2014: My Year in Review

“I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” – Joseph Campbell

As the remaining days of 2014 quickly come to a close, it is time for me to look back and reflect on another year on this amazing planet. 2014 was a year of extremes for me. Extreme highs and extreme lows. Looking back, despite some of the difficult days of the year it was also filled with an immense amount of personal growth. As terrible as it can be to go through hard times, often it is these dark days in our life in which we grow the most. I can attest that this year I have learned much about inner self and how to live more in the present moment. To enjoy each and every day. To accept the things I cannot change. To take the bull by the horns and go for it. Take chances. Step out of my comfort zone and never ever forget to be grateful and thankful for those I love as well as my health, happiness and peace.

I’m not a big fan of lists but sometimes it is important to reflect upon what I am grateful for this year and here are my top five.

  1. My family – both immediate and extended.
  2. My health – mental, physical and spiritual.
  3. Being able to go to Bolivia with my dad.
  4. Being able to follow my dreams of writing, traveling and giving back.
  5. Having this space to share my journey and receiving tremendous support from you all. I don’t know how I’d continue without it.

So here it is, my highlights from 2014. May 2015 bring as much joy, excitement, fulfillment and peace.


“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” – Rumi

January was a tough time. It was extremely cold here in Minnesota as we experienced a polar vortex with record lows of 20 to 30 below zero Fahrenheit. It was also a month into the start of my dad’s chemo. My heart was heavy and my soul was lost.


“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” – Rumi

February remained dark and cold. Yet I had two trips that brightened my soul. First I went to see my parents in Tucson. My dad and I went on long walks. My mom and I shared laughter, tears and wine. I enjoyed this special time with them and was glad I could be there when they needed me.

At the end of February, I went on a “people to people” cultural tour in Cuba that was just what the doctor ordered. It was fantastic and cheered me up immensely.


“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.”  – Eckhart Tolle

I was still in Cuba at the beginning of March, enjoying the sunshine after months of brutal cold and darkness. I was coming back to life again.


“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” – Booker T. Washington

April was a month of rebirth and growth. Our long, brutal winter was slowly coming to an end. The darkness was fading and there was light all around. My family and I went to Arizona to see my parents. It had been nine long months since they last saw them in June as my dad wasn’t able to be around children while he was undergoing chemo. His treatment had finally ended and it was time for recovery. Oh the relief, the gratitude and the joy.


“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” – Louisa May Alcott

May was when life started to turn. The darkness was over. We had made it. I came out of it all a different person, one much more grateful for the life and love I have. A person who didn’t always rush through the day at racing speed and who now stopped to smell the roses. A stronger, happier and more peaceful me.


“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

The big event of June was my two-week trip to Ethiopia as a fellow with the International Reporting Project. I had always wanted to go to Ethiopia and to see it in this way was remarkable. I was forever moved by the stories I heard and the people I met while learning about the unique challenges of maternal and newborn health. I also felt like it was a defining moment for my work as a blogger. It was real. I was doing something and I was making a difference.


“If you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured, it may never arrive. Mountains will not be climbed, races won, or lasting happiness achieved,” – Maurice Chevalier

July meant that it was finally summer in Minnesota and time to enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible. I walked around the lake at sunset, swam to the dock and jumped off, ran as the hot breeze fanned my face, and drank wine under the midnight sun. July was liberating and fun. The kids were out of school meaning we had special time together. It was also me and my husband’s fourteenth wedding anniversary.


“The real happiness of life is to enjoy the present, without any anxious dependence upon the future.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

August meant enjoying the last bit of freedom and adventure with my family as summer came to an end. A visit to Arizona to see my parents, sister and cousins. Time to enjoy the moment and each and every day.



“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” – Robert Byrne

September meant change. Back to school for the kids. Time for me to get back into my writing. The Social Good Summit in New York City was a huge highlight where I was inspired and invigorated to do more. I also got to reconnect with dear blogging friends.


“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs

My work is twofold: First and foremost, as a mother and a wife. Second, as a blogger and social good advocate. I have found my passion in life and for that I am truly grateful.

October meant two wonderful things. A family trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon, and a trip to DC as an attendee of the ONE Women and Girls AYA Summit where I was one of 60 bloggers to learn about some of the amazing work happening around the world to help women and girls.


“The person who has lived the most is not the one with the most years but the one with the richest experiences.” – Jean-Jacques Rosseau

November held many wonderful joys and highlights. My son Max turned 10 and four days later my daughter Sophia turned 8. I am so incredibly lucky to have such loving, special children who fill my life with so much joy.

My dad and I celebrated his return to health by going to Bolivia and climbing in the Andes. It was a magical, special trip that I will never forget.


“The best and the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

December is my favorite month of all. It is my birthday, my husband’s birthday and Christmas. The magic of the season always makes me blissfully happy. The lights, the togetherness, the joy of giving gifts and hugs.

As the year comes to a close, I reflect on all the wonder of life, of each and every day that passed, and how I’ve grown. There is so much to be thankful for in this world. But most of all, so much to love and embrace.

Wishing you all Happy Holidays and a year filled with love, peace and joy. Thanks for reading and keeping me on my toes. 

Condoriri Vally Bolivia

Our last day: One last gorgeous look

Stay tuned….I will be taking a short blogvacation for the remainder of the year as we go to spend the holidays with our extended family. I can hardly wait to see everyone and enjoy this special, magical time together. Happy Holidays! Wishing you a magical year. 




  1. Sas

    Wow Nicole, have you even been at home this year? I’ve loved following your adventures through your blog in 2014, and I can’t wait to hear what you’re up to in 2015 🙂

    • Thanks Sas! It was a very busy year. I was away over 8 weeks. Too much. But that was how life went. Looking forward to the new year. Happy New Year to you too Sas! 🙂

  2. Always a challenge to pack a year’s highlights into a tight space but you have done a wonderful job! Congratulations on a life-well-lived. so far!!! Keep up the wonderful work Nicole and enjoy the family. See you in the new year.

    • Thanks Tina! Yes I’m sure I forgot some highlights from the year but for me it is kind of fun to go back and reflect upon what the year was like. Happy New Year to you too! Wishing you the best in 2015! 🙂

  3. What a fabulous year you have had Nicole. I am so happy to have seen you get to Bolivia with your Dad. Wishing you all the very best over the holidays. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement over 2014. I have appreciated it so very much.

    • Thanks Sue! Looks like you had a fabulous year too! I am so glad I found your blog! 🙂 I have thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to 2015! 🙂

      • Such kind words Nicole which I appreciate very much. I remember when you started following me and I almost fell off my chair I was so excited to have you join us. Our blog and you r determination around social justice issues inspires me. Looking forward to reading more in 2015!

    • Thanks Debra! Yes having my dad well is the biggest joy I could ask for. I feel very very blessed. Happy New Year to you and looking forward to seeing more of Italy through your eyes in 2015! 🙂

  4. This was a beautiful post Nicole, filled with love and hope. I am so grateful to have found your blog. You are a true inspiration in so many lives. May you and your family have a most blessed holiday and a New Year filled with wonder and joy.

    • Thank you so much LuAnn! You always make me smile with your kind words. You have become a wonderful blogging companion. I am wishing you and Terry the best in 2015!!!! A year of joy, happiness, health and love. 🙂

  5. Wisdom is a lifelong process — every time we think we figured out that perfect balance and insights into ourselves, the rules of the game change again, and back we go to reflecting on what works, and reminding ourselves what is important. Wonderful reflections in this year-end retrospective, and a wonderful array of your images that often speak louder than any words could. So glad we had the chance to meet and I do believe there needs to be another glass of wine together in our future! Cheers and Merry Christmas to you and your family, Nicole!

    • Yes Kat so incredibly true! Happy New Year and I certainly hope we can have another glass of wine soon! Let me know when you are back in the cities. Best Wishes for a wonderful 2015! 🙂

  6. You’ve really had such an amazing year, Nicole. Love your gratitude list, and the fact that your dad has been restored to good health. Happy birthday to you and your husband. Enjoy your vacation, and see you in the New Year. Your final image is absolutely awesome. 🙂

  7. What an incredible round up, Nicole. Your photos are fabulous! 🙂
    I am full of admiration for the work you have done as a social media advocate. You always make me feel I should get involved but I don’t really know how to go about it. So happy for your Dad’s recovery and I wish you all a joyful 2015.

  8. What an amazing year you’ve had, Nicole – headlined by all your wonderful family news. Truly awesome! We wish you a fabulous New Year filled with joy, health, and adventure. 🙂 All the best, Terri

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