I don’t love you. It’s not because I’m not grateful for what you’ve done in my life.
Right now, I feel very overwhelmed by the love that is continually shown to me through the people in my life. I only wish to harness this feeling and put it in a jar. That way, I could open the jar up when I feel alone or sorry for myself and tap into these feelings. As someone who battles depression, those dark days always come.
In the end, I’m writing this post for myself, and it’s a way to practice capturing my gratitude by putting pen to paper. However, I say this frequently: “It doesn’t matter what you say. It only matters what you do.” Through my actions, not my words, I hope the people in my life know how much I care about every single one of them. If I can do that well, I will have lived a life I am proud of.
Cheers to 2023! The best is yet to come!