I was looking on Instagram at everyone’s 2018 reviews that they put on their Instastories and it got me thinking that one, I’d like to do the same thing because I love looking back at pictures. But two, that all those stories showed were all the good things that happened in 2018 and while I loved seeing them, that’s just not real life. Each year is full of good, positive things (which is what we normally take pictures of), but it can also be full of struggles and hard lessons that (which we don’t normally take pictures of). And in today’s social media culture of showing only the positive, perfect pictures of life I wanted to give you a more in-depth of what 2018 looked like for myself. Of course I mainly only have pictures of the positive things, but I’ll definitely share some of the harder things I also went through.
To start, Ben and I rang in 2018 with our friends and family in Pittsburgh. It was a fun time as you can tell from the pictures. At the same time my family was going through a struggle that resulted in two losses in 2018. It’s not at my liberty to reveal what this person went through, but it was definitely something that weighed and continues to weigh heavily on my family.
My best friend who I’ve known from birth and roomie in college, Kate, and her husband, Jordan, returned to the states for the year after 5 years in the mission field. I got to finally meet their son Judah that I’d only talked to through Skype and then later in the year met their new son, Elias.
We went to Ben’s company holiday party that they have in January. To be honest, I don’t love the picture of myself on the left because I was struggling with my weight. But as you’ll see in a picture later on I went to the gym twice a week and watched what I ate and managed to loose my goal of 15 pounds. (And an even bigger high-note is that I managed the weight through the rest of 2018… even the holidays!)
Our friend from church, Jackie, is from China and she taught us how to make dumplings and ring in the Chinese New Year.
One of my goals for 2018 was to choose to do things that brought me joy and let go of the things that didn’t. One thing that definitely brought me joy was babysitting Reece, our good friend Dave and Steph’s little boy, throughout the year. I love this series of pictures because you can see how he changed throughout the year. Plus he has the best smile 🙂
As the year went on I became increasingly busy, but in the beginning of the year I was able to make it to Spark, a group of Christian photographers that get together.
Spark also hosted it’s 3rd free photography workshop, Ignite, in March.
Ben’s brother and sister-in-law had a new baby girl, Hailey.
We also visited Ben’s family in eastern Pennsylvania several times throughout the year. We really love being involved with our nieces and nephews and seeing Ben’s 94 year old grandpa.
I also made it back a lot to Pittsburgh to visit my family and friends.
On a random spur of the moment trip we went down to Washington DC to see the cherry blossoms, (Something I’ve always wanted to do!) Plus we got to hang out with our friends from Penn State, Courtney, Dave and their daughter.
In a matter of 4 days both of my grandmother turned 80 in May at either side of Pennsylvania. It was a lot of traveling, but it was also so worth celebrating!
After the parties I returned back to Pittsburgh with my family to celebrate my baby sister! We had her bachelorette party and bridal shower all within the same weekend!
The shower was mainly DIY and so there was a lot of prep work the whole week before the shower.
And Krissy’s tea party shower couldn’t have gone anymore perfect! I did a whole blog post on it if you’d like to see more of the details!
I continued to go to the gym until June because that’s when my Groupon ended and also when the gym changed membership. Boo!! On a more positive note, Cassady K Photography officially turned 5 in June this year! I started shooting years before, but we didn’t officially make a business until 2013.
We visited Ben’s parents to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary! It was so inspiring to see a marriage that has lasted 40 years and I am so thankful for how they have accepted me into the Adams Family. I also did a blog post on their anniversary party.
One of things I love about summer is all the green, flowers and fresh fruit! We went strawberry picking on our way home from the anniversary party. (And I managed not to get one drop of juice on my white shorts! hahaha)
Every year since I was 16 we’ve been going down to Longboat Key, Florida in July for our annual family vacation with my mom’s extended family. This year was just extra enjoyable and relaxing for some reason.
And almost every year I get to celebrate my birthday in Florida. I turned 31, but I reversed the candles… although maybe I don’t want to be 13 again that was an awkward stage.
To be honest, when we got back from Florida is when the rough times really hit for me. At first I just thought it was because I was having a hard time adjusting to being back from vacation and away from my family. But then I photographed a couple of sessions and the panic attacks hit, like hard. I ended up in the ER three times for them. I don’t say any of this to ask for sympathy, but more for anyone who is or has gone through something similar and just wants to know they’re not alone.
I have dealt with anxiety for over half of my life and do take medicine for it. It can be lonely and sometimes I feel embarrassed that I can’t control my emotions. Thankfully I have a very supportive husband, who may not understand it, but somehow knows how to be there and take care of me. I try to view my anxiety like any other sickness… it’s a deficiency in my brain and why wouldn’t I take medicine for it if a diabetic needs to take insulin. After seeing my main doctor and then a therapist it was decided that I may not be on the best medication. I began seeing a Psychiatrist to find the right medicine. The problem with medicine for anxiety, depression or bipolar disorders is that it takes 4-8 weeks to see if a drug is working or if there ares any side affects. And I did experience a scary side affect which led to changing medicine. All of this was happening during my favorite season, summer, and my busiest time, wedding season.
I should add in that I did have to cancel some second shooting and move some portrait sessions around. Thankfully I didn’t have to cancel any of the weddings that I had booked because I had amazing second shooters and Ben came to everyone of my weddings as my assistant and cheerleader. Every time I shoot a wedding, I do feel the presence of God with me and He was literally my only strength at some of the weddings. I’m always nervous about my anxiety because it can be random and it makes me nervous that couples may not want to book me. However, I know with God on my side He will never give me more than I can handle. In fact, He has never given me more than I can handle, especially with Ben by my side.
Along with the medication and seeing a therapist I also did things that give me joy. (That 2018 goal.) I love working in the garden that we’ve made around our part of the yard.
We had new neighbors move in that are extremely nice and they have a dog, Nala. Nala felt like a gift from God because I miss my family dog, Sophie, so much. Nala could seriously be a therapy dog and I took her for walks and she spent time upstairs in our apartment with me during the day. Plus our neighbors loved that she wasn’t alone.
We made lots of visits to our friends’ pool. Water, sun and friends are the best!
And we did lots of fun summer things with our friends like eating out, picnics, going to the zoo and going to a concert.
Plus a summer goal is always to eat as much summer food as possible! (If you have not had pizza on the grill then you should!)
We also had several serving opportunities with our church, Awaken. Going and volunteering is always a great way to think about more than just you and what you’re going through. We went to Harlem Grown twice to help plant and to then help harvest. (I faced one of my fears and held a chicken!)
A member of our church family runs Linking Handlebars with her kids so we went to help clean bikes. She literally has hundreds of bikes all throughout her house that they donated to kids at the end of each year.
Then in August we were back in Pittsburgh for my sister’s wedding. I went out a week early to help with all the last minute details.
There was one major glitch during the day, but other than that the wedding couldn’t have gone more perfect! And now Kristina + Phil are married!! (I’m hoping to finish editing the images Ben and I managed to snap for a blog post soon!)
Aww look at Benny! He spent so much time getting his outfit just right to match me. And I love that he wore a pink shirt 🙂
I got to take the exiting sparkler shot!
The day after the wedding my parents threw a picnic so that the festivities weren’t over yet and so that Krissy and Phil could open their gifts. We had to take a picture of Phil and Krissy with Sophie since they didn’t get one on their wedding day with her.
Mostly everyone was just tired by the end of the picnic! haha
On the way back to NY after the wedding we stopped at Penn State for just a little visit. I love to find our initials that Ben and I carved into a tree on my last nights at Penn State.
And then this happened. This was one of those not so great things that I actually took a picture of. I was still dealing with my anxiety and Ben was out of town when the starter in my car decided to go at the post office. I’ve had Colby since graduating college and he’s up to 185,000 miles… I’m determined to get him to 200,000. While this was a tough situation in the very hot heat, God provided in so many ways. Seriously, everyone in the situation was so kind to me and took care of me in more ways than I could have imagined. And yes, Colby is fixed and going strong at 190,000 miles right now.
Ben also made it a point to plan some little trips to help me get away from the apartment so I didn’t feel so trapped there with everything I was going through and because I work from home. I often had a hard time leaving and wanted to just be where I felt safe, but then I would have a great time. We went to Philadelphia to visit our best friends, Jess, Ted, Lucy and the little boy they were fostering. Lucy is such a girly girl and I love it!
We did have to cancel a trip to California because it raised my anxiety so much. (Although did we actually have to cancel the trip if nothing was ever bought?) Instead Ben planned a trip to Maine, we went to Portland, Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. I may have a lot of smiles in these pictures, but it was not an easy one. The medicine I was trying was acting up and I was tired all the time. One of the days I slept through almost the whole day.
We also got to visit our friends Kerry & Kyle in Portland and do a maternity session for them!
I had read the stars at Acadia National Park are some of the best stars to see in the US and they did not disappoint! We had so much fun photographing them! (Once I showed Ben how to use long exposures to shoot the stars he basically stole the camera from me.)
I’m also planning on doing a blog post on Main because we got some amazing shots like this one!
In the fall we go apple picking so Ben can stock our freezer with a bunch of homemade applesauce.
We went with Steph and Dave to take Reece (plus our friend Kate and her daughter, Hannah, not pictured) trick or treating. This is the only skunk I’ll hold!
By about October and November, I began to feel like myself again. A side affect of the anxiety medication that I take is that it does make my sleepier than normal. But I was able to photograph sessions and weddings without any panic attacks and minor anxiety before the weddings. (Once I start shooting I get into what Ben calls “photographer mode” and all anxiety is gone.)
We joined the Spark ladies and their families so we could all take pictures of each other for Christmas cards. (The two pictures on either side really don’t do any justice to how well the portraits from my friends came out, but I quickly pulled them from my phone.)
While Ben was on a guy’s weekend with some of his friends from work, I went and hung out with Kate and her family for the weekend. I’ve been trying to get in as much time with them as possible before their year in the US ends and they head back to the mission field.
Ben and I have been very fortunate that we’ve been able to work out the same holiday schedules with our families every year. For Thanksgiving we’re with Ben’s family in eastern PA.
Then the day after Thanksgiving we go to my aunt & uncle’s house that also live in eastern PA and where my family spends Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving we celebrate Christmas with my mom’s side of the family. We put up my Aunt’s Christmas decorations (some of the dogs even like to help) and we ice cookies.
Then at night we open up gifts. This year we did White Elephant gifts for the first time since a lot of the cousins are older now. Sophie claimed one of the blankets that was a white elephant gift even though she didn’t play the game.
I also finally got to meet Kristina and Phil’s new puppy, Finn!!! He’s a Bernedoodle.
After Thanksgiving I went back to Pittsburgh with my family since Ben had work out of town for the week. During the week I helped my mom put up her Christmas decorations (that’s actually Krissy being a perfectionist with the tree) and we watched Christmas movies.
I tried to do some work, but mostly I snuggled Sophie and took her to the vet.
My mom and I also baked and iced sugar cookies.
I’ve missed out on this tradition since I got married, but this year I joined my sisters and dad again in going shopping for my mom’s Christmas gifts. We also went out for dinner which turned into almost 2 hours of hanging out and talking. Definitely a memory I’ll cherish.
I still go to the same hair dresser in Pittsburgh, so while I was there I also cut my hair!! I’ve been waiting until after my sister’s wedding and I was so sick of the long knotty hair! So 10 inches of hair and one pixie cut later I’m loving my very short hair!
We were pretty much gone the last 3 weeks of December so the one week when Ben and I were both in NY we made more sugar cookies for friends, finished buying gifts (although Ben did most of that in November) and mailed out all our Christmas cards and surprise gifts to my clients.
I’ve also been dealing with migraines for 7 years and constant neck pain for 6 years (it all happened right around when we got married). I’ve done so many types of treatment that this past June I tried nerve ablation. (Basically the doctor uses needles to target the nerves that are causing the pain and then they use radio-frequency to burn the nerves.) The procedure went really well in June and I was pretty pain-free, but the nerves grew back and I had to go back to the doctor in December to have it done again. I wanted to see what exactly they were doing to me so the team took some pictures for me while I was laying facedown on the table.
My sweet Ben said after the year we had that I deserved a trip to the beach at the end of the year. So in the middle of December we went to Punta Cana for 5 days. He was right, it was so needed and we really enjoyed ourselves.
We drank, ate, relaxed, swam and soaked up the sun!
I’m not going to post too many pictures from Punta Cana because I also want to do a blog post with the pictures!
The week before Christmas Ben had to work in Philly. So while he was working, I went and saw all things Christmas.
And visited family and friends! I felt bad that Ben had to work, but I enjoyed myself 🙂
Like with Thanksgiving, our plans with our family for Christmas work out pretty well. We usually have Christmas with Ben’s family a day or two before Christmas. Last year a couple of the kids were sick so they couldn’t make it, but this year we had everyone! The kiddos make it so much fun and I love watching them experience Christmas.
While we were visiting Ben’s family we did find out that a good friend of the Adams family and Ben’s youth group leader had passed away. He was a very special guy and we’ve gone to Penn State games with him practically every year since we’ve graduated. In fact, when I met Ben’s parents at a tailgate in college the next person I met was Bruce. He was always so funny, so accepting and such a light in this world. It was definitely a hard loss.
We don’t always make it to Christmas Eve dinner with my family, but this year we made it to my Aunt & Uncle’s house for dinner and for gingerbread house making. 🙂
My family may not have kiddos yet, but we have dogs hahaha. And they definitely get spoiled on Christmas morning… actually all year round.
I love that we get to spend Christmas morning with my family! I don’t know when it started, but we don’t pick up any of the wrapping paper or boxes while we’re opening gifts so we can make a huge pile and we even take a break for breakfast. It’s basically a 4 hour event and I love that we stretch it all out so long since so much time is put into preparing for Christmas.
Since Chelsy still lives in Pittsburgh and Jess comes home to Pittsburgh for Christmas as well the 3 amigas (what we’ve been calling ourselves since middle school) always try and get together. Plus now they both have kiddos so we had lots of fun playing and doing crafts this year.
Such a good group!!
We spend a whole week in Pittsburgh (Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day) so my mom had my dad’s whole side over for dinner… 19 people. We actually ate in the basement so we could fit everyone at the same table.
I of course made everyone take a group picture because we don’t have the whole family together a lot.
And this was December 30th, I’m going to put a picture of Sophie’s enormously long tongue first because it’s hilarious and the other picture has bad memories. (Although, I first had Ben take this picture because I thought it was the perfect place for a nap.) The last Steeler game was on and I was getting the start of a migraine so I decided to take a nap by the fire with my heating pad on my neck to try and get some relief.
It was a pretty long nap, but I did wake up once or twice and Ben even gave medicine when my migraine and neck pain weren’t getting any better. When Ben tried to actually wake me for dinner I was pretty much out of it, I couldn’t move any part of my body and I couldn’t speak. He picked me up and tried to give me water and after a few minutes I could think clearly, but I still couldn’t move any part of my body and the only way I could communicate was through grunts. My mom and Ben took me to the ER and I was given medicine for my migraine and they did blood work and a CT scan. Everything came back normal and after about 2 hours at the hospital I was able to speak clearer and eventually stand up and walk.
We still don’t know what happened, I saw my neurologist in NY as soon as I got back and he ran just about every test possible and they’ve all come back normal. It was just such a scary experience to see and hear what’s going on around you and be stuck in your body, unable to do anything.
But I woke up the next day for New Year’s Eve and felt pretty much back to myself. We rang in the new year in Krissy and Phil’s new house.
With all of the dogs, of course 🙂
So that was my 2018 review, the good and the bad. I know that was a lot so if you’re still reading then I really appreciate it. 2018 obviously did have a lot of good, but I’m still hoping for a better 2019.
I don’t like to really set goal each year, but I guess this year I sort of am. Ben and I are really focusing on my health this year. I still have the severe neck pain and we still aren’t sure if the nerve ablation in December really worked. I have already started physical therapy to help gain my strength back because that’s what seems to make the ablation the most effective in June. I don’t need to loose weight this year, but I am getting a year gym membership so that I can work on my strength to lessen pain and to help when I’m shooting.
Plus I still really want to find things that spark joy in me through out the year. After going through this whole review, that seems to be what really got me through the tough times… the little things that brought joy and light.
So happy 2019!