This week is Thanksgiving in America. In Canada, it was last month. It doesn’t mean I still can’t reflect. And a lot of this reflection is happening on my Facebook feed right now (both Canadian and American!). Reflections that signify a New Year’s Eve recap really. But it got me thinking: what happened to me this year? Where did I go? What did I accomplish?
So here’s the recap:
The year started out good and bad. I was working for a fun company but on the personal front, my cousin had just died of a sudden heart attack. On New Year’s Eve. It was shocking and a reminder to be heart healthy. I was so affected by it that I got an opportunity to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation with a few others and we ended up raising over $8,000. It was another way to connect with local bloggers and be more involved in the community.
I got into the digital publishing industry and after a fateful, reflective trip to San Francisco and LA I realized that I was in the right industry but not in the right job. Friendships in the winter shifted. Friendships I never thought would shift. But it made me think about my role in the relationship, how I act and how I can be a better person. At times, I thought “Would I even be friends with me?” But true friendships, like life, do ebb and flow and this was a wake up call. I don’t think our love and respect has dissipated but maybe we have different priorities.
The trip was the exact breather I needed. I got back to myself with the trip I wanted. San Francisco was a destination on my list for years that I couldn’t afford. I kept manifesting that the trip would happen. By some twist of fate, I ended up going to a Social Media Week party alone and after signing up for a mailing list, my name was put into a draw and I won a flight to San Francisco! Ironic aside: the year before my site was hacked because I tried to win a trip to SF by soliciting Facebook “Likes.” Ick! Anywho, by the power of open jaw, I got my flight returning from LA. I explored the city a bit including Santa Monica. There I met Sheryll from The Wanderlust Project (who so generously drove me around, introduced me to all you can eat Japanese with 99 cent Sapporo and popped my visit to the Hollywood sign cherry). We were also able to meet Jade and Bob from Vagabond 3. I love meeting like minded souls. When I returned to Toronto, I came back to a bit of a smoke and mirrors situation and left the company.
Back to Square One.
I got back on the blog wagon again,eradicating my fear of the evil hack gods. My site design is another issue. It felt good to be writing and inspired with wanderlust and memories of stories I created on my explorations. There was that debt issue. There was also that enormous amounts of travel points I could redeem on the credit card. So thank you VISA for sending me to Vancouver (albeit I still had to pay $160 in tax).
TBEX 2011 marked newfound friendships, meeting old Twitter friends for the first time and being inspired by some travel writing heroes. Most notably taking a narrative writing class with Andrew Evans and Don George of National Geographic Traveler; Pam Mandel of Nerds Eye View. Vancouver was a breath of fresh air. I also got to reconnect with old friends like Corbin Fraser of I Backpack Canada and establish a stronger bond with him this time around, which led to a self-created press trip we took in the fall.
Travel writing/blogging conferences make me realize that I’m not alone; that I’m in a community filled with those who want to do better things in this world, for themselves and to do it wholeheartedly and passionately. Oh, and did I mention how Vancouver Tourism pretty much gave the bloggers a pass to the city to explore every site. Phenomenal!
Summer was another set of beginnings and endings (something to do with eclipses and Mercury in retrograde. When in doubt…). This led to another bout of regular blogging (which I had lost due to said stint) and new beginnings in the fall: back to nature in Algonquin Park; a new job; a new writing gig; and a few chances to be a leader (Fri Fotos co-hosting; more involvement with Toronto Travel Massive; hosting my own tweetups) and charity involvement with a cause I’m passionate about. It was also a chance to just have some alone time, some solitude and a massive amount of catching up on the show, How I Met Your Mother. Oh, and a chance to go to an exotic location! (Let’s hope that continues!).
Throughout it all, I have relied on the support of my friends and family and I couldn’t do it without them. The long phone calls, the harsh truths, the meaningful hugs, the loans I always pay back and the trust and encouragement they have for me. For that, I am truly thankful.