November 2016 Wrap Up

​Professionally, November 2016 was a great month. I worked hard and it was a very successful month in terms of page views for the site and subscribers to the YouTube channel.

Personally, it was pretty shit.


Here's what happened on the HowToGYST site, YouTube channel, and at home in September 2016

On The Site — November 2016

This month was all about learning to let go of the past and looking forward to the future. I talked about forgiving ourselves for mistakes we've made, and then taking on new challenges.

Speaking of challenges, last month I shared my "17 Before 2017" list over on YouTube, and a lot of you spoke about feeling overwhelmed by the thought of writing your own, or just not having the time or energy to devote to that many goals. With that in mind, I brainstormed a long list of alternatives you could try, ranging from watching 17 classic movies to watching 17 sunsets. It got a huge response and was by far the most popular post on the site this month.

After that, I talked a little about living a more 'conscious' life and being mindful of not only the decisions we make but also the reasons why we make them. Examining the behaviours behind why we do certain things goes a long way to breaking old habits and welcoming in new, more beneficial ones. After all, if we don't even know we're doing something, we won't know it needs to change.

And, with the new year clearly on the horizon, I thought it was time to step up my game and come out swinging. I don't know about you but I'm more than ready to round out the year on a high note so that, when 2017 rolls around, I can rock the shit out of it.

Click the pic to be taken to the post.​

Alternatives to the "17 Before 2017" challenge, for when you don't have the time or energy.
Dealing with past mistakes. Learn from mistakes. Forgive yourself for mistakes.
Conscious Living | Living With Intention | The Unexamined Life | How To Live With Intention | Form Good Habits | Clarity | Better Life | Intentional Living | Living Consciously
I'm definitely ready to end this year on a high note! Motivation for New Year's resolutions.

On YouTube — November 2016

A whopper of a month here, with the channel gaining over 2,000 new subscribers and reaching half a million views. WOW! Click that big 'subscribe' button to join in on the action. 😉

August 2016

My first video was the aforementioned "17 Before 2017" challenge. When I wrote my list, I was under no illusion that I was actually going to be able to complete it all. But hey, they don't call it a challenge for nothing. 😉 I've been chipping away at it these past few weeks and am excited to see how much more I can get done in December before I finally record an update for you in January. Wish me luck! And if you're doing it too, let me know in the comments below how you're getting on.

My second video, and the runaway favourite this month, was my top 5 tips for making huge savings. And it's now in the top 5 of my most viewed videos! (My KonMari folding video is still in the lead with an astonishing quarter of a million views!)

Following on from that, I shared some advice on setting up a basic (but effective) budget, and then a Christmas gift guide for all price points. I listed my top 12 recommendations for great gifts your family and friends will love and actually use! The description box under the video on YouTube lists all of the items with a link, where possible, to where you can pick one up.

Click the pic to be taken to the video.​

17 Before 2017 from November 2016

The "17 Before 2017" Challenge -- My Goals

How to save money & make big savings, from November 2016

How To Save Money -- 5 Tips for BIG Savings

How to budget (& save money). Basic budgeting, from November 2016

How To Budget (& Save Money) Accurately & Effectively

Christmas gift ideas for every budget. Gift guide, from November 2016

Christmas Gift Ideas: A Gift Guide For Every Budget

In case you missed the memo, the videos are picked by YOU. Most Saturdays I post in the Facebook page to ask which video you'd like to see the following week, and you vote on your favourite. So if you want to have a say in the content you're seeing from me, hop on over there and get voting. =)

The Facebook page is also the first place I share news and exciting announcements. It's where I recently launched the inaugural HowToGYST Xmas challenge. For the first 25 days of December, I'm sending ​a prompt to participants to help their festive season run smoothly. If you've signed up for the challenge, I hope you're having fun! If you missed out, there's always next year. 😉

Social Media Stats — November 2016

  • Facebook: over 2,200 'likes'. Above average increase here, which is great.
  • Twitter: over 750 followers now, mainly gained after attending BloggerConf.
  • Instagram: just hit 1,050 followers. Not bad at all, considering I only posted 6 times for the entire month.
  • Pinterest: almost 3,600 followers. Still going strong.
  • Newsletter: almost 850 subscribers now. Consistent increases here every month, despite inconsistent emails from me.

HowToGYST HQ (AKA home) — November 2016

All the nopes.

My cousin passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly early in the month, which was obviously a big shock for all the family. In recent years, I've lost a lot of friends and family members, and an alarming number of them have been without warning. I guess nobody really knows when to expect death, but it's becoming quite frightening how many loved ones have gone to sleep and simply not woken up.​ It makes me realise I should value my health a LOT more than I currently do.

I'm also so incredibly grateful that I still have all my immediate family -- my parents, brother, husband, and daughter. In all honesty, I'm not sure what I'd do without them​.

Family photo, November 2016

Speaking of health, I had a follow-up appointment with my surgeon this month. I was still experiencing the same pain that had been plaguing me pre-surgery, and was beginning to think I'd gone through all that for nothing. But as it turns out, upon examining my gallbladder, the surgeon discovered I'd been suffering chronic cholecystitis which, if left untreated, could have led to it rupturing. So yeah, that definitely needed to come out, even if it wasn't the cause of all the pain and discomfort I was experiencing.​

I also had an appointment with a urologist about my kidneys. I described the crippling pain I'd had last month, and he sent me for a CT scan. It showed I'm now clear of kidney stones, so it looked like the pain I'd felt was actually the stones passing. ​Despite the strong possibility the stones will come back, I was happy to let the matter lie without any further tests.

But the scan also showed something else -- scoliosis, or a curvature of the spine.

I can't tell you how shit I felt. It seemed like I was constantly climbing one health hurdle only to be hit with another. I'd been experiencing pain for over 3 years so decided to have my gallbladder out. That didn't ​stop the pain at all and, as it turned out, I also had kidney stones. Those stones proceeded to try kill me for about three and a half hours while they worked their way out of my system. I thought I was done with that, and was then diagnosed with scoliosis.

Then, two days later, the kidney pain came back.

Laura Hutchinson, November 2016

I'm currently waiting on a call from the hospital to try figure out what the next step is but, at this stage, I'm not even sure I want to know. I'm so tired of tests and procedures and appointments and pain.​

On the lighter side of the news, I had a dental check-up and an eye test (both were on my "17 Before 2017" list) and both went well. I also brought Scout for her first dental check-up and, despite being worried about how she'd react, and her stating beforehand that she didn't want to go, she actually got on really well. She's even been asking to go back!

Oh, and her bunnies had their check-ups too. ;)​

Scout's first dental check-up, November 2016

I also had a consultation for laser hair removal. I had to let the hair grow for a while beforehand so that they could examine the colour and texture, but had to shave some small areas so they could test them. Basically, I was a walking patchwork quilt.

I was a perfect candidate, though, so I started treatment a few days later. But oh! The pressure! I was having my bikini line done too, and had to shave it the way I wanted it. Let me tell you, when you know you're stuck with it, shaving your crotch is SERIOUS BUSINESS. It's the biggest commitment I've made since getting pregnant.

But the process is now underway and I'm sorry I didn't have it done years ago because, after just one treatment, I'm already seeing significant results.​

Side note: who knew they drew all over you?​

Laser hair removal, first treatment November 2016

And finally (because I know you must be fed up reading this by now), I attended BloggerConf again with my bestie, Blaithin. Great goodie bags, as usual, and a long line-up of amazing speakers. As always, an inspirational day, and I came home with grand plans to grow this business.

I debuted my new 'do there too and I have to say, as a very low maintenance person, I love it!​

BloggerConf November 2016

What I read in November 2016:

(Contains Amazon affiliate links which means that if you buy through my link, I'll earn a small commission on the sale... and use it to buy more books. Hurray!)

Given all that went on this month, I'm surprised I managed to read anything at all. But my goal for this year was 2 books a month so I was damned if I was gonna fall down.

  • "Better Than Before" by Gretchen Rubin. Every time Ms. Rubin relates some of her thought processes, I think, "YES! That's so me!" There's something wonderfully satisfying about not only reading the results of someone's extensive research on an interesting topic (in this case, habits), but also having them recount their methods and experiments along the way. Plus, it's all interwoven with her own stories and anecdotes, and not just about the subject matter but also on the process of writing the book itself, from the first spark of inspiration to the exploration of each new idea. It adds a huge amount of depth to what might otherwise be a two-dimensional thesis on habit formation. It's what elevates it from 'scientific treatise' to something much more richly entertaining. Well worth a read.
  • "The Irresistible Introvert" by Michaela Chung. I don't even have the energy to try think of something good to say about this book. It wasn't the worst thing I've ever read, but it was pretty clear to me from the outset that it was written by a blogger. Perhaps, being a blogger myself, I shouldn't be so disparaging, but the writing style leaves a little to be desired, and it reads like a bunch of blog posts strung together. Despite the common topic thread, it's still a choppy read. If you're looking for a great book on introversion, skip this and go straight to Susan Cain's "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking." 

And that's basically that. I'm ready to get lots of shit done in December, and to be done with all these health problems.

Here's hoping!


What are you hoping to achieve by the end of the year?

Happy early Christmas!

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