“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
Hi Friends! Welcome (or welcome back!) to Life Without A Manual—a blog written by yours truly chock full of slice-of-life moments. This blog began years ago while I was raising my family without any guidebook. And now that my kids are in college, writing is again helping me navigate this new chapter as an empty nester.
Fun fact about me—I love choosing a word of the year, and I take it seriously. Each December, I start to look for words I might want to embrace in the coming year. I’ve written and crossed out several options already until settling on the one that speaks to me the most. Words are important to me and have always grounded me in life. When I was younger, I used to hide my thoughts in a diary. For those who have read my blog in the past, you know I don’t keep a diary anymore; this blog is my diary. Putting words to feelings and sharing them with others allows me to be my authentic self. And to keep my resolution of living an authentic life, I’ve signed up to participate in the Ultimate Blog Challenge (UBC), where I will write and publish daily. Thanks in advance for reading my blog. I hope you will comment often and share your stories and infinite wisdom.
Remembering Last Year’s Word
In 2022, my word of the year was TODAY because I longed to identify and be present for special moments. I knew if I didn’t recognize them and allow myself to enjoy them, I’d continue to experience life as the same routine day in and day out—especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m happy to say that I took my word of the year to heart. So, before I share my 2023 Word of the Year in tomorrow’s post, I thought I’d take a quick look back at some of the TODAYs I treasured this past year.
- We sent Andrew to college! – With our youngest starting at Drexel University, my husband and I officially became empty nesters. But, before he left, we enjoyed every one of his high school swim meets and water polo games. We cheered on his water polo team in the state finals and celebrated when he qualified for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA) finals in swimming. On dry land, he also earned his Eagle Scout rank last year, went to Philmont Scouting Ranch in New Mexico, and graduated with honors from high school. Can you tell I’m a proud mom?
- Jenna excelled at school and had two leadership roles. – Our daughter recently ended her term as President of Towson University Hillel and Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for her sorority DPhiE. One of my biggest highlights was watching her cut the ribbon and give a speech at the opening of Hillel’s new facility. This kid is not stopping anytime soon. She has big plans for 2023, including graduating from college, going on a Birthright Israel trip and extending her time abroad, and looking for her first job in the real world. I have no doubt she will continue to make us proud.
- We went to Disney World! – After sending two kids to college, we went with two of our best friends to Orlando, where we ate our way around EPCOT during the Food and Wine Festival. I also checked off a bucket list item by taking the behind-the-scenes tour, Keys to the Kingdom. Yes, I’m one of those adults who loves Disney, and we discovered that going to “the happiest place on Earth” is just as much fun with the kids and without them.
- My Phillies were in the World Series. – If you know me, you know I’m a die-hard Phillies fan. At the beginning of the season, I did not expect my team to make it to the playoffs, let alone the World Series. By the end of October, I was exhausted and elated. Although we didn’t win against the Houston Astros, we made them work hard for it. I was at the edge of my seat every night for each division, playoff, and championship game, cheering and yelling at the television, posting on Facebook, and loving every minute of it. We will get them next year.
- I discovered my kids are big Phillies fans too. – During the World Series, Jenna called me from college to tell me she wanted to come home and watch the games with us. No one in school seemed to share her excitement to her desired level. In the meantime, Andrew decided it wasn’t good enough to watch Game 3 of the World Series from his dorm room. So, he and two friends took SEPTA to Citizens Bank Park and bought tickets right before the game. They wound up in the Diamond Club section, which is pretty impressive.
- REUNITED! – One of the biggest moments of 2022 was traveling to Boston with my parents to reunite my dad with his brother after being separated for three years by the pandemic. Before COVID, they would see each other a few times a year. As they get older, those reunions are harder to make happen, and COVID made it even more difficult. My parents could have handled the trip on their own, but I didn’t want the stress of travel and getting around to be a giant obstacle for this special visit. This was also an opportunity to see my first cousins, who I don’t see often. We spent a lovely long weekend together, getting reacquainted and catching up. It is one of those memories I’ll always have with me.
- It’s the little things that make life so wonderful. – 2022 was made up of several small moments that brought me joy. In no particular order, here are a few of them: starting my day with a cup of coffee and doing the Wordle with my sister; going out for date nights, girls’ nights out, brunches, and book club meetings; walking around New Paltz, NY, with friends who are more like family during the day and hanging out by the campfire at night; taking writing classes, attending HippoCamp, exploring new independent bookstores and supporting local authors at book signings, and reading 33 books this year—19 of which were non-fiction and instrumental in helping me chose my 2023 word of the year.I hope you will come back tomorrow to find out what I chose… :)XO,
MarthaJanuary 1, 2023 at 8:11 pm (3 months ago)
What a great year in review! Looking forward to see what word you decided on for this year! Welcome back the the challenge!
Paul TaubmanJanuary 1, 2023 at 3:18 pm (3 months ago)
I’m so glad to hear about all the great things you and your family have accomplished this year! Graduating college, going on a Birthright Israel trip, and making it to the World Series are all fantastic feats.
It sounds like Disney World was a fantastic adventure for you as well! I know it can be just as fun with kids or without.
It’s heartwarming to hear about your dad reuniting with his brother after being years apart due to Covid! It’s also lovely that you got to see some of your first cousins as well.
And those little moments you mention – the coffee and Wordle time, the date nights and girls’ nights, the walks and campfires with friends – they’re priceless.
Thanks for sharing your incredible year! Best of luck in 2023! 🙂
Victoria+JusterJanuary 1, 2023 at 3:16 pm (3 months ago)
So nice to catch up on your year! Your post is an excellant reminder to connect with the beauty and positive energy of each day. Can’t wait until tomorrow for your new word!
Kebba Buckley ButtonJanuary 1, 2023 at 3:10 pm (3 months ago)
Elisa, what a wondrous year you’ve had (welcomed, put your arms around)! Congratulations on all your full-hearted living. What a legacy for your kids– although they may not realize yet the pattern you are setting. Also, you are a wonderful writer.