Every year I say the same thing: how crazy is it that the year is ending and the new one is beginning?! Although sometimes it feels like the days go by slowly, the years go by in a blink of an eye! This year I kicked off 2019 in a completely different country, and I travelled to several new countries. I spent time with some of my favorite people, and also made new friendships along the way. I tried new things and learned new things. This year has been filled with laughter and tears; joy and frustration; healing and pain. Despite it all, I have so much to be grateful and thankful for during this past year. Let’s take a look back at the 2019 year highlights:
I was blessed to kick off the New Year in the best way possible! Not only was I able to go on a 2-week cruise throughout southeast Asia, I was able to share that experience with my “twin”, Marissa & “our” mom, Michelle! Thankfully, they let me invite myself on the trip, and it was definitely one for the books! We started our trip in Shanghai, China then made our way to Nagasaki, Japan; Busan, South Korea; Hong Kong; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Bangkok, Thailand; Ko Samui, Thailand; and we ended our journey in Singapore! On our way back to the United States, Michelle and I made a pit stop to United Arab Emirates, visiting Dubai and Abu Dhabi!
I didn’t do anything exciting. I did turn 26 this year; and I stand by my statement – it was not that exciting!
I didn’t do anything exciting this month either!
Ever since freshmen of undergrad, Heather and I have spent every spring break together. We didn’t believe in giving up the tradition once we graduated, so to this day we continue our trips. This year was our 8th spring break together, and we had the pleasure of having our good friend Sarah join us this time! We spent a weekend in Asheville, North Carolina – exploring the downtown area, working together to escape an escape room, and drinking all the wine and cider we could!
Were you aware that the first full week of May is National Travel & Tourism Week? I wasn’t either until this year, and I just happened to find out by chance, even though it was established in the United States in 1983. So in honor of the week, I baked cupcakes and fun travel-shaped cookies!
I also attended the Atlanta United Game for the first time at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium! My friend won tickets through a lottery and invited me along to accompany him. Although I don’t keep up with any sports team, it was fun to watch and I’d love to go back again sometime!
I had the chance to visit Disneyland for the first time! I was with my friend, Courtney, who works at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. She has been to Disneyland several times, so she was the perfect tour guide – enhancing my experience! I was also super happy to have the chance to see my cousin, who met up with us at Disneyland and we got to see the magical firework show at the end!
The entire reason I was in Los Angeles though, was to witness the beautiful union of this couple. I’ve known the groom since high school [he’s my bestie], and I met the bride through him when we were in college. I was so happy to be a part of their day, and of course I cried because it was just so beautiful and I was so happy! And now I have another bestie in my life!
So originally, I wanted to spend the 4th of July in Hawaii. I figured since I was already on the West Coast, flights would be relatively cheap. I figured wrong. So my friend let me invite myself and my mom down to her house in Sarasota, Florida. It was a great couple of days relaxing, hanging by the pool, and spending time with good people. We of course watched fireworks on the 4th, and it was my first time watching them on the beach!
My sister and her friend’s family are always going to the lake. This time I got invited to go. Apparently, I got invited to go a few times, but this is the only time my sister relayed that information to me. But it was a great time out on the water, enjoying the fresh air and the warming rays of the sun!
I attended my first public health conference, the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, & Media. Even though I do not have a job in public health yet, I felt like it would be a disservice to myself not to go to the conference since it was held in Atlanta. And I’m so happy I went! I learned so much and got to meet some incredible people.
I love it when we’re able to have family reunions and this time it was for my cousin’s 2nd birthday party! Family from Georgia, North Carolina, New York, and Virginia all met up to celebrate and spend time with each other. Some of us had the opportunity to explore Washington DC the day before the birthday party. We had intended to go to the Museum of the Bible, but we ended up checking out the National Museum of the American Indian. We also had the chance to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. We learned so much from both museums, but I highly recommend spending the day at one museum to maximize your time. There is so much information in these museums
Guess who’s back? Back again? Haha just kidding! But I did get to see the Backstreet Boys! I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan now [the day of the concert is the day I realized they had dropped a new album], but I absolutely LOVED them back in the day. And let me tell you – whenever they sang any of their older songs, the crowd went WILD!
I went to Cuba! I was blessed with the opportunity to be on a tour with Dr. Kiona, of How Not to Travel Like a Basic Bitch, and with Rita, of Like a Cuban. They curated an amazing educational tour of Cuba, making sure to highlight the locals. If you’re thinking of visiting Cuba, I highly recommend going via their tour. It was the first group tour I’ve ever done [aside from study abroad where I at least knew one person], and it was phenomenal!
At the end of the month, I headed up to North Carolina to my alma mater – Campbell University. This was the inaugural year of the Alumni Meet. The current team was split into two teams – orange and black for our school colors – and the alumni who wanted to swim in the meet were split into one of those teams. I forgot how taxing a meet truly is, and was quickly reminded! But I still had a lot of fun and got to reconnect with teammates I had not seen in quite some time.
Chalktoberfest was so cool! This was my first year attending, and I am so happy I did. The artists, which come from all over the world, are so talented. There were pieces representing different cultures; pieces representing different organizations; pieces representing various media; and so much more! If you ever happen to be in Marietta during October, make sure to check out Chalktoberfest. It’s a pretty neat experience!
I went to Cleveland, Ohio for the first time! My mom had to attend a course for her work and she wanted me to accompany her. While she was in her class, I explored Cleveland via Lolley the Trolley. I met a hilarious family, who immediately adopted me into their group for the trip. I enjoyed my time there, and Cleveland seems like a city that embraces diversity!
Did you know Atlanta is home to the largest mosque outside of India? The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir invited people of all cultures, races, and religions to attend their Festival of Light, so my friend and I went. It was a beautiful ceremony. We witnessed traditional dancing, then a firework show. The mosque also was lit up and changed colors throughout the show.
It was a twin and mom reunion! Marissa and Michelle happened to be coming to Atlanta, and we decided to meet up. Always wanting to enjoy good food and drinks, we decided to hit up the Patty Porch and we were certainly not disappointed. It was a night of good fun, good atmosphere, and good company!
My absolute favorite play came to Atlanta, so there was no way I was going to miss seeing Wicked while it was in town. The first time I saw Wicked was in London when I was 16. I was a little nervous I had hyped it up in my memories, but it was just as great as I remember! Even though I went solo, I had a blast!
My favorite season is Christmas! I love the decorations, the smells, and just the gentler nature of people. I also would love to attend a European Christmas Market one day in my lifetime. Since I wasn’t able to do that this year, I was thrilled to learn that Atlanta has their own Christmas Market. Complete with lights, treats, and trinkets, the market is so cute!
I won a giveaway from Explore Georgia to the 50th Annual Atlanta Pop Fest. I had never heard of it before, but I was excited to try something new. Held in the Variety Playhouse, my friend and I headed to Little 5 Points to check it out. We enjoyed it a lot. Personally, I enjoyed before the intermission significantly more than after, but I’m super glad we went!
I experienced the Marietta Pilgrimage: A Christmas Home Tour this year for the first time. As you probably know, Christmas is my favorite holiday – mostly because I absolutely love the decorations! This tour allowed us to go inside 6 historic homes and admire the elaborate decorations.
For the first time this year as well, I attended a holiday show at The Strand in the Marietta Square. If you’re all about the holidays and love dancing, this show would be the one for you! ‘Letters to Santa’ followed a mailman and Santa on their journey to the North Pole. Filled with amazing dancing, vocals, and costumes, the show certainly delivered!
2019 year highlights:
This year was filled with new adventure, breaking out of the comfort zone, and various struggles. This year I learned that I am an enneagram 2, started taking Chinese classes, and tried to be kinder to myself.
Thank you to all of you who continue to support Life with Larissa as I continue to find my voice in the blogging community. Although I’ve been blogging since 2016, I am learning something new each and every day. Be on the lookout to subscribe to my newsletter, which is something that I plan to launch in 2020!
I’m excited to see what this next decade will bring, and I look forward to sharing those adventures with you! As you look back on your year, what were your 2019 year highlights? I’d love to hear about them! Anything you’re looking forward to in 2020? I’d love to hear about that as well 🙂