Reflections: The Year that Was

For my final post of 2011, I thought I would switch things up and get a bit personal. I don’t usually talk in great detail about my personal life, but I’ve been feeling a need to write this post so I thought I’d just go with it and let you in a little bit on my personal reflections of the year that was 2011. I remember at the end of 2010 looking forward to 2011 with such fervor. 2010 was a tough year. I lost a lot of people I loved, attended far too many funerals and struggled through more “grown-up” problems than in any year to date. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that 2011 would prove tougher yet. I can say, unequivocally, that 2011 was both the most trying and the most beautiful year of my 28 years on this earth. Saying goodbye to 2011 is actually a bit bittersweet. I am so excited for what lies ahead, but 2011 was also a year that brought me great joy and great growth coupled with great struggle and great heartache.

[Illustration by Jon May via Typography Served.]

I never intended to publicly talk about this very private part of my world, but somewhere recently I read a description of bloggers comparing us to sparkly pink unicorns. Basically, somewhat unreal fairytale-like creatures that people associate with glitter and happiness and only the best of luck en route to happily ever after. The analogy actually made me chuckle, because even as a full-time blogger I have the tendency to believe that other bloggers lead the most idealized existences. So I thought maybe I would get real for a few moments and open up about the not-so glittery parts of my life. Maybe for those of you who have also had a tough year it will give you hope to know that we all go through heartache, but with love and perseverance we can all come out ahead. Stronger, wiser, better, and happier. So here goes…

While in the midst of many other personal and professional changes and trials, this summer my husband and I made the painful decision to end our marriage. I won’t clutter your brain with the messy details, but suffice it to say it was a decision reached after much personal reflection, contemplation, discussion and struggle. A decision that has ultimately resulted in my relocating twice in the past three months, the most recent just three weeks ago. To say my world has been uprooted would be the understatement of the year. I started writing this blog over three years ago as we were planning our wedding and, quite ironically, it has continued as my happiest outlet in the midst of some of my darkest days. The decision to move forward in this way was, hands down, one of the hardest, scariest and bravest things I’ve ever had to do. My soon-to-be ex-husband is a wonderful, caring and incredibly special person. Realizing we weren’t going to be able to make each other happy for the long haul was an immensely tough pill to swallow. Not to pay homage to celebrity publicists, but our split has been as amicable as such a thing can be and we’ve remained committed to staying friends as we work through the legal details. No matter, it has still been a roller coaster ride of emotions over the last several months. No one gets married expecting it be anything other than til death do you part. Even when you know it’s the best decision for both of you, it’s still tough to make peace with that failure. Even when you know it’s the best decision for both of you, it still knocks the wind out of your sails and makes you question so much about yourself and about life.

I can now say that I am at a point where I’m at peace with how things have turned out and the new direction my life is headed. That said, lest you should be fooled, I will admit there were days when blogging about other people’s weddings and happiest occasions and seeing the sheer joy on their faces made me want to break. Or planning and attending weddings for clients? There have been days when it has felt absolutely impossible. Luckily, I have the most tremendous support group and some of the best friends a girl could ever hope to have. On the days when I felt like I couldn’t push through, they helped pick me up by my bootstraps and keep going. They reminded me how much I love what I do, how much talking about glitter and parties and life’s happiest moments feeds my soul. And every day I’ve fallen more in love with this beautiful little blog I get to call my “job” and in that I have found so much joy and so much hope. If nothing, this year has only made me even more passionate about what The Sweetest Occasion is all about – celebrating life and love with a little bit of sparkle and a whole lot of laughter.

In the midst of the craziness that was 2011, I also found the most incredible love. Love that has changed my heart and made me a far better and stronger person than I was before. From a best friend, the greatest guy I know, who knows me for all my strengths and all my weaknesses and loves me just the same. From the world’s best parents who have supported me in all of my decisions, even the crazy ones I’ve made this year, and who never leave me hanging. From a sister who may just be the single greatest little sister to ever walk to the earth and who always answers my middle of the night phone calls when I’m melting down. From the greatest extended family who always comes together when the going gets tough and who look out for me at every turn. From friends near and far who never let me go too long without a call, an email or a text to let me know they’re there. Such incredible love. It makes me cry just thinking about the generosity of love and spirit that has been poured on me in the last many months.

Not to dwell on only the hard parts, 2011 is also the year my little girl dreams came true as I took a flying leap into full-time entrepreneurship. I had the opportunity to collaborate with countless creatives that I admire so greatly. This little blog received more attention from major media outlets than I ever dreamed possible. Even more lovely readers discovered The Sweetest Occasion and paid me the unbelievable honor of reading daily, commenting and making every gray day I’ve waded through a bit sunnier. I took on two contributors, Chelsea and Jenny, and while it was a scary step into the unknown it has proven to be one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made. And in the process, I’ve made two incredible friends in these immensely talented women whom I know I’ll call friends for a lifetime. I shattered most of the goals I set for myself in late 2010 as I headed into the year and doors were opened that I never even knew existed. It has been a whirlwind. An incredible, scary, rewarding, trying, happy whirlwind. I could not be more grateful for all 2011 has brought me, even the ugly parts. Or maybe most especially the ugly parts. Because I am starting 2012 the strongest I’ve ever been. I still have a long road ahead to get back to the point where I’m not worried about each step crumbling underfoot. But I know I can handle whatever comes my way. And knowing that, believing that, it’s the greatest gift imaginable.

So here’s to 2011. The amazing parts, the joyful parts, the hard parts, the scary parts. It’s been one hell of a year and I, for one, can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store. Bring it on, world. I’m ready. Thank you all for sharing in my days and bringing me more joy than you imagine. Your comments and emails have uplifted me more than I can ever tell you and I’m so grateful to count my readers as very special friends. I wish you all a beautiful new year that is brimming with joy, love and peace. I’ll see you in 2012! xoxoxo

Editor’s note: And yes, this crazy year of mine explains my obsession with motivational quotes for those of you who have been following along on Pinterest.

37 comments

Comments

Oh, Cyd… this post is as powerful and moving as you are in person. I wish you nothing but the best in 2012, and I can’t help but think that’s exactly what you’re going to receive. Much love, and keep on keepin’ on with your amazing work over here.

Cyd,

Thank you for writing this beautiful,brave, and honest post. My heart goes out to you as you deal with these painful situations. But, also, my heart swells for you as you recognize just how many people adore you and are here to support you (myself included!). You are one amazing, talented, beautiful woman and I know 2012 is going to be a wonderful year for you.

Thank you for continuing to be such an inspiration. All the best and here’s to moving forward and marching on!

xoxo,
Sam

This post brought tears to my eyes, but also warmed my heart. It is REFRESHING to see that you are only human too and it only makes me like and appreciate your blog more! Thank you for sharing your story! I hope 2012 is an amazing year for you – you deserve it :)

What a moving post. I’m so sorry this has been a hard year, but I sincerely appreciate you sharing your experiences here. And I sense a lot of hope for 2012. No matter what happens I wish you the very best and am looking forward to all your work and adventures on The Sweetest Occasion.

You are an inspiration and a gift to us all. Thank you for all of your hard work here on TSO, and congratulations on all of your hard work on life this year. :) What a treat to be able to call you a friend. xoxo!

Sending happy thoughts your way as you move into a fresh start in 2012. As I read through your post, I could relate to many things you wrote and all I can say is that you are poised to embark on an amazing new chapter in your life!

2011 was a tough year all around, I think – frankly, I can’t wait for it to be over! I am so looking for a fresh start in 2012. :)

Tiffany

Cyd, I am so glad you found peace in the closing hours of 2011. It sounds like your life took a turn for the better after your woes with work and marriage. Cheers to you and your new family in 2012!

Now get back up on that unicorn, and let’s get the New Year festivities started!
xoxo

Oh Cyd, my heart goes out to you and I sincerely hope that 2012 will be the best year yet. Thanks for sharing such a personal part of yourself with the world. Chelsea C. is absolutely correct; you ARE and inspiration to us all.

This is one of the most inspirational and moving posts I’ve read. You truly are an amazing woman and I wish you the best as we go into 2012. You are such a creative blogger and I read your blog faithfully. You’re so talented and I enjoy every post. Thank you for sharing such a private part of your life.

To the new year!

Erin

Wow, you are so brave and amazing. This is hands down one of the best blog posts I have ever read, not just here but anywhere. You seem to know this already, but everything is going to be okay. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

I hope you don’t mind, but I shared this with my readers today. I just want everyone to send you a little love! :)

http://theproperpinwheel.com/post/15038076242/fresh-find-friday

Happy New Year, Cyd!

I too have had a rough last couple of years, but it has been mixed with a few blessings as well. I love that you decided to write about your struggles! I agree, sometimes the blogsphere (especially pretty blogs) can be all sparkles and rainbows (because they ARE so pretty!), but a little depth really helps to ground everything, and it can be so refreshing in a sea of eye candy! I also have been composing a post about the hardships we’ve been through, and I was planning to reflect on these things over the new year too! Thanks for this post, and I love the quote!

cyd

You are all so amazing! Your love and support means the world. I’m looking forward to 2012 and know it holds beautiful things for all of us. Thank you a million times over! xoxoxoxo

Erica

You go girl! That post was amazing and truly shows how amazing you are! I am so glad to have you as a friend! I am so glad you have experienced all of your amazing accomplishments and I am looking for to what you have to share in 2012! Does this move in the last 3 weeks mean you are further away from me?! We need to catch up…ASAP! Love you XOXO!

Love your commitment to honesty in this post and sharing a part of your personal life. Wishing you the best 2012. xoxo

Cyd, thanks for sharing such an honest and brave post. Many warm wishes for a fantastic 2012! xo

What a beautiful post to end the year on. It is only because we experience pain and sorrow that we come to recognize the true beauty of friendship, happiness, and love. I’m so glad the sun is coming out from behind the clouds and you’re ready to run head-long into the adventures ahead. I’ll be enjoying the ride this side the screen. Wishing you a 2012 that goes beyond you anything you could have imagined. xo.

My first instinct was to say, “I’m sorry,” but I think a more appropriate statement would be, “I’m so proud of you.” You are a strong, strong lady, and I have no doubt that you will continue to flourish and grow in 2012. Thanks for sharing this bit of of your personal story with us. xoxo

Julia

Having read this article, my admiration and respect for you has grown substantially from an already substantial amount. Reading your blog equates the sparkles and unicorns you have mentioned, and I have derived so much content and joy by watching the happiness of others’, just as you undoubtedly do. Your creativity in writing, layout, and aesthetic is practically dumbfounding due to its consistent near-perfection, but what is more shocking to me is that you have been able to flourish and grow as an aesthete despite the hardship you have experienced these past two years. Your graciousness in regards to your family is touching, and affirms to me what I surmised from your previous posts-you are a lovely, loving woman whose dedication to bringing others happiness is an outgrowth of lovely, loving relationships you invest yourself in. That is also evidenced by your decision to sacrifice your marriage for the happiness of your partner-that was a truly noble act that unquestionably manifested in trying consequences which you have borne in stride. You are a beautiful woman, and just looking at the comment section demonstrates to me that you are loved transcending state lines and computer screens. Now that’s something to be proud of. XOXO, J.

Carly

This is my very first post to your blog, even though I’ve been an avid (read: enthralled) reader since the beginning of this year. I just couldn’t resist the urge to verbally give you hug through post. You are truly an inspiration to me in so many ways (and I am sure your readers) and the fact that you have managed to endure these trials and them not make you give up on all the “glitter and rainbows” life has to offer makes me hold such an overwhelming respect for you. I am a your-age-married-mama-graphic-designer and sometimes life can just totally throw you off your feet and make even the beauty you love to see in everyday look dull and tarnished. The fact that you have shared this incredibly personal post has just served to floor me in a way that I never thought I would find among the beautiful imagery and thoughtful, inspirational posts. Thank you for showing us all that, despite the heartbreaking life events that we can endure, you can still be such an amazingly creative, inspirational, beautiful, (human) person. Kudos and thanks to you for opening your soul to the people who adore your blog, and the very best wishes to you in the new year. XOXO

Jennifer

After reading your post today (as I do ever morning – saving it for last because it’s my favorite), I am left practically speechless. You are mature far beyond your 28 years. I can say that since I’m old enough to be your mother. :-) Your poise and professionalism are unparalleled and inspiring. Thank you for not only designing one of the best blogs of its type on the internet; but for sharing your personal life this morning and for showing by example how classy young women can be in the midst of sadness and crisis. May you have a truly joyous New Year!

Dear Cyd, thank you so much for your ‘real~life’ post. It is a challenge not to get caught up in the fairytale world of some blogs… and I’m sure it was challenging to continue to create and inspire in the middle of your own real~life challenges. But you know something… that’s what brave and beautiful women do… we march on. We bounce back. And we follow our dreams. So, here’s to a year of blessings coming your way! God Bless!!!

Wow Cyd–thank you so much for sharing all of this. So true that what we normally share on our blogs/social networking sites etc sometimes feels like a shiny but fragile patina rather than our real selves. It must feel good to share it here among friends and get it all off your chest–so glad we can be a catharsis for you!! Love your blog, your ideas, your sharing, your inspirations…and hopefully everything that makes us who we are (good, bad, and all) also makes life even sweeter!! Big hugs to you a wonderful and exciting 2012. :)

Thank you for doing what many of us ‘pretty bloggers’ are afraid to do. Thank you for getting personal. You’ve challenged me, motivated me and encouraged me. Your transparency and heartfelt words are extremely refreshing.
I’m so, so sorry to hear about your trials but will be right here reading along in 2012 and can’t wait to see what it holds for you, Cyd!

Happy new year Cyd! This was such a personal post and it’s a gift to be so honest – with yourself, and with others! Thank you for sharing!

Hey Cyd, I’ so sorry to hear you’ve had a rough year. You’re a strong, smart woman, and I know despite everything you’ll always land on your feet. Here’s to an amazing new year for you!

Cyd- This post is truly inspiring, despite your struggles in 2011. You helped remind me that ALL bloggers have a not-so-glittery side, myself included. I always debated whether or not to put anything personal on my blog. I always end up doing it, but have never truly felt like it was the right choice. However, reading your post reminds me that while I enjoy reading all your posts and looking at pretty pictures, it’s the blogger behind the posts that I truly enjoy. And your courage to be open and honest is encouraging and inspiring. So….Here’s to a wonderful 2012 and more posts, when the timing is right, that share our hearts with the world. xo

A very brave post but I’m so glad you wrote this. I agree with everyone that says your courage is inspiring! Here’s to 2012!

Rachie xo

Thank you for this post — you are beautiful and brave. xxox.

Hey girl, you have had a very challenging couple of years and you’ve shown such incredible strength. I’m so glad you’re in a good place now… here’s to awesomeness in 2012 and many more weddings together!! :)

sending you love and positive thoughts cyd. hoping your 2012 is full of goodness.

Oh Cyd, you are such an inspiration to so many people out here, or there, or wherever it is all of us sparkly unicorns may be :) And so many of us have never even met you in real life. I think often when we press forward, and show courage in the face of tough, gut-wrenching, and challenging times, we come out on top. And we emerge as more beautiful versions of ourselves; on the inside. Here’s a giant hug from me to you. Glitter and all xoxo

cyd

I really can’t express in words my gratitude for all of your love and support. You are all so amazing and have filled my heart with such hope and happiness. Thank you so so much. It means more than you’ll ever know. I am just overwhelmed, in the most beautiful way. xoxoxo

I’m not a regular reader, but was lead here by Hingsight Bride, Christie.

Sharing the heart on a blog is a difficult thing to do. I struggle with it all the time – how much to share, keeping it light, snarky, whatever. I understand what a challenge it could have been to write this kind of post.

However, I do believe that in doing so, as with anyone who writes with and from the heart, it brings peace to the writer and relief to the readers. Relief in the knowing that others face the same challenges we do in our love, work, health, finances, etc. Everyone feels less alone in their struggles and that is a blessing.

No, we are not sparkly unicorns and that is WAY OK.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Wishing you nothing but the best in 2012, Cyd!! I know it will be wonderful for you. Thank you so much for the inspiration you bring to all of us and the love you put into your blog. :)

Wendy

Cyd, I have had my head so far up my you-know-what this school year that I haven’t been reading blogs and have just been generally oblivious. I was just thinking about you and saw something on your fb that referred to this post. I have so much respect and admiration for you–in every way possible. Much love.

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