Hey ’19. You’re probably too young to get the Steely Dan reference, but Happy New Year anyway!
When I was thinking about this post and what I was going to write about, I felt like I didn’t do anything in 2018. When I went through my posts and pictures and looked at what I’d accomplished – NOT TRUE. I did a lot in 2018.
Where to start? This was our only full year in Germany. I knew that it would fly by, but I really don’t think that I understood how fast that would actually be. Someone told us before we moved here that if we came home with leave on the books or money in the bank, we were doing it wrong. We’ve taken this to heart. Wes still has a lot of leave left, but we’ve spent so much money on travel. I have zero regrets about that, we knew that every extra penny we had would go to travel and it really has. We will never have this opportunity again, so we took full advantage.
We’ve been to Switzerland, Monaco and Cannes, Paris (twice), Disneyland Paris, London (twice), Slovenia, Bibione and Venice, a trip to the States to meet my new nephew, Brighton, Copenhagen, Malmo, Ireland, and Morocco. We put in some serious miles. It was amazing and we had so much fun. Some of those trips were with friends, with the kids, kid-free, and even solo. My favorites – Copenhagen, Slovenia, Ireland, and Morocco.
We found out in October that Wes was chosen to be a fellow at Tufts University in the fall. We are moving to Boston in late May/June. We are really excited about this. Wes has been toying with the idea of getting his Ph.D. for a few years and this will help him get started if he decides to do it. The downside is that it is only a one year move. We will be going through the whole PCS process again next fall. A one year move is never great, but it does set us up better for the kids and school. William will go to three high schools before it is said and done, but at least he’ll be able to do his junior and senior year at the same one. Ava will start high school with an incoming freshman class, so that helps too. We are looking for a place to live in Cambridge, Medford, Sommerville, Arlington. If you know anyone that needs a renter, let me know.
I’m really looking forward to moving back to the States. I miss my friends and family. I miss America. I miss ice and garbage disposals. I miss being in the same time zone as everyone. I miss convenience. I miss working. I miss so many things. I’ve loved our time in Germany, but now that the end is near, I’m ready to go.
I was in a serious funk for at least half of 2018.
The travel has been incredible, but day to day life hasn’t been easy for us. Yes, we took some amazing trips, but life hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. When someone asks about what is like to live here, I’ve just learned to just say that it’s great. Even when it isn’t.
It was a hard move for the kids, Wes doesn’t love his job, and I’ve been struggling too. There are lots of reasons why. Some that were completely fixable if I put forth the effort and some that were out of my hands.
A friend gave me a good analogy. When we were talking about my funk and how people dismissed me because I live in a place that people think is desirable, she said that is like how when you live in Hawaii you can’t ever complain about the weather. People think that you are an asshole. But the reality is that sunshine and warm weather every day also has its downsides.
A big reason for the funk was that I haven’t really been able to work. Dependents (you have NO IDEA how much I hate being called that) are here on a special visa and because of my SOFA status, coupled with living on base, has made it so that I could not reopen my photography business. (I could have, but the process takes a year and at that point, it wasn’t really worth the cost to do it or the paperwork.) I did continue to work with Dixie Crystals and Pinhole Press a little this year, and I absolutely love working with them. I also did some editing for wedding photographers, and that kept me busy over the summer.
I’m not sure what the future holds for me right now. We have a lot of transitions coming up in the next year or two, but I’m keeping my options open. As much as I like editing, I really prefer to be shooting myself. I miss interacting with people. I spend a lot of time alone. I also really like having money. Part of me is looking forward to the time to relax a bit and the other part of me loves being really busy. I tend to be more motivated and creative when I’m busy.
What else did I do in 2018?
I launched not one, but two new websites. I rebranded my photography website and this one too. I wasn’t planning on re-doing Baked Bree, but my hosting service closed and I had to switch companies so it seemed like a good time to do it. I did both myself, with a lot of help from Darryon of From The Daughter. I love her and could not have done any of it without her.
2018 was also the year that I fell in love with Hamilton. I saw it in London and have listened to it almost daily since. Ava has memorized 95% of it. Sister can rap.
I left my kids at home for almost a month while I went to New Jersey. It was great and weird and horrible all at the same time. I’ve never been away from them for more than 10 days and I missed them so much it was insane, but I also really had a great time. Mom guilt, man.
I edited 67 weddings and over 50,000 images. I spent a lot of time in Lightroom. With this, it means I watched an OBSCENE amount of TV. Bodyguard, Killing Eve, and Succession were really good. I also rewatched the entire series of Medium. (Wes thought this was a bad call on my part, but I love that show for some reason.)
I recommitted to this space. I realized that I really missed being here and am focusing a lot of my time on creating content that is enjoyable for both the reader and myself. I have a love/hate relationship with social media and while I know that I need to use it so others can find me, I prefer to spend my time creating content that will live here. I have decided that Pinterest and Instagram are the two places that I will focus on. (I’ll still send out updates on Twitter and Facebook, but I’m not an active user on either.)
I did not reach my goal of 30 films in 2018 (I only finished 18) but I will continue to make them because they bring me so much joy. The entire process – being there, filming, editing, and the rewatching. I catch my kids on my Vimeo channel rewatching them too.
My kids had a much better year this year. The virtual school experiment was a success. Will and Ava have both returned to regular school this year, but Will still takes two classes online. They have nice friends and seem really happy.
In August, Wes and I decided to give vegetarianism a try. He has had not great blood work for many years and he hasn’t responded well to medication. We watched Forks Over Knives on a whim and decided to try it until his next flight physical three months later. (We aren’t vegan, but have reduced our dairy a lot too.) The results were astounding. His blood tests not only came back in the low-to-normal range for the first time ever, he’s also lost 30+ pounds, lost a minute and a half on his mile time, and overall feels amazing. His doctor was floored. I will never say that we won’t eat meat again, but the results have been so good that it would be hard to go back.
All in all, 2018 was a pretty good year. 2019 is looking promising too.
2019 GOALS //
Set a budget and work towards some financial goals // We knew that these two years were going to be expensive and we were both 100% on board with spending on travel and experiences. Now that this time is winding down, it’s time to start saving again and working on paying off some things.
Skin Care // I’m almost 43 and I’ve been very blessed with good skin. I think moisturizer and good genes have really been kind to me. I’m committing to more targeted skin care and taking better care of my skin overall. I have no problem with aging, but that doesn’t mean I want to look tired and wrinkly all the time either. “I want to be old, not look old.” – Jamie B. Golden No truer words have ever been spoken. I bought everything Jamie told me to (she’s done the hard research and I trust her 100%) and if you need me, I’ll be in my bathroom doing a 10 step K-beauty regime.
Get a dog // One of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make is to not bring our dogs with us to Germany. We know with 100% certainty that it was the right decision, but our lives have not been the same. (Pip and Ty are so happy and settled with their new families. We get pictures and updates and as far as we are concerned we have two new sets of family.) To fill the void, we dog sit all the time. We love having pups with us, but it is hard to say goodbye to them too when they go home. Also, Pip and Tyler were home with me all day. It gets lonely being alone for 7 hours a day. They kept me company. The Hesters need a dog.
Quality time with friends and family // We have a lot of catching up to do when we get back. It really hasn’t been the physical distance that has made keeping in touch so hard, it has been the 6 hour time difference. We’ve missed out on a lot of things so I foresee making up for some lost time.
Eat less dairy // I eat much better than I have in a long time. For starters, we rarely ever eat out. Germany doesn’t have fast/casual as a concept (like Chipotle or Panera, quick and semi-healthy), so I cook a lot more. And we eat a lot more veg. Since becoming a non-meat eater I’ve noticed that dairy doesn’t make me feel good. I don’t want to go completely dairy free, but I am going to eat less than I do now.
Spend more time outside // I can go days without leaving my house. It is so unlike me, I used to go somewhere at least once a day, but these days I don’t. I need more fresh air. (Another reason why I really want a dog, it forces you to go for walks and go outside.)