For a lot of reasons, 2015 was a tough year for me. Really tough. For ages I was calling it my “annus horribilis” (horrible year) as a nod to the Queen’s Christmas speech of 1992. Then again, as I’ve sat down to write this (in pieces throughout the year so my baby brain didn’t forget), I’ve realized that there was a lot of good, despite the bad.
- David and I started the New Year leaving Siem Reap and heading to Battambang in Cambodia. It was an incredible two days where we learned so much, and got to see a slightly less touristic side of Cambodia.
- Koh Chang was a chance for us to unwind and relax! I just remember five days of zipping around the island on our little motorbike, stopping for great food and enjoying our island hut.
- Staying at Le Meridien in Bangkok (on points!) was the perfect end to Southeast Asia.
- Ten days in Scotland allowed us to catch up with family, I visited my aunt in the Lake District and we even met a Lonely Planet photographer and brushed up on our photography skills in Edinburgh! Oh, and did I mention that I got my first free travel tour? The Outlander Tour review was a highlight in my little travel writing career.
- To make up for getting food poisoning over Christmas in Cambodia, David cooked an incredible, belated Christmas dinner for Valentine’s Day. Best present ever.
- February was a lot of catching up at work, catching up with friends and writing as many blog posts before I forgot all about my Southeast Asian adventures!
- My niece, Maddy, was born. David and I took care of Tessa that day, texting pictures of her to her parents, so they could smile every now and then in the midst of a hard labour. Maddy is gorgeous and Tessa has not been phased by big sisterhood.
- I really did a whole lot of nothing in March! I caught up on projects at work, tidied the house and tackled some projects at home. Nothing exciting…
- To celebrate our third wedding anniversary, David and I did a mini-food crawl to three restaurants we’ve always wanted to try in Calgary. It was a great way to try out different places without three huge bills at the end of the night.
- We found out that we were pregnant! I honestly couldn’t believe it, seeing as it happened so quickly. I took about four tests that day, just to make sure. I later surprised David with the pregnancy test and a letter to him as the new Dad!
- For a number of reasons, we took an impromptu trip to the UK. Impromptu for me (David was already scheduled to go), but it was just what the doctor ordered. We spent the week announcing our pregnancy to David’s family, exploring Edinburgh and shopping (and eating!) on my favourite street in Edinburgh.
- My Mum and I escaped overnight to Banff, indulging in afternoon tea at the historic Banff Springs Hotel. We may even have sparked a great idea for a writing project… shh… it’s still under wraps.
- Showing that we are those people that follow trendy things, we had a family friend take some incredible baby announcement photos, leading to our baby announcement post, which had some of the highest views in two days on my site.
- We took a short babymoon and headed west to Vancouver for a perfect long weekend that included lots of food for the baby belly and a fun walking tour taking us back to the scandalous time of prohibition.
- The biggest spike in my views came from My Love Letter to Calgary, shared by none other than our Mayor of Calgary! 310 views in 24 hours was a lot of fun to watch.
- I had to opportunity to Skype with Dale from AngloItalian Follow Us, one of my favourite travel blogs, and he gave me some great blogging advice. I’m still working through it, but it will stand me in good stead, now and in the future.
- While I chose to opt out of Stampede this year (the heat and the baby bump were a killer), I still enjoyed the spirit, our Stampede breakfast at work, and I even cracked out the cowboy hat! David might have even won brownie points by bringing me mini-donuts from Stephen Ave. Good man!
- July 18, 2015, the baby kicked for the first time! Big moment for me, even if it was only one kick.
- I attended my third When Words Collide conference where I got to meet more writers, improve my craft, and represent the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association.
- After YEARS of having a graduated license, I finally passed my drivers’ test. The lady testing me, Ginger, was a tough nut, but we got there in the end and I can now safely drive our little nugget around Calgary next year.
- David and I got VIP Advance tickets (thanks to work!) to see Illuminasia at the Calgary Zoo.
- A minor trip to the hospital, shingles, a cat with multiple trips to the vet, a cancelled trip to Toronto, layoffs and a coworker who passed away made September one of my least favourite months of the year, but it too did pass.
- I had the opportunity to meet my professional hero, Dan Pallotta, at an event here in town. He even signed my book and shared his thoughts on innovation.
- The baby did a whole lot of moving this month. So much so that my iPhone is full of videos of my bare belly rolling and jerking about.
- My little nephew, Benjamin, was born on October 6th. He’s as cute as a button and I can’t wait for him to meet his cousin next year.
- David and I did Thanksgiving solo this year. Given my aversion to all things chicken-like, he cooked up a nice beef roast for us and we hibernated at home.
- We had our little babymoon in Canmore.
- We started our Birth and Babies class, met other couples with babies due in the same two week period and learned all about the scary and exciting parts of our soon-to-be lives with a newborn.
- I got my Christmas spirit on with a trip to the Spruce Meadows Christmas Market!
- I finished work on November 20th and it came with a surprising emotion…
- For my birthday in early December, we decided to celebrate Christmas early, complete with stuffing and the works, just in case Baby Smith leaves us exhausted on Christmas Day.
- I spent some of my free time working on my eBook called How To Take a Leave of Absence to Travel. I’m still waiting on the ISBN for publishing, but it’s an exciting next step! Fingers crossed come early January I’ll be able to call myself a published author! Folks who subscribe to this blog via email will get a free copy, otherwise I’ll have it available on both Kobo and Kindle for less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee!
- We’re buying a house! Technically the final papers aren’t going to be signed until the first week of January, but conditions have been met and the financing is in place. Eek!
- Jack Christopher was born at 2:51 a.m. on December 23, 2015. It’s been a roller coaster, but we’re adjusting! Here’s his birth story.
This year was definitely hard for me. My parents are in the process of getting divorced, people I care about passed away, the economy and layoffs that result were definitely stressful, and pregnancy/postpartum brings it’s own fair share of issues.
BUT… at the end of the day, when I do this review, I see how lucky I am to have still had the experiences that I did. I will be all the more stronger because of what I’ve gone through.
I’m grateful to have David in my life. He’s been such a support this year and I know he’s going to be a great Dad. I’ve also been lucky to connect in new ways with my brother this year. Before 2015, I’d have said we were siblings. Now I’d say we’re truly family. And his wife is pretty kick-ass also.
2015 was definitely a year that I struggled with, but it was also a year of growth. Here are the most important things I learned:
- Nobody is responsible for your happiness except you. I am the only person that can make myself happy. External factors are always going to occur, but nobody else can make me happy unless I’m happy with myself, first.
- Self care. Self care and preservation is critical. There are times that you just have to step back and remove yourself from a situation. It’s not being selfish. It’s making sure that you’re in a state that will ultimately allow you to care for others.
- Sh*t happens. I suppose now that I’m a mom, I shouldn’t swear… but I do. Life happens. Divorce, death, miscarriage, layoffs, you name it. It all happens, nobody deserves it, but it does. We often have no choice about it, but we do have the choice in how we react to it. We choose the words we say, the way we act and the way in which we will move on. Even in the worst situations, there is choice.
It might sound like I’ve learned negative lessons, but I see them as positives. I still feel fairly young to have learned such important lessons, so I’m grateful that I feel better equipped to handle new challenges going forward. And, let’s face it, with a newborn I’ll take any life lessons I can get!
As 2015 comes to a close, I look forward to 2016 and all that I hope to make of it. After all, I have a choice.
And so do you.
What did you learn in 2015? What do you look forward to in 2016?