BEERS, BOARD GAMES, & THIS BITCH

Welp, it’s that time of year again.

I find that every year (and with only three days ’til it, the big 26), I start to contemplate everything that happened this year, from February 9, 2016 to now, and what I’m positively grateful for.

And what a year it’s been.

This time, last year, I was stringently refusing to have a birthday party because the wedding was four months away and people had enough to do and save for. But, my family being rad AF, they planned a righteous dinner at Buono’s in Long Beach, followed by a drunkenly wild time at Sgt. Pepper’s Dueling Piano Bar. I turned 25 surrounded by friends, loved ones, and two or three fishbowls. Google it. I don’t know how I’m still alive. Or how I ended up on stage, but that’s a story for another time.

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And with Valentine’s Day on the prowl and the wedding inching closer and closer to us, the hubs and I decided to keep it low-key and frugally use our P.F. Chang’s gift card we received at Christmas to have a romantic, chill, and sweet night out together–a small break amidst the hustle of saving for our wedding.

march

 

March flew by and sooner rather than later, I had the first of my two bridal showers (a Burlesque-themed one & a Backyard Bridal Brunch-themed one–they know me too well). They both were phenomenal and filled with so much love–it was overwhelming and humbling and I gotta say, people were more than generous when it came to helping Matteo and I prepare for our future home.

 

And BAM, there came April and Matteo’s birthday and my brother, Jake’s birthday, my parent’s anniversary, and my second bridal shower. April flashed by quicker than a video on Vine…

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In May, I officially became a Godmother to my beautiful niece, Erin, and I also was stokeddddd to have gone on my best friend’s Bachelorette Bash in San Diego! From the food and the brewery hopping and the fun, the anticipation for her wedding, which was right around the corner, just kept growing and growing!

 

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Natalie’s wedding was a huge milestone for me: not only did it mean that my best friend was now beginning a new and beautiful chapter in her life, but that I would soon be joining her on this crazy, #marriedlife adventure! It was such a wild experience watching her go from a Lauro to a Mauro!

And though as if May couldn’t get any more exhilarating and fun, cue my Bachelorette Party over Memorial Day Weekend. In a huge van, my friends and bridal party made the four-hour trip to The R-Ranch in the Sequoias. Basically, and without gushing too hard about it because it’s literally one of my faveeee places in the world, the Ranch is your ultimate woodsy, country, and forest-y hideaways, where every day is spent laying out by the pool, hiking up various trails, paddle-boating on the lake, riding horses, drinking beer from coozies, and falling asleep in a safe, cozy cabin. It’s legit. Plus, I don’t camp; I GLAMP.

Without even blinking, June appeared, and boy, was I ready for it. I had mentally and physically prepared myself for this day–a day that I had dreamed about since I can’t even remember. With our vows handwritten, hair curled and elegantly styled, the violins striking up my entrance song, our wedding day arrived: June 11, 2016.

Y’all, I can barely put to words every single emotion, every single moment, every fibre of my being so in tune and present in that magical day. And for the longest time, I never thought I deserved it–a happy ending and all. But when you meet the right person, and I know this sounds cliché AF, they will truly help lift you out of the darkness you create in your own mind of not feeling worthy or even worth it and they’ll simply show you the sun. The warmth. The joy. And that’s my Matteo.

After the wedding, the summer didn’t lose momentum–we hopped a plane off to the land of Guinness, Jameson, green grass, and corned beef: Dublin, IrelandJesus–if we could move there right now, we’d be there yesterday. I remember every taste, every smell, every adventure, and every stop we made on our tour. It was the most perfect way to kick off our honeymoon.

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After Ireland, we hopped another plane to Naples, Italy, hitting up Capri and Sorrento along the way and finally ending in Trapetto and Terrasini, Sicily. The hubs has family in Trappeto and we’ve got some family and friends in Terrasini, so naturally, we wanted to end the honeymoon surrounded with the people we love.

While on the honeymoon, I found out via a very slow-loading email that I had been hired full-time at my job. After working here since 2009 in various positions, to be hired full-time was a dream and it had finally happened for me, benefits and all. I couldn’t be more grateful. Truly, truly grateful. It’s an incredible environment to be in every day.

And with every passing holiday as a married couple, I see how ingrained tradition is and how special and important it is to uphold them, all the while adding your own touch to the mix. I’ve learned that one of my favorite feelings in the world is waking up and falling asleep next to your best friend. I’ve learned to let people go–not out of hate, but for the love of my own self, sanity, and well-being. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself, you know, and if we’re not vibrating at the same level, then it’s time to move forward.

And I’ve slowly learned how to treat myself nicely, and look where it’s gotten me.

Before all this, before this whole year had gone by, I had XXII locked up on my laptop, picking at it here and there, never ready to publish it, never thinking that it would be good enough. But as my perception of myself shifted, so did my confidence in the book. I believe with every tear and every deleted page and every glass of wine consumed that this book is incredible. I believe it, and I want you to believe it, too.

So my friends, with my birthday only a few days away and plans to head to my local brewery for some hand-crafted beers and board games (because that’s what a 26 year old should be doing, naturally), I find it helpful to reflect. I know I’ve got a whole lotta growing to do. I may be turning 26, but when you stop trying to evolve and better yourself, that’s the day you slowly start dying. And I ain’t ready for that yet.

Follow this page, give me a follow on Instagram [@lovalenzaaa] or on Twitter [@life_withlauren], Facebook [www.facebook.com/lovalenza] or even on Snapchat, if that’s what you’re into [lauren_costa42]! Give me a shoutout and tweet me! Can’t wait to share this novel with you all.

XOXO, lo♥

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