2021…wow, what a year! It’s hard to believe that we are in the final days of 2021. I feel like it’s been the fastest year ever-it seriously feels like it was just January 1, 2021! If your 2021 has been anything like mine, then it’s been a whirlwind of an emotional roller coaster. 2021 started out feeling very much like a continuation of 2020, not knowing when life would regain a semblance of normalcy. By late spring, many in-person events and gatherings had resumed, which was cause for much rejoicing. But even though 2021 was more normal than 2020, it was honestly a lot harder for me than 2020 in many ways. So if you find yourself feeling the same about 2021, know that you aren’t alone!
I know that I will always look back on 2021 as a year that simultaneously held a lot of hard and a lot of good. Joy and grief, and good and hard will always coexist this side of eternity. But for me, 2021 embodied the coexistence of conflicting emotions more so than any other year in recent memory. So as 2021 wraps up, I want to share a hodgepodge of memories and lessons learned from this good and hard year.
2021 Recap: Memories & Reflections
Adding StellaLou and CookieAnn to my Duffy & Friends Collection
As a huge Duffy & Friends fan, adding StellaLou (Duffy’s bunny friend) and CookieAnn (Duffy’s puppy friend) plushies to my collection was a highlight of my 2021. This might sound silly to some, but my childlike spirit embraces this memory. The week they were in transit from Disney’s Aulani Resort coincided with the huge snowstorm that affected Texas and parts of the mid-South. As a result, the package was stuck for several days at the FedEx hub in Memphis. It definitely felt like Christmas morning all over again when I saw the FedEx truck finally pull up with that package.
Return of Gatherings & Annual Traditions
After missing out on certain gatherings and annual traditions in 2020, it felt that much sweeter to have them resume in 2021. Here are a few noteworthy events and experiences that I particularly enjoyed getting to do for the first time since 2019:
- March Madness Basketball Tournament
- Football tailgates
- Mascot photos
- Strawberry picking
- 4th of July cookouts with friends
- Thanksgiving meals with friends & extended family
- Christmas gatherings and traditions with friends
Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics
The Tokyo Summer Olympics was one of the top things I missed last year due to all the disruptions of 2020. Thus, the two weeks of the delayed Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics during summer 2021 were some of my favorite moments of this year. I never got around to doing a full blog post of my most memorable moments from the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. But they included the following:
- Maykayla Skinner making the USA women’s gymnastics team and winning the silver medal on vault after the disappointment of only being an alternate in 2016.
- Jade Carey winning the gold medal in floor exercise, coming back after a devastating performance in vault finals just one day prior.
- Suni Lee winning the gold medal for the USA in the women’s all-around gymnastics competition.
- Simone Biles taking a stand for mental health and opening up conversations around eliminating the stigma of mental health issues when she withdrew from competition.
- Team USA winning the silver medal in women’s gymnastics
- A super eventful and exciting swimming competition
- Molly Seidel winning the bronze medal in the women’s marathon, making her only the third American woman to ever medal in this event! The fact that she missed the 2016 Olympic Trials due to being in treatment for an eating disorder makes this accomplishment even more significant.
Girls’ Beach Trip to Wrightsville
One of my favorite things that returned in 2021 after being on hiatus for 2020 was girls’ beach weekend with my best friend. We enjoyed a fun long weekend at Wrightsville Beach in late July, which included watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, eating at our favorite local places, and getting in some quality beach time!
Quality Time at Emerald Isle
Spending quality time at my family’s beach place in Emerald Isle, NC is a highlight of every single year, and 2021 was no exception. I’m especially thankful I was able to take the entire week of July 4 completely unplugged from work to enjoy 9 days at the beach house!
Doing Dating Apps for the First Time
My 2021 didn’t include any major life events or traveling to any significant bucket list destinations. Nevertheless, it include me taking a major step in doing something out of my comfort zone that I previously said I would never do: dating apps! I was active on dating apps from early August-early November 2021. Although this period of doing dating apps didn’t result in a relationship, I did make some promising connections and go out on some good dates.
I took a break from dating apps for November and December, but I’m really glad I gave them a shot this year. There were definitely some hard moments, but God also really showed up and encouraged me in my dating life. I plan on giving dating apps another run in the new year! Stay tuned for another post on a few things I learned while doing the apps!
Success as a Sarah Flint Brand Ambassador
I technically became a Sarah Flint Brand Ambassador at the every end of 2020. But it has been during 2021 that I have achieved significant growth in the program. I’m so thankful for this opportunity to share the Sarah Flint story and promote luxury shoes. I more than surpassed my sales goal in the program, and even received a holiday gift from the Sarah Flint team since I achieved the highest Brand Ambassador tier. (See my November 2021 Favorites post for a peak at my gift.)
Due to personal circumstances and where I’ve been in life, I haven’t been able to invest as much time into my blog during 2021. So I’m especially humbled that I’ve been successful as a Sarah Flint Brand Ambassador despite having to scale back on my blog this year. For more details about Sarah Flint and a review of my first-ever pair of Sarah Flint shoes, check out this post.
Growing in my Relationship with the Lord Like Never Before
There were definitely some really hard moments in 2021, but it was these trials that gave me the opportunity to grow in my relationship with Jesus like never before. Those moments when I hit rock bottom forced me to decide whether I believed that Jesus is who He says He is, or whether I believed my circumstances defined who Jesus is. It’s honestly really hard to fully express in words how God has stretched me and grown my faith this year. But I know I can say wholeheartedly that I am ending 2021 with contentment and peace like never before that God is FOR me and has GOOD PLANS for me!
A passage that has really meant a lot to me recently is Hagar’s encounter with the Lord in Genesis 16. She has run away into the desert after being mistreated by her mistress, Sarai. An angel of the Lord appears to her in this place, and assures her that the Lord has heard of her misery. Hagar then says:
“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” -Genesis 16:13
Even though certain things in my life are still really hard, I’m in a much better place spiritually and emotionally than I was even 2-3 months ago. I take great comfort in the reality that the “God who sees” sees me in my difficult season just like He saw Hagar in the desert thousands of years ago.
Verse of the year: Genesis 48:11
Although the story of Hagar experiencing God as the “God who sees” in Genesis 16 has really spoken to me lately, my favorite verse of the year is Genesis 48:11:
“Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”
During the winter and spring of 2021, my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) class did the second half of our Genesis study. I love Genesis because it is full of stories about people waiting on God, and how He is always working behind the scenes even when it doesn’t feel like it. I am in a season of waiting on certain desires of my heart I’ve been praying about for years. There are definitely times when it’s tempting to get discouraged and feel like God has forgotten about me.
Genesis 48:11 is such a sweet reminder of God’s great love and care for His people. Jacob spent all those years thinking his beloved son Joseph was dead, but then God poured an unexpected double blessing out in His perfect timing. Not only was he reunited with Joseph after all those years, but he got to meet Joseph’s children too! This reminded me that though we go through hard seasons where it feels like God is distant and prayers are unanswered, He delights in giving unexpected blessings to His children at just the right time.
Mantra of the Year
If I had to choose a mantra for my 2021, it would be:
“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”-Lewis Carroll
During 2021, I’ve learned that I can simultaneously trust God’s sovereignty and put myself out there to pursue things that I want. My therapist describes this as “God meeting me in the process.” Thus, this year I’ve taken some bold risks and been more proactive about going after something I’ve wanted for a long time. And on more than one occasion, I’ve come up short. Certain promising opportunities that ended up not panning out how I hoped have only made the ache for what I desire even stronger. But I’m still glad I took a chance, because I’ve learned a lot, and I won’t be left wondering, “what if.” And God has been faithful to meet me in the process. I know He will continue to do so as I make bold moves in 2022.
Photo Highlights of 2021
I want to end my 2021 recap with a few of my favorite pictures of the year:
Shortly after I got StellaLou & CookieAnn.
Birthday Celebration 2021
Enjoying High Tea at Carolina Inn
Golden Hour at Wrightsville Beach, NC
One of many peaceful summer days in 2021 at Emerald Isle, NC
Rameses Jr-making up for the mascot photo opps I missed in 2020
Dressed up for Christmas at The Angus Barn with friends
I’m ending 2021 thankful for the memories and lessons learned, and overwhelmed with hope and optimism for what God has in store for 2022. The hard things I went through this year really forced me to work through things with God that I wouldn’t have worked through if things had gone according to my plans. Only God knows the details about how everything is going to fall into place moving forward. But I have a feeling that I will always look back on 2021 as a pivotal turning point that God uses to prepare me for the future.
Thanks so much for your support of Palmettos & Pineapples in 2021, and I look forward to sharing more inspiration and encouragement in 2022.
For more of my 2021 highlights, you can click here to review a recap of my favorite things from each month of 2021.
What were some of your most memorable moments of 2021?