Hmm. January 10th. Is it too late to do a year in review? Nah. Let’s go!
Here are the highlights and lowlights of my (blogged) life so far, plus some updates on how things have progressed since I posted about them. Let’s tie off some loose ends before we move on to 2019!
- I started this blog! I toyed with the idea for a while but in late April I took the leap and made my first post. I claimed a url, and I learned how to write a post! With 34 posts including this one, I reckon that despite some inconsistency, it’s off to a good start 🌞
- I learned to bake. While I haven’t made a regular habit of it, I’m counting this as a hit rather than a miss because I baked my way through my first bag of flour and my first tub of coconut oil! I’ve got a basic muffin recipe figured out and I’m confident enough to adjust it to make different flavours.
- I built some muscle. I’ve made gym workouts a semi-regular habit and I’ve made noticeable gains: I can lift, press, and curl double what I did on day one! And I can carry my groceries home without stopping for a break. Most importantly, I now have a consistent, flexible, and sustainable routine that will hopefully bring more gains this year!
- I made broken umbrella photos a thing (or at least more so that they were before). There’s even a subreddit for it now – check out r/WellyBrollyFails!
- I sorted my meal plans. I discovered the joys of Sunday Meal Prep, motivated by some banging tunes, and I still follow this formula now. It’s saved me heaps of time and effort!
- I ran a onesie day! I plucked up the courage to wear an animal costume to work, convinced some colleagues to do the same, and (thanks to some very generous office folks) filled a bucket of cash for charity! And I enjoyed the toastiest winter of my life.
- I cut back on alcohol. I’ve never been a heavy drinker, but I realised that even the little I was having was affecting me. Thanks to some quality alternatives, I’ve cut back to almost zero. At one point I hit three months dry! While we’re on the topic of beverages, I’ve dropped my caffeine intake too, and I still keep to my one-coffee rule most days.
- I explored a little more of my backyard. Besides Matiu/Somes Island, I also checked off the Southern Walkway, Makara Beach, and the Brooklyn wind turbine, as well as Zealandia for the first time in six years. On top of that, I sampled dozens of local eateries and bars for the first time. The vast majority of these ventures were organised by the wonderful folks at r/Wellington. The staycation itself was a flop, but I’m more than happy with the ground I covered over the year!
- Mental health. I’ll be brutally honest; my anxiety is no better now than it was a year ago. I’ve searched my soul multiple times, I invented a new holiday, and I even took an entire month off. I’ve learned a lot about mental health and about myself. I’m better off than I was in a lot of important ways – physical (barring disease), social, financial. Yet I still choke up with fear on a disturbingly frequent basis. I don’t know what to do about it, but one thing’s for sure: whatever I do, I’ll Do It Badly.
- Social media. I still spend dangerous amounts of time zombie scrolling, autoplaying, and falling down rabbit holes, all while bathing in unrealistic expectations. Reddit et al. are the keys to my social life, but they’re also bottomless pits of meaningless “content”, and they’re addictive by design. Again, I don’t know how to deal with this, but I’m sure there’s more I can do. On the plus side, I stopped gaming on Sundays!
- Travel. I didn’t make it to Fiji; in fact I didn’t leave New Zealand all year. The farthest I got (apart from one workday in Auckland) was Tauranga. Unlike mental health though, solo travel isn’t essential – who’s to say it’s even the right thing for me? I was well-travelled as a kid, so overseas holidays don’t hold the same novelty they otherwise might. I need more of a reason to go somewhere these days. Like, say, some friends to go visit… Not making any promises though 😉
The real greatest hits: Music (and other sounds) I discovered in 2018
Music has been a constant companion throughout the year, as evidenced by the many song quotes and links in my posts. I even put together a playlist of my top 50 mood-lifting tunes. What those don’t show is that 2018 was a great year for me in terms of discovering new sounds. Below is the best of what I found – in my opinion, of course!
Thanks largely to my Youtube wanderings, I was introduced to:
- The many-mooded, guitar-driven anthems of Birds of Tokyo
- The cutting, heartbroken refrains of CHVRCHES
- And the cute, left-field, bilingual bubblegum of Kero Kero Bonito.
I’ve had new sounds on heavy rotation from:
- Death Cab for Cutie (Thank You For Today)
- Hoobastank (Push Pull)
- Muse (Simulation Theory)
- Snow Patrol (Wildness)
- Thirty Seconds to Mars (AMERICA)
- Fall Out Boy (M A N I A)
I discovered the wonderful world of podcasts, and among my early favourites are:
- 99% Invisible: Stories of hidden design and quirky history.
- Freakonomics Radio: Counterintuitive findings in economics and psychology.
- Future Perfect: Exploring controversial but rational solutions to big problems.
- By The Book: Hilarious attempts to live by the advice of self-help books.
And the greatest hit of the year, based on cold, hard data
I don’t even have to think about what my most-listened song was in 2018, because Spotify tracked it for me! According to Spotify Wrapped, this is my number one song for the year, and I have to say, it’s a good choice. Drum roll please…
Summer Sounds: Birds of Tokyo – Lanterns
Lately I’ve found
When I start to think aloud
There’s a longing in the sound
There is more I could be
As I alluded to above, Birds of Tokyo cover a lot of thematic and emotional territory. They have as many moods as they do albums – that is, five so far. These range from death and apocalypse (BRACE) to the polar opposite, life and hope (March Fires). Lanterns belongs to the latter.
If I had to pick a theme song for the blog, it would be this. It hits on the same themes that I aim to address in my writing. Finding light in the darkness. Holding on to hope. Facing fear. Embracing the new. Learning from the past. Growing up. Moving forward. Finding yourself. Becoming a better person. Wanting more, and – just maybe – getting it.
Oh, and it’s a blast to sing in the shower too. That counts for a lot in my book.
On we march
Till we meet the dawn
We will light our way
With our lanterns on
And that (belatedly) is a wrap on 2018.
What does the new year hold? Well, just quietly, I do have some projects in the works… but I won’t go into them now, lest I end up overcommitting like I did with the gym! But if and when I make good on those plans, you’ll know!
Until then: Here’s to another year of sunshine! ☀️☀️☀️
What were your greatest hits of 2018, musical or otherwise? What worked out for you? What didn’t? What did you discover? Let me know!