Well 2018, we've come to the end.
Sure, you may not have been everyone's favorite year. Certainly not my all time favorite in recent memory. But certainly not the worst either (we save that special spot for 2016, am I right? OOF.). And yet, here I am, getting oddly emotional about it all, because in all honesty, it was the perfect year of ups and downs. To learn, to grow, to trip and fall, to pick yourself back up, you know, all the sappy Baz Luhrmann's "Sunscreen" song worthy cliches. And damn, it feels pretty good to be on this side of it. Not because I'm happy to see it go, but more so because I'm genuinely happy I went through it (despite some of my complaining along the way).
While I normally save these end of year recaps as a brief highlight reel of my favorite photos of the year, this time around, I wanted to set up something a bit more reflective, especially considering so much of our lives have already become a glorified highlight reel on Instagram (and yours truly is not deflecting blame here, because she knows she's guilty of this too).
With that, I present to you my personal HIGHS and LOWS of 2018 and the main TAKEAWAYS I'm charging with me straight into 2019.
Traveled A LOT: At the top of my personal highs every year are the trips I've been fortunate enough to embark on because of this crazy job I have. This year, I hopped all over the place, including over the pond to London, then to Lisbon, Portugal. Went to D.C., SF, upstate New York and even Miami a handful of times (including once via a private jet), sailed on a yacht around the British Virgin Islands, escaped to the Bahamas in the middle of winter, galavanted around Paris during Paris Fashion Week, enjoyed a romantic wedding in Tuscany and the most incredible boat ride around Lake Como and roamed around the enchanted islands of the Azores. My most favorite content to create for This Time Tomorrow will always be my travel content, so I hope to be able to continue the journeys in 2019. They feed my soul!
Made new friends and collaborated just for the pure joy of it! This was a big turning point for me this year. And it's funny -- it seems so trivial in the scheme of things: making friends. But when new friends inspire and push you creatively, it's just the breath of fresh air you may have been looking for and man, I definitely was looking for it desperately. While I won't sit here and dispute the idea this industry can feel a bit siloed at times, I consider myself really fortunate to find some incredible friends and collaborators in Karen, Sai and Helena. You all loved our Oceans's 4 heist video and you can definitely expect to see more collaborations with these fabulous ladies in 2019!
Worked with some incredible brands: This year marked one of my busiest years professionally speaking, with a lot of amazing brands that I've admired and wanted to work with for years. Some notable favorites: Carolina Herrera, Dress for Success, NetJets, Bloomingdales, Shopbop, Yoox, The Outnet, Longchamp and Who What Wear. None of these partnerships would be possible without your guys' support so thank you so much for believing in me and for following along on this crazy journey!
Made a commitment to more personal longer format writing: I started 2018 with one resolution, or goal, really and that was to write more longer format essays. It was one of the things you guys requested the most when I asked what content you wanted more of in my January 2018 reader survey (I'll be sending out another one this month!), and I'm so happy with the outcome! I think it's been able to open up a lot of interesting dialogue here on This Time Tomorrow, most notable posts (to me anyway) include: what it feels like to parent a parent, my struggle with a more sustainable work and life balance, how blogging has evolved over the years since I started back in 2009, how to make friends as an adult (because it's harder than you think!), how to be more confident, my personal struggle with hormonal acne and what I've learned about dating in my 30s.
Launched a few new ventures: my newsletter + a running group: I started this year on a high note, kicking off my weekly newsletter and then later in the summer, a weekly running group here in New York, both being things I had talked about doing for quite some time now. However, as I'll go into in my lows section, it's been much harder for me to keep up with both commitments this year, which I hope to change in 2019.
My mother's hip surgery: Last January, as you all may remember I went back home to Reno, Nevada to look after my mom as she recovered from a hip replacement surgery, while also helping her pack up my childhood home so it could be market ready to sell soon. I documented how I was feeling pretty vividly in this post and I think I'm still surprised how much it took out of me. Of course, the surgery itself is pretty routine and she has since then, adjusted and recovered beautifully, which I'm incredibly thankful for, but I'd be lying if I said that process was anything but easy. Seeing a parent as helpless as that is difficult and it kills you to see them going through any pain. A lot of you wrote in to share your own stories with your parents with me, a lot of which made me cry. It was really special to me to be able to connect over a very real and inevitable struggle and it made me feel less alone. So thank you for that.
The fragility of health (mental and physical): Perhaps this is a good segue into the health category. Between my mom's surgery, a resurgence of my struggle with hormonal acne and the general act of neglecting what my body is trying to tell me, I think this year really taught me to slow down, shut the fuck up and actually listen to my body. I've gotten better at the work/life balance and I'm constantly trying to take time out to meditate, read or go for a run, instead of mindless scrolling through Instagram. I'm not perfect at it. But I'm aware of it and I'm working on it. Half the battle, right?
Spreading myself too thin: Ah, the curse of an entrepreneur -- you think you can take on everything, do everything and complete everything without anything falling through the cracks. A lot of this year was learning about delegating (and how I need to be better about taking on more help, when I know I need it). The newsletter has lapsed in recent weeks and my running group has gone by the wayside, the excuse for both being nothing more than I felt overwhelmed and constantly scrambling for more hours in the day. This year, I'm committing to a consistent 3 blog posts a week schedule (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) with the occasional post sprinkled in on a Tuesday or Thursday here and there, time permitting. I think adopting this schedule will allow me to better structure my week in a way that feels manageable, especially considering the types of photoshoots I want to conceptualize throughout the year (more on that in the takeaways section).
Loosing sight of my voice in this space: This feeling has been persistent the past few years, probably since right before I quit Google to pursue blogging full time. I've always been looking to define what my voice brings to this space that's unique from anyone else, especially considering it's a much more saturated market then when I started back in 2009. And I always come up with something a bit murky, hard to pin point really, and it's brought on a good deal of self doubt in recent months. Especially when I think about all of the other things that really interest me (politics, charity work and supporting other women) that perhaps don't get as much air time here on the blog because, well, I can't get the phrase "Stay in your lane" out of my head. Should that be stopping me? No, of course not. I just need to get out of my own way really, but I wanted to admit my own shortcoming here, because I think it's something we can all relate to.
Aspirational vs. Real: With that last point in mind, one of the biggest takeaways for me this year is this need to pick a camp: am I an aspirational blogger or a "real" blogger? It's a question that gets thrown around a lot, especially given how many different forms content creators come in this days. My biggest fundamental issue with this question is that it always seems the two options are mutually exclusive and I just don't think that needs to be the case. I personally get a lot of joy out of styling and concepting a visual story with a photographer -- to have a world, a vision or a feeling come to life somehow in front of the camera. Do I think I'm the next Grace Coddington? No, nor am I trying to be, but that doesn't take any joy away from the process. My intention with these photos isn't to make someone feel less than or envious. My intention with these photos is to hopefully inspire you to see something in a new light, a new perspective and to hopefully make you feel empowered to wear something that makes you feel like your own leading heroine. And for this reason, a big focus area of 2019 will be more conceptual shoots, with some amazing photographers I really admire and other influencers who's work and vision I think really aligns with my own. I'm excited to be making a more definitive commitment to it this year and I can't wait to share where it leads!
With regard to the real aspect, I'm making an even bigger commitment this year to more long format writing, sharing personal stories, anecdotes and hopefully advice with you all. It's really important to me that this is a shared safe space for open dialogue -- to talk about the personal failures just as much as the personal successes. Now, more than ever, I want to underscore that the highlight reel may tell one story, but we all have hard and vulnerable times too. And we shouldn't shy away from sharing those.
Stop worrying so much about things I cannot change: I know, I know. You're probably rolling your eyes at this one. Easier said than done, right? I suppose what I'm trying to focus on with this takeaway is more about how I optimize my content and for what platforms. As someone who has complained more than her fair share of times about the Instagram algorithm, I'm more than ready to STOP worrying about a social network that I'll never fully understand or be privy to how it works. It's a waste of my time, energy and the stories I'm trying to tell here on the blog. So 2019 is the year I really double up on the platforms I own from end to end: this blog and my newsletter. Of course, all my content will be syndicated to Instagram and I'll have plenty of campaigns running there as usual, but I'm going to try my best to not let the numbers control me in the way they have in recent years.
What can you expect around these blog parts? Well, for starters a new fresh look will be coming in Q1 and I am SO excited about it. I'll also be kicking off my second reader survey later this month, where I'll be running a few content series ideas by you all so I can't wait to hear your feedback.
Create more IRL moments for us: This year, I really want to meet more of you! I want to reboot my running group here in New York for starters, but I'm also looking at organizing several joint closet sales with other influencers (the proceeds of which will be going to charity), as well as a few meetups, here in New York and hopefully elsewhere. I'll be sharing initial ideas and locations in my reader survey (again, coming later this month), so if you're interested in weighing in, I'd love to hear your feedback!
Give back: After officially working with Dress for Success earlier this year after being a longtime supporter of their mission to help women gain economic independence, I've realized that I'd like to do more with this platform to inspire, lift up and empower other women. I'll hopefully be taking on more of an active role with the organization, the details of which I'll be sharing with you all very soon!
And that, ladies and one gentleman, is all I have for you. Despite my somewhat sarcastic tone at the beginning of this post, 2018 was an AMAZING year. And I'm fortunate for everything it has brought my way, including some of the hard realizations. I hope you all had an amazing year as well and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for visiting this little corner of the internet with me -- lots of exciting changes ahead and after I rid myself of today's post-NYE celebration induced headache, I'll be kicking them off with gusto.
Happy New Year, everyone!
To go to the original posts (in order of appearance): ONE // TWO // THREE // FOUR // FIVE // SIX // SEVEN // EIGHT // NINE // TEN // ELEVEN // TWELVE // THIRTEEN // FOURTEEN // FIFTEEN // SIXTEEN // SEVENTEEN // EIGHTEEN