A Look Back on 2016

I hate to admit that this is my first blog post since LAST YEAR’S year in review… But we all know I’m a sucker for nostalgia, so I’m returning with a look back at 2016 and hopefully a bit more consistency moving forward. As I mentioned in my last year in review, “Bring. it. on. 2016. I’m ready for some happy!” and I found quite a bit of happy this year. It was my first full year post-Spain and although I still wish every single day that I still lived in Madrid, life on this side of the Atlantic wasn’t half bad. I traveled, I volunteered, I decorated, I took pictures, I drank tea, I drank beer, I laughed, I cried.

But as crazy as it may sound, I owe much of this year’s happiness to my Olive girl, who officially became ours in January. She’s shown me an instant, Velcro-like, unconditional love I‘ve never known before. She helped me climb out of my post-Spain depression and gives me a reason to smile every morning when I find all 80 pounds of her snuggled in as close as possible. She’s made friends all over town with her brewery dog status and she’s also half of our photography business’s namesake, Shay and Olive Photography. They say dogs are not our whole life, but they make our life whole–holy smokes, she has filled my heart with so much joy I never even knew was missing.

In February, I met up with my two favorite Spanish friends in Portland for a girls weekend. We drank all the cocktails, chased waterfalls, made friends at the tiniest, most local neighborhood pub, drank flights of tea, and had the best time together, as we always do. There’s something special about this friendship trio–they’re one of my biggest gains from my Spain experience!

Shortly after I returned from Portland, Spencer and I officially became Dallas residents! We loved filling our apartment with all the little trinkets and treasures we’ve collected throughout our travels. I feel like almost everything that we’ve decorated with has some sort of meaning to us, making it feel very much like a sanctuary that tells our story.

In March, we traveled to Tucson to pay a visit to my grandparents. I’ve always loved going to Arizona–it’s guaranteed to be a relaxing time filled with card games, monsoons, mojitos, and hot tub talks. But this trip was slightly different. My grandpa loves his hot tub time. He soaks religiously every afternoon with a cold beer, but he loves it even more when guests are in town and he can have “meaningful conversations without cell phones.”  We were talking about dreams versus ambitions and where I see myself in a few years–deep, right? And I was divulging my love for photography and how it’s a dream of mine to sell my photos, etc. when it hit me… was this a dream or an ambition? Why am I not taking steps toward this goal?

After a month and a half of preparation, I officially opened my print shop in May! I ended the year with 100+ sales, a number I didn’t expect, but am very proud of. I never expected to be shipping prints off to Norway, or sending handfuls at a time to my home town or across the US. I never expected that people would ask for my prints as their birthday gifts or that I’d be invited to participate in markets. The gratitude I feel for every single order is a feeling I won’t soon lose sight of.

For my 25th birthday in June, we visited our Spanish friends in Calgary, Canada! They live there now as Spanish teachers and we spent a wonderful week together.  They took us up to the Banff/Lake Louise area and showed us more shades of turquoise than I ever knew existed. We were spoiled absolutely rotten by them. I hope we can return the favor some time soon!

For the Fourth of July, Spence and I drove down to San Antonio to spend the holiday with my aunts, uncles and cousins. We had a great time drinking beer, playing cards and exploring San Antonio and Gruene. It was HOT but we had a lovely time.

In September, a large group of family, family friends, and I traveled to the Grand Canyon to cheer on Operation Canyon Rising. OCR, made up of 15 people, most veterans with leg amputations due to war, completed a four-day rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon. Led by my dad, it was an emotional experience watching them complete this expedition on the 15th anniversary of September 11th, an event in our history that sent many of the participants to war. They hiked down into the depths of the canyon, which resembled the pit of their injuries or disabilities, and rose up on the south rim signifying the hope they have found in their rehabilitation. It was a very moving trip and I felt so proud of my family and my country.

With my wingwoman Hilary in tow, we also managed to photograph our way over to Sedona and Antelope Canyon. It was SO worth all the driving.

In October, Spencer and I celebrated our four-year anniversary with a trip to Colorado! Our friend Christina chased her dreams to Denver this year and we couldn’t wait to pay her a visit. We enjoyed plenty of local brews and hiked all around Estes Park.

Neither Spence nor I care too much about Thanksgiving, so we packed our bags and found ourselves in Mexico City for the holiday. We had the time of our lives eating Mexican food for every meal, watching lucha libre live, and getting to know Frida.

In early December, I went to New York City with my friend Hannah. I had been twice before, but never as an adult and never with a Canon in hand. Thank goodness Hannah loves me because there was just too much architecture and Christmas decor and skyline views for this shutterbug to handle.

I ended the year on a very high note in Hawaii with all of my dad’s side of the family (twenty-one of us total).  We had been planning this trip for nearly two years as a celebration for my grandma’s 80th birthday. My grandparents and their kids were stationed in Oahu for many years and they had always dreamed of returning with all of their kids and grandkids in tow. We went to all of their old haunts, drank too many Mai Tais, and boogie boarded until there was no boogie left in us.


Throughout 2016, I also felt immense gratitude for my jobs. Our photography business, Shay and Olive picked up speed and I can’t wait to see how much it grows this year as we’re expanding our reach. Life is good when you get to work with your friends!

The brewery is booming and getting some really great attention for the really great beers they make. I feel so lucky to work at a place that gives me the flexibility it does personally and creatively. And allows me to bring Olive in every day!

This year I’m looking forward to:

Going back to Madrid in April! I couldn’t be more excited, but I already feel sad about coming back to Texas and I haven’t even left yet.

Attending my cousin’s graduation from the Air Force Academy in May.

Two of my best friends are getting married this year and I’m stoked to send them off with fun bachelorette parties in Austin and Mexico.

Fine tuning my photo editing style–I’ve struggled HARD with this, but it encourages me to look back on photos from recent years and see how far I’ve come.

Growing my print shop.

Blogging again!

Moving to a better, more central location in Dallas.

Heading back to Tucson.

And all the last minute adventures that find me along the way.