Hello, friends, and happy wind down to the end of the year! I can’t believe we’re less than a week away from 2019, but I am more than ready for the start of a new year. Like every year, I have big plans for 2019 and I hope it turns out to be a lot better than this past year. By… a lot.
For today’s “Best of 2018” post, I’m going through the same end-of-year survey that I’ve been doing for the past few years. I can’t remember where I found this survey, but it’s one of my favorite ways to reflect on the year. Please feel free to steal and complete on your own blog!
1) What did you do in 2018 that you’ve never done before?
I went to a live taping of a podcast (Pod Save America). I zip-lined upside down. I battled depression. I voted in a midterm election. I won employee of the month at work. I adopted a cat.
2) Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Yes. Every year, I make a list of yearly goals I’d like to accomplish. I achieved some of them, failed at others. I have been working on a list of goals for 2019, and I’ll be sharing those next week!
3) Did anyone close to you give birth?
Two of my coworkers had babies, but nobody in my close immediate circle.
4) Did anyone close to you die?
Unfortunately, yes. Dutch died in February and Pops died in October. Two earth-shattering losses, one somewhat expected and one completely unexpected. 2018 was not kind to me in this regard.
5) What places did you visit?
Mexico, Belize, and Honduras on a cruise, as well as Anna Maria Island here in Florida during a short weekend getaway with my girlfriends.
6) What would you like to have in 2019 that you didn’t have in 2018?
I would like to lose a significant amount of weight. I would like to get serious about writing my novel and have a completed manuscript by the end of the year. I would like to have a healthy amount of money in my savings account. And I would like to be more confident in myself and the decisions I make.
7) What dates from 2018 will be etched in your memory forever?
February 5th – the day Dutch died
October 28th – the day Pops died
December 8th – the day I adopted Eloise
8) What was your biggest achievement this year?
Honestly, just making it through this year. This year was full of loss and hardship, and the bout of depression I had over the summer brought me to my knees. But I kept pushing forward, even when life felt too overwhelming and that I’d never feel happiness again. I made it through and I’m ending 2018 happy and whole.
9) What was your biggest failure?
Not writing my novel. I just did not put my focus on writing my novel, letting it fall to the wayside during tough life seasons or for freelance work. My major goal for 2019 is to get super serious about writing my novel. I don’t want to just write in the nooks and crannies of my life (which tend to only be during my two-hour weekly writing dates), but actually make time and space in my days for novel writing. I can’t even imagine how proud I would be of myself to end 2019 with a full manuscript of the novel I’ve been aching to write for so long.
10) Did you suffer from illness or injury?
I started 2018 with a broken ankle and spent the first few months of the year healing. Other than that, I was pretty healthy! I got sick with a cold a handful of times, some of which needed antibiotics, but nothing out of the ordinary.
11) What was the best thing you bought?
Oh gosh, most definitely my couch! I was so desperate for a new couch that I made it one of my goals for this year to buy a new one. Over the summer, I sold my sectional (for way less than it was worth, but alas!) and went right out to buy a couch that would be a better fit for my small apartment. I had to wait seven (!) weeks for the couch to be delivered, since I wanted it to be a different size and color than the floor model, but it was so, so worth it. I love it so damn much!
12) Where did most of your money go?
Food always tends to be my highest spending category because I love eating out and do not love to cook, especially for one person. I used to beat myself up for that, but I have finally decided that there’s no point in that. I like eating out! I hate cooking! I would like to figure out a way to bring down my food spending, but I’m also not worried about it as much as I used to be.
13) What did you get really, really excited about?
Eloise! Adopting her was the highlight of my year and I have just been so excited to have her in my life. She’s the sweetest little thing and makes me so happy. I get so excited every time I come home to see her and spend time with her. She’s the best.
14) What authors did you discover in 2018?
A lot! Abbi Waxman, Fredrick Backman, and Riley Sager are three authors I heard a lot about and finally got around to reading this year. I have a whole backlist of Backman to read, and I’m anxiously awaiting what’s next for Waxman and Sager.
For romance, I discovered Christina Lauren, and they were a delightful discovery! I’ve read three of their books and look forward to reading through the rest of their book list in 2019. I also was completely enchanted by Helen Hoang’s debut and I cannot wait for her second novel to be published next year.
15) Compared to this time last year, are you a) happier or sadder, b) thinner or fatter, c) richer or poorer?
I am happier, fatter, and richer.
16) What do you wish you had done more of?
More exercise. I really did not exercise nearly enough once I quit the gym, and I’m glad I’ll have a new gym to go to starting in January. Exercise keeps my mental health in check, and it’s a necessary part of my self-care routine.
17) What do you wish you had done less of?
Worrying about being uncomfortable during social events. I waste a lot of mental energy worrying about my social anxiety, and all my fears never end up coming true, and even though I know this is just the way I’m wired, I always wish I could stop wasting so much energy on worry.
18) How did your spend Christmas?
I woke up around 8:30 to Eloise staring directly into my face. After giving her some pets, I forced myself out of bed to feed her breakfast and then get breakfast of my own (which necessitated a Starbucks run). Afterwards, I spent some time reading and working on “Best of 2018” blog posts before getting ready for the day. I loaded up my car with gifts and the cookies I baked yesterday and headed over to my mom’s a little after 1 p.m. Once my brother and his family arrived, we opened gifts and then ate dinner. There was some time spent playing with all the toys, a forced “usie” in front of the tree, and then loading up the cars with gifts. I was back home around 6:30 where I unpacked all my gifts, played with Eloise for a while, worked on this blog post, and then collapsed into bed fairly early. It was a busy day (a busy season!) and I’m both sad and happy it’s over.
19) What was your favorite TV program?
Probably Friends. I am currently rewatching the series and it makes me so happy. It was a needed distraction in the days and weeks following Pops’ death.
Other shows watched in 2018: Mad Men, Nailed It, Queer Eye, Grace & Frankie, The Office, and The Good Place.
20) What were some of the best books you read?
Here’s a list of all the books I gave 5 stars to in 2018:
- Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
- The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
- The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
- Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
- Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame by Mara Wilson
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
- Roomies by Christina Lauren
- Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
- Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
- The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
- Final Girls by Riley Sager
- The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
- The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
- The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
- Lies She Told by Cate Holahan
- Hillybilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Faith and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
- Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
- Beartown by Fredrick Backman
- Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski
- Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward
- Home Front by Kristin Hannah
- You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
- Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
- One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin
21) What did you want and get?
I wanted to win employee of the month at work, and I did! I worked damn hard for that trophy, and it’s worth everything.
I also wanted to get a cat after losing Dutch and I did. Bringing Eloise home was the perfect ending to 2018.
22) What did you want and not get?
A relationship. Weight loss. A completed manuscript. Same ole, same ole.
23) What was your favorite film of 2018?
Crazy Rich Asians, hands down. I had such an emotional hangover after seeing that movie. It was perfection in every way.
24) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31 this year and had a Day of Steph! The day started off in the most insane way possible with the fire alarm outside my apartment going off. The fire department came and everything, but they couldn’t figure out why it was going off.
My day officially started with breakfast at Starbucks and then a massage. I went to a bookstore, had lunch with my mom, and took a lovely three-hour nap. At night, my mom and brother took me out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant. It was such a wonderful day!
25) What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If all my friends hadn’t left my company. Ha! This is a totally selfish request because I’m so glad my friends moved on to new jobs where their talents could be put to better use, but I’m also sad that I don’t have my work posse anymore. It makes the workdays a lot more lonely.
26) Who kept you sane?
My friends were my rock during this tumultuous year. They were fantastic about checking in on me and being supportive as I worked through my grief. Also, my mom’s dog Chip was immensely helpful in healing my heart after Dutch died. My mom adopted him three months after Dutch died, and he just added so much joy to my life.
27) Who did you miss?
Dutch, Dutch, Dutch. Oh, how I have missed Dutch so much this year. He was such a great sidekick and losing him was so painful.
And Pops. I miss Pops so much. I still can’t believe we lost him this year. It doesn’t seem fair at all.
28) Who was the best new person you met?
Eloise! And Chip. Animals really make life so much better, honestly.
29) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.
You will know. You will know when it’s time to put your beloved dog down, even if you think there’s no possible way you could make that decision. You will know when it’s time to welcome a new pet into your life, even when you don’t know how you’ll be able to open up your heart again. You will know the exact moment you meet your new furever friend. It will feel right and good, you will feel at peace.
30) Show us one of your favorite photos from the year.
I took this photo on Dutch’s last night. He was miserable that night, waking up nearly every hour and whining, but if I placed him on my chest, he would calm down and fall back asleep. I spent the night on the couch with him on his bed next to me (I was staying at my mom’s that night because I didn’t want to wake up alone on the day I had to put him down), and I would pick him up, calm him down, and then lay him back down on his bed once he was asleep. It’s a picture that brings up a lot of emotions for me, but mostly of peace that I was able to fulfill his needs and bring him comfort in his last days. (And oh, how much I miss him sleeping on my chest!)
Tell me a date from 2018 that will forever be etched in your memory.