The 26 Most Unforgettable Memories of My 26th Year

26 was a crazy year of ups and downs, emotional and physical turmoil, and some really amazing highlights (including getting engaged!)

These 26 memories (in rough chronological order) are the most unforgettable moments of this past year.

I turned 27 yesterday, and had a blast compiling this 🙂 I hope you enjoy!


So goodbye 26, here’s to 27, hoping it’s filled with just as much love, laughter, and learning!

 Celebrating Carnaval with Ran and Becca!1. Celebrated Carnaval with my sister visiting from Michigan, and my then soon-to-be fiance


Vidigal Apartment Expat Rio de Janeiro

2. Fell in love with my balcony (it’s possible) and the band of monkeys that would come visit me

3. Quit my steady, stable job that saw me from an office in Thailand to a remote worker in Brazil… and became a blogger.

Teaching English in Rio de Janeiro

4. Became a volunteer English teacher and discovered my love for teaching

Morro do Leme Hike Rio de Janeiro

5. Rediscovered my love of the outdoors and hiking

Proposal in Rome 2

6. Got engaged in Rome! (and had an experience that scared me off from Airbnb forever)

Israeli Dinner Israel Haifa

7. Visited Israel for the first time (and fell in love with the beautiful country, culture and cuisine) and also met my fiance’s awesome family for the first time ever

THanksgiving in Brazil (1)

8. Made some of the most incredibly inspirational friends in Rio de Janeiro (and reignited my dinner party obsession)

Summertime in Michigan

9. Experienced my first Michigan summer in years, including 4th of July (my whole beautiful family is pictured here – “little” bro Austin, fiance Ran, ME, sister Becca, and my dad Steve)

Koh Tao Viewpoint Destination Wedding

10. After going back and forth about a wedding in Michigan, finally decided on a dream destination wedding in Thailand, and starting planning (and paying!!)… We’ll be getting married at the Koh Tao Viewpoint resort, a place that we had champagne at on our first trip as a couple, and dreamed of returning to.

The crime scene - Arraial do Cabo beach

11. Had my keys stolen and then sold back to me in Arraial do Cabo (the crime scene shown above)

Filming a TV Show

12. Realized I would’ve never wanted to be an actress (it’s tough!) when I was filmed for a 1 hour episode of a TV show about Rio de Janeiro. I’m pictured here with the star and hostess of the show.

13. Lost my second computer in a year to a random crash – decided to finally go Mac and never look back

Rio de Janeiro Jiu Jitsu

14. Started taking safety seriously by enrolling in self-defense classes (and learning Krav Maga from my fiance)

Travel Blog Success Review - How to Start a Travel Blog

15. Completed Travel Blog Success (loved it!), started MatadorU (challenging and growth-inspiring), and finished a Gotham class (not recommended)

Working out at Ipanema Pilates

16. Got back into working out, thanks to an awesome trainer who has me hooked on pilates and strength training. If you’re ever in Rio de Janeiro, check out Ipanema Pilates with Guto!

17. Finally got a real camera (my love the Nikon AW1 – waterproof and shockproof) and dedicated myself to mastering it after years of blurry iPhone photos

Hospital Overseas Health Scare Rio de Janeiro

18. Was affected by a kidney infection that landed me in the ER

Rio de Janeiro Casa do Caminho Party

19. Officially gave up on ever really speaking in Portuguese, and committed to learning Spanish by 2017. Even though I failed in my language quest, I met ALL of my friends through the amazing language school Casa do Caminho, and studying (and volunteering) there was by far my best choice while living in Rio de Janeiro.

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

20. Traveled solo for the first time in over a year – to Costa Rica!

Lavi and Me

21. Made a new bff when I met my travel soul sister (and ridiculously amazing photographer and inspiring writer) Lavi in Montezuma, Costa Rica.. this photo is courtesy of her!

La Fortuna Chavez Tour La Fortuna Waterfall (49)

22. Rode a (crazy) horse for the first time in years… in the pouring rain, somehow further inspiring a dormant childhood equine obsession (next up: horseback riding lessons in Puebla!)

Costa Rica Waterfall Rappell

23. Rappelled down a waterfall, succeeding in challenging (and conquering) my severe fear of heights

24. Modeled for a yoga-themed photoshoot in Costa Rica

Puebla, Mexico view

25. Moved to Mexico! Instead of a city view or an ocean view from my balcony, I now have this volcano view…

Ran and I

26. Was reunited with this handsome hunk, the love of my life, after exactly one month apart! I vowed NEVER AGAIN, but then remembered I’m attending yoga teacher training in April for a month (eeek)… but after that, I’ll be keeping my solo stints to just a few weeks.


How was your year?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook


  1. December 20, 2015 / 9:28 am

    What an amazing year Steph and it sounds like you have so many more exciting things to look forward to! It’s always nice to look back on the good and maybe not so good things that have happened in the past 12 months, life is an amazing thing and what fun to see what has been accomplished 🙂

    • December 21, 2015 / 11:28 am

      Thanks so much Emma! Agreed completely – it’s important to reflect on the amazing gift of life that we all have. Sometimes it’s too easy to just let it pass by without appreciation 🙂

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