2016: A Year In Review

I think it’s safe to say that 2016 really wasn’t anyone’s year; I mainly blame Trump. But even though it wasn’t a stellar year, I still love to look back to recount the highs and lows and see what’s coming up for 2017.

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I usually start my annual round ups by looking back at the previous year’s and seeing how well my predictions played out. Except, this year I took an accidental blogging hiatus from September 2015 until April 2016. Whoops! So I didn’t actually write a round-up for 2015. But I think I can safely say that my life is pretty different than what I thought it would be at this time last year. That actually seems to be a trend every time I write one of these reviews! Should I be surprised that my life is constantly changing?

So here’s a quick recap of my 2016:

January
In January, I had just finished spending my first Christmas with the Marriotts in Vancouver and had just moved into my new apartment. I was a month into my brand new job at UBC and was hosting Sophie, my previous roommate, on the couch in my studio apartment. Things were squishy but it was a fun-filled month.

Colin's birthday on the Canucks big screen!

Colin’s birthday on the Canucks big screen!

February
Sadly, Sophie returned to Ontario in February and I was roommate-less for the first time in a year. Besides that, February was business as usual as far as I can remember.

March
March was a busy month! My mom came to town so I got to enjoy lots of quality Moo time with delicious dinners and outings around Vancouver. We also celebrated Colin’s birthday and at the end of the month, we took off to LA!

April
We started the month of April in Los Angeles where Colin, his mom Margie and I spent 6 days thanks to a amazing flight deal. We packed in a lot during our short trip such as a basketball game, hockey game, city tour, beach day and visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Later that month, Colin and I celebrated our one year anniversary.

Venice Beach, California

Venice Beach, California

May
May was another busy month. We went to Victoria for Victoria’s Day, saw Macklemore and Matt Corby in concert, watched Billy Elliott and I started my new gig at the Allard School of Law at UBC.

June
If I thought May was busy, just wait until June! I spent the first couple of weeks getting settled in my new job. We also had Colin’s aunt, who had been sick, pass away, which was tough for the family. At the end of the month, it was off to Toronto for Colin and I where I got to be a co-maid of honour at my friend Kimberley’s wedding. We then took off for a quick couple of nights in Montreal. We got back to Vancouver, unpacked, repacked and left the next day to spend the long weekend in Pender Harbour.

Colin & I at Kim's wedding

Colin & I at Kim’s wedding

 

July
Our original plan for July was to do a roadtrip out to Calgary to visit Colin’s family and hit the Calgary Stampede. Unfortunately, with Colin’s work schedule, it didn’t happen this year. Maybe in 2017? But we did manage to get away to Harrison Hot Springs for my birthday weekend where we indulged in massages, courtesy of my mom, and a fancy birthday dinner. July was also the month where I got to see Newsies, Rock of Ages and a Vancouver Festival of Lights fireworks show!

August
In August, I headed back to Toronto where I was in yet another wedding. This time, I got to watch my best friend Andrea marry the love of her life. When I got back to Vancouver, my cousin Ryann and

Andy's wedding!

Andy’s wedding!

her boyfriend were in town thanks to med school placements that brought them out west. It was so fun to hang out with Ryann and Alex, go out to some great meals and experience Vancouver with them. Adding one more show to our year (we really see a lot of theatre!), Colin and I went to The Book of Mormon (his second time seeing the show, my fourth) with his good friends from high school.

 

Montreal

Montreal

September
Unfortunately, September was the big low¬†of 2016. Towards the end of August, Colin’s dad Randy entered the hospital and on September 8th, he passed away. The short 11 days we spent in the hospital is still a bit of a blur and doesn’t quite feel real. Even though it’s been months, I still sometimes find myself waiting for Randy to come in from his workshop in the backyard when I’m staying in Surrey.

October
October was a month of a lot of changes, definitely spurred by the great loss our family suffered in September. I decided to quit my job, booked a fairly spontaneous trip to Vietnam and finally said out loud that I want to be a writer. We ended the month with my last day working a 9-5 at UBC (maybe forever!) and a complimentary stay on Granville Island thanks to a contest I had won earlier in the year.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

November
I started this month by living with Colin and Margie in Surrey for 12 days before heading off on a three week trip to Vietnam with my friend Emilie! It felt great to get on a long haul flight and check somewhere new off of my bucket list. There were definitely moments that I did not enjoy – when I was too hot and just wanted to lie in bed with air conditioning all day. But overall, I loved the trip! Highlights include our perfect day in Hoi An where we hit the beach, went to a cooking class and got dresses made, cruising beautiful Halong Bay, going on my own writer’s retreat to Phu Quoc Island and all of the delicious and cheap food we enjoyed!

Christmas light maze

Christmas light maze

December
I got back to Vancouver just in time for the most festive month of the year. I had a couple weeks in Vancouver where I split my time between my Kits apartment and Colin’s place in Surrey and tried to fit in as many social catch ups with friends as I could. And then it’s back to Toronto for Christmas. I didn’t get to go home last year, so it’s really nice to know I’ll be spending the holidays with my family and Toronto friends. But it’s also very hard to leave my Vancouver family behind, especially since they’re a smaller group this year after some pretty significant losses. December was also my first official month of what I like to call “fake employment.” I’m really giving this freelance writer thing a proper shot. And, a bit to my surprise, it’s working out. I’m not rolling in the dough, but I am making a decent amount of money from something I only got serious about in the last two months of the year.

I’m posting this on the eve of my flight to Toronto, so I assume the last 8 days of the year will be filled with chilly Toronto temperatures, lots of happy reunions with friends and family, all of the Christmas songs and decor I could want, and more food than one should reasonably eat in 8 days.

What’s next?
This is my favourite part! I love looking ahead and trying to predict what the next year will bring me or writing down some of my hopes and goals. I used to do resolutions; I’m not sure I’m going to make any for 2017. I like the idea of setting goals and having affirmations to guide me through the year, but I don’t want to rush to come up with a list just to meet an arbitrary deadline.

So what is happening in 2017?

Career: I would love if I could be a full-time freelance writer in 2017. It would be the dream to make my living just from my writing. However, that might not be realistic, especially since I’m just starting out. So I’m looking to pick up clients and get some steady gigs. But I’m also applying to some part-time stuff so I can still focus on writing but have something more steady on the side. I hope by the end of January/February, I’ll have that a bit more figured out. But if I could end 2017 confidently saying, “I’m a writer” when people ask what I do, that would be huge. I can’t even put into words how happy that would make me to be able to boldly say that.

Living: Surprisingly, I managed to stay in one apartment for a whole year (I can’t say the same about any of my jobs…). But as I shared previously, the plan is for me to give my notice when I get back from Toronto because Colin and I will be moving in together in March. We’re looking for a spacious, modern and affordable apartment in New West, preferably right by the skytrain. Any leads?

Travel: My first trip of the year will be in February. Colin and I are joining his mom and some other friends and relatives at an all-inclusive in Huatulco, Mexico for a week. I’m not usually a fan of all-inclusives but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit a country I’ve never been to, hang out by the beach with my boyfriend and escape a dreary Vancouver February. Other potential travel plans include a family trip to Europe in May with my stepmom’s side, a possible trip with my mom in September and a little surprise I’m working on for the summer!

Anything else? I think that’s all I’ve got planned for 2017 so far! I kind of love that the year is open and that I can take advantage of any opportunities that come my way. You know I can’t resist a good deal on a flight! But I’m really stoked for the things that I do have planned. I’m trying out my dream career as a writer and I’m loving every minute of it. I’m months away from moving in with my boyfriend and getting to live out my domestic fantasies in decorating a new place and maybe stepping up my cooking game. And I’ve got lots of exciting travel plans on the horizon. 2017 is sounding pretty stellar already.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! All the best for your own stellar 2017 ūüôā

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2014: A Year In Review

Is it 2015 already?

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Actually, it’s been 2015 for a little while. ¬†You can tell I’m a bit behind on my blogging – whoops!

One reason I keep a blog is so I can look back on all the wonderful things I’m fortunate enough to experience in my life. It’s kind of incredible to sit back and scroll through the year. ¬†2014 took me to a lot of new places, let me meet a lot of new people and accept new opportunities.

For the last few years that I’ve had this blog, I do a post at the end of each year that sums up what happened and predicts what’s to come in the new year. ¬†It’s a chance for me to take stock, count my blessings and get excited for the year ahead. ¬†Today I looked back on my final post of 2013. ¬†My predictions for 2014 were pretty accurate. ¬†I did spend the most incredible 5 months wandering around Europe with some of the coolest people I’ve been lucky enough to meet. ¬†And I did come back to Vancouver to finish off my courses at UBC. ¬†But there were also a few surprises: I took a job in Tokyo, Japan for the month of July, I fit in a number of visits to the always-lovely Toronto, I got a job serving, I finished at UBC and I got the full-time job of my dreams at Free The Children!

2014 was a year of movement and maturity. I travelled to a huge number of new countries (10!) and a few old favourites (aka my 5th trip to London).  I called 5 rooms in 4 cities home throughout the course of the year. I logged a scary number of hours on planes, buses and booking those planes/buses online.  I learned that my entire life can fit into two large suitcases, and I love that.

Maturity came in heading to Amsterdam by myself for 5 months. ¬†This wasn’t my first solo trip, nor does a semester abroad really count as solo, but it was certainly a growing experience. ¬†I lived with two complete strangers, who became amazing friends. ¬†I navigated my new city of Amsterdam, and then a dozen or so other new cities on weekend jaunts around Europe. ¬†And, most impressively, I cooked for myself for 5 whole months without developing scurvy or burning down the house (we did come close a few times).

Maturity was found again in my role in Japan. ¬†I chaperoned a group of high school students learning a language I didn’t know in a country I had never been to. It was a whirlwind (and humid!) 4 weeks, but I’m so glad I jumped on that opportunity.

And a final dose of maturity hit in these last 4 months in Vancouver. ¬†I was back in proper school, which I hadn’t been in since 2012. ¬†I was living and working outside of Residence Life for the first time in my Vancouver life. ¬†And I was setting things up for the greatest wave of maturity: finishing my undergrad at UBC, living by myself in Vancouver and starting an amazing full-time job at Free The Children.

So coming up in 2015…. I don’t really know what predictions to make for this upcoming year. ¬†My plans now seem a lot more stable; no more continent jumping every few months. ¬†I’m set up in Vancouver with house & job for the next 2 years. ¬†It’s rare¬†for me to describe a new year without talking about the big trips I’ll be taking. But it’s also kind of exciting! I’ve talked before about not having an upcoming trip and how I’m pretty okay with that. ¬†I’m okay starting and ending 2015 in Vancouver – more than okay, I’m stoked about it! I’m sure my life is going to take on so many more facets I don’t even know about yet. ¬†So while I plan to be living in Vancouver and working at FTC for all of this year, I’m certain there will be new opportunities, new people and a few surprises thrown in to make 2015 just as wonderful as 2014 was!

2012: A Year in Review

As I finished my final final (at 8:30am, mind you), I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief: first term is over! Christmas is 10 days away! I’ll be home in 3 days! And the world might end in 6… ūüėČ

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Looking back, this year has been kind of crazy and filled with many firsts for me.

In January I was returning for my second semester of second year and of advising. I was comfortable with my job and with school…probably a little too comfortable, in hindsight. I wasn’t motivated and I really wasn’t happy with what I was doing. It was around then that I started to unearth my passion for travel. I started this blog, stayed up late searching for flight deals instead of studying for midterms and began dreaming my great escape. I had applied to be an English tutor in Italy for the summer, which unfortunately didn’t pan out (they did offer me a position in late August), but it turns out it was for the best.

In February I got my first taste of solo travel when I spent a day alone in San Francisco! It was pretty uneventful but I impressed myself by getting from the airport to the hotel, dining solo and finding the sea lions on Fisherman’s Wharf. Looking back at it now, I can’t believe I went from 24hrs alone in the States to 3 weeks alone in Europe in only 4 months! My mom showed up the next afternoon and we spent the next few days together. It was a great escape from school/advising and I kind of fell in love with SF. ¬†The city is gorgeous and I can’t wait to visit “Frannie” again.

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

March was Musical Madness Month! The residence musical I was helping to run had our 3-night run and it went so well! I was really proud of my cast, crew and colleagues – though I’m pretty sure I didn’t touch any school work for most of March.

Urinetown The Musical!

Urinetown The Musical!

School winded down in April and after finals ended and I moved out of Shuswap, it was time to face reality: I was homeless and jobless! It wasn’t as dire as all that, but I had been hoping for a tutoring job in Italy or cushy office job in Vancouver. ¬†Instead, as April ended I boarded a flight home to Toronto with no real job plans.

In May I was able to catch up with my friends and family at home. I spent a lot of time applying to jobs online and managed to get quite a few writing gigs.  Unfortunately, most of the gigs were unpaid, but the experience was great! It was exciting to be doing something I actually loved.  Still, my days felt a little empty.

By some miracle, I found the world’s greatest flight deal and in June I packed my bags, booked hostels and trains, said my goodbyes and jumped on a flight to Europe! I blogged daily while I worked my way through a whirlwind tour of London, Paris, Nice, Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon. ¬†It was an insane 3 weeks and I still can’t believe how quickly it came together and how much I managed to squeeze in. I still shake my head sometimes when I see photos I took of the Eiffel Tower or remember that I stood outside Buckingham Palace waving at The Queen and her family. It was my first solo adventure and one I’m never going to forget. I can’t wait to go back!

Mastering the art of the selfie in front of London's Tower Bridge

Mastering the art of the selfie in front of London’s Tower Bridge

In July I began working as an Editorial Intern at The Kit Magazine. It was a great job and I really got to immerse myself in the magazine culture. Not only did I get to handle swanky clothing samples and luxe beauty products, speak with top brands and retailers, but I got to write and see my work in print and online! And in July I joined a new decade: my 20s!

August started off with an amazing family trip to Atlantis in The Bahamas.  It was nice to spend time with my sister who had been in Quebec for the month of July and just relax the 5 of us.  After that I had a few more weeks in Toronto before I headed back to the west coast for Advisor Orientation in Kelowna.

Me and my sibs at Atlantis

Me and my sibs at Atlantis

September was pretty much just a blur. I was settling back into advising with a new team, new floor, new house and new residence area.  Classes started up again and I was actually excited about my courses.  Ambitiously I joined the Pre-Law Society and Psychology Students Association to see if my future lay in either of those directions. FYI: Psychology has been taken off the table. Law is still in the cards along with Journalism. 

Mawder wins Vanier Olympics!

Mawder wins Vanier Olympics!

In October my mom came out to visit me and we had ourselves a Thanksgiving Staycation. It was so nice to see my mom and relax away from school/work. The rest of the month consisted of midterms, papers and handing out candy to adorable children at the Acadia Park residence on Halloween. Oh, and I casually won $100 from a random draw costume contest.

In November I found out that I had been accepted to an International Service Learning program and would be spending Summer 2013 in Mbabane, Swaziland! I’m so excited about this because I’ll get to go to an un-visited continent, embrace a brand new culture and have the opportunity to work at an HIV/AIDS advocacy organization. In November I also went to Disney On Ice (pure magic), the Twilight premiere and our Winter Formal in residence.

All Disney princesses get their own Lego carriages.

All Disney princesses get their own Lego carriages.

Our team looking classy

Our team looking classy

15 days into December and I’ve already accomplished quite a bit! I wrote my 5 finals, celebrated birthdays with good friends, visited The Vancouver Christmas Market and got a co-op job for next term! I’m so excited that in January I will be working for one of my favourite organizations, Free The Children! I’m joining the team as a youth programming intern and will be helping make the first US We Day come to life. The whole thing came about rather quickly but I’m so stoked! It’ll also be a really cool change to be on a co-op job term instead of just school.

Looking ahead:¬†The next few days will be full of Christmas shopping, packing and taking care of all the home stuff I’ve ignored during finals (dishes, laundry, etc.). And then on the 18th I fly back to Toronto for 12 days! I’m really excited to see my friends and family. ¬†I’m also hoping the cold holds off and it only snows once or twice. I’ll be filling out my application for exchange as well over the break. My plan is to go to The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia in January 2014. It’s a pretty cool feeling to look ahead and know that 2013 will be filled with a lot of happy moments: I’ll still be RA-ing with my amazing team and house. I’ll be working for Free The Children. ¬†I’m seeing Lady Gaga on the 12th! I’m going to Africa in June! And I’ll probably be living on my own in Vancouver at some point. My expectations at the start of 2012 were vastly different from how the year turned out. ¬†There were some low points but there were way more highlights and reasons to feel so incredibly lucky. ¬†I’ve ended the year on quite the high note and I’ve got a great feeling about 2013.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!