What can I say? 2019 was a damn good year! When I reflect back on the highlights and milestones, I’m kinda blown away by all that transpired, and how many cool, loving, and transformative experiences I had this year.
Some of the highlights, in mostly chronological order…
Experienced my first New Orleans Mardi Gras
From mid-January to mid-March, I lived in New Orleans with my beautiful friend Mikhayla and her daughter Freya. Such sweet and delicious girlfriend time we had! I experienced my first Mardi Gras season, filled with costume making (glitter and glue guns galore!), parades, dancing, eating king cake, drinking aperol spritz, galavanting, reveling…it was SO. MUCH. FUN!
And of course, as any good girl time would include, some of the best moments were spent on the couch, eating popcorn, watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Killing Eve (two must-see shows!). We also supported each other through some heart breaking moments, tough decisions, and necessary growth. I’ll hold this experience close to my heart for a long time to come.
I also reconnected with my good friend (from middle school in Egypt) Andrew Ward! That reconnection led us to resume being pen pals, real pen pals, with actual pen and paper. I highly recommend doing this with friends that live in other cities. It’s much more fun than email or texting and gives you an excellent excuse to buy pretty stationary.
Moved to West Palm Beach
While I was in New Orleans, I signed a lease on an apartment in West Palm Beach, Florida. I left LA in September, 2018 and took some time deciding on where I wanted to land. In March I took the plunge and signed a lease! I chose West Palm Beach for 4 key reasons:
- Proximity to the beach
- Proximity to my parents
- Warm tropical weather
- Affordable cost of living
The rest was left to discovery and I couldn’t be happier! I have a beautiful poolside apartment with a Spanish tile roof (sucker for Spanish tile). Nica (my dog, love of my life) and I can start our days running on the beach and swimming in the Atlantic. I can have dinner with my parents any random night of the week. There’s great music and art. Best of all, I’ve made beautiful friends with people I know will be in my life for many years to come. And as a surprise bonus, my good friend Hina from high school lives in Fort Lauderdale! In a very short time, this place feels like home.
Visited my childhood home – Sidney, BC
In March, my work team gathered in Victoria, British Columbia for our annual team meetup. It just so happens I grew up 30 minutes from Victoria, from Kindergarten to 6th grade, in the beautiful sea-side town of Sidney, and had not been back to visit in over 25 years! Thanks to my job, I was reunited with my best friends from Elementary school and it was nothing short of amazing.
Jenny, Nakomis, and I had not seen each other since we were 14 years old, yet the day we spent together 26 years later flew by, the conversation flowed with ease, and I felt the strength of our connection so many years later. We reflected on our different life paths, and we saw that though we all chose something very different, living with passion, sincerity, and commitment is what makes life beautiful.
Another bonus of that trip was getting to see one of my best friend’s from high school, Steve, and his wife Deanna. And finally meeting their 3 super awesome kids! Watching people’s lives on social media gives you the tinniest sliver of who they are. Meeting up in person is where the magic is.
July 24th marked my 40th birthday. To celebrate, my two besties from high school, Tricia and Mikhayla, flew in for the weekend. We hosted a party, danced, beached, brunched…it was fabulous! Time with these two is always perfectly fulfilling. We are generally terrible at keeping in touch regularly, though our connection always picks up right where we left off within minutes of being together.
I couldn’t be happier with my celebration and marking this significant milestone. My life looks nothing like how I imagined it might be at age 40 when I first set off into adulthood, because I couldn’t possibly have imagined these particular details and gifts.
Joined Toastmasters International
Joining Toastmasters was a goal of mine for the past several years, as I love public speaking and want to practice regularly and continue to improve. I finally bit the bullet and joined a club in my area. We’re a small and mighty group that meets every Monday, and my first 4-6 minute speech will be January 6. Wish me luck!
Spent quality time with my family
In September, I had the honor and privilege of staying with my 92 year old Grandmother for a week. The experience was incredibly moving and brought us much closer together. I wrote a post about the experience HERE.
I also got to see my brother and nephews twice this year! They happened to be in town visiting my parents when I moved to West Palm Beach in March, and my super awesome brother helped me with my move-in tasks. I then stayed with my brother and nephews for a week when I was in Toronto.
Last but not least, I’ve had more time with my parents this year than any year of my life since I was 20 years old. This is the first time in 20 years that we’ve lived in close proximity to each other, and it is truly a gift. Being able to have relaxed hangout time, without the pressure of long distance travel, and simply being there for each other to help with life, makes me wonder how I lived so long without them.
Had significant professional wins
I had a plentiful year professionally at Automattic! I got to share my passion-for-wellness with my colleagues by leading a workshop on resilience for my team at our annual team meetup, and taught a class called Feel Your Best at our annual company meetup in Orlando. I flexed my leadership muscle by leading the G Suite guild for 9 months, I was the interim lead for team Beaker over the summer, and became permanent lead of team Cerberus in December.
Travel was also a big theme of work this year. On the roster was our team meetup in Victoria, Reboot leadership training in Charlotte, the Grand Meetup in Orlando, and the Support Driven Leadership Summit in Boston. Not only are these meetups and conferences jam packed with opportunities for learning, they offer up meaningful time to connect in person with my brilliant and precious colleagues with whom I interact everyday online. I continue to love my job and am excited to see what 2020 brings for our team, our division, our company, and our wonderful WordPress.com community.
Fell in love!
Well this was unexpected! The beginning of the year my heart was focused on working through the end of a significant relationship, and very much enjoying being single and completely independent. In the middle of the year, for fun and curiosity, I decided to give Bumble a go, and met a few lovely men. Though none that were inspiring enough to hold my time and attention.
Around the time I was rapidly tiring of Bumble, Fernando came into my life. Well technically he was already there, as we’re colleagues, but we weren’t really in each other’s sphere until we met in person for the first time in August.
Fast forward, now we’re happily exploring the beginning phases of a relationship, and I get to celebrate the beginning of this new decade with an incredibly kind, generous, open, adventurous, and hilarious man. Oh, and he’s handsome too 😉
While we’re talking about love, it’s worth mentioning that Nica fell in love too! Here she is with her boyfriend Buster, with whom she enjoys regular play dates and once-in-a-while sleepovers. He lets her eat his chew toys and win their play fights. He’s a good boyfriend.
I have plenty to be grateful for as this year comes to a close, and a lot I’m looking forward to experiencing, exploring, discovering, and accomplishing in 2020. What I’m taking with me is a deeper awareness around priorities, and the importance of periodically reassessing and recommitting in order to keep energy fresh and the momentum pulsing.
More on those priorities, and how to set them, in my next post. Make sure you’re subscribed to receive them by email!
Wishing you an abundance of blessings!