A Look Back On 2018

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2018. What a year. It was a good one for sure.

It feels like we’re finally doing things ya know? What things, I couldn’t quite tell you. Maybe just moving in a direction that we’re excited about. A direction that feels like it has a rhyme and reason and we have somewhat of a say. It feels like we can see it. Like this life and career we’ve been talking about is finally starting to take shape.

I’ll remember 2018 as the year we got married. The year we moved into our little cabin on the lake. The year we finally buckled down with work and said, “If we’re going to do this, let’s do this.” And did it.

It wasn’t perfect, I don’t think it ever is, but it was exactly what it needed to be. A year of growth and growing pains. A year of laughing and crying and sometimes laughing until we cried. A year of going going going only to try to figure out how in the heck to slow it all down.

As I reflect on what this year has been, I hope you’re able to take some time and reflect on yours as well. The good, the bad, and how you can make changes in 2019. I’ve learned some major lessons from this year and wanted to share them with you.

WE GOT MARRIED!

Steph and Scott Castelein and a photo from their wedding day.

What a blessing marriage is.

It’s different and better than I thought it would be. Truthfully I wasn’t expecting our relationship to change much. We were in love, committed, and all in before we were married and now we’re still in love, committed, and all in, yet it’s somehow different.

Simply put, it’s been the best.

It’s also been very hard and confusing and we’ve had to work at it and when they say communication is key, they mean it. But when I think of marriage, I find myself smiling at how beautifully complex and ultimately simple it is. Simple meaning, no matter how far off we get, we always come back to our love and commitment to each other.

Marriage has been a whole lot of working on us as a couple but more so each of us working on ourselves as individuals.

Growing and learning and loving and at the end of the day trying to be a better person so I can be a better wife and Scott a better husband.

I wouldn’t want to do the hard work with anyone else. Scott makes me a better person and I still can’t put my finger on it, but marriage has changed us and I like it.

IF YOU WANT SOMETHING, GO FOR IT

Steph excited and jumping into a puddle because of the first snowfall.

This has been the year of actually doing something about our future. I suppose we’ve always known if we want something to change, we have to change it ourselves, but it seems like these things are always easier said than done.

We’ve been talking about getting into the online world for a while now. But less talk and more rock, am I right?

It’s so darn easy to put things off. To think that they’re too hard or there’s not enough time or there are already a million people doing it and doing it better than you.

But know this my friend, if you want something, really, really want something, you just have to go for it.

You have to put yourself in a position surrounded by some good people, and just go for it. There’s no perfect strategy. No 3 easy steps. It’s just you deciding you want to do it. It’s going to be hard and you won’t always know what you’re doing and you’re going to fail a lot but it’s better than always wondering what could have been.

CREATE

Steph walking on the ice at Petoskey State Park.

Create was my one word for 2018. It was the inspiration for the big things I wanted to pursue and focus on this year.

I’d fallen into a routine of just letting Scott do all of the creative work. I knew we’d just end up using his photos so I wouldn’t take any. I knew it’d save us time if he took the photos quickly so I’d just let him do his thing. I’d get frustrated if I tried and then he’d jump in giving me suggestions or telling me to do it differently. I wanted to be at his level and I wanted to be at it now.

Turns out 10 years of experience is pretty hard to match with the click of a button. I knew for both of our sake I had to embark on my own creative journey. I wanted to force myself to try new things and see how I could get better at them. I needed to find my own niche and style and get better at creating general.

I wanted to write and journal and blog, doodle, take photos, create videos, paint, read….whatever it took to create more and become better at it.

I think, all in all, I did pretty well.

I guess I can always look back and say I wish I had or I could have done more, but truthfully I’m proud of what I accomplished and the different ways I found to create.

I do know this, because of the one-word idea, I was conscious of how I could create every single day. I’d wake up thinking about creating and ask myself if I accomplished it at the end of the day. The answer wasn’t always yes but it never felt like a burden. I just knew if I wanted to grow and be better as a person that creating was a part of that for me this year.

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

Rocks on the beach in the winter time at Petoskey State Park.

Home is where the heart is, has never been more true than this year. There’s been a major shift in our thinking and lately, we’re really loving being home at our little cabin on the lake.

When we first met, Scott and I were excited to explore our new relationship while traveling the world. And now, we’re happy as two clams getting to live in a small cabin with their cat. Do you think clams actually would enjoy that? Anyway, the point is that we’re happy. Really happy.

Oh, we still yearn to travel and have about 13 places we’re excited to visit next and often go down the rabbit hole of finding that perfect place to explore but, we’re 110% more content being right where we are. On a lake in Northern Michigan.

I can tell you the moment I realized it too. We had just gotten back from a really great 2-week trip to Portugal and suddenly I had this overwhelming sense of excitement when I spotted our Jeep in the parking lot of the airport.

We had a home we were going back to. Gibson was waiting for us. We had money in our accounts and clients that we had plans to do work for. For the first time, I was more excited to be home than on a crazy adventure. It was weird, but more so it was exciting.

If I had to guess, I think another big factor in feeling settled was making our decision to stay in Michigan and sticking with it. For awhile we were trying to figure out what to do. Do we buy a house? Do we move somewhere overseas? Do we chase the sunshine? Do we buy another Dolly and go? All of those questions led to months of really frustrating and tense nights and conversations and feeling like we had no control. The unknown can be exciting but it’s extremely scary and exhausting too.

When we found this cabin opportunity and stuck with it, we immediately felt a wave of relief. We’ve been able to enjoy our little home and lives here and start pursuing our dreams knowing this is the life we’ve chosen.

THANKFULNESS

Steph and Scott Castelein overlooking the city in Porto, Portugal.

It’s real. It’s active. Being thankful takes practice. It’s for sure an every day thing. This year, more than ever, I’ve been expressing, recognizing, and practicing thankfulness. Cherishing every second we get on this earth surrounded by the people in it.

Cat snuggles.
Morning coffee with Scott.
Quiet moments alone reading.
Video chatting with my family back home.
Safe rides to and from work.
Food on the table.
A roof over our heads.
An endless supply of blankets.
Getting to pursue jobs we both love.

You can choose to see these moments as every day meh or you can see them as blessings. I make a choice every day, sometimes unwillingly, to see them as blessings and choose to be thankful.

TIME

Scott planting flowers in the spring time.

Finally, time.

It’s our big thing lately because it seems to be flying, this life and time. It seems the moments just as quickly turn to memories and it just doesn’t ever stop.

We both know we’re in such a unique time of our lives. No kids, almost zero responsibilities, and the option to do whatever the heck we want with little risk. And yet, it still flies.

Our phones seem to be a factor. Work too. They both take up way too much space in my mind and we’ve started to take steps to scale them back.

We want more time to get bored. More time to create. More time to think and do and be. Less time working and more time working out. We want to go fishing or play cards or take a hike in the middle of the day because that’s what we’ll remember, not the email we sent out or the post we put up.

Time is sacred and it’s so temporary. I have a feeling finding more time will be a major focus for us in 2019.

It’s fun to look back and reflect on a whole year of life. To see what has changed and what hasn’t. To see what you remember and what ended up not being that important after all. I’m looking forward to not just hoping 2019 will be great, but planning for it.

Cheers my friend. Cheers to a beautiful year and looking forward to many more.
Steph

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