13 Memories of 2013

Oh yes: it is that time of the year. The time when lists upon lists emerge from the woodwork, from the top 10 songs of 2013 to the top 10 memes of the year to the top 10 list of top 10 lists.

I’m going to continue that tradition with three lists before the New Year.

The first list is the more thoughtful, reflective review of the past 12 months: the top 13 memories of 2013 (let’s just hope that I don’t see 2099 because that list would be ridiculous.)

In no particular order, the Pursuit of Paulson is proud to announce the finalists of what memories stuck out the most (and what I could recall thanks to my profileration of social media):

13 Memories of 2013

1) Getting engaged
(October 25, 2013 – Biltmore Estates, Asheville – surprise!!)

1393894_10101773345887515_307372616_nThe “Oh hai – look at this ring” photo

PostEngagementThe first photo post-engagement. This is a KEEPER (both the photo and the man!)

2) Graduating with a Master of Public Administration degree (Tar! Heels!)

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3) Transition into plant-based diet, more natural lifestyle

Goodbye dairy, eggs, meat…goodbye antibacterial sprays…goodbye Crest toothpaste. A slow but steady transition since June and will continue into 2014!

4) Surprise birthday party

That sneaky Aaron! We went to Saxapahaw when my friend Laura came to town to see The Old Ceremony at the Haw River Ballroom and grab a bite beforehand at The Eddy Pub:

485434_10101903551010412_1164865437_nWe happened to run into our friends, Ben and Dawnya, at the bar and they offered us a sneak peak of the digs for the soon-to-open Haw River Ales. As we were looking around the space and Dawnya explained the vision to me, a random dog trotted into the room. Following said dog were friends of ours. I was quite perplexed – why did our friends just come out of the shadows? Then, it hit me:

425211_10101903912281422_491576194_nRealism captured – “No way! NO WAY!!”

Great friends. Great partner. Great beer. So, so blessed!

5) O.A.R. concert in Raleigh

By far, the best O.A.R. show I had experienced (now, granted my number pales in comparison to Aaron’s.) Similar to 2012, we were up front on the rail. But, the energy this year was beyond comprehension. The guys simply melted all of our faces off, even on a Sunday night.

6) Cards Against Humanity

This ridiculous, sometimes inflammatory (sometimes? well, most of the time) game appeared at many social events this past year, making me realize that we are all terrible, terrible people. And then we laugh.

7) Chicago-Michigan road trip

Our annual adventure featured so many new sights, tastes, and sounds and some familiar ones as well: from checking off more breweries (Perrin Brewing, Right Brain, Short’s Brewing, Harmony Brewing, Three Floyd’s) to famous beer bars (Hop Cat, The Mitten Bar), to nature galore (Pictured Rocks State Park, Meijer Gardens) to a Taste of Chicago to meeting new people to learning Hand & Foot (great card game!) to visiting Mount Pleasant (Fire Up Chips!) – it was all amazing.

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8) Wicked Weed

How did a brewery make this list? BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME. Seriously, Wicked Weed just celebrated its one-year anniversary, and its entrance into North Carolina’s beer scene has been nothing less than explosive. Besides have over two dozen of their OWN beers on draft at the brewery, Wicked Weed is not afraid to take on adventurous styles, open fermentation processes, and challenging our palates. While not every beer is incredible (as would seem nearly impossible), Wicked Weed overwhelmingly produces delicious craft brew.

9) YMCA

From the physically-demanding classes (Bootcamp2, Cardio Intervals, Cycle) to those demanding in a different way (Yoga, PiYo), the Durham YMCA branches have helped me reach a new level of fitness this year. But, it’s been more than just 6am classes. There is such a strong sense of community, kinship and support from other members. I have had the immense pleasure of developing so many new relationships with such inspirational people.

10) Half-Marathon PR

So, that was pretty exciting. 1:44:12 in the 2013 Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon. Big kudos to the 1:45 pacers that I kept up with for the vast majority of the run. They were even kind enough to allow a Tar Heel to run amongst the Wolfpack (and the race was the day after UNC defeated NC State in football…which wasn’t saying much this year, kids.)

11) Young Nonprofit Professional Network (YNPN)

I joined the YNPN – Triangle Chapter Board of Directors for 2013. YNPN is “a movement activating emerging leaders to advance a diverse and powerful social sector.” Essentially, there are chapters across the country designed to bring together nonprofit professionals for collaboration, skill development, networking, and more. I had attended socials during 2012 and quickly realized what an amazing resource this is for those in the nonprofit sector. In May, I represented North Carolina at the national YNPN conference in Phoenix (guess why I went…?) The conference was one of the best I have ever attended. I left with a vast amount of knowledge, a reinvigorated sense of self, and a host of business cards from all the do-gooders I had the pleasure to meet. If you are in the nonprofit sector, I would highly encourage connecting to one of the chapters closest to you! (And, if you are in the Triangle, you better join us!!)

12) Attending a practice round at the Master’s

Augusta. The pinnacle of golf perfection. Hint: it lived up to its reputation. The immaculate grounds made you feel like you were in a different world (especially since outside of those gates was a not-so-glamorous look at low-socioeconomic America). The $2 pimento cheese sandwich was pretty baller. But, the best part was how relaxed the atmosphere was during the Par 3 competition. I had the opportunity to see those golfers I had watched on TV for years just a few feet away.

901578_10101383735669515_2090858712_oI love this photo because it looks like we were pasted in via PhotoShop. I promise we were not.

13) Beach living: visiting the Outer Banks

Somehow, despite living in NC for more than 5 years, I had not been to the OuterBanks. So, in honor of my birthday and graduation, Aaron kindly whisked me away for a long weekend at OBX. We toured the Wright Brothers Memorial, did some dune jumping at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, drove up to Duck and Corolla, visited the Outer Banks Brewing Station and Weeping Radish, connected with our friends to celebrate, and did some serious relaxation in our Tommy Bahama chairs.

1053323_10200658843126008_1416035097_oCelebrations at the Outer Banks Brewing Station467763_10101463083031765_888127377_o

Wee!

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“Of course!”

A lot has happened since my last post. On this path toward full “adulthood,” I’ve stepped on the accelerator more than I could have imagined.

Let’s start with our new relationship status: ENGAGED! It was inevitable (fortunately, as it’s all I had hoped for) yet I was still surprised last Friday, October 25 during our visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville when Aaron asked THE question here:

TheSpot

The (brief version) of the full story: We had this weekend getaway planned for several months – a relaxing three days of Asheville and Brevard, full of a tour at the Biltmore House, several hikes in Brevard, and of course, some of our favorite (and new) beer haunts. We left Durham early Friday morning and arrived at the Biltmore Estate by 10:30am. After touring the house with our audio guides, we had a wonderful lunch out at Cedric’s Pub in Antler Village (made the butternut squash and kale risotto vegan!), a nice walk around the farm, tasted wines from the Biltmore Winery, and wandering the shops, Aaron asked if we could go back to the house for a few more photos. It was true – we had not taken many photos of the house upon our arrival since we were hyper-focused on starting the tour before the crowds expanded. So, we drove around the Estate, parked, and walked up to said balcony. At first, there were other folks near us taking photos. And then, they all disappeared. Before I knew it, Aaron was down on one knee (here is where I blacked out), and when the infamous question tumbled out of his mouth, my response was: “Of course!” Ring

it was perfect. We were able to be together, just the two of us, and blissfully love on one another and the progression of our relationship over the last (almost) three years. Then, once we cried, laughed, and glowed, we were able to share the news with family and friends. And, without a doubt, take our celebration to the most logical of places:BurialBeer

Thank you, Burial Beer, for providing the backdrop for our first toast of our engagement. The rest of the weekend was full of a celebratory air, which made it even more special. We spent the remainder of Friday in Asheville, visiting White Duck Taco (yum!) and Wedge Brewery (the Community Porter was on point). Then, we traveled to our hotel in Brevard, where we awoke Saturday morning (when it was 26 degrees outside – WHAT?!) to hike Looking Glass Rock – a challenging hike but paid off in dividends upon reaching the top:LookingGlassRock2

Post hike, we wandered into downtown Brevard for the town’s Halloween festival, watching a pumpkin roll and grabbing lunch at local restaurant Mayberry’s. Not a surprise, but a trip to Oskar Blues was a definite post-lunch, and the Cinnamon Coffee Porter I started with about blew my socks off:

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Post adult bevvies included watching some Tennessee football and napping (the essence of true vacation living) and then another adventure into downtown for our engagement dinner at The Square Root after trying out Brevard Brewing Company (pretty middle of the road).

The final day of the weekend brought an incredible hike in Dupont State Forest involving three waterfalls – Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls. (shown below):

HighFalls

To cap off just a beautiful time together, we stopped for lunch at one our favorite Asheville eateries: Green Sage CafeGreenSage

Citrus Kale Bowl for the win.

Whew! So now, it’s wedding, wedding, wedding focus. Pinterest boards are exploding. Aaron and I are thrilled and excited to share our special day with all those who have brought such love, friendship, and support to our lives. More to come in other pursuits, including new home, another half-marathon, and new vegan recipes. For now, cheers!