When I think back over the past year, the main word that comes to mind is: change. There were a lot of big changes in 2018, both in my life and in the lives of my close friends. One of my best friends got married, another two had their first babies, and I started a much prayed-for new job halfway through the year.
As much as all of the change this year has been good, it’s also been bumpy. Friendships have shifted and moved into new seasons. Transitioning into a new job and finding my footing in a whole new company, where I didn’t know the business, was harder and more emotional than I thought it would be.
The landscape of my life looks different from a year ago, and looking back is a good reminder that a lot can happen in 365 days. The Lord had a lot of good things for me this year that I didn’t see coming. You never know when you’re starting out, what God might have in mind for you.
What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
- Attempted to grow a garden on my balcony
- Went camping by myself
- Saw a grizzly bear in the wild
- Joined a book club
- Toured a Bourbon Distillery
- Made corn bread
- Was the Maid of Honour in a friend’s wedding
- Wore fake eyelashes
- Took a water taxi
- Saw an NBA basketball player in real life
Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did! Last year I resolved to read 24 books, which I’m proud to say I accomplished. I read 26 books in 2018 and that translates to a pace of one book every two weeks. For this year I would like to up my reading goal to 30 books.
My other big resolution was to reduce my screen time and it’s hard to say if I succeeded in that or not. I know that I definitely watched less tv shows in 2018 than in years past, which I consider a win. In the past month, I’ve started using the Down Time feature on my iPhone. It essentially shuts off access to all apps (except for phone calls and my alarm) at 9pm. I’m sad to say that it’s been really tough, but I’m slowly getting used to it.
Oh, I also made a silly resolution last year to make these Swedish Cardamom Buns. Thanks to Grace, I accomplished my goal in late November. They turned out really well but the ones at Fabrique Bakery in London are still the best.
For 2019 I would like to make a vague fitness goal, like: “I will be in better shape at the end of the year.” I will quantify this by how regularly I manage to go to the gym. I’m aiming for two to three times a week, but honestly if I make it just once per week consistently all year that will be a major victory. Also, I’d like to be able to do 10 sit ups without my muscles shaking. Real sit ups, not the wimpy ones where you don’t lay all the way down on the floor.
I’m making a few financial/savings goals that I will not share the specifics of with the internet. Other than to say, I’m attempting to be a bit more grown-up and plan ahead with my finances. Maybe when I’m 50 I’ll be able to afford a condo. Or maybe I’ll just rent forever and go on lots of great trips!
Did anyone close to you give birth?
I should change this question to “Do you have any friends who did not have babies this year?” because it would be a shorter list. Ariana had baby Claire way back in February, Steph had Micah in June and then about 14 people had babies in November, including Raurie, my dearly beloved former roommate. There are probably babies I forgot, sorry.
Did anyone close to you die?
What countries did you visit?
Just the U.S. but I went to Phoenix three times and took an amazing trip to Kentucky and Tennessee with Grace (we also dipped our toes into Mississippi and Arkansas). In June, I went to my favourite non-London place on earth, Jasper. I realize it’s not technically in another country but some people in Alberta are talking about separating again so I feel like it counts.
What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
A boyfriend and a trip to a Europe.
What dates from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
- June 8: Mom’s graduation from art school (and Dad’s 65th birthday party)
- June 15 & 25: My last day at the Y and the day I started my new job!
- August 4: Tiff’s wedding
What were your biggest achievements of the year?
Well, besides landing a new job and successfully organizing a bridal shower/bachelorette party…I lost 25 pounds this year. I haven’t advertised it too much beyond my close circle of friends and some coworkers (who see what I eat for lunch every day), but I went on Weight Watchers in January. To be honest, it’s still a bit embarrassing to talk about with the whole internet, because who likes to admit they’ve got a problem and need help?
I know we’re supposed to be evolved and all about body positivity now in 2018, rah rah rah. I even had some friends treat me like I was doing something wrong because I was losing weight. But the truth is that before I went on weight watchers I was exercising exactly zero self control when it came to food. I was consistently going to it for comfort instead of to Jesus, and I wasn’t taking care of the body that God gave me. The weight gain was just a symptom of an underlying problem. WW helped give me a framework to make better choices about food. It helped me to notice unhealthy patterns and swap them for healthy ones. I never felt like I was on a diet, or like I had to cut anything out completely. I’m surprised at how easy it was once I had the right tools.
I stopped actively counting points and weighing myself after Tiff’s wedding in August and have remained about the same size. I think I’m at a place now that my body naturally likes to be, and I’m making healthier choices without having to think about them too much. And I still get popcorn with layered butter every time I go to the movies.
What was your biggest failure?
After I started my new job, I went shopping crazy. I’ve always been good about budgeting and only buying things that I really need—which was borne out of necessity because I wasn’t making very much money. But all of a sudden I found myself working downtown with some extra cash in my pocket and I went a little nuts. I did legitimately need some new clothes to wear to work, but I also spent a lot of money on things I didn’t need. I gave into consumerism, hard. And while I didn’t put myself into debt or anything, I wasn’t wise with what I’d been given.
Did you suffer illness or injury?
I’ve been blessed with fairly good health this year, but I have started to notice old lady back problems creeping up on me. Sitting at a computer all day and having a horrible bed at home were not doing me any favours. But I’ve got a great physiotherapist and RMT and I’m working on my posture, so hopefully I can get things back into alignment.
What was the best thing you bought?
Furniture. Specifically, I bought a new mattress and bed frame and a bigger table so that I can have more friends over for dinner. The beautiful winter coat I got at the Aritzia warehouse sale is a close second.
Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I have always admired my friend Grace. She’s the coolest, truly. Just ask anyone who has met her. After being bridesmaids together and going on three trips (two short, one long) this year, I feel like I know her even better than I did. Beyond being a generally rad friend, she has a deep and genuine love for the Lord and his word. She’s one of the wisest women I know.
This year Grace has gone through some big changes of her own. I know it’s been tough, but I’ve seen her consistently turn to scripture and bring the hard things to God in prayer. Her genuine faith is such an encouragement to me and to many others. I feel truly blessed to know her and call her my friend.
Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Peter Chiarelli. And basically all of America.
Where did most of your money go?
Towards new furniture and corporate office appropriate clothing. I also bought approximately one million wedding and baby shower gifts.
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My new job. Tiff’s wedding. My first trip to the South.
What songs will always remind you of 2018?
- Light On by Maggie Rogers
- Give Thanks to God by Housefires
- Lovers by Anna of the North
- The Restless by The Lone Bellow
- Just for Us by Francis and the Lights
- Brace by Twin Shadow
- The Restless by The Lone Bellow
- KXC All Things New or Kingdom Come
- Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves
- The White Album (SUPER DELUXE 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION) by The Beatles
- Delta by Mumford and Sons
And, bonus! Favourite Podcasts:
Compared to this time last year, are you:
- Happier or Sadder? About the same.
- Thinner or Fatter? Significantly thinner!
- Richer or Poorer? Slightly richer.
What do you wish you’d done more of?
Reading, travelling, being active and spending time with Jesus.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
How will you be spending Christmas?
I had my very first Christmas in Vancouver and it was wonderful and full of music. On the 23rd, Tiff organized a candlelight carol service at Westside. It’s the first time we’ve ever done one as a church, with traditional carols, prayer, scripture readings, and a minimal band (just Tiff, Grace, Marc and I). It was so worshipful and helped to fix our eyes on Jesus and wonder at the miracle of his coming to earth.
On Christmas Eve I got to play in the band at church and then went to the Haywood’s house for fondue—a Westside tradition I’ve never been able to take part in until this year! Christmas Day I spent with the Willertons, from early morning present opening all through Christmas dinner and ending with Home Alone. It was so nice to spend the day with my Vancouver family, especially because Ollie and Elliot are at the best age for Christmas presents and they were so pumped. Boxing Day I flew to Phoenix to spend a few days with my parents.
Did you fall in love in 2018?
What was your favourite TV program?
- Would I Lie to You?
- The Durrells in Corfu
- The Last Kingdom
- The Man in the High Castle
- Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (it bugs me so much to have to spell that the American way with only one ‘l’)
What were the best books you read?
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (this was my hands down favourite)
- The Montmaray Journals series by Michelle Cooper
- Great Tales from English History (vol 1) by Robert Lacey
- The first two Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels by Louise Penny
Also, guys. If you like books and you’ve never heard of Goodreads…get on it. This is my New Year’s present to you. I’ve been shocked at how many people I’ve come across lately who I consider to be big readers who have never heard of it. You can make lists of all the books you’ve read or want to read, and add to it whenever someone gives you a recommendation. It’s the best.
What was your greatest musical discovery?
New worship music (KXC and Pat Barrett/Housefires).
What did you want and get?
A new job and a new bed.
What did you want and not get?
An Oilers playoff run.
What were your favourite films of this year?
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Crazy Rich Asians
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned thirty-four at the end of August. My wonderful friends took me camping on Keats Island (it rained) and hosted a barbecue for me. On the camping trip, each person took a turn saying their favourite thing about me, with no repeats if you can believe it! There were tons of laughs and a few tears (mostly from the kids, but a few from me), and I felt loved, celebrated and taken care of. It was everything I could ever want and more for a birthday.
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If the Oilers had made the playoffs.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
“Is this outfit nice enough to convince people that I’m a grown-up, professional business lady?”
What kept you sane?
Jesus. And cancelling plans when I had too many.
Which celebrity or public figure did you fancy the most?
Basically any man with a British accent who made me laugh, the Irish guy from the Last Kingdom, and Leon Draisaitl.
What political issue stirred you the most?
Well, I voted in both the Vancouver municipal election and the proportional representation referendum. I can’t say I was particularly stirred by either of those—I participated out of a sense of duty and a desire to be a good, responsible citizen.
In terms of following politics…I listened to The Daily consistently and stopped listening to Pod Save America. As much as the hosts make me laugh, they got a little bit too left-wing activist rah-rah-rah for me. However, I still read the Crooked Media newsletter most days because the girl who writes them is hilarious.
Who did you miss?
My former roommates, Alana and Raurie. Don’t get me wrong, I love my place and like living alone. But it makes me sad that we’re not involved in each other’s day-to-day lives like we used to be. There’s something fun about talking through your day with your girlfriends or having someone to watch Jeopardy with. I also miss Jeopardy, which I no longer get to watch every day because I don’t have cable.
Who was the best new person you met?
My wonderful new coworkers. I can’t choose just one because they’re all lovely, smart and kind people. I feel incredibly blessed to get to work alongside them every day.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018?
Despite my best efforts, I can’t predict or control the future. In the midst of a ton of change this year—some of it expected, some unexpected—I have learned that only God knows how things will turn out. I know that should be obvious, but the truth is I spend a lot of time worrying about the future or running through every possible scenario or outcome. The future belongs to the Lord. He’s given me today and he will establish my steps.
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
I had some lyrics picked out from Give Thanks to God for this section. But I’ve been listening to Pat Barrett’s album as I reflect on my year and write this post, and there is one song that I can’t get out of my head. The bridge goes: “Life is a gift and the giver is good” over and over. And I think that sums up my year. Every good and perfect gift has been given to me by my heavenly Father, and every trial I’ve met has tested my faith and produced steadfastness. I will count it all as joy.