Collage created using the PicCollage app
What a year it has been. Full of ups and down. There are so many things we have collectively experienced that have been frustrating, hard and painful, but in the midst of that, I and my family have been able to really see God's hand at work in our lives and we have had one of the best years we have ever had. In the midst of the heartache of 2020, we have really been able to lean into God's plan for our lives and use our gifts and talents to lead us forward and it's been so incredible to see Him fully at work on our behalf.
So many people have such different expressions of what 2020 has done to and for them, so it can be tough to express joy - but I think it's important to honor all that comes in the ups and downs of life and that's why it was really important for me to stop, take the time and really gather my favorite memories of 2020 and put them down on "paper." So many special moments + times, I could have done FAR more than 20, but in an effort to stay on theme, I have chosen my favorite 20 moments of 2020 to share with you as a recap of one of the most adventurous years I have ever have.
After gathering pictures and looking through memories of the last 365 days, I have a clear picture of just HOW good this year was and I am so glad I took the time to reflect. I encourage you to do the same if you find that you have a moment to look back in the next couple days -- you may find that things weren't nearly as "bad" as we thought.
Without further ado, my top favorite moments of 2020.....
1. Flying to Oakland for 24 hours to have Soup Joumou with family on Haitian Independence Day.
I flew down to Oakland to eat a bowl of soup with my family. It's true. Pumpkin Soup is huge in Haitian culture and eating it on the first day of the year is a tradition that Haitians all over the world honor. It was my first full year knowing about my West Indies roots, so I added up my miles and hopped on a plane so that I could gather with my family, hear the stories and celebrate properly. It was quick and fast and probably one of the most impulsive things I have ever done, but my family was so excited to see me and it meant the world to be able to celebrate my FIRST Independence day with them in person.
2. Sharing my story in a round robin of interviews all over the nation in Houston Texas with Families Fighting Flu.
A few weeks later, I flew to Houston Texas for 48 hours to share my heart failure story in 20+ television and radio interviews in a press tour for Families Fighting Flu. It was a baptism by fire, wild ride that last for 8 hours but it was really great training ground for me and taught me so much. It was also VERY intimidating.
3. Courage's 1st Birthday and raising money for Sant Espwa.
Courage turned 1 this year and instead of throwing her a birthday party, we raised money for an organization called Sant Espwa. The goal was to raise $650, but we got close to $4k. Instead of sending one girl to school, we sent 4-5 and it felt really good to help out in this way. We continued to donate and raise money for Sant Espwa all year long and to date we are just under $6-7k of giving.
Relive Courage's birthday with us by clicking here
4. Taking our entire family to New York City to Keynote B & H Photo Photography Conference & Speaking on stage at Imaging USA in Nashville TN... and connecting with friends in those cities while there.
Our first and last family trip of the year was to New York City to keynote at B&H's Photo Conference. It was so fun running around NYC with Wisdom, taking her on a scavenger hunt, watching her check off the sites, while checking off one of our goals. This was a big year for us in photography and all of our decade of hard work finally got noticed. It meant a lot to be able to speak in NYC, Nashville and Vegas for WPPI and I am blown away by how much traveling we got in in the first 2 months of 2020 pre-Covid and all of the special people we got to see in the process.
5. My feet touched the ground on my first trip to Haiti and meeting more of my father's family there.
After a year of trying everything I could to get to Haiti, I finally went. My beautiful cousin hosted me and kept me safe, well fed and taught me so much while there and I finally got to plant my feet on the ground. It was a soul shifting trip that I will never forget, life-changing in ways I will never be able to put into words and the beginning of many many annual trips to Haiti. I cannot wait to take my family there (hopefully) in 2021.
Check out my Haiti recap and plan your own trip to Haiti by clicking here
6. Getting to sit on the Women in Business Panel at WPPI Photography Conference
This was such a special moment, being able to share about business and motherhood and the "balance" of it all. The line up was incredible and it was my first time hitting the stage at WPPI. To bring home the concept of being a woman and mother in business, Courage was at the back of the room talking to me the whole time and it was so precious, grounding and sweet.
You can read more about that experience here.
7. Flocking my cousin for her birthday.
By this time we were fully on lockdown and not leaving the house. Finding something unique to celebrate my cousins birthday was difficult.. and then came the flamingos. It was a really fun and joyful idea and we ALL got a kick out of being flocked in the middle of the night.
8. Doing 10 days of giveaways for my birthday week.
The week of my birthday I hosted a giveaway of my favorite things every single day for 10 days. I partnered with my favorite brand and creatives and got to bless a lot of people. It meant a lot to me to be able to give and it inspired other people to do the same. It was cool seeing the domino effect that idea had and the way it impacted so many.
9. Cooking my family their first Haitian meal in honor of Haitian Flag Day on May 18th.
I learned 2-3 Haitian recipes this year and perfected them. Learning to cook griot over the phone with my cousin Suzette was really special memory because I have never had a tradition or family recipe that was just for me. Being able to make this dish and then serve my family on an important day that represents my heritage, and bring them into that, was really wonderful for me.
Learn more about Haitian Flag Day here
Prep the Haitian marinade and grio.
The final product of grio, rice and beans and plantain and my ghetto pikliz.
10. Finding out I was pregnant for the 3rd time.
Getting pregnant for the 3rd time and so quickly after Courage was a dream come true. It was God honoring a deep longing and desire and there truly aren't enough words to describe how special this pregnancy is to me. I have been pretty sick the entire time and miserable in my body, but I have never been more exciting to meet a baby as I am to meet my New New. I can't believe she is almost here. (she's moving around vigorously as I type this and we are officially 9 months).
Check out our cute baby announcement here
11. Watching Ike and Wisdom star in their first commercial and seeing that bonding experience take place.
It was so special to watch Wisdom come into her own and share this special moment with her dad, filming this commercial. They did such an amazing job and I am so proud of them. This was also the first time that she was honored for her hard work outside of us. She made a nice little chunk of change and used that money to buy her friends and family Christmas gifts. It was really cool to see that all come full circle.
12. Every single campaign I got to do & brand I got to work with.
Influencing and blogging went so well this year. I worked with so many incredible brands + causes and got crazy opportunities, was introduced to new products and show myself just how capable I am. I finished the year making just under $40k doing this work and it really helped our family to make it when we lost so much of our photography work this year. I originally hoped to make $8-10K off of blogging/influencing - so I am so proud of the work I did, while being very sick and pregnant, raising two babies and running a WHOLE other business. I call that success.
below working with Skyway Luggage in an empty Sea-Tac airport during the heart of Covid
putting in work with Baby Jogger and their new stroller.
13. Our camping trip at the Getaway House.
We got a chance to take our girls and our niece camping this summer at Getaway House and we had no cell service or internet for 72 hours. It was INCREDIBLE and so fun watching the girls connect to nature and run around and have a good time. More of that in our lives, please.
14. Surprising my girls with the McDonald Food Truck.
Another fun moment was when the McDonald's Food Truck stopped by our house on Wisdom's last day of school with cookies, Happy Meals and fun frozen drinks. It was such a cool moment for the girls. They got to climb all over the truck, take pictures and we picnic'd afterward. Such a fun experience for them and me.
15. Seeing Wisdom jump go from 2nd grade to 4th grade and THRIVE.
Wisdom finish the 2020 school year ready to enter 3rd grade only to be admitted to a 3rd/4th split class with 6 of her other friends. They were doing so well learning and keeping up the teacher opted to teach 4th grade to the whole group and I am just beyond proud of her for rising to the occasion. She just turned 8 at the end of August and she's killing it as a 4th grader doing remote learning. Just heaps of pride for the amazing girl that she is and how easy it is to parent her. She also let us know her plans to attend Harvard University, so we are preparing her for that now.
16. Going viral and ending up in my first influencer feature on Health.com.
In August, during Black Breastfeeding Week, I posted this picture that went wildly viral (at least for me). It has been shared almost 1000 times on Instagram, saved by 500 people and received more "likes" and comments then any of my other posts. I wanted this picture for me, for my memories and for my girls. I had no idea that it would resonate with so many and so much so that it ended up on Health.com. -- freaking incredible! So thankful that what matters to me, moves others.
Check out the Health.com article here
17. Our Pack Up + Go Staycation in Seattle at Palladium Hotel.
I partnered with an amazing brand that sent us on a surprise staycation in Seattle and it was so fun because we had been home for so many months. We loved getting out, sharing a meal as a family and being spoiled for the night. Pack Up + Go did an amazing job and really treated us well and their partners did not disappoint. It was the perfect COVID safe last vacay as a family of four.
Read more about our staycation trip here
18. MomsAway Vacation down to Southern California and my first post-COVID trip.
A few months later, I got courageous and hopped on a plane down to Los Angeles with my best friend. It was risky and came with a lot of stress and anxiety (when I returned, I got pretty sick and took 2 COVID tests). My results came back negative, thank goodness! I think I just caught something from being quarantined for so long - but this trip was one for the books and a SUPREME highlight of 2020 for me. Good food, wild laughter, so much Netflix and sleep with one of my favorite people on earth. Can't wait for the next time.
You can check out the recap of our trip here
19. My outdoor picnic in a bubble with Picnic Party Seattle
Got to hang with my favorite girls and enjoy a fall outdoor picnic at a park and watch the sunset. Charcuterie, good music, a vibe, count me in. It was such a unique experience having a picnic in a bubble, one that I will certainly never ever forget. Thank you Seattle Refined for letting me run with that story.
I had dreamt for years of a Thanksgiving where Melinda and I could have our families together and after spending Wisdom's birthday in Sacramento, we made it happen. It was a wild 10 days together, but a visit I will never forget. Everyone cooking in the kitchen, laughing and joking, the kids gathering leaves for the centerpieces - it was such a special day of togetherness and the whole trip meant so much to me.
2020 overall has been a really incredible year for my family and I. We have grown so much in so many areas and we have thrived during this time of stillness. This year has put so much into perspective and showed us what REALLY matters and we have been incredible students of those lessons. It has been a beautiful season spending time together: creating, laughing, adventuring, resting and serving and we plan to add more of that into our lives moving forward. What has 2020 taught you? Anything specific stand out? Has your family dynamic changed and if so, for the better?
My Top 5 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2020
Below a quick recap of my five most popular and viewed blog posts of 2020. If you didn't get a chance to read them or check them out, now is as good a time as ever.