Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

December 29, 2023

2023 in Review: Highlights From My Year.

       How is it already time once again to write my favorite post of the year? I love taking the time to write and reflect on each year. Let's take a deep dive into all things 2023: the highs, the lows, the big moments and the everyday. This was certainly a memorable year! 

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2023 Summary:

     What an interesting year this has been! I would say that the first three quarters of the year were "okay," but the last three months of the year brought some truly incredible memories. 2023 is the year that I got engaged, which was the best moment of my life! But despite the fact that this year had what is currently the best moment of my life, it still wasn't one of my favorite years as a whole. 2022 was truly the best year of my life to date, and the majority of 2023 just didn't have quite the same sparkle or as many treasured memories overall as 2022 I hope that doesn't sound too negative! But writing these blog posts at the end of each year is my chance to truly be honest about how I have felt about the past 12 months. And overall, I've felt that 2023 was just an okay year, until the final three months.

      Something that I kept thinking about over and over again this year is how Instagram and social media is such a highlight reel. To the outside eye, it probably did look like I had the best year of my life. And there definitely was good in 2023! (Getting engaged and moving in together, lots of travels, some fun career moments, etc). But people weren't seeing the constant anxiety, health stuff, really painful friendship moments that brought a lot of tears, struggles with the comparison game/jealousy, etc. I want to keep remembering in years to come that someone's online persona really is just a highlight reel, since I think I definitely learned that lesson for myself this year. 

     Also not sure where else in this blog post that this little update will fit- but after three and a half years as a blond, I went back to being brunette in 2023! I always saw myself with more natural brunette hair for my engagement photos and wedding someday, and I'm so glad I changed my hair back in 2023 since I ended up getting engaged this year! It feels good to be brunette again, although I did love my blond hair.

2023 Accomplishments: 

     A really fun career accomplishment happened just a few weeks ago near the end of this year. I was named to Radio Ink Magazine's 2023 30 Under 30 Radio Superstars list! I'm 29, so this was my final year of eligibility. Radio Ink is one of the premiere publications for my industry, and it's such an honor to have been chosen for this prestigious list amongst many of my 20-something radio peers. 

     And obviously... getting engaged!! 😊💍 What a long-awaited answer to years and years of prayers. It's been about six weeks now, and I still cannot believe it. It often still doesn't feel real. I truly wasn't expecting Ryan to propose in November 2023, and I was so certain the proposal would come sometime in 2024. What an incredible surprise and accomplishment to end this year as an engaged woman! 

      A less shiny accomplishment but one that is still important is that I went back to counseling for the first time in almost six years in September 2023. My anxiety was really starting to overtake various aspects of my life, and I knew it was time to do something about it. I have found a wonderful counselor who is really challenging my ways of thinking, which has been so great. I've seen counselors in the past for other things going on in my life, but I don't think I've ever tried to "put in the work" like I am now. I'm proud of myself! 

     Oh! One more funny little accomplishment. In my first year ever doing Fantasy Football, I made the semifinals for the playoffs and am on track to come in third or fourth in my league of 10 people. I was certain I'd be in last place since I knew nothing about football and had never done Fantasy before... but I actually started to pick up the hang of it, and won way more games than I thought I would. 

2023 Travels:

      2023 brought the most travel opportunities that I have ever had in a calendar year! It's no secret that I love to travel, so I was really excited about a lot of these. I spent a total of 31 nights away from home this year! Most of these trips fell on weekends or long weekends. I don't get a lot of PTO at my job currently, so I have to be very smart about maximizing weekends. As great as many of these trips were, it definitely felt like way too much travel all back-to-back in the later half of the year. For 2024 I still want to have some fun trips to look forward to, but I'm hoping they're all much more spread out. But anyways, let's get into where I went: 

Nashville, TN - February

Orlando, FL - March 

Houston/The Woodlands, TX - March 

Richmond, VA - April

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic - June

Greensboro, NC - August

Charlottesville, VA (3 trips this year) - August, September, October

Edenton, NC - August

Kennebunk, Maine - September

Charleston, SC - October

Memphis, TN - October

St. Pete, FL - November 

2023 Visitors:

      Moving in the middle of summer and traveling so often meant I had a lot less visitors than normal this year, but I am glad that my parents and a good friend did get to visit! 

       Mom - May 

       Dad - September

       Emily - June 

2023 Winter Memories:

      Unfortunately, 2023 didn't get off to the best start. Ryan and I had a cancelled weekend trip during the first weekend of the year, and then Ryan's dog Arrow tragically passed away sooner than expected from a brain tumor on January 12th. She was only five years old, and he had been expecting to have at least three more months with her. But the tumor progressed too quickly. Shortly after Ryan's dog passed in late January, my hip bursitis pain started. I wasn't properly diagnosed with bursitis until March, so the first two months of the year were quite long and painful for me. I didn't travel much at the start of the year, but in February I did go to Nashville for my best friend Ciera's bachelorette trip. I planned the entire trip in 2022, and it was fun to see it all come to fruition (although it did suck to be in so much hip pain on the whole trip). We also had our Mass Wedding event at work on Valentine's Day (quite literally a mass wedding where multiple couples get married) which was a hoot. One highlight though is that it was a very mild winter! No snow at all in Virginia Beach, and really pleasant weather most days. 

2023 Spring Memories:

     Spring was better than winter overall. Although I was still dealing with my bursitis, I was finally on a medicine regiment that was helping with pain management, and I also started physical therapy. March brought my favorite trip of the year! Ryan and I went to Orlando and Winter Park, FL for his 30th birthday, and it was just the best. There were also two fun love related milestones for dear friends. Ryan and I got to help with our friends Emily and Luke's proposal surprise here in Virginia Beach, and my best friend Ciera and her husband Patrick got married in an untraditional and intimate celebration in Texas that I attended at the end of March. Ryan and I also celebrated our first anniversary on April 24th! Things seemed to be on the up and up, but then I got hit with a health scare that started in April. That brought a lot of uncertainty and also a lot more medical bills on top of what I was already dealing with for my hip. Unfortunately, I think I let this steal a lot of my joy in the spring months. 

2023 Summer Memories:

       Summer was busy! June 2023 was the busiest month that I have ever had for my career. I had so many concerts and so many other work events. I also took on some new responsibilities at work in June. I moved in with Ryan on July 7th. The move itself was really stressful since it fell during such a busy time at work. But settling in and living with Ryan has gone very smoothly and better than I think either of us were expecting! It didn't take long for the apartment to really feel like home. Just when work started to calm down in August, my life got really busy. I ended up being out of town for three consecutive weekends in August! One summer highlight in July was going to H2OBX waterpark with three couples that we have become good friends with. It was so much fun to do rides and swim and feel like kids again! While I wasn't back to golfing yet due to my hip bursitis, my friend Amanda and I did attend a professional golf tournament in North Carolina, which got me really excited to play again sometime soon.

2023 Fall Memories:

      Fall was my favorite quarter of the year for 2023, but it was busy. I was gone for two weekends in September and three weekends in October. As much as I love to travel, I got very burned out by the end of October. I really want to try to avoid back-to-back trips in 2024 after how I felt this fall. But with that said, all of the trips were for fun reasons! And I do feel lucky to have had some cool weekend trip experiences this fall. A real highlight of the fall was finally being healed enough from my hip bursitis to resume physical fitness! I got back into golf and took some lessons again, and decided to make fitness classes a regular part of my routine again. I did Jazzercise in Charlottesville and loved it, and in September I finally joined a local Jazzercise studio here in Virginia Beach. Being able to work out again hasn't just been good for my body, but it's also been so good for my mental health. Speaking of mental health, after noticing my anxiety getting really out of hand earlier in the year, I started counseling in September with a wonderful counselor. I've already noticed it helping my anxiety so much, and helping me form better boundaries about various things.

      Much to my shock and surprise, Ryan and I got engaged on November 19th. What a joy to spend the final six weeks of 2023 engaged to the love of my life! The end of 2023 brought hosting my third annual Favorite Things Christmas Party, and lots of time with Ryan's family for the holidays. 

2023 Weddings:

     2023 97.3 The Eagle Mass Wedding - February (My radio station held a mass wedding event for 14 couples on Valentine's Day this year!) 

     Ciera and Patrick - March (Ciera is one of my best friends! They had a small and untraditional wedding with only a few guests, so it was an honor to be one of the few.)

          Rachel and Daniel - October (Rachel is Ryan's cousin)

2023 Concerts:

      Chase Rice - April


  Beach It! Country Music Festival (Performances I got to watch: Kip Moore, Riley Green, JoDee Messina, Cole Swindell and Thomas Rhett) - June 

      Jelly Roll - August

TV Shows I Loved in 2023: Abbott Elementary, Full Swing, How I Met Your Mother (rewatch), Is It Cake, Jury Duty, Love is Blind, Selling Sunset, Selling the OC, Sweet Magnolias, That 90s Show (I feel like I really didn't watch much TV this year overall?!) 

5 Favorite Memories of 2023:

  1. Getting engaged on November 11th, 2023. The best moment of my entire life to date! 
  2. Our day exploring Winter Park, FL on our Orlando trip for Ryan's 30th birthday. The whole trip was wonderful, but this day was truly perfect. 
  3. Swimming in the ocean at Isle of Palms beach in South Carolina with Ryan and his family (on our Charleston trip for his cousin's wedding). 
  4. Receiving an email for an amazing blogging collaboration opportunity in the middle of one of my worst days of the year (the day I had my first screening for my health scare). This was such a reminder of God's faithfulness and blessings, and how He always provides at the right time.
  5. A great day in St. Pete, FL while visiting my friend Gentry that involved a trip to the spa and time at the beach!

Blog - Readers' Favorite Blog Posts of 2023:

Blog - Top Selling Items of 2023: 

  1. Almay Makeup Pads (I've been using these since high school, but it cracked me up this was my blog's best selling item of the year! 😂)
  2. Grey and Cream Striped Pillows (For the couch in the new apartment)
  3. Draper James x Lands' End Swimsuit
  4. Very Bradley Campus Backpack
  5. Lilly Pulitzer Christmas Ornaments

     Here's to 2024! The year I turn 30, and the year that could very likely be my wedding year. I have a feeling next year will truly be the best year of my life!

      Highlights From My Year posts from years passed:
2022 // 2021 // 2020 // 2019 // 2018 // 2017 // 2016 // 2015

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


1 comment

  1. It looks like you had an overall beautiful year!! A great reminder too, that there are hard times mixed in with those picture perfect ones. I hope you have an amazing 2024! (Also, can I just say I love how colorful your photos always are.)


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