The start of a new year always brings my adventures of the previous year into perspective. Of course every year has its fair share of highlights and challenges, so I knew two-thousand-fifteen would be no different. This was another year of personal growth for me and with every year that passes, I start to humbly accept that life doesn't always go according to plan. I've had a lot of amazing experiences this year and learned to appreciate them even more in the midst of unexpected life lessons. In some of those more difficult moments of the year, I told myself that the tough decisions I make now will eventually make sense later on.
Now that 2016 has started, I can see that all the decisions I made contributed to moving my life in the right direction. Relocating back to Seattle from Portland, relaunching my blog as the BEAU, cultivating friendships with people that truly appreciate me and dedicating myself to work that fulfills me are all choices that have positively changed my life over time. In putting myself out of my comfort zone, trying new things and taking risks, I learned so much more about myself and how the world works.
I've compiled some of the big moments of my 2015 along with my favorite photos I've taken this year (some of these photos you might recognize from my Instagram and previous blog posts, while other photos you have never seen before).
Moving to Portland last January was something I needed to do, especially having never lived on my own before (apart from living in Spokane while attending Gonzaga University). While I was only a mere three hour drive away from my immediate family, I finally had the financial independence to explore a city I knew hardly anything about without having to answer to anyone. I kind of liked the idea of moving somewhere completely new to me and making my mark on it. I love the quirky, diverse feel that Portland has vibrating from its city streets. I had so much fun trying out so many different restaurants in Portland's expansive dining scene. I quickly picked out my favorite food carts, brunch spots and happy hour hangouts. Everything about Portland is unique, from the speciality coffee shops to the world-renowned bookstores. Some of my favorite places include Barista, Powell's, Pittock Mansion and Nuvrei.
Making new friends in Portland wasn't hard for me, but it was making the right friends that ended up being the challenge. There's no doubt that I did make some great friends in the City of Roses, but it wasn't without a few awkward encounters, dismal Tinder dates and one faux friendship that I had to end for my own sanity. Sometimes I was breaking hearts while other times my heart was the one getting broken. Even though there was a lot of trial and error in navigating new friendships this year, I'm really happy that I took initiative and stood up for myself whenever I felt mistreated. If anything, the experience made me all the more appreciative of my true friends.
I had a few opportunities to travel this year to some sensational destinations just outside of my own backyard and even further down the West Coast. I visited San Francisco for a long weekend with my friend Kelsey and it was an awesome way to see the city from a local's point of view. From eating in Chinatown to admiring Golden Gate Park, I enjoyed falling back in love with that beautiful city by the bay. Being back in California provided plenty of material for my blog posts for TripIt, a travel itinerary app (here's a California Road Trip Planner and a West Coast Road Trip Planner).
I had a sunny surprise when I was spontaneously whisked away to Venice Beach for a final job interview with Snapchat (yes, the app we all love to use) this summer. While I wasn't a perfect match for the position, I was thrilled to meet the creative minds at that social media powerhouse. Just having that experience gave me the confidence that I needed to continue searching for my dream job in the social media industry. After the interview, I strolled down the iconic boardwalk and snapped the above photos during a spectacular sunset. Being on the California coastline, watching the hot sun disappear behind the crashing waves was one of my favorite moments of 2015.
I spent most of my summer in Portland, working with brands to create content right here on the BEAU and contributing to Discover Portland while simultaneously getting to know the city on a whole other level. Jacob showed me the hipster-chic Hawthorne, while Jordan took me to some of the most breathtaking viewpoints in the city. The locals hardly vacation away from the city during the summer because it's one of the best times to experience Portland. Attending Canon's photography event, trying treats from MacarOn Cafe and capturing my summer style were all exhilarating memories of my last few months in Portland.
There was one day during the summer I won't soon forget because everything about it was almost inexplicably perfect. My sister, her friend and I drove up to Port Townsend on a whim and spent the whole day strolling through the idyllic coastal town. We perused each quaint storefront, took pictures at the shoreline and ate a lot of good food along the way. I don't know what it was—maybe the setting, the weather or the company—but I was completely elated the entire day. Having that intense feeling helped me realize that Washington state will always be my home and that it was where I truly belonged.
In early autumn, I moved out of my tiny studio in Portland and back home to Seattle to be close to my friends, family and the places I loved with all of my heart. All those weekend trips back to Seattle to see my old friends throughout the year should have been a sign early on that I wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to the Emerald City after all. Being back here opened up so many opportunities for me, like attending a fashion show, working with Anthony Skincare, making my first public appearance as a blogger at Pacific Place's "Style Up" event and being featured in Life at the Woods magazine. But honestly, none of those achievements makes me happier than my ability to make more great memories with my friends and family by being back here.
One of my own personal New Year's resolutions was to up my Instagram game after purchasing a Canon camera. Ironically, one of my biggest moments on Instagram this year wasn't even on my own account! About a week after I tagged Forever 21 in a picture of my outfit, the @Forever21Men account re-grammed my photo. It was a totally unexpected surprise, especially because I never tag my photos thinking they'll be featured anywhere (I tag the brands so that my followers can see where each item of clothing is from). I loved watching the likes climb into the thousands and connecting with other stylish Instagrammers because of the feature.
If there is one thing I'll never stop taking pictures of, it's coffee. I visited the Starbucks Roastery for the first time in August, just a few days after my birthday, and snapped a picture of this seriously delicious mocha. I've been taking pictures of Starbucks drinks (not all of them pretty either) since I first joined Instagram in 2010, never once thinking I would catch the attention of the social media team behind one of my favorite brands. The @Starbucks Instagram account liked this post and I just about died! That single like from them made this my most liked post to date and easily one of my favorite birthday presents.
Just looking at this Instagram picture makes me blush. I visited my friend Corey at the University of Oregon for Halloween which ended up turning into the best weekend of my whole entire year. Corey had been hyping me up to meet one of her friends named Bruce for weeks and I never thought I would actually get to meet him until Corey picked me up from the train station that late October weekend saying "Okay time to go meet Bruce!" My connection with Bruce was immediately and overwhelmingly enthralling (so much so that it inspired this entire Musique du Mois post). He dressed up as a character from Grease for Halloween but his costume was missing something as special as he was, so I offered up my favorite letterman's jacket (which looks better on him than me!) and he was transformed into a sexy jock. My hipster/nerd costume complimented his star athlete ensemble perfectly, making us everyone's favorite couple of the night. We have so many pictures (some of them even steamier than this) from that weekend that I thought I would share one extra outtake from our impromptu photoshoot.
This year has been full of revelations, laughs, cries and moments I hope to remember forever. Life never seemed to be short of excitement these past twelve months and I can't wait to see what 2016 brings. I've been tested, praised, humbled and loved greater than I have ever been before. I can't help but have a smile on my face knowing all of these experiences will help me thrive and conquer what life throws at me next.
Thank you for being a part of my journey this year and I hope you and your loved ones have a spectacular year filled with love and happiness!