Tuesday, 1 January 2019

My 2018 in Review

I enjoy the process of looking back at year's end and using those learnings (or gaps) as part of the process how to approach the next year.  For example here is my post form 2017.

It is both a time to remember "oh ya! we did that THIS year?", and also a means to inspire ourselves to do more of the things we like, and better, and not become complacent. It also, in some years like this one, is a reminder of how short life can be and a chance to honour the passing of important people or institutions.

What Laura and I listed as important to us in 2017 has not changed this year.
  • seeing enough family
  • seeing enough friends
  • keeping work in proper context
  • ensuring we see/try enough new things: travel destinations, local activities, restaurants
  • health

2018 Overview

If 2017 was the year of travel and seeing family, then 2018 is marked (for me), by a cultural work shift. I switched sectors and specializations to become the HR and Office Manager for the city of Vancouver's bikeshare (mid-Febuary).  Laura also started in a different role (still within govt.), that was more positive in mid-April and was located downtown.

We traveled much less in 2018 but the non-travel part of our lives seemed to be less of a source of drain on our energy and came with a variety of learnings in their own right, much like travel does for us usually.

This year was also marked by the loss of a key member of our family: my uncle Jim.


I'm just following the same heading order as last year so by no means should this section coming first signify relative impact on the year.

After a year like 2017,.. I actually had very little travel bug and was happy to be BC based.  That said, I was fortunate enough to know I had a job lined up over a month in advance so took a solo trip in January to Palm Springs and L.A. 

I truly enjoyed this trip and those destinations, completely countering my previous experiences there.  I was still doing my photo project and managed to get some of my favourite shots of all time.  I think knowing that I wasn't coming back to a job hunt or just having some sort of plan was part of it.

I also, went to visit my in-laws in Windsor (I've met them but never gone there)! This was the first time and there was snow on the ground so I feel like it was the full experience.  My mother-in-law and brother-in-law took us to Toledo while there to visit one of the more amazing art galleries I've seen in North America. It was great to see where Laura grew up. 

The core of the year was spent in BC (aside from single day or overnight trips to Washington to hike, 2 with Wendie and Pete to HWY 20).  Somehow, I managed to end up doing 2 Sooke centred trips: the East Sooke Coast trail with out friends Peter and Olivia and and a cycle trip I went on over a mountain and the Sooke Hills with cycle buddies Paul and Ulrike.

Unfortunately, our well advance planned Garibaldi trip was a bust as the new booking system makes you commit so far in advance that weather is an unknown making me question trying again.  We did however still get a few good hikes in but this was not one of the better hike seasons for us for volume.

Our last and I suppose biggest trip together in 2018 was Los Angeles in November. We felt it was a gap in our travel experience given ease of access. I feel we gave it the full treatment this time and didn't leave many stones unturned.  


Windsor was a good start but unfortunately compared to a year where you are on the east coast and have months of free time, we just didn't quite feel great about the amount of time we spent with family in 2018.

My uncle Jim passed away in May and though this meant more time together, the reason was a hard one to take for all.  I really feel this was one of the things that marks this year for me.  He was an omnipresent person in my life despite us usually only seeing him a handful of times a year.  Like us, he lived in Metro Vancouver my entire life and in my own personal encyclopedia under the word "uncle" there would be a picture of him. He was the uncle I knew best, and knew first.  He was a highly principled man, and very caring.  The many stories I'd heard all of my life of him taking a stand for what is right were apparently only a fraction of what he really delivered in life on that front.  We should all take a page from his book and I know for a fact a part of him is not only in all of my cousins, but in me also.  I'm a better person for knowing him.  I feel very sad just typing this, and my thoughts go to my aunt Irene and how her life will change and how we need to make sure we see her more.

On the flipside, Laura's cousins Johnny and his wife Danielle welcomed a cute baby girl to the world! I do feel really lucky that Laura also has relatives here in Vancouver (cousin Tracie's hospitality is always fun, relaxed and so well incorporated into our family experience in this city - may her house never sell!)

My dad and his wife Patti managed to get in their travel this year but also struggle on and off with health. They get around despite it but I'm reminded of how I need to do better at ensuring I spend time with all of my extended family in 2019.  Too busy and too tired is not an excuse.


Canada day eh?
I'm not sure how to rate 2018.  We have realized that we are sort of introverts and if we aren't conscious about getting out, we get isolated and it may cost us depth in friendships with others.  This is not our intention, we love traveling, laughing, and eating with friends.  Early in the year we had a few people over to build a puzzle and some friends hosted a games night (twice).  The amount of happiness these simple events give us make us feel sort of negligent... I mean, why don't we do it more?
We had some furniture refinished this year that should allow us to host at home better so let this be a declaration of that intention!
Outdoor trips remain one of our favourite ways to connect because they lack city distractions and every step is a new shared experience.  We had some good ones with Andy and Maria, my sister and brother in law, and Peter and Olivia plus many more.  As always, we plan quite a few of these as the anchor to any satisfying year plan.


No big diets were conducted this year or gym plans but for the most part a relatively healthy run for 2018.  Sure I have a bum shoulder and got the flu but for the most part I'm just a bit "older" feeling.

Why? I think cycling to work 5 days a week possibly helps quite a bit.  I definitely didn't lose the mythical 16-20 lbs people do when they start to commute by bike daily, nor was I in the best shape of the last 5 years but I was never in bad shape.  By cycling daily, as opposed to a pattern of big hikes or bike rides less frequently, I seem to have more of a base at all times and be ready to go. It has cemented my belief that I want to always have this as part of my working life. I wrote about that journey HERE <link pending>.


The biggest game changer for sure this year.

I never felt particularly connected with the objectives of the places I have worked historically and maybe only moderately connected to the culture.  By joining the team the runs Vancouver's bikeshare, my hobbies and work life sort of merged.  Though I have taken a bit of a right turn in my career path and my earnings (I'm no longer a manager of people, projects, or IT related services), I have learned alot about myself by actually seeking out where I want to work and getting it. 

Historically I've been the odd person out with an interest in the outdoors or even having non-work interests at all! The people I now work with seem a bit more like the folks that otherwise might be a part of the kind of communities I've only circulated in on my free time (like Wanderung or the cycling community as a whole).  The people I work with now tend to gravitate towards important ideas as much as they do paycheques.  I think as a group we've made the city  a better place to live.

It isn't perfect, elsewhere I've felt I typically can contribute way more and apply my experience more effectively, but I'm happier here, and interested in the outcomes (it may be a function of my HR role or just the people dynamics and leadership in general).  I do feel I might live longer working in a place like this because I no longer dread going to work.  On many subtle levels I think I know more what I want to be doing during that 1/3 of my life regardless of where I am and enjoy that there is less unneeded stress here.  As a happier person I oddly feel less like spending money... except on things that matter (like experiences).

I embarked on zero extra "special projects" this year (so I've removed that section) which I think is symbolic. I think it may be a sign of more balance in my life as work initiatives seems a bit more like what I would have volunteered for in the past. The one possible exception this year was that I got really into the municipal election. Though not super pleased with the outcome, it could have been worse and I like to think that the hundreds of people that seemed to find my blog maybe helped?! (how they found this I do not know). I enjoyed being more aware of what is going on locally and aim to keep that up.

2019 Goals summarized:

Looking back has helped me think about how to approach this year differently.
  • see more extended family - make this a priority
  • find a way to get better pictures of Laura and I together - we suck at this
  • continue to spend less on 'stuff', but when I spend, maximize the utility or experience
  • see more friends with no specific activity at the core,.. just have people over
  • continue the trend towards going predominantly car-less and environment conscious
  • continue to find the things in my work life that satisfy me and I don't feel the need to compartmentalize into the smallest box possible
  • see where I can help the place I work on more levels, dig deeper into my experience and develop some new skills too
  • weave better mental and physical health into daily routine - like biking for groceries