Well, what a year it’s been! I set myself some goals at the end of last year and I hit all but one of them – I never got back into yoga despite good intentions and buying a yoga mat, it just didn’t work out for me this time around. But maybe once I’m settled again next year it could happen. I liked putting together my post last year so much that I wanted to do it again and cover some of my highlights from 2018 and talk about my plans and goals for the year ahead. I know there are a tonne of posts like this floating around at the moment, but I really enjoy reading them and I hope you do too!
Highlights from 2018
Getting engaged! This definitely isn’t something I was expecting to happen in 2018, but it was a wonderful surprise! Since we’re moving back to Australia in the first quarter of 2019, we’re not in the process of planning our wedding just yet. In fact, we’re not 100% set on the idea of even having a wedding as it sounds like a lot of work, and neither of us particularly love being the centre of attention. For now we’re just enjoying being engaged and will worry about holding some sort of celebration once we've worked through a few of our other priorities for the year ahead, but in terms of the past year, this is definitely something to celebrate.
Visitors & friends. We had several visitors from Sydney this year and all the time spent with these people was a highlight. Both my parents and Mark’s parents visited over the summer, along with one of my best friends and one of Mark’s too, all within a couple of months of each other. It was very busy and eventful and helped make our summer so much fun. And of course, spending time with our friends here in Toronto (and travelling with them) has been such a highlight this year too. Our time here wouldn’t have been anywhere near as much fun without these people, and I’m so glad we met them.
Travel. We’ve really tried to make the most of living where we are by travelling a lot while we’ve been here. I rarely went on weekends away while living in Sydney, but when you know you’re not going to be staying somewhere forever, it pushes you to try new things and book those plane tickets while you have the chance. In 2018 we went to New York (three times), Havana, Chicago, Montreal, Detroit, Washington DC, the Muskoka region (twice), Blue Mountain, Port Dover (twice) and Niagara Falls. Before moving to Canada the only one of those cities I’d visited was New York, so this year was full of so many new experiences and all of the time I spent travelling was wonderful.
Tattoos. This year I got my first two tattoos in November & December and I honestly couldn’t be more over the moon with them! Naturally they’re for two of my favourite people in the world - Nick Cave & Leonard Cohen, and I couldn’t be happier with the artist I chose and the way they both turned out. It’s such a great feeling picturing something in your head for so long and then finally seeing it in the flesh. My mum isn’t happy about them but you can’t live your life by other people’s rules, so sorry mum!
Becoming a godmother. My brother and his wife had their first child since we’ve been living in Toronto and although I haven’t met him yet, I video called into his Christening and was made one of his godparents, which is such an honour. Lots of our family and close friends back home are currently pregnant or have had babies since we’ve been away, so we’re looking forward to meeting them all when we get back!
Lots of reading. I managed to read 51 books this year, which I’m really happy with. It helps that I had a two & a half hour commute (round-trip) for work each day as that’s how I’ve gotten so much done this year. Reading is something I’ve loved since I was a child (my mum loves telling the story of how I taught myself to read at age 3) and I’m so glad in the last couple of years I’ve really thrown myself back into it head-first and have ticked a lot of books off my to read list. There have definitely been years where I’ve barely read 10 books, probably even less, but it’s something that I enjoy so much and I’m so glad I’ve been able to make time for it again.
Blogging. My goal from last years post was to keep blogging consistently and keep creating content that I want to see, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that this year. There have been times in the past I’ve felt pretty discouraged and wasn’t sure why I was still blogging, but as long as there is a community here that I can be a part of, even if it’s smaller now than it used to be, then I’ll still be here. Blogging is such an important hobby and creative outlet for me and I don’t know what my life would look like without it, so here’s to another year of it!
Food. I didn’t really know how to address this in my post last year, and I still don’t know how to address it now. I hate talking about diets, weight, counting calories, working out, anything of that nature. In truth I have a lot of baggage when it comes to this subject. I feel like if I were to open up about it I would have thousands of words to write and most of them would be negative, and I don’t feel the need to open that can of worms publicly. But as with last years’ post, I wanted to make at least make a note of the fact that I am really happy with myself this year, and I’m proud of myself for what I’ve done. It’s a big deal to me, too big to write about, but there it is.
Shooting film. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been shooting film for over 10 years now on various cameras and with a few different formats, but 35mm is my favourite and this year I’ve been so happy with how much more of it I’ve been shooting. It makes a huge difference living within walking distance of somewhere that develops film, and of course we’ve travelled quite a bit so I’ve felt that I’ve had reasonably interesting things to take photos of, which always helps. I love the aesthetic of film, and in my eyes it really can’t be replicated with digital so it’s something I want to always make time for.
Bullet journalling. I picked up bullet journalling this year and as someone who is perpetually making lists, I’ve found it so helpful to keep them all in the one place and be able to plan and keep track of things from a daily, weekly and monthly perspective. I’ve never really been able to stick with keeping a diary/planner since my high school days, but drawing it up exactly how I want it, and being able to write lists and plan as long or short term as I like has been such a good fit for me and I’ve surprised myself with how consistent I’ve been and how much I’ve come to rely on it.
Goals for the
2019 is definitely not going to be an average year for me. I suppose I may as well start by listing the things that are on a timeline in chronological order, because that’s how they’re going to play out, and I’ll list my more general goals at the end.
Organise the move home. Fortunately we managed to tick off a few things that fall under this very broad goal already. Things like arranging the shipment of most of our stuff home, and giving notice to our landlord. In January we need to finish selling/donating our furniture and anything else we’re not taking with us, send our Canadian money to Australia, close our Canadian bank accounts, phone plans & internet and lots of other fun things (lol). But all of this will get done in January and I’m looking forward to ticking everything off our monster to-do list for the month.
Enjoy our holiday. On Jan 31st we’re flying out of Toronto and will spend 6 weeks across Mexico & the US. As sad as it is for us to leave Toronto, I really wanted to make sure we travelled on the way home because we would have to do all the work that comes with moving either way, but at least if we’ve booked some travel we get to enjoy ourselves & relax for 6 weeks before arriving home and looking for jobs.
Find a job. I’m sure it will take us a couple of weeks to settle back in to life in Sydney but after that we’re going to have to start looking for jobs. I loved the job I had while in Toronto and it was a really tough one to leave, but there’s not much you can do when you’re faced with an international move. Fingers crossed I manage to find a job I enjoy, or at least don’t hate, once we’re back in Sydney!
Start making decisions about getting married. I refer to it as getting married rather than having a wedding, because we’re still not 100% sure we’re having a wedding. That’s not to say that we won’t, but at this stage we really don’t know what we’re going to do. I love the idea of being married to Mark, but the idea of having a wedding is pretty intense/intimidating/scary, so we’ll see! We wanted to wait until we’re back in Sydney and can talk to our parents about it in person so we can all get on the same page about what’s important to each of us, and then we’ll go from there. Obviously the most important opinions are Mark’s and mine, but we’re both very close to our parents so we want to make sure they’re happy and are part of the planning process because it’s a big deal to them too.
Move back into my apartment. When we move home we’re going to be living with my parents for a while because the apartment I own is currently tenanted and the lease isn’t up until the end of August, so the earliest we’ll be able to move in would be September. Luckily we get on really well with my parents and they’re happy to have us. Realistically, it also gives us a bit of a chance to replenish our savings since we’ll be unemployed for several months before we even start looking for work.
Possible renovations. This is very much a maybe, but if I were to renovate my place it would make the most sense to do it in September when the tenants have moved out, but before we move back in. I’d really like to do a bit of work to the bathroom, even if it’s just replacing the vanity and getting some more storage because the current situation is pretty rubbish. I’d also like to replace the curtains and possibly the carpet in the rest of the place, so we’ll see what ends up happening as this is still a long way off and isn’t something I’ll start thinking about until April at the earliest.
Settling into my place. When I first bought my apartment and Mark and I moved in, we only ended up living there for about 9 months or so before we moved back out again and prepared for our move to Canada. For a lot of that time we were already planning our overseas move, so it didn’t make sense for me to start investing in “forever” pieces of furniture or put a lot of effort into decorating the place perfectly. Our place in Toronto was very small, which was never a problem for us, but for example, the way the furniture is configured is literally the only way it could work, so there weren’t really many options when it came to decorating and really putting my mark on the place (not to mention it was a rental). So I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into a bit of decorating/interiors by the end of the year.
Decluttering. Although I think I did a pretty thorough job of decluttering before we moved to Canada, I know I really focused on my wardrobe and my makeup, skincare & toiletries as they’re all things I use day to day and that there was no point in keeping in storage. Aside from the fact that makeup & skincare are perishable, I figured any clothes I didn’t love enough to bring with me (aside from occasion-wear and things like coats that aren’t suited for the climate) I probably wouldn’t love whenever I got back to them, so I didn’t keep them. What I didn’t really focus on was books and vinyl, and although I don’t think there’s all that much to declutter from my collections, they could still do with a good once-over to get rid of anything that I know I’m not going to read or listen to. I also recall that I’ve got a few boxes of house stuff, most of which is fairly new still, so hopefully won’t need to be decluttered but I do want to make sure that when we’re ready to move back into my place I’m not going to fill it with a bunch of stuff I don’t need.
Try some new recipes. In that time when we first get home and start looking for jobs, I’d like to try and experiment with my cooking and hopefully learn some new recipes. When we’re working cooking is definitely the sort of thing we do out of necessity, often resorting to recipes that are quick and easy and that we know well, but while we’ll have a bit of time on our hands it would be nice to try and add a few new things into rotation while the pressure is off a bit.
Take better care of my health. This is a bit of a last-minute one I’ve thrown in here, and it’s not terribly interesting, but it is important. After having quite a bit of dental work done right at the last minute through my work’s health insurance plan, it’s made me realise that I need to take my health more seriously and look into private cover once we get back to Sydney. I’m (stupidly) the kind of person who only deals with my health when there is something wrong, and doesn’t really do anything preventative or maintenance-wise, but I’m going to work on that this year because if you catch things early often you can avoid a lot of hassle (and expense) down the track.
So aside from things I can’t plan for, that’s more or less what my year should look like. Other than the above, I really want to keep up some of the habits I got into over the last few years that have worked well for me and that I’ve really enjoyed. I want to keep reading, keep up my eating habits, keep shooting film, keep blogging, and keep bullet journalling. I want to keep clutter and unnecessary purchases to a minimum, and be mindful of what I’m bringing into my life. I also want to make sure we spend lots of time with our family and friends once we’re around them again, and I want to hopefully get settled into a nice routine again by the end of the year.
Favourite books read in 2018
Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
Here I Am – Jonathan Safran Foer
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay
Blues People – LeRoi Jones
Cosmos – Carl Sagan
(aka very specific books I love that aren’t general recommendations)
Selected Letters: 1957-1969 – Jack Kerouac
Memory Babe – Gerald Nicosia
Off The Road – Carolyn Cassady
Favourite movies & documentaries
Call Me By Your Name
The Hate U Give