Twenty Fourteen: Year in Review


Every year I write down my resolutions and goals, plans and wishes for the upcoming year. One of my favorite things to do before moving on is to find the list from the beginning of last year and see how I did, what came true, what didn’t, and to remember all the meaningful moments. It is crazy how fast the time flies and I truly hope to make every day, week, month as happy and memorable as possible. It’s all about little moments and below I want to share some of mine.

First time I wrote down my to-do list for the year was on New Year 2007; when I found that list in the end of the year I was shocked at how much of it came true and even more shocked at how important it is to clearly articulate what you want to accomplish. For example, I remember that I put something like “Start learning German”, I did start indeed but I didn’t get any good at it because eventually I dropped it. There were a few things similar to that and it definitely teaches me to be more specific and affirmative in my formulations.

For 2014 my list was kind of vague, things I wrote down were mostly general guidelines that I wanted to follow throughout the year plus some more specific goals and plans. Overall, I can say that 2014 has been a great year, many things that I wanted happened, some didn’t, and of course, it was not without surprises.

January 1

January. We started it off right with going ice skating in Downtown LA and having cocktails on the rooftop. It was so much fun and so different from traditional January 1st which practically doesn’t exist when you’re celebrating New Year’s Eve in Russia, if you know what I mean;)

In January we also went to Vegas which is always fun on its own, but we went there for a great family reunion over special occasion. It was an active month with lots of yoga (I just started going to my now favorite yoga studio just a month prior), hiking at Temescal Canyon overlooking the ocean and of course, biking, oh I just loved it.

February 1

February. The highlight of February was my trip home to Russia! It was the first time after almost two years without seeing my family and friends and I was thrilled to go. Of course I got “lucky” and the week I was there was probably the coldest in the whole winter but that didn’t even matter, I actually enjoyed the cold and snow and even the fact that my hair would turn into icicles after 15 minutes of being outside. It was so much fun running on the frozen streets of my beloved Novosibirsk laughing so hard with my best friends that I couldn’t even catch my breath. I also had a great time with my family snowboarding in Sheregesh, an amazing winter sports resort, making piroshki with my grandma and just being in the places filled with so many great memories surrounded by the people I love.

One of the biggest disappointments of the year happened in February as well as I didn’t get to go to the Olympics in Sochi. Witnessing the Olympics was one of my biggest dreams since I was little. For two years I was preparing for that to happen by going through multiple tests and interviews and I was selected to be a Sochi Volunteer, which was so exciting, but unfortunately, I didn’t get to go because I couldn’t get enough time off work and I had to make a decision. I’m not sure what it says about me but I decided to keep my job and pass on Olympics as it was the right thing to do at the moment, boy, it was hard, and part of me will probably always second guess that decision, but what’s done is done.  Another example of being precise in your wishes, by the way. On my list of resolutions I had something like “to get accepted as an Olympics volunteer”, well, yeah, I did get accepted, but didn’t get to go. Next time?..

March 1

March. One thing that I am still getting used to is that in America seasons start on the 20th of the month, however for me the first day of Spring will always be March 1. Even though the weather is always perfect in LA the fact that it is finally SPRING somehow still changes the whole dynamic for me, always feels like a new beginning, fresh start, maybe even more that the first day of New Years.

One of the coolest things in March was attending Natural Product Expo West, it is a trade show where natural and organic brands are exhibiting their products in categories like food, health and beauty, natural living, supplements and more, so basically for a health nut like me it is practically heaven on Earth. You get to see and try new interesting products, talk to people passionate about sustainable living and get to take a lot of samples home. I was there for work so I was busy having meetings but I would love to come back again to just enjoy being a visitor, this show is so inspiring!

Another awesome thing that happened in March is that I went to New York City for the first time! It was a super short weekend trip but it was amazing as two of my best friends from back home in Russia were visiting as well. We were exploring the City together, walked probably millions of steps around the streets so familiar from countless movies and TV shows and had a really great time overall. I can’t say much about the New York City itself as it just wasn’t enough time to fully take it all in but I loved that trip and the energy and the fact that you can walk/take public transit anywhere! Every corner could make a photo and I definitely want to come back again. Here is short silly video from that trip:)

April 1

April. One of the things on my list of resolutions for 2014 was to take more photos with my camera as opposed to Iphone that just took over my creative process. I still love the fact that it’s so easy to carry and share on social media but let’s face it – the quality is nowhere near the one of DSLR. I never took a photography class and learned my camera pretty well by reading the manual (which has a lot of useful information!) but as a way to make myself use it more in April I signed up for photography class at a local community school. It was pretty interesting, did make me use camera more and I did learn a few technical tricks that I didn’t use before but that turned out to be pretty helpful.  So I guess that could be checked off of the list:)

In general, April was really busy at work and really chill outside of it. I didn’t travel anywhere but it was actually nice to stay home and enjoy our neighborhood and favorite places on the weekends. Me and my friend found local Farmer’s Market where we get amazing dips and have been going there every other Sunday since then. I was spending a lot of time outside, walking, biking, doing yoga, going to the ocean which is so beautiful no matter what the season is and just enjoying some little free time that I had preparing for eventful May.

MayChina 1

May. This was one of the craziest, busiest and equally exciting and satisfying months of the year. I went back to China! It was a weeklong business trip to Shanghai for a trade show, we were busy from early morning till late evening interacting with hundreds of people, I was so happy to dive into Chinese culture, language, environment again. I don’t know what it is about China that just gives me that feeling of comfort and familiarity. I was in a constant state of déjà vu and nostalgia remembering my studying abroad days. I am in no way idealizing China but I love it as it is, with loud crowded streets, crazy drivers that don’t seem to care about any traffic rules, strange smells that sometimes just take your breath away as well as kind curious people who will be happy to help you if you got lost or snap a photo of you trying to be discreet but instead being so obvious. I was glad to practice my Mandarin which magically dusted itself off from that shelf in the back of my brain the minute we got off the plane; I was happy to find good old favorites in small Chinese convenience stores like that famous bottled green tea or skinny mushrooms in pepper sauce that I used to love when living there, and so much more. It was great to go back and that trip will always be remembered by the old Chinese saying “The transition on the tongue lip” for those who was involved;)

MayLIB 1

Another memorable thing from May was Lightning in a Bottle, an outdoor festival in Central Coastal region of California, it is a mix of music, art, and culture. In addition to music performances, the event also features guest speakers, visual and interactive art installations, yoga classes, group meditation, and other attractions. I’ve always wanted to go to something like this and it was a very interesting experience! We were camping which brought the whole thing to the next level of fun, setting up a tent in the dark with no tools is definitely something. The festival was super cool though, turned out that the music wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I’ve never seen such creativity and freedom of expression, raw emotions, crazy outfits coupled with outdoor yoga and amazing art installations, it was wonderful to let everything go, to not worry about how you look or what you wear because anything was acceptable. To me this festival will always be remembered by the taste of coconut water and watermelons, our survival kit in the heat. I could keep talking but instead you better check out this video recap, you can spot me at 0:30 and 2:39;)

June 1

June. This month we celebrated two anniversaries, first, it was 1 year since I started working at my first serious job in the US. Time flies so fast, I still remember how I was adjusting to the new life, new city and how excited and nervous I was going to that interview (that was the time when I definitely should have been blogging  but that’s why there is Blast from the Past category here…). It’s crazy how much I learnt in that year and how much my life and I have changed, all for the best though, so it’s very cool.

Another memorable date was 5 year anniversary since we met/started dating with my husband. We have the sweetest love story that you might know if we are close, and if not, maybe I’ll share it someday. We are so lucky to have found each other considering we were living on the opposite sides of this planet, it was a long way to get where we are now and I couldn’t be happier that everything worked out the way it did. To celebrate we took a weekend trip to Newport Beach which was sweet, fun and relaxing as was the rest of the month. Hey summer!

July 1

July. This month was fun! I spent a lot of time outside, biking, going to the ocean, hanging out with friends. I took another photography class that got me to the places in LA I haven’t been to before like Getty Villa and Getty Center, for example, really cool! Still SO much to explore in this city and I love it!

July has also brought the biggest surprise of the year – I found out that I was pregnant! To say that I was shocked is not to say anything, couldn’t really believe this was really happening.  I felt panic and nervous excitement at the same time, it was surreal.

August 1

August. A lot of cool things happened in August. First, my 25th birthday! It was a really fun day surrounded by good friends. It’s funny to think about the age, I still think I’m 17 or something but at the same time it wasn’t scary at all as I was so happy where I am in my life at that moment that the number didn’t even matter. I feel like each year of my life is better than the previous one and feel so grateful. Life is such a blessing.

I saw my baby for the first time on the ultrasound and that’s when it all got real. I couldn’t help crying looking at this tiny little bean and seeing his tiny heart beating so fast! It was fascinating!

I went to Russia again! This was a super spontaneous trip for my friend’s wedding , the first Russian wedding I’ve ever attended. It was so great to be there for their special day and also to catch up with good old friends that live all over the world now and some that I didn’t get to see during my previous visit. Summer in Russia is just as wonderful as the winter, I got really lucky and the weather was perfect the whole time.

Of course, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to tell my parents in person the news that they will be grandparents soon. It was a perfect timing too as it was their 26th wedding anniversary and I presented it as a gift from me and my husband Derek. We made a postcard where you can record the sound, I taught Derek how to say “Congrats, we are having a baby!” in Russian and we put a photo from that first ultrasound inside the card. Their reaction was priceless and I have it all on video. It was such a fun, warm, special trip, I always love going back home.

September 1

September. This month was defining for what you now see as a result – I signed up for online blogging school! I was talking to my friend mentioning for the hundredth time that I want to write a blog but don’t know where to start, and she told me about her friend who was taking that class. The timing was perfect, I was missing back to school feeling anyway and the class was just in process of recruiting new students. Without thinking twice, I signed up right away. The class lasted a little over a month with learning materials distributed twice a week and included weekly homework assignments, just enough to have time to work on it while still working full-time and living your life. It was very interesting and helped a lot.

Overall, it was nice to slow down in September and just enjoy being back in sunny California, being productive studying and adjusting to all the changes happening in our life.

October 1

October. In October we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and found out that we are expecting a boy! To be honest, I wasn’t surprised because when I saw the baby on the ultrasound last time, he was so active that I thought “Wow, that’s gotta be a boy” and also because my husband’s family had 4 boys so I was somewhat prepared. I always wanted to have a boy and a girl so it didn’t really matter who would come out first and for some reason it always seemed badass to be a mom of a boy, so yay!:)

To celebrate these wonderful family events we went to Big Bear Lake, cutest little place especially in the fall! It was a great trip and I will write a separate post about it as there’s just too much to share and show.

Also, on Halloween I felt baby kick for the first time, it was so exciting and how appropriate that my costume this year was a “Bun in the Oven”.

November 1

November. Right after Halloween starts the coziest time of the year, that’s not something I grew up with but I am definitely getting used to it. I love orange leaves decorations, smell of cinnamon in the air and of course, pumpkin-everything craze everywhere from Trader Joe’s to Starbucks, still not a huge fan of pumpkin flavor but I like the idea and the atmosphere that it brings. If you are not American and thinking when would be the good time to visit the States, I would highly recommend coming around this time, very festive and truly American experience.

My November was sweet, of course, filled with get-togethers with friends, and very productive, I was working on building my blog and every new page, every new code or a button that worked made me so happy! For some people it’s probably super easy and not a big deal at all, but for me it was a real accomplishment as some simple things literally took me hours to crack. But I am glad to learn new things, it is very satisfying to see the result of your work come together.

The most American holiday of November, Thanksgiving Day was very cozy. We spent the day at the ocean and then had vegan dinner at Native Foods and went to the movies. How little is needed to feel happy. It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.

December 1

December. Between work, blog that I wanted to launch by Christmas and gift shopping that’s always exciting but also overwhelming, December was pretty busy. But the thought of Christmas vacation in North Dakota kept me going, I had such a great time when we visited 2 years ago that I was really looking forward to some snow, grandma’s pies and fun family time. Even though there wasn’t much snow this year, it was great to change the scenery, breath some fresh air and wear a beanie. And yes, I got to eat and sleep a lot and it felt great.

The most exciting thing in December was of course the launch of my blog. It was good to finally share the results of my work even though it is still in progress, please feel free to check out my first post here.

I say that “Time flies so fast!” but this blog post about my year turned out to be so long that I start having doubts about the truthfulness of this statement:) Thank you very much if you read it all! I hope your 2014 was full of good moments as well and I wish you to have even better 2015! Do something that makes you happy, at least a little bit every day, I wish you health and energy to make all your ideas and plans come true!

It is hard for me to set any specific goals for 2015 because just in a couple of months my life will completely change and I have no idea what to expect, but to myself I wish to enjoy the moment and take in all the upcoming changes with an open heart and mind. I hope I get to travel somewhere and I hope my blog will grow along with my baby into something wonderful that will bring new opportunities. And of course, I’ll save some space for adventures and pleasant surprises that I am sure will come. Here to the 2015!

NYE 2015