On January 1st 2017, I had no real idea of what lay ahead, least of all that I'd be moving across the ocean in the middle of the year. Yes, I had dreams and plans, but I could never have foreseen how the year would play out, or all the wonderful (and woeful) things that would happen. Here's my 2017 wrap up, where I take stock of the standouts.
(Shoutouts to my journal for being my external brain. Without it, and with my terrible memory, a lot of this stuff would've been lost to the sands of time.)
I don't know about you but I find it very easy to focus on how far I still have to go with my goals, or all the things I didn't get done. To combat that, I try take a moment at the end of each year to celebrate all the little steps I took along the way, and to realise how much progress I've made and how much I've grown.
I guess sometimes you have to look back at where you started to see how far you've come.
I know a lot of people found 2017 to be pretty rough, both personally and politically, but all the more reason to reflect on the year that's just been, celebrate successes, learn from low points, and look forward with hope to the year ahead.
Here are some of the things that stood out for me both personally and professionally in 2017, month by month.
I re-launched the newly-designed (by me) homepage for the site and, as a result, sign-ups to the newsletter shot up. I also started using better video editing software, which was a very steep learning curve for me. (This is an area I want to continue to improve in 2018.)
I started working with a new personal trainer. He tried to convince me to enter weight-lifting competitions (turns out I'm a bit of a natural when it comes to weight-lifting... who knew?!) but I was having none of it. Still, I made steady progress in the months that followed and was very proud of myself.
I also stopped using shampoo and shower gel this month (and – spoiler alert – haven't used them since). Read more about my experience and the advice I'd give if you're thinking of trying it by clicking the picture:
I collaborated with two of my hero(in)es, Sarah Knight and Carie Harling, on two separate videos this month. I was tickled pink.
In the latter, I talked about the benefits of digital planning while Carie covered the perks to paper planning:
I started an online diploma in photography, and norovirus hit the house like a tonne of bricks. It was NOT fun.
I started using Instagram Stories. I know it's not much but it's something I now use on a very regular basis.
This month, I attended YouTube's Creator2Creator Roundtable event (where, naturally, I stole a pen and lanyard). Shoutouts to Catherine at Dainty Diaries who spotted this introvert sitting alone, looking terrified, and came over to introduce herself. She's a sweetheart and a half and you should check out her channel for upcycled, shabby-chic DIYs.
I also started noticing an improvement in my physical appearance after putting serious workouts in at the gym and significantly improving my diet.
I re-launched my e-course, the Productivity Power-Up, and all the blood, sweat, tears, long hours, and sleepless nights were totally worth it. A HUGE thank you to all who signed up. I'm so thrilled you love it and I truly appreciate your incredible feedback.
If you'd like to learn more about significantly increasing your productivity, click the picture:
I saw Lindsey Stirling live in Dublin with one of the people I love most on the planet, Blaithin from lifestyle blog A Style of Living, and it was the best night out I'd had in a long, LONG time.
And, just to remind me that the sands of time keep slipping away, my daughter turned 4.
On the flip side, my mother had surgery this month. It was elective, but invasive, and I was in a bit of a daze about the whole thing. We weren't sure at the time (it was a bit of a wait-and-see type thing) but, thankfully, I can say for certain now that her operation was a success.
After working with a talented designer (Keith Bogan, in case you're wondering), I rolled out a new logo across the blog and social channels. Also, the YouTube channel hit 20,000 subscribers!
But the biggest news this month was that I spoke at BloggerConf! And on my birthday too! I've been attending the event since the very first one and was absolutely gobsmacked to be asked to speak at it. I met so many wonderful, creative people, and just generally lapped up every single second of the day. Huge thanks as always to Emma O' Farrell for organising such an excellent event. She's some woman for one woman!
Our visa application was approved! It came completely out of the blue (this was our third application, and we'd lost all hope), and things were a bit chaotic as we realised we had about 2 months to pack up our lives and relocate to the United States. It seems so long ago!
Also, Scout had her first ballet recital and I just about burst with the cuteness of it all. Sadly, we weren't allowed record it or take pictures of the performance (I got a serious telling off for trying), but it's not something I'm going to forget in a hurry anyway.
I completed and passed my photography diploma, so I now have a vague understanding of how to operate a DSLR camera. I will continue to use my iPhone anyway. 😉
Holidays! We spent a few days in London so we could bring Scout to Legoland (which is brilliant, by the by), 9 days on the Greek island of Kos, and then 2 days in Athens (though I literally didn't leave the hotel room the entire time because poor Scout was sick). Does anyone else come home from holidays more exhausted than when they went? I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to be like that. 😉
The blog and YouTube channel were both nominated in the Irish Blog Awards, and I started a second channel purely for vlogs.
We spent the month up to our eyeballs in prep for the move. Between decluttering, itemising, valuing, packing, and saying our goodbyes, it's a process I'm not keen to repeat. But it meant that Sam finally said goodbye to his large collection of Tabasco sauce so, y'know, small victories. 😉
I posted some vlogs of the big move to the main YouTube channel and they were much more popular than I'd imagined they'd be.
We officially moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. There was OODLES involved here, between setting up the new house and exploring the area, but we managed admirably. I also opened my very first PO Box!
Scout started pre-kindergarten. She already has an American accent. This horrifies me slightly.
And, after much searching and many test drives, Sam finally bought himself a car. Sadly, he also bought himself some Tabasco sauce. Some things never change. 😉
I won! I won 'Best Vlog' for my YouTube channel at the Irish Blog Awards. To say I lost my shit would be an understatement. It was one of the standout moments of the entire year.
My parents arrived over at the end of the month and I can't begin to describe how brilliant it was to see them.
This was also the month Jack Skellington joined our family. Best money I ever spent.
And this Halloween was Scout's first time trick-or-treating.
I can't say much here because nothing has been confirmed yet (and, if I'm honest, I don't think it will be) but the organiser of a major event contacted me this month to say she'd love for me to speak at the 2018 conference. I've had too many similar experiences fall through so, like I said, I'm not holding out much hope for this one, and don't want to give away any specifics. But I was very excited to even be considered!
My family were still here for the start of the month and then, for the last week, Scout and I headed home to Ireland. It was an exhausting trip, and Scout was sick on the way over, but it was so lovely to see friends and family again.
The nerd in me was also just a little bit giddy to have a layover in Dulles on the way back, the airport where Die Hard 2 was set.
I sat down and filled in my editorial calendar for 2018. I don't have every single post and video decided, but certainly a large chunk of them, and enough to keep me going for the coming weeks. I've even slotted a few things into January 2019! Having abandoned my editorial calendar a few times in 2017, and noticing I was none the better for it, it feels great to be back on track and to know what I'm working towards.
I brought Scout to see Santa at the local Christmas festival. She doesn't remember having seen him last year so it was all "new" to her, which was lovely.
We also all went to cut down our own Christmas tree for the first time. Sam always insists on a real tree, whereas I'd prefer an artificial one. Given that this one basically puked needles all over our floor and I'm sure we'll still be finding some well into February, I might just get my wish next Christmas. 😉
I also left out some snacks and drinks for delivery workers over the holidays, and made some small donations to the local children's hospital. Even though I did it for others. I have to say it really made my Christmas to know that I was helping someone else, even in a tiny way.
And then the icing on the cake was waking up on December 25th to a white Christmas. 😀
Despite the fact that I do monthly reviews, I find annual reviews like these to be so much more satisfying. Month to month, it can be difficult to see true progress. Sure, there are little achievements here and there, but over the course of a whole year? Wow, I can see great strides in some areas.
So, despite my firm belief that the years are passing in the blink of an eye, it's heartening to look back and see that I managed to pack in a lot. There was something to celebrate and appreciate every single month, no matter how small, and they all added up to a stellar year. And that, folks, makes me more determined than ever to continue pushing myself outside my comfort zone and to make sure I'm living a full life (and, of course, to keep capturing it all in my journal).
It's so easy to let life pass you by. Commit to documenting your days, even if it's just the odd line here and there, or a photo that sums everything up. Then annually, taking a long, hard look at how much you've learned. Start now and, come December 31st, you'll be able to look back at every single thing you achieved in 2018. I think you'll be amazed.
What was the biggest highlight for you in 2017?