YiR 2018 – Big Life Changes and a Bunch of Travel

2018 was a big year for me. I pushed my boundaries, made life-changing decisions and fulfilled a few life-goals.

Big Major Events

Endings // Beginnings

The most significant event of my year was the end of my long-term relationship. Happening around the summer solstice, I spent the rest of my year coming to terms with it and taking stock of my role in relationships and in solitude. I filled two journals of writing and had a number of epiphanies. As a woman now in my early 40s, ending this relationship was also a definitive decision on whether or not I wanted to create a nuclear family myself. I’ve always been, at best, ambivalent about this, but in my late 30s as I saw the door closing, I knew I really had to decide soon. I’m not saying I’ll never want this, but I’m no longer wondering if I’ll be doing it with my own body.

Endings are hard but also there’s something life-affirming about grieving if you are able to give it the space and time and reflection it needs. And I’m grateful that I was able to do this. I spent a lot of time alone and far away this fall and it was just the space I needed.  As this new year begins, I’ve rounded the corner on self-reflection and analyzation (in this arena) and am ready to look outward again and begin new adventures.

Trip to Europe // Living in Budapest

For much of my life, I’ve wanted to live in Budapest and experience my culture and language first-hand. A number of circumstances came together and made this possible this fall. I spent 6 weeks in Budapest as well as a week in Romania with my parents and 2 weeks with Myka in London. Highlights include:

  • All the thermal spas – Budapest sits on top of natural thermal waters and there are thermal baths everywhere, many of them dating back to the 1400s. I went about once a week and returned to my faves as often as I could.
  • Sharmeen visited for 10 days and introduced me people who became my friends while I was there. We celebrated our 20 year friendaversary by drinking in ruin bars, going to thermal baths, seeing the Frida Kahlo exhibit, going to an experimental music festival and a Pálinka museum opening.
  • Getting to speak Hungarian everyday. My family says my vocab has improved since my trip.
  • Learning first-hand about the extreme right-wing politics in Hungary right now. Meeting people who are actively resisting and fighting against it.
  • Teaching a 2-day WordPress workshop for MigHelp, an organization that gives training to migrants and refugees in Budapest.

I took a lot of photos, documenting my days, and I posted them on flickr instead of instagram. If you’re interested in seeing all 500, here they are.

Work Highlights

Work took a bit of a backseat to big life changes and travel this year. But I did achieve some of my work goals including: taking on web development-only projects, getting back into teaching and hand-coding my website.

Castlemain

I started working as a remote WordPress developer with Castlemain, an organization that works with Indigenous groups across Canada. I developed two sites with them, AFNYukon and Lake Babine (forthcoming). I loved supporting First Nations groups and focusing solely on the development side of things.

AFNYukon screenshot

Unifor

Continued supporting Unifor with more graphic design than in previous years. Highlights included art for an #IBelieveSurvivors campaign, an End the Blood Ban campaign and designing billboards for paid domestic violence leave and against a lock out in Gander as well as designing reports on First Nations land rights and Local Union Task Forces.

OneCity

I helped support OneCity with graphic design for the Vancouver municipal election and am so excited more progressive voices are at the table at City Hall.

Workshops

I love teaching and aimed to organize my own workshops in WordPress and InDesign this year.

  • organized and taught one WordPress and one InDesign workshop in the spring
  • taught Scratch for Kids Learning Code (super fun, and I had to learn Scratch the night before. The kids helped me whenever I got stuck on something – they were fearless experimenters)
  • led a WordPress workshop for MigHelp in Budapest in the fall

I’m continuing to teach workshops this year, starting with InDesign in late January. There are still spots available if you’re interested in learning the basics of putting together a multi-page document.

KunStudios

Oh yes, and I redid my own website. It was a back burner project that I finally carved some time for in the spring. I’m finally on a custom-coded site that I’ve fully built myself.

Life Highlights

Spent two weeks in Colombia in April. I’ve wanted to see both Medellin and Bogota ever since reading Happy City and I was not disappointed.

Visiting Tanya in Montreal and Laura in Detroit. I love Montreal and am always looking for an excuse to visit. Having grown up in Hamilton, it’s ridiculous that I’ve never been to Detroit. That has now been rectified.

My sister got married and I was a bridesmaid (for the first time in my life). It was actually 45 degrees celsius with the humidity.

Impromptu yoga retreat in the Kootenays put on by Heather, a friend from the Yoga Teacher Training I did a few years back.

Annual Sointula camping trip included a wedding and I got to be the gonzo photographer.

Other highlights include:

  • Recentering friendships. Being single again means having more time for friends and I connected and felt so much joy from old and new friends near and far.
  • Salsa Fit at Britannia. Imagine a community centre gym filled with middle aged women doing aerobic exercise based on latin dancing. Now imagine it about 10x more fun than you’re thinking it is right now. Salsa fit got me through the dark winter – it’s my new favourite thing. And it’s only $4 a class!
  • Sharing meals. Fave way of seeing friends, I’ve made it a point to host more dinner parties and waffle brunches.
  • Meditating. While I was living in Budapest I started meditating again to help me with the distance and solitude. It really helped and I ended up doing 15 mins a day since then. I’m getting more slack with it these days, but I really notice a difference when I make a point of doing it regularly.

Top books

Read 45 out of my goal of 40 books. Faves include:

  • Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
  • Pages for Her by Sylvia Brownrigg
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth (there’s one story in particular that I still think about regularly)
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  • Motherhood by Sheila Heti (hot/cold on this one, but as I’ve grappled with this question myself, it was affirming to read someone else’s deep ambivalence on the subject)

2019 Goals

Writing. My big goal for the next decade of my life is to focus on writing. For this year, I’d love to find some creative writing workshops or classes that inspire me to start writing as a practice again. Please send me recommendations of teachers or classes/workshops if you have any. I’m looking more for inspiring than super critical at the moment … babysteps.

Travel. Travel is always part of my annual planning, this year I’m open to going almost anywhere with a focus on visiting friends, having a reason to be there, or going with a group. This includes the possibility of: Berlin, Havana, Montreal, and local trips to gulf islands. No real plans yet, but I’m sure I’ll end up going to some places.

Live and Work somewhere else. Living and working in Budapest was challenging and wonderful. I’d love to try and make this happen for 4-6 weeks every year or 18 months. This year I’m thinking of Montreal in the spring/early summer.

Budgeting. I was an avid user of YNAB from 2010 to 2017 and it helped me pay off all my student loan debt and put away a sizeable chunk of savings for retirement and travel. When they moved to the new subscription version, it lost some of the features I loved – while the design was much better, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the numbers not carrying over and affecting the next month. What was the point? I tried Mint, but it didn’t quite work for me. I’m going to try and tweak Mint so that I can use it to get a handle on my spending again.

Keep on Keeping on. A lot of my goals for the next year are just continuations of what I’m already doing.

  • Supporting progressive groups working on social change with my design and development skills.
  • Learning more web development and making more websites.
  • Teaching tech skills to underrepresented groups.
  • Keep reading, saving, travelling, writing, connecting with friends, going to yoga and salsa fit, meditating, self-reflecting, dancing, hiking, camping, eating tacos, riding my bike.
  • Oh, and I’d like to go on some fun dates. So I’m going to make myself use the apps, though I’d much rather meet people naturally the old fashioned way – if that’s still a thing.
  • Host regular dinner parties and curate the guests so friends meet each other. One every 2 months seems doable. And host sourdough waffle brunches once a month.
  • I have a tattoo idea up my sleeve (literally) and am waiting for a specific artist to open her books again – hoping this will happen this year.

Thanks for reading, this was a longer and in some ways more personal post than most. Thanks for being part of my life and happy new year!