2014 was quite a year. Quite a year, indeed.

Not many people in this life get the chance to hold a beautiful bound copy of a book they’ve written in their hands, never-mind seeing it succeed and their names on the New York Times Bestseller list.  I still can’t believe I was one of those people. Still, months later, a quick peek of that striped spine on a bookstore shelf still leaves me speechless. Not to mention the thrill of my cross-country book tour, not only because I was on my own book tour (say whaaaaaat?) but because I got to finally meet many of you in person and share that magical experience with Andrew.  After nearly eight years of talking to you through this blog, to get to hug you and look you in the eyes was so gratifying to me. Overwhelming and mind-blowing too, of course.  It still amazes me that people I don’t know in real life read what I have to say.

We also go to see the dream of adding an addition onto our house turn into reality.  And what a spectacular reality it is.  Not often do things surpass my expectations (the curse of being a ridiculous perfectionist) but this DID. In every way. We had an amazing team working on the house and I felt confident in the design and decisions we made.  And now, every time I walk into my master bedroom and bathroom or realize I don’t have to go into our dark basement to do a load of whites, I feel gratitude head to toe.  It’s so wonderful to see this little, smoky, old house turn into everything I want it to be (of course, my brain has moved onto Phase 3- and oohhhhh, it’s gonna be GOOD- when we can afford to do it, of course!)

But this year wasn’t all triumphs, no one’s year ever is.  My struggle to get pregnant resulted in an early miscarriage and a failed first IVF attempt, both of which caused us a lot of pain and put an extra dose of fear into my heart.  But what’s good about going through all this is that I finally feel ready.  I am in the space where I really, really want nothing more than to be a mom- where as two years ago I was nowhere near that.  I was still conflicted, unsure of what I really wanted and certainly not ready to be someone’s mother.  I have to trust my own timeline and not constantly compare it to everyone else.

The other thing this battle has taught me, and this has been a very recent development, is that you cannot control everything.  I’ve spent my entire life, thank to fabulous parents, with the understanding that if I work hard enough I can accomplish anything. And I have. And being a control freak has served me very well in my career, and I have to embrace that. But this is one thing I have absolutely no control over.  And after the tears dried, a sort of peace settled into my heart- an acceptance I have long tried to find within me- that this is not my fault and I can’t spend all my days devastated because I am not pregnant yet.  It’s a waste of a really blessed life.  There is something so freeing in the ability to finally believe that and  I’ve actually been so much happier since then.  We are heading into round two of IVF with a new doctor (Dr. Ashby, for all those that commented and suggested her), new hospital and a new found sense of well-being.  And while I’m still scared it won’t work, there is hope.

While we were going through our first cycle full of shots and stress, Andrew got laid off.  The timing could not have been worse for lots of reasons, and it was a really hard moment for our relationship.  There were certainly some “why me?” moments when adding up the infertility and the job loss all at once.  But Andrew is the most resilient man on the planet, and not only saw the loss of his job as a GOOD thing (he wasn’t very happy where he was) but as an opportunity to make his own dream career come true.  And seeing him so happy right now, jumping up to get to work every morning, makes me so happy.  He’s been so supportive to me while I worked endlessly on my career, and I want this year to be “The Year of Andrew Gates”, with me in the supporting role, not the star.

But the best thing about 2014?  Andrew and I have never been in a better place in our marriage. Ever. I am so lucky to have him as my husband (as those of you who got to meet him on tour reminded me) and I think he feels lucky to have me too.  And that right there is such a gift.  I feel like we’re on such solid ground right now, like everything has sort of shifted into place, and no matter what happens in 2015- good or bad- we’ll get through it, celebrate it, love it, hate it and endure it together.

And to all of you- those who have read this blog, bought the book, shared your joy and pain with me this year, showed up to signings and even those who doubted me- THANK YOU.  It’s you who still make me so excited to open this computer every morning and blog.  It’s you who made my dreams come true this year. I don’t know where I’d be without your support- probably still in a grey cubicle working on insurance spreadsheets and dreaming of the life I have now. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And to 2014- thanks for being the best year yet. Until 2015. :)


Giving: The Best Gift

I like to support charities close to my heart and wanted to share some with you for your consideration this holiday season since supporting others and giving back feels SO good.  Also, for the impossible to shop for, making a donation in their name is a wonderfully thoughtful gift.

As you know, animal charities are very important to me.  If I could save all the puppies in the world, I would.  If Andrew would let me, I’d rescue ten dogs (including this guy who I am PRAYING will find a forever home soon!)  But it’s not just dogs- it’s cats, bunnies, horses, elephants… you name it.  Locally, I’m a big fan of the Animal Rescue League- they do amazing work and I financially donate and have made a resolution to find ways to get MORE involved this year.  You can donate HERE or look at the animals up for adoption HERE.  Rescue puppies are the BEST puppies, after all.  Oliver is a rescue from a puppy mill and he’s the best dog in the world (Baxter was from a breeder and is nuts- I love him to pieces, but he’s cray-cray.)


Have Yourself A Simple Little Holiday.

Andrew has been playing Christmas music on repeat for the last few weeks (as you may recall, I am married to the real Buddy the Elf) while I’ve been ranting about how early all the holiday decor has been put out (before Halloween I saw stuff out! WHAT!?) But now that we have snow in our forecast and Thanksgiving is looming I realize that it IS that time of year. I do love holiday time, it’s the only part of winter I can tolerate snow and cold temperatures.  I’ve had such a crazy fall that I’m hoping to have a SUPER low key holiday this year. Simple, cozy and streamlined.  So here’s some inspiration I am loving:

Nantucket Magic.

photo 4-31

Oh Nantucket.

Even though we live a mere 3 hour drive/ ferry ride from this little beauty, Andrew and I had not been in TEN YEARS. I don’t know what we’ve been doing all these weekends the past decade, but it was more likely Netflix binges and yard work than jaunts to Nantucket.  I am SO GLAD we decided to go last week for three nights to celebrate our nine year anniversary.  It is one of the most magical places I have been since Paris. I am not even kidding you. Granted, we had the most perfect weather ever (sunny, dry, breezy and 67 degree days and slightly chillier nights) and we went during the best month (the crazy, busy summers are not so much my thing).  But truly Nantucket has a glow about it. A salty, warm glow that just makes you smile and breathe a little easier.  As my mom said, it’s like a really expensive Disney World for adults. Everything is SO beautiful it almost feels like it can’t be real! Especially the houses. Oh, the houses!!!  Walking along the streets I found myself yelling things at Andrew like “How can all these houses be so cute? How do all these people have so much money? I want to live here forever! Let’s sell everything and open an inn!”  It was heaven. And here are some pictures to prove it.