2023 Recap

Hope the first few weeks of your new year have been good! As I mentioned in my previous post, I want to blog more consistently this year. So before we get too far into 2024, I wanted to share my 2023 recap! I shared a few thoughts on my 2023 on Instagram a few weeks ago, but I go into a little bit more detail here. In this recap post, I will share some general themes of the year, my favorite memories, and a few of my favorite products of 2023.

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2023 Recap and Themes

At the end of 2022 as I was reflecting on the year gone by and preparing for a new year, I said “here’s to 2023 being a year of choosing joy even when life doesn’t unfold the way I hope.” Although 2023 came up short in some ways, I can say that I succeeded in choosing joy even in the middle of the hard. 2023 may not have brought everything I wanted, but it brought so much that I needed, and I can wholeheartedly say I am in a much better place now than I was 12 months ago! Keep reading for more on my 2023!

Enter 2023 with High Hopes 

At the beginning of 2023, I had high hopes for the year and thought that maybe this would be the year that things would be different, that it would be the year that long-awaited answers to certain prayers would arrive. For the first few months of 2023, I was doing okay. Although I definitely struggled a lot with the post-holiday blues in January, I still went and attended some gymnastics and swim meets at UNC, and some cozy days at home. 

Then in February I had a blast going ice skating for the first time ever with my best friend, and some fun Galentine’s outings with girlfriends. March brought March Madness basketball and the sweetest birthday celebrations with family and friends. Turning a year older in March also made me hopeful for what might come in a new year of life for me. 

Enter Intense Depression

Despite a decent beginning to the year, throughout much of April and May I began to slide into a deeper depression. The novelty and hope of a new year had worn off, and I began to feel really stuck and hopeless. Although I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety since I was in high school, by early summer 2023 I felt like I was at rock bottom. I was battling the worst depression I had experienced since high school, and some extremely dark thoughts. 

Choosing to Fight for Myself

Fortunately, things took a turn for the better by mid-Summer 2023. I told my therapist that I thought I needed to make an adjustment to my antidepressants, and she referred me to a psychiatric nurse practitioner in her office. (Although a psychiatrist originally prescribed my antidepressants, after I had been taking them for several years and was at a dosage that I thought worked for me, I would have my regular doctor write a refill for me annually.) In order to potentially switch to a different medication altogether, I knew I would need to see someone who specialized in psychiatry, not someone who could write a routine refill. 

My first visit with my psychiatric NP was the second week of July 2023. She increased my dosage of my current medication, which she recommend trying before switching to a new medicine altogether. That made a huge difference, and I noticed a dramatic improvement through the last few weeks of July 2023 that remained stable during the final months of 2023. 

Psychiatric medication is a blessing for those who need it, and there’s ZERO SHAME in needing to take these medications or increase your dosage. However, they aren’t a quick fix and  fighting for your mental health involves hard work in multiple areas of life: working with a therapist, spending time with God, etc. Therefore, my life isn’t perfect and I still have some struggles because there are still things out of my control. But I wholeheartedly believe that increasing my dosage of antidepressant helped me make some positive changes that ARE in my control: pursuing the Lord and improving my relationship with Him, advocating for myself, taking negative thoughts captive, and making my relationships with others healthier. Because altering my medication helped me make these other changes, my mental health is in a much better place than it was six months ago. 

Sustain and Restore

As a result, the second half of 2023 was filled with some amazing memories and really sweet moments. I will be forever thankful I chose to fight for myself even when battling my worst depression since high school. I will be forever grateful I took a bold step to start seeing a psychiatrist to get my antidepressant dosage adjusted. That, along with chasing after the Lord even when things were hard greatly helped me to choose joy during the second half of 2023.

I’m not typically a big “word of the year” person who picks out a theme word at the beginning of each year. But when I look back on 2023, two words come to mind: sustain and restore. For the past couple years, God has continually revealed Himself to me as a sustainer through some really hard things. This was definitely apparent in 2023. Restore also is also a huge theme word for my 2023, because during the second half of the year, He truly performed a major restorative work in my life as He freed me from the depths of despair, anger, bitterness, and self-pity. And as we move into 2024, I know He will be faithful to continue this work.

Sidenote: I am currently doing a Bible Study on the book of Joel called “Restored.” I figured this was a great way to celebrate the restorative work God did in my life in 2023 and will continue to do in 2024!

2023 Memories

Since I wrote most of my 2023 monthly recap posts not that long ago, I’m not going to go into a ton of detail on my various highlights. But here’s a rundown of my favorite 2023 memories: 

Ringing in the New Year with a low-key girls’ night in with my bestie

New Year's 2023 Toast with Lilly Pulitzer wine glasses

We watched the movie New Year’s Eve, ordered pizza, and watched the ball drop.

Learning how to ice skate

Ice skating at Orange County Sportsplex in Hillsborough, NC

I didn’t do a 2023 goals blog post at the beginning of 2023, but learning to ice skate was on my 2023 bucket list! I’m so glad I gave ice skating a try! Not only did I check something off my bucket list, but I discovered a fun new hobby at which I want to improve! (Check out this post for more on my first ice skating adventure.)

Furman’s Cinderella dance in March Madness

Furman 2023 March Madness Win

I will always remember my Alma mater, Furman, getting their first bid to the NCAA tournament in over 40 years AND upsetting number one seed in the first round In March 2023! (Check out this post for more reflections on this exciting sports moment.)

The sweetest birthday celebration with some of my closest friends

Birthday celebration at Picnic Durham

Birthdays in my 30’s have always brought about mixed feelings with being another year older but still wrestling with unanswered prayers and unfulfilled desires of my heart. Turning 38 was no exception to these feelings, but a close-knit celebration with some of my dearest friends made it amazing. We enjoyed great conversation, and I was blessed by the sweetest prayers at the end of the night. (Read more here.)

Meeting Ripken the Bat Dog

Ripken the Bat Dog at Durham Bulls Game

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a dog person at all. However, labs are an exception to this. I absolutely adore the Labrador Retriever, especially black labs. So I was thrilled to get to meet Ripken the Bat Dog, a local four-legged celebrity, in 2023. He is the bat dog for the Durham Bulls and the tee retriever for NC State football. I met him for the first time in April 2023, and then again in July. Read more about Ripken here.

Becoming a patron of the Carolina Ballet

Carolina Ballet production of The Sleeping Beauty

Another item on my 2023 bucket list that I achieved was seeing a performance by The Carolina Ballet. In May 2023 I saw The Sleeping Beauty, my first-ever Carolina Ballet performance. I was also excited to be able to say that I’ve now seen two out of three of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballets! Since I enjoyed The Sleeping Beauty so much in the spring, I decided to purchase a season ticket package for Carolina Ballet’s 2023-2024 season. In fall 2023 I saw Firebird and Frankenstein, and in December I saw The Nutcracker.

Welcoming Clove & Paprika to the family

Tabico and grey tabby rescue kittens

Gaining two furry kitty sisters via my parents’ adoption of Clove and Paprika in summer 2023 was hands-down one of my highlights of the entire year. Even though I didn’t play any role in picking them out and I will never live with them for extended periods of time the way I did with Blizzard and Timex, I still love them so much!

Afternoon tea at Carolina Inn with two blogging friends

High Tea at The Carolina Inn

One really fun aspect of blogging is when blogger friends become IRL friends. Going to the Carolina Inn for afternoon tea is always lovely, and it was special to get to do it with Beth (@rose_cullered_lens) and Courtney (@abyersguide)- two blogger turned IRL friends. (Read more about our outing here.)

Multiple beach trips with family

Emerald Isle, NC 4th of July 2023

A highlight of every year is always family beach trips to our place in Emerald Isle, and 2023 was no different!

Seeing the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck two more times

Hello Kitty Cafe Truck in Durham, NC

I never get tired of seeing the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck when I have the chance. I got to see it twice in 2023- in Raleigh in March, and in Durham in August.

Girls’ Beach Weekend

My best friend and I had a wonderful girls’ beach weekend in late August complete with relaxing beach time, eating at some favorite Emerald Isle restaurants, and enjoying a nightcap and live music at a new-to-us place!

Played Pickleball for the first time

Learning how to play pickleball

I also played pickleball for the first time ever, and had a blast!

Being live on set for College GameDay

College GameDay at Duke September 2023

At the end of September I had the most unforgettable experience being live on set when College GameDay came to Durham. It was totally worth getting up before the crack of dawn on a Saturday, and I even got a few seconds of fame on ESPN! (Read more here.)

Going to the NC State Fair for the first time in four years

Casey the Cardinal and Howling Cow Ice Cream at NC State Fair 2023

Taking an afternoon off of work to go to the North Carolina State Fair for the first time in four years was a highlight of my year! It was also my first-ever solo trip to the fair. To see a few more pics of my trip to the fair plus some reflections on the value of solo outings, check out this post.

UNC Football Games with Family

Rameses and Rameses Jr at UNC vs UVA game October 2023

UNC may have had a mediocre end to football season after a promising start, but I still had a good time going to a few games with my family. Regardless of the outcome of the games, I enjoyed delicious tailgate food and got some good photos with Rameses and Rameses Jr (RJ).

Fun Mascot Pics

Goldy the Gopher University of Minnesota mascot

In addition to getting pictures with Rameses an RJ, 2023 included some other great mascot photo opps. I ventured into the Minnesota section when UNC played them to add a Goldy the Gopher picture to my mascot photo collection.

Dressing up as Birdie for Halloween

Birdie McDonald's Mascot Halloween Costume

I had a great time dressing up as McDonaldland character Birdie for my 2023 Halloween costume.

Seeing the LL Bean Bootmobile 

LL Bean Bootmobile in Durham, NC

In November I enjoyed the unique experience of getting to see the LL Bean Bootmobile for the first-time ever. It was an unseasonably warm day, but I still had to wear my Bean Boots for the photo opp!

Girls’ Night at the Angus Barn 

Christmas at the Angus Barn 2023

Hands-down, one of my absolute favorite nights of 2023 was kicking off the holiday season at Angus Barn with a group of my closest girlfriends! It was such a joyful and laughter-filled time with delicious food and the most gorgeous Christmas decorations. We also had a couple funny things happen that night, which made for a great story. You can read more about our night here.

Holiday Tea at the Carolina Inn

Carolina Inn Holiday Tea

I enjoyed afternoon tea at the Carolina Inn twice in 2023. My second visit was their lovely holiday tea, which I hadn’t done in years! I went with a few of my best friends, and you can read more here.

The sweetest holiday season

Christmas Movie Marathon

Holiday tea at the Carolina Inn and girls’ night at the Angus Barn were two favorite 2023 memories, but I honestly have to include the entire holiday season as one of my 2023 highlights. It was such a sweet time filled with both fun events and relaxation with friends and family. In fact, the 2023 holidays might be one of my favorite holiday seasons ever! It was so special to wrap up the year on a high note after experiencing some abysmal lows earlier in the year! You can read more about some of my holiday season 2023 favorites here.

Top 3 Products of 2023

Although I bought quite a few things I love during 2023, there are three products I got in 2023 (either purchased or gifted) that stand out. These are three things I got in 2023 that are different from anything else I already owned, and that I find myself using frequently.

Lilly Pulitzer Popovers

Lilly Pulitzer Popover in Lilly Loves North Carolina Print

I’ve been wearing Lilly Pulitzer for over a decade, but I didn’t own a Lilly popover until 2023. I started 2023 with zero Lilly Pulitzer popovers and ended it with four! These are so cute, comfy, and make a great addition to my loungewear wardrobe.

Nespresso Vertuo

Nespresso Vertuo Next

At the beginning of 2023 I got a Nespresso Vertuo as a belated Christmas 2022 present from my parents. It was an upgrade from my Keurig, and I absolutely love it! I plan to do a more detailed Nespresso blog post soon, so stay tuned!

Lululemon Belt Bag

Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag

In early spring 2023 I bought a Lululemon belt bag, and I have used it so much! It’s the perfect casual bag for holding the essentials and keeping your hand free.

For additional details about all of my favorite experiences and products of 2023, check out my seasonal and monthly recap posts below:

Thanks so much for reading my 2023 recap! I will have my 2024 goals and intentions blog post up soon. I have big dreams for 2024, but regardless of what life brings my way, here’s to yet another year of choosing joy!

Ps. To keep in touch, you can follow me on InstagramFacebook, or Twitter. In addition, I’m on Pinterest and would love for you to follow me there. I’d also love to add some extra happiness to your inbox with my e-newsletter, and you can sign up here.

-xoxo Liz

Hey Y'all!

I'm Liz- and I'm here to inspire you to embrace the simple joys in life and encourage you to be your authentic self!

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