I can't believe another year has gone by. It's baffling to recall moments that feel so close in time and realize they are years in the past.
When I pause to think about 2016, I'm left with nothing but a smile. I see flashes of faces... of scenery... landmarks... smiles... accomplishments... surprises... hard work... and lots of love. It's all really good stuff.
My life is good.
To reflect on some of my favorites...
On a whim, I had one of the coolest experiences of my life with my friend, Marie. We decided one evening that we would go hike Mt. LeConte the following day (this is a big deal for two moms with 5 kids between us!) So we did it. It was January. It was 65 degrees in Knoxville. And it was this in the mountains...
It was truly a glorious experience. It was difficult and slippery and at times even a little scary... but it was so breathtaking and such a rewarding experience. I truly covet it.
I got to do the same hike with my buddies a couple months later. This is our annual adventure. Something that I hold dear in my heart. I'm a girl. I live with 4 boys. My husband is amazing and funny and silly and loves nothing more than to be a kid... he's the fun parent - rightfully so. I can't even compete with that... nor do I want to try! So this trip that I take with my big boys is a lovely time to be fully present... far away... connecting and accomplishing something hard and rewarding. We have fun talks - some serious, some silly. We always find crazy little treasures and behold the spectacular views. At the end of the day, we are physically drained and emotionally energized. True love.
Later in the spring came another experience that filled every part of my soul... We went to Merlefest and endured another two nights of camping in the rain... but for the great benefit of listening to amazing musicians from morning until night... The weekend ended with my girl... and us in the THIRD ROW watching her. I was truly beside myself. I could live in that moment for eternity. It takes me far away.
At the end of the show, she threw several guitar picks out into the crowd. I'm still a little perplexed as to how this happened... but this pick showed up on top of Charlie's head - beneath his hat. She threw it and that is where it landed.
Happiness (and some funny teeth making their way in).. but mostly just happiness!
My babies were in a wedding... wearing this.
I know, right?
Makes my heart skip a beat.
My little guy finished up his first year of preschool... and made me feel special on Mother's Day.
This, here, showed up on Facebook one day. Sigh...
Of all the phases of my life, this will forever stand out as one of the best. The passion, hard work, camaraderie, focus, discipline, determination, failures, successes... Forever with me.
In June I got to be there to experience Sam and Charlie seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time in their life.
What a beautiful day.
Our trip started out a little shaky when there was an issue with my flight from ATL to SFO... and I had to board a different plane than my people... I had to take a connecting flight in Salt Lake City by myself. It was a little sad and little scary to not just all be together. But it was worth it for the beautiful, warm welcome I got from my boys when we were finally reunited.. We met in the parking garage at the airport by the convertible mustang we got to enjoy for the week. They both ran to me with a giant hug. I felt loved.
We experienced the famous 17-mile drive...
But on our bikes... be still my heart.
And we enjoyed lunch over the 18th hole at Pebble Beach in the middle of our ride.
Be still my hubby's heart.
Sunrise at Glacier Point in Yosemite... it's really what dreams are made of.
It's almost impossible to soak in this abundance of beauty. Truly majestic.
Giant Sequoias... How do you comprehend this?My sweetheart and I got to experience Sonoma together for the first time.
And this... right before we were began our journey back home from California.
Later in the summer, we rode the 34 miles of the Virginia Creeper. I can't get enough of days like this...
I discovered a true love for paddle boarding.
And Luke discovered a true love for fighting off big waves with a spray bottle.
I got to go be just a girl again with my forever love, Brandy, in Boulder... And Red Rocks. One of the greatest places on Earth.
I see all this ~ and I can't help but feel incredibly spoiled by life.
My first born turned double digits in September. His beautiful soul takes my breath away.
The beaches of 30-A in October. My kids will always know this to be one of their favorite places.
And us too.
Richie and I had a date night not too long ago. It was our first visit to Emilia, a new seasonal Italian restaurant in Market Square. My heart was dancing for a week after. We were so completely there - together... the music was great, the food was phenomenal, the service, drinks, dessert. We spoke to the manager for a while who brought us some complimentary after dinner drinks. It was one of those simple evenings that I replay in my mind because everything was better than just alright. It was perfect. I want to recreate that night once every month.
From day one, it has been one of the most touching experiences of my life. I have received an amazing amount of support from everyone who surrounds me. The 45 people, who I now have the honor to lead, have shared with me the kindest sentiments about who I am and what I bring to the company. It's sometimes difficult for me to comprehend. There is this exciting transition I've made - it wasn't even something that I set out to do, but it happened... It's this transition from going to work, loving PerfectServe, enjoying the people around me, and thriving on contributing and getting work done to now going to work, loving PerfectServe, and focusing almost solely on building and inspiring a spectacular team of people. I just want to connect, serve, inspire, and lead. And I know I'm really just in the early stages of understanding this, which is beautiful because there is so much more to uncover and experience. The satisfaction I get from it is the same as the volleyball picture above. It's the hard work, passion, love, dedication, growth, inspiration - it's all of that. At the end of my days, when I reflect on my life, PerfectServe will always be one of my favorite and proudest chapters.
These are my people - being silly and making me feel loved. After this plaque of me showed up on the wall, they created a channel called "Selfies with Mary" and made a day of it...
My bucket is full.
And these are my boys - at the end of the 2016.
How blessed am I?