2015 through 2018 was a blur. A blur of work. A blur of finishing college, starting my business, moving out on my own, and work being my whole world.
But not 2019. 2019 was different. 2019 held some of my happiest highs and hardest lows, laughing so hard I can’t breathe and crying so hard I can’t either, feelings I didn’t know I could feel and lessons I will never unlearn. I vividly remember saying once somewhere in the middle that this has been one of my hardest years so far. I’m not sure if I still stand by that or not, but I do know that even though I don’t want to redo this year I am so glad it happened. This year is one I won’t forget for a while.
This year has taught me that it’s okay to not be okay. And even moreso, it’s okay to not hide it. It’s okay to answer “um honestly terrible” when someone asks “how are you?” It’s okay to not know when I will be okay, and to just keep crying for as long as it takes. There’s no time limit on tears and there’s no should on be over it by now.
Life won’t always play out like I imagined. Sometimes it’s about letting go, trusting that maybe the universe knows what I need more than I do, appreciating what was and what it taught me, learning that endings aren’t failures just plot twists, and remembering the perspective my sister once told me and I will never forget: you didn’t lose them, they lost you.
Thank you for misunderstanding me, rejecting me, not seeing me, and teaching me to always see myself.
And in the last few months I’ve learned that time always works its magic. It always gets easier. There will always be more captivating conversations you don’t see coming and new connections full of beautiful potential and enlivening moments of unforgettable happiness ahead.
I am not perfect and I don’t want to be. Instead I want to be quick to apologize when I mess up and quick to forgive because everyone messes up. I want to give myself grace for not being able to do it all perfectly. I want to be honest and careful with my words, because even though actions speak louder words are important. I want to have love for the people who love me, and let them know how much I appreciate them. And I want to have love for the people who don’t love me, even if they never know it.
Work this year has been…not what I want. It’s been frazzled and fitting things in amidst moving twice and tons of traveling and life craziness. I miss creating and photographing and the fun that I know it can be when I’m not constantly pushed for time and almost missing deadlines. This year I’ve felt perpetually not caught up with my own self-created content calendar, and that needs to change.
When you work for yourself, you have to make work a priority because life will not do that for you. There is no clocking in and out or minimum hours required. There are always more recipes I could create or more jobs I could take or potentially better photos I could re-shoot. Good enough versus needs to be more perfect, or taking the weekend off versus working straight through is always up to me to decide.
This year has also been a humbling reminder that there are times when life won’t allow me to hustle. It’s okay to go slower, it’s okay to rest when necessary, it’s okay to prioritize mental peace over productivity sometimes. I want next year to be less checklists and deadlines, and more creating what I am inspired to share.
Create something that is meaningful and true to you. Something not measured by its success or reception, but by the heart and purpose of why you do what you do.Morgan Harper Nichols
Don’t get me wrong, delicious things have happened this year…
Even though THIS recipe is my personal favorite from the year, the top 10 reader favorites were…
- Tahini Medjool Date Chunk Cookies
- Double Chocolate Hazelnut Muffins
- Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Blondies
- Brownie Mousse Cake
- Peanut Butter Banana Bundt Cake
- Buckwheat Brownie Crunch Balls
- SunButter Baked Oatmeal Cups
- Latte Chia Puddings
- Berry Yogurt Cake
- Medjool Date Peanut Butter Eggs
This year was messy and hard and emotional as hell. But I am grateful for the things I got to feel. Grateful for all the beautiful little moments I get to keep as memories. Grateful for all the subtle ways this year has made me stronger. Grateful for new beginnings.
Michelle Kampmeier says
This post is beautiful. Thank you for sharing so much of your soul with us. I resonated with so many points you made. 2019 was a lesson in patience for me as well. Hugs and love to you. Thanks for all you do on this blog. <3
I am not too big on resolutions, but I do love reflecting at the end of the year. It often takes a little bit of distance to be able to see the hard stuff as lessons, but I am glad you live with that perspective too☺️ Much love and happy new year Michelle❤️
Loved reading this Natalie!! Here’s to 2020 bringing you clarity! My work goals for next year align with yours…which is why I haven’t taken any contracts yet. I want to be in control instead of deadlines and time controlling everything. This past year has been quite different for me…mainly due to my move but also other things, and if I could ask for things in 2020, it’d be clarity, focus, slowing down, being happy, cooking for fun, and finally figure out myself and what I want. Some friends may call that ‘mid life crisis’ 😂
Love to you! And thanks for being in my corner this past year! Hope to meet in person sometime soon! Happy new year! Oh I’ll also be trying to make my way through those recipes of yours!
YES!! I so feel you on that goal🙌 I know that deadlines can be good to make me hustle, but there is definitely a limit. Creativity with a time limit is so tricky, I hope we can both follow through on that this year! And “figuring out myself and what I want” is absolutely on my list too. It may always be on my list, I’m not sure I will ever have that fully figured out, but keeping it top of mind as a goal sounds perfect for the coming year. I would absolutely LOVE to meet you in person, perhaps making it to CA will be one of my year’s goals too❤️ Much love and happy new years Anjali!
To new beginnings…always. Well said.
so very young to be so very wise. remind yourself of your wisdom when you need to do so. i your lip medal is becoming.
Aw thank you Denny! Appreciate you taking the time to read this one. Happy new year✨
Thanks mama! Appreciate you so much this year and always❤️
Beautiful post, thank you for sharing! I always enjoy seeing your creations and reading your posts 🙂
Appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on this one❤️ Happy new year to you!
Britt B says
I will forever remember 2019 as the year we connected and I got to see the amazing strength and courage behind this beautiful blogger. Though 2019 was more of walking across a tight rope, you handled it with such grace and courage. It takes courage to do what you do, and I am SO excited for you in 2020. So much love!!!
I will always remember that too, so happy to have met you my dear! Sonya and I were comparing your christmas card art yesterday and decided you are way too talented it’s not fair🙌😂 Appreciate you in my life and let’s make 2020 the year we finally meet in person❤️
Much love and happy new year!
Oh, my beautiful friend, how I love this post. Your words, the photos, the quotes, and your vulnerability ❤️ What a crazy adventure it’s been for you over the last few years! And I feel so lucky to have been witness to so much growth (in more ways than one)…I can’t believe I’ve been making your recipes for about five years now!! That first section on “emotionally” really hit home; amen to being completely honest with how you’re feeling! I LOVE that…”plot twists!” I’m writing that down ☺️ And you’ll have to tell Morgan I said she’s a wise woman – “they lost you” changes everything. Wow.
Thank you for all that you shared here because I’m very certain I’m not the only one who could relate or take something (several things) away from this post. I love when you write these deeper, more personal thoughts because they’re a good reminder that we’re all human ❤️ So grateful for you!
I still have SO MANY recipes to try, but I’m happy to see some of my favorites made the list! And your personal fav is definitely one of mine too 😉 Happy New Year to you, Natalie!! I have a strong feeling that 2020 is going to be a great year for you! Lots of love to you! 😘😘😘
Oh my sweet friend! You have no idea how much I appreciate you and your support in so many ways and for so many years now (I can’t believe it’s been 5…wow that is crazy🤯). Even if you never make another recipe, your comments and texts mean so much to me. I am incredibly grateful to have you in my life🥰 It has been a crazy year of twists and dips and highs and changes, always feels good to write these deeper ones and get it from my head into words. I am SO happy that 2019 was the year we finally met in person, and may 2020 be the year we meet up (and maybe for longer!) again. Much love and happy weekend Mandy❤️ xo
Thank you so much for sharing yourself, your recipes and your story. I find myself drooling and moved by what you post time and time again. My English sister-in-law was inspired to participate in Veganuary and has asked me for recipes and tips. I’m going to forward her e-mails from some of my favorite bloggers for inspiration and this is one of the messages I’ll be sharing with her. Happy 2020 Natalie! XO
It means so much to me that you took the time to read this one Victoria, thank you❤️ Honored to be on your favorite bloggers list and happy I can be a source of inspo for your sister this month too!
As always, very nicely said. You’re heartfelt posts are always worth reading. Thank you for bravely sharing so much of yourself . 💛
I appreciate that Lori❤️ These posts are always a long process to write, but therapeutic too!
Natalie, I don’t have instagram so I don’t know what happened to you. But what I do know is that I fell in our yard and ended up with blood on my lip and a scar right where you have yours on your lip. I am a bit older than you but still felt embarrassed enough to try to conceal the cut. But then a cold sore appeared there before the lysine kicked in. I was not winning and, therefore, just tried to focus on being thankful that I did not break any bones (I have in the past!). My sister and I say we inherited falling from our Mother! I am not a dessert person but have been following you because my husband is and I need to start in again. Have made 2 of yours in the past. But, what I really like are all your honest, heartfelt musings that jump out and grab my heart. Blessings to you for speaking to my heart! Thank you and now on to your desserts…
Oh no!! So we have matching scars now it sounds like😆 I fell face first into concrete and did not catch myself, but yes besides a couple of broken teeth no broken bones which is something to be thankful for. Scars don’t bother me too much, I don’t work too hard to hide it, if anything they are proof that you’ve lived a little😊 Dessert person or not, you have no idea how grateful I am that you follow along and take the time to read these more personal posts. Writing these things from the heart full of emotion is my favorite too❤️ Much love and happy weekend Julie!
You are so strong and bold. My 2019 was the same way too and i am getting better this year. 🙂
Thank you for the wonderful post!
Appreciate you for reading and sending lots of love. It always gets better and we are stronger for it❤️