Do You Know What Today Is? It's Our Anniversary!

Today is such a special day, and a day both Derrick and I have been counting down to...our anniversary! So much has happened in the first year, and as nostalgic of a person as I am, you can bet I've documented every single day of it (I admit I can be a bit obsessive at times).

Derrick and I met last summer at our friends' wedding in the Dominican Republic and reconnected shortly after returning to the states. Because I was set to leave for a mission trip in Mombasa, Kenya in a few days, we had to hold off on having our first date, which was already difficult considering he lives in DC and I, at the time, lived in New York. But the stars aligned, and we had an incredible first date that consisted of lunch in DC and Crossfit (I took the class he was coaching, which was a tad embarrassing for me), and the rest is history!

Our first picture together, about an hour after meeting at the resort.

The year that followed was filled with alternating weekend visits, intense planning and trying new tactics to make our long distance relationship work, which to our surprise, was effortless and actually lots of fun to be able to date in two cities! Like every relationship, our first year was quite the learning experience. We experienced ups and downs that ultimately brought us closer, made us stronger, and made us excited for anniversaries to come.

Probably the worst picture of life, but it captures the TOUGH 4am goodbyes so I could make it back to NYC and to work in time. Glad that's over!

I'm forever grateful for the lessons I've learned while loving and being loved by my incredible guy, so today I decided to reflect on what I consider the 5 L's that I learned during the first year.

DC Mardi Gras ball!

1. Let your fairy tale build itself.
We all have ideas of how love will play out in our life, and often try to force it in order to make it happen. I was no different. I decided that with Derrick, I'd start fresh and do what comes naturally, disregarding how I've always believed it "should" be. I made the first move with Derrick, texting him first when we returned from DR. As soon as my plane touched the runway from my mission trip,  I texted him as the plane taxied into the terminal, alerting him that I was back. Once our relationship progressed, I said "I love you" first. Gender roles and fairy tales aside, I decided to let our love play out in a way that's unique to us, ditching the mind games, playing "hard to get". Our relationship is unique to us, and our fairy tale has certainly built itself.

2. Love language is important.
My love language is affirmation. I'm not a huge fan of receiving or giving gifts, nor do I need things done for me. What says "I love you" the most? Telling me. Saying "you did great" after a workout. I need words of affirmation in order to feel loved, to feel appreciated. Derrick on the other hand, is more of an acts of services kinda guy. All the gifts in the world, all the affirmation, and all the cuddling in the world doesn't affect him quite like me cleaning the kitchen. In the past year, I've learned that finding and communicating in your partner's language is what part of what makes for a successful relationship.

3. Leave emotions out of arguments (or at least try to).
In the heat of the moment, hurtful words fly. They can often be damaging and can never be taken back. It's important to be very rational when sorting out issues. I ask both myself and Derrick questions like, Why are you upset? What made you do that? If this is the problem, what is the solution? What outcome are we working towards? Arguing endlessly and staying mad is toxic to a relationship, and both mine and Derrick's past helped us see the value in rational problem solving.

4. Learn from your experiences, but don't be defined by them.
The person you love deserves a fresh slate, free from the heartbreak and pain the person before you caused. No matter what Derrick and I have endured in previous relationships, we've learned to grant each other our own set of experiences, good and bad. I've learned to look at love like a child looks at a hot stove, allured by the red coils and seldom remembering the pain he endured the last time he leaned in to touch them. Past pain behind us, I've learned that we're stronger when it's our experiences that we hold on to.


5. Love fearlessly and freely.
I'm still learning this, but pain happens. Heartbreak happens. Disappointment? It happens, too. But guarding your heart not only prevents love from coming out, but also blocks the love coming in. I'm learning to not think about what could go wrong or play that horrific scene in my head where the man tells the woman "I just don't love you anymore." Our love is special and it deserves all of me, free from fear and inhibition. Over this past year, I've noticed myself opening up in ways I've never opened up before, and it's been so liberating.

One year down, a million to go. Happy anniversary to my Papa Bear!


  1. Congrats beautiful couple!! I love all of this post and wish you many more years of happiness!

    1. Thank you, Megan! It was such a beautiful and exciting day to celebrate :)

  2. Awesome post. Keep learning, loving, listening, and longing for more. The best is yet to come.

  3. Awww this is so sweet! My husband and I met sophomore year of high school but we did long distance for four years in college! I know how hard it can be but it is totally worth it in the end! :) Best of luck to you two and many more years to come!

    1. Long distance for 4 years?! That's incredible, and I'm glad the love story turned out the way it did. :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. Happy Anniversary!!!!

  5. Happy anniversary! You guys are a great looking couple!


  6. Congrats on your anniversary! You make such a cute couple!! :)

    Pop over to my blog!


  7. This reminds me that it's beyond time for me to whip out that Love Languages test. Love y'all <3

  8. So cute! Wish you guys the very best :)
    -Adi xxo

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