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A Letter to 2018

Dear 2018,

Let me start off by saying that you absolutely shattered any and all expectations I had for this year. If I'm being honest, the bar was set pretty high, I mean, 2017 was going to be a tough year to beat. In 2017, I turned 18 (#legal), I graduated from high school, I moved 8 hours away from my hometown and started college, I joined a sorority, I made the Dean's & President's list and I got to travel to so many new places. A year ago if you would have asked me to describe the best year of my life, I would've said 2017. But then 2017 came to an end and we entered 2018.

2018, you were quick to show me that you were about to give 2017 a run for its money.

January started off and within days I found myself traveling to a new city for a new, spontaneous adventure. Northern Prepster turned 4 on January 6th and several days later I flew back to South Carolina for the second semester of my freshman year. On January 27th I turned 19 and while it was weird to be celebrating my birthday away from home and my family for the first time, turning another year older in a city I call my own marked a big change for me. In January I realized that I was capable of living on my own and that moving 8 hours away for college was one of the best things I could have done for my once shy, timid and soft-spoken self. 

February brought more travels, more sorority functions (Mardi Gras themed Crush Party, I got to wear gold head boppers, truly a great night), and so many laughs. I started my position on my sorority's New Member Team in February and being given the chance to hold a leadership position is something I am so grateful for. Being trusted to lead our new member classes and be one of the first faces they meet as they enter our chapter was such a humbling experience and it showed me that I have the ability to successfully balance blogging, schoolwork, social life, and leadership responsibilities. I found myself in Charleston twice, having a picnic lunch on Folly Beach (warm enough to go to a beach in February, that's a concept this Ohio girl still can't quite wrap her mind around), and getting to meet several bloggers in person.

While the month of March brought midterms and buckets of stress academically, it also brought Dance Marathon and Spring Break. I participated in USCDM for the first time and I still can't put into words how full my heart was after raising over $1 million for the kids. Getting to meet some of the miracle children that I was raising money for touched my heart in a way that I never imagined and while I was fairly familiar with the concept behind it as I have a miracle child in my family, I still found myself reaching out to friends I hadn't spoken with in years to share their stories and even got a  little teary-eyed listening to some of them speak. March also brought Spring Break, where I traveled to Orlando, Florida with my family to spend a much-needed week poolside and indulged in food that didn't come from the dining hall. 

April started off in Savannah, Georgia as my freshman year roommate, Sophie, and I traveled there for Easter Weekend. We had the best time wandering the city, treating ourselves to the best-iced coffee and brunch that our small college budgets could afford. (Soph, if you're reading this, thanks for agreeing to take spontaneous weekend trips with me and an even bigger thank you for putting up with me and my selfie-stick-turned-tripod on that trip). Later in the month I went to my first sorority formal and quite literally danced the night away (really, we were the first group to arrive and the last to leave). A personal thank you to Amazon Prime for coming in clutch when my too-stressed-out-about-finals self decided to wait until three days before formal to order my dress. 

May marked the end of my freshman year at USC, I moved out of the tiny shoebox dorm that I had called "home" for the last nine months, got to come home to Ohio for the first time in over 110 days (yes, I was counting, I missed my home), was reunited with some of my childhood best friends, visited a peony farm (my favorite flowers, you can imagine my excitement) and thrived on homecooked meals, a full-sized shower and not needing to climb on my desk to get into a lofted twin-sized bed. 

June was a busy month that started off with me getting contacts (I know, weird flex to include this but this was a big moment, my glasses were a part of me. Literally. They left a mark on my nose.) (The photo above is the first day I had my contacts & let me tell you, it was like seeing the world in HD). My current roommate and sorority twin, Lynn, came to visit me for a day and I got to show her around my hometown, take her to my favorite coffee shop, and introduce her to SoundCloud remixes. (Lynn, if you're reading this, there's no one else I would want to go through college with by my side and I'm so grateful that you live less than two hours away). I got to play golf for the first time since high school and it made me realize how much I missed it. Later in the month, I started working at Safety Town, the summer program that you've likely heard me talk on and on about because I adored getting to work with kiddos all day long. Safety Town also gave me mentors (loved getting to work alongside some of the sweetest teachers and get a glimpse at what my life is going to look like in 2.5 years) and friends who I feel like I've known forever and can't imagine life today without them (if you're reading this, hey Christian! gonna miss afternoon trash duty and hysterically laughing during song time with ya next summer. catch me trying to get that traffic light out every day, you saw me try to do it once, here's to hoping I don't struggle that much next time).

July was another busy month which unfortunately started off with me coming down with an awful cold (no voice, no appetite, and constant exhaustion) that was likely a result of being around hundreds of kiddos every day but thankfully we had a week off between sessions and I was able to get some much-needed rest and get myself back to normal. I celebrated the 4th of July with my high school friends and even though I was under the weather, nothing could have stopped me from taking part in all of the town events as the 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. Before I knew it, Safety Town was back in action for the second and final session and I would be lying if I said a small part of me wasn't sad when it came to an end for the year. The rest of July was spent getting ready to move back to South Carolina for my sophomore year. 

August marked the end of my summer break (officially marked by one last round of golf, hey again Christian, thanks for playing Gray with me because we both know that the Scarlet bunkers would have ended me) and the beginning of my second year at USC. I'm living in my sorority house this year so I packed everything in my car and headed back down south to move into the house. Recruitment was a blur but I was so excited when I got to welcome home 112 new Delta Zeta's on Bid Day (and I got to run around campus in a green tutu and gold head boppers all day, that was definitely a high point of the semester). August also held the beginning of classes and was the month when I started to get to know the group of girls that are now my best friends. 

September rolled around which meant it was time for Carolina football to come back! The first few games of the season were brutally hot and humid (again, something this Ohio girl who is used to OSU games in jeans and jerseys was not used to) but there's nothing better than a Saturday in South Carolina. I found myself back in Charleston for a day trip with 3 of my pals and then everything kind of came to a pause when Hurricane Florence showed up. Long story short, USC canceled basically a full week of classes so I drove back to Ohio with my friend Maddie (hey Mads, if you're reading this, nobody else I would want to wake up at 4am with and spend 10 hours in my car driving to and from Carolina, especially when you have to drive back to school through the hurricane) and got to spend an unexpected week at home. Once the Hurricane had come and gone (Columbia went untouched, thankfully) I was back in Carolina and finished out the month with our first sorority function of the year, Oh Hot Denim, and the New Member Retreat in Crowders Ridge, North Carolina which I got to join in on because I held a position on New Member Team. 

October showed up and with it came midterms, but it also brought a trip to a local pumpkin patch, more football games, big little reveal (to my little, Katie, if you're reading this, nobody else I would want to jump out of a cardboard box and hug!) and getting to go home for a couple of days for Fall Break. Around Halloween, I had the opportunity to volunteer at a local elementary school in Columbia and work at their Halloween carnival and I loved every minute of it! Something I wanted to do more of this year was to get involved in the Columbia community because it is my home-away-from-home and volunteering helped make such a big city like Columbia feel so much smaller and more like a true home. I also signed my lease for my apartment for next year which was exciting. #Adulting. (Hey Lauren, Maddie, Jess & Victoria, if y'all are reading this, I'm so excited to live with you guys next year. #Endless #Sleepovers).

November started off with a rock-n-roll themed sorority function followed by a day trip to Greenville to go hiking for my friend Lauren's birthday. (Hi Lauren, if you're reading this, I'm so glad we grew so close this year, you have one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know and I'm so glad I have someone like you in my life.) I flew home for Thanksgiving Break and loved getting to spend time with my family and friends before heading back to South Carolina where the month was wrapped up with my sorority semi-formal which I am happy to announce that I made it the whole entire night without taking my heels off. It's the little things that make me happy, friends. (Not sure if you're reading this, but if you are, hey Jess! so incredibly grateful that we met this year, thanks for still being my friend even though I can't dance.)

And now that brings me to December. I wrapped up the first semester of my sophomore year, survived finals week, made it out alive and on the President's list, traveled back home to Ohio for the holidays, participated in Secret Santa with my friends from high school, decorated Christmas cookies with my Grandma, celebrated Christmas with my family, somehow got the running bug (I've run 13+ miles in the past three days. My calves currently want to eat me alive but it's fine because I. Love. Running.), paid a visit to my favorite local coffee shop & just enjoyed my time away from school work and major responsibilities. 


One of my favorite sayings, which, if you're a long time follower or if you know me personally, you probably also know by heart, is "so grateful for so much" and I can't think of a better phrase to sum up 2018. 

I am so grateful for all of the memories that 2018 brought me; all of the laughs, the travels, the good food, the adventures, the amazing people that I was blessed with, the opportunity to continue to attend my dream school and pursue my love of education and teaching. I am so grateful for each and every one of you out there that visits my website, that sends me kind e-mails, and that has decided to follow my crazy life. I am so grateful for all of the late night talks with my best friends, the FaceTime calls to friends and family from home, the car ride jam sessions, and even for the not-so-fun days when homesickness sinks in or school gets stressful because they've helped me grow in so many ways and they make the good days seem even better. 


2018, when we first met 12 months ago, I wasn't the same girl sitting here writing this post (er, letter, not really sure what to call this). I was the girl who sat at the back of the lecture hall, who took her food back to her dorm if none of her friends were there, and the girl who didn't say "yes" to spontaneous adventures. Now, as I wave farewell to 2018, I can happily say that I'm no longer the girl that sits in the back of the class, I'm the girl up front and occasionally the one that professors will say "does anyone besides Riley have anything to add?" I will now confidently sit down with just about anyone during meal times because of the dozens of new friendships I've formed this year and I'll always say yes to spontaneous adventures (milkshakes at 11pm? count me in). 

Well, 2018, it's been real, and if you will, it's been pretty freakin' lit.

2019, hi there, I'm Riley and I'm so excited to meet you. You've got a lot to live up to but I'm ready for the next best year of my life, bring it on 2019, let's do this thing. 

Wishing you all the best in 2019,


Holiday Bucket List

It's 11:45am on the Saturday before Christmas (aka 3 days away) and I'm sitting at the counter, sipping my coffee & starting to round up my end of the year blog statistics, when I found this post. Sitting in my drafts. Completely written & ready to be posted, but never went live. So here we are. 3 days until Christmas and finally launching my Holiday Bucket List. Better late than never I guess.

It doesn't need to be 100% homemade, a gingerbread house kit from Target will do just fine! I love sitting down at the kitchen table and assembling all the pieces & then decorating the tiny house with all the pieces of candy. Plus, it's a cute decorate that we usually set out in our dining room!

Ice skating is one of my favorite things to do during the holidays. I'm not the best at ice skating but I think that's part of the fun. I'm on the hunt for an outdoor ice rink here in town, I think it would be so fun to go skating at night with all the Christmas lights lit up (bonus points if it snows!)

There's a lot of houses in my town that go all out for the holidays and one of my favorite things to do is put on some Christmas music and drive up and down all the streets and look at all of the lights. 

My friends & I usually do a Secret Santa gift exchange every year & I'm excited to be doing it again this year. Since we all grew up together, we know each other really well so the gifts are always super thoughtful & personalized and it's fun for all of us to get together and spend time with one another.

My family has an artificial tree so I don't get the chance to go to a Christmas tree farm and pick out a tree every year but I still enjoy decorating the tree just the same. 

This becomes part of my nightly routine over the holidays to just sit on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate & watch whatever movie is playing on the Hallmark Channel that night. 

My mom bakes a bunch of cookies during the holidays and I love to help frost some of them and put a bunch of festive sprinkles on them. 

I'll admit that my present wrapping skills are definitely subpar but I'm working on them and I really enjoy wrapping presents with big ribbons and bows and fun holiday wrapping paper. 

My family typically sends out Christmas cards and I love when I get to sit down with my mom and design our card for the year. 

My family is hosting our family's Christmas Eve party this year & I can't wait! I am so excited to have another reason to deck the house out with decorations. I also love getting dressed up for holiday parties so fingers crossed that I get invited to attend some!

This one doesn't necessarily pertain to the holidays but... Columbus recently opened up a Top Golf and I'm dying to go! I have some plans to go in the works and can not wait until I finally get the chance to visit!