Reflecting on 2016

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I find myself feeling a bit more sentimental than usual over the last few days. At the beginning of January, I always take some time to reflect on the prior year. But this year has been different -- different because I find myself in a place in my life where I couldn’t feel more thankful. Thankful not for material things, but instead, for the people who mean the world to me and the new friends I met who opened my eyes to new experiences.I married someone I couldn’t imagine ever not meeting, someone who made me believe in the idea of soul mates. Marriage was never something that was important to me…but then I met Gio and marriage suddenly became one of the most important things to me. Our wedding was enchanting, something that looked like it was out of a fairytale. We were surrounded by our closest friends and family members, everyone radiating love and positivity. Our parents proudly walked down the aisle before we did, something that meant so much to us because the day was about celebrating not just our love, but our love for our family and friends. To hold onto my mom’s arm as she walked me towards my sister, who married my husband and I, is an image I will never forget - a woman who from the moment I came out to showered me with nothing but love and acceptance and is one of the biggest advocates I know today.I got to experience different parts of the world this year, immersing myself in beautiful cultures and spending time with people native to the lands we visited. In Bali, a local driver named Ari brought my husband and I to one of the most sacred temples on the island. In this temple, he pointed at a woman praying and said, “Look, look. Look how beautiful she is.” She was praying in a Buddhist temple, but was a Muslim. It’s one of the only places that I have seen where two different religions can share a space to pray. If only our world could learn from this gesture of peace, it may be a much more harmonious place.My sister, one of my best friends in the world (we are only 16 months apart), also got married and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see how happy she is. She is one of the most kind-hearted people and deserves nothing but happiness, so it moves me to see her get her happily ever after. My cousin had a baby this year, allowing me to step into the role of “Uncle,” while my other cousins bought their first home in New Jersey, gearing up for a family of their own. My best friend and cousin Joey fearlessly moved across the country to LA to fulfill a dream of spending some time out West and my Dad and Stepmom (although I hate that word, I prefer to say my second mom because she is such an important person in my life) bought a house down the Jersey Shore, finally doing something for themselves after doing so much for their children throughout their entire lives. As of April, I gained a new beautiful Cuban family who I can’t imagine living one day without. Our families blended together and now we are one big Italian-Cuban mixture of personalities who try to see each other as much as possible.In the fast-paced city life where work has no starting or ending time because it is a constant machine that always has to be fueled, and the days seem to go by too quickly, it’s important to stop and reflect on the things that matter most to you. For me, it’s family and friends. While I am thankful for all of the amazing opportunities I have had in my company and career over the last year, it is the people I love most who I would give up anything in the world for. Always remember to take a minute and tell the ones dearest to you that you love them. In a world where it sometimes feels like chaos and cloudiness fill the air, the power of love will always shine through. Happy New Year.