Happy 2020! Can you believe we’ve completed another year and another decade? I recently read that Millenials and Xennials (all of us made in the ’80s kids) have lived in 4 decades, 2 millennia, and two centuries… and we’re not even 40 yet. That’s wild!
2019 was also pretty wild. It wasn’t until I sat down and started really reflecting on 2019 that I realized how incredible this year has been.
Writing this post and choosing just a few things to share in each category was such a challenge. There were some lows this year, but there were also so many highs, and choosing which were the best was a great problem to have.
The Best of 2019
This one is tough for me because although I didn’t leave the country or even the coast, we took a handful of trips this year: we went wine tasting in Paso Robles in January, and in March I took my second Spring Training trip. In April we went to Colorado, May took us to Las Vegas, and June brought us to Santa Barbara to see Incubus and stay at our friend’s beach house (which I had been hearing stories about for years). I also went to San Diego for Chris’ sister’s bachelorette party in June, and in October we went to Mammoth for her wedding. We made a handful of trips to my hometown, San Jose, where I met my best friend’s baby, shot my sister’s engagement photos, and we visited some of our favorite places to eat and discovered some new ones. Each trip was so fun and filled with memories and people I love, but overall, my top three trips were to Colorado, Paso Robles, and Las Vegas.
Our first trip of the year was wine tasting in Paso Robles. Chris had never been proper wine tasting before, and I had never been to Paso Robles, so we went with a small group of friends. Friends of ours live in San Luis Obispo, so we stayed in their gorgeous guest suite (which is now available on Airbnb) and went to a number of wineries (I enjoyed myself far too much to take note of all the names… whoops!). The weather was gorgeous, the food and wine delicious, the company unbeatable. Paso Robles found a special place in my heart that weekend.
Colorado was a wild and chilly weekend with one of my best friends. We went to a Rockies game, and I tried Rocky Mountain Oysters for the first time (I don’t recommend, by the way). We went to the Denver Biscuit Company (which, on the other hand, I highly recommend), to an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema showing of the ’80s cult classic movie Clue, and visited as many breweries as we could in such a short weekend. It was an exhausting weekend in the best way possible, and I am 100% ready to go back.
Our trip to Las Vegas is one I kept meaning to write about, but I never got to it for some reason. I don’t know why not because it was such a fun and memorable trip, that I can’t possibly do it justice in this short recap. Some of the highlights were the incredible food and drinks we had at Catch, The Chandelier Lounge, and of course dessert at Milk Bar. We also saw the most incredible tribute artists perform at Legends in Concert, but the star of the show for me was my friend, the incredibly talented Tierney Allen, also known as “Vegas Lady Gaga.” This show is a must-see in my opinion. I also learned how to gamble on this trip. Chris and I sat at a Blackjack table for HOURS and I ended up winning a few hundred dollars. We both agreed that this trip was one of the highlights of our year.
I started the year listening (I read it with my ears, so I feel this counts) to Michelle Obama’s Becoming on Audible, and I loved it. It was so heartfelt and captivating and made me appreciate her strength, determination, and poise in a new light. I couldn’t stop recommending this to anyone and everyone.
Another book I loved this year was Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. I know this is not a new book, in fact I bought it a year or two ago, but it was one of the best books I read this year and is another book that I think everyone should read. Shonda talks about anxiety, body image struggles, motherhood, work-life balance, and financial burdens, and how altering her perspective completely changed her life. This is a self-help book disguised as a humorous and humble memoir, and I loved it.
I never read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, but when I heard her describing her newest novel on a podcast, I knew I needed to buy it immediately. I preordered City of Girls and, once it arrived, I couldn’t put it down. The story is the autobiography of a fictional woman from a small town who moves to New York after failing at the only two things women in the ’40s were expected to do: get an education and a husband. It’s a fun story about the expectations placed on women, love, lust, humiliation, and blazing your own trail.
For the second year in a row, Armchair Expert is my favorite podcast. Dax and Monica have the best guests and I learn so much from them. The show is entertaining and smart and funny. It’s definitely NSFW, but I rarely miss an episode, even if I’ve never heard of the guest before. There isn’t a single episode I haven’t enjoyed, laughed out loud at, and learned something from.
2019 was the year of Sarah Nicole Landry. I don’t know where she was before, but I’m so glad I found her this year, and I’ve loved seeing her become so much more known and successful. This mama is all about body positivity, and really just positivity and overcoming in all regards. I love her interviews, and I’ve loved listening to The Papaya Podcast has develope and grow over the last year. Whoever you are, you need some Sarah in your life.
I was introduced to the Fab 5 via Netflix this year, and I’ll admit, I didn’t immediately love JVN. I grew to appreciate and love him over time and ended up reading his book this year. I also discovered Getting Curious, another fun and informative podcast that I love. Chris and I binged 5 hours of the show on a road trip and we had to keep pausing to discuss. JVN is one seriously intelligent and captivating host, and I love learning and laughing with him.
Best Blogging Moments
This was the best year for my blog, and I’m very proud of that. It was the year I finally broke 1000 followers on Instagram, did my first giveaway, and partnered with other companies, big and small, to grow. I became a brand rep and ambassador, even if only seasonally, for one of my favorite candle companies, was accepted to both LiketoKnow.it and Amazon’s influencer programs, became an ongoing brand ambassador for Park Lane Press, and had my photos featured on other small businesses’ Instagram and Facebook feeds and stories. I was also able to add a Discounts + Referrals page to my website in order to share all the various brands and companies I am an affiliate with.
On top of these exciting developments, I had a much higher readership this year, truly the reason I do it all. My top three posts this year were posts that I was particularly proud of. My most-read post was Life After Loss — Fie Years After Losing My Mom. I cannot tell you how much it means to me that this is the post that the most people read and responded to.
My second most-read post was one that I had a lot of fun with and even posted a video of on my IGTV: My Nightly Skincare Routine. I’ve updated this one a couple times and will continue to do so as the products I use change, and it makes me so happy to know that something I care about and put a lot of thought into is something that people are reading and hopefully using!
Lastly, my 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: 80 Gift Ideas under $50 was a close third place. I’m so glad this one got so many views. It was a ton of work, but I LOVED working on this post. I also loved that so many of you gave me feedback on Instagram, sharing with me who you needed help shopping for and telling me what ideas you absolutely loved. Seeing people enjoying the things I share means so much to me, and I love making your lives easier with what I write and recommend.
Thank you so much for making 2019 my best blogging year, and I can’t wait to see what you inspire me to do in 2020!
My Top 9
Some of my favorite moments were some of yours as well! My Loaded Brownies made the cut, a throwback to my college graduation photos, and you all apparently really like me in blue (peep the bottom row).
2019 was a good year for my personal life.
I got more serious about my photography and, although I’m still learning how to properly use it, I bought a new Canon and am hoping to invest in a nicer lens this year. I shot my sister’s engagement photos and have been taking my food photography more seriously. I also invested in Adobe Creative Cloud (students and teachers, you get a discount!) and have been developing my own presets and refining my editing skills.
In addition to our numerous trips, Chris and I decided to embark on our next big journey together: sharing a home. Moving in together was truly the highlight of my year. We definitely had some growing pains and had to make some adjustments in making this change, and we’re still learning how to live together and communicate well, but I think that’s an everlasting learning opportunity all couples face, and I wouldn’t want to learn and grow like this with anyone other than him.
Goals for 2020
First, let’s take a look at how I did on my goals and intentions from last year… I’ll save you some reading — I didn’t do too hot. B that’s okay. Life is a process of growth and development, so I guess I just have a lot more growth and development to look forward to this year 🤪
I set goals to lower my debt in 2019, and I did… until we moved. I don’t get paid in August because of my teacher’s pay schedule. I failed to plan well for this incomeless month, and between the moving expenses and a month of no income, I reversed my progress.
2019 was also the year I was going to reestablish my workout routine and eat better. Before moving to LA I worked out far more often. I didn’t get too far on this goal. I joined a new gym and got a trainer, but the experience wasn’t too great. It made me feel worse about my body than I had in a long time. I gained weight. I quit working out altogether. My body confidence plummetted and my anxiety rose.
2020 is going to be the year I feel confident in my body again. I am currently in the process of coming up with a workout plan and a meal plan that doesn’t restrict me or make me feel like I am being punished. I’ll post updates about this throughout the year.
This is also the year I plan to reduce my debt… for real. Chris is having surgery on his meniscus and ACL this month, so I’m going to have to be more careful about my spending. (It also means we won’t be going out very much for a little while because he won’t feel up to it, which will actually help with the whole not spending in excess thing.)
I am also going to dedicate more time to my passions this year. In 2019, I took a big step in my desire to revisit photography and bought a camera. I plan to spend more time learning how to use it better and refining my editing skills. I’m hoping to have some presets to sell sometime this year as well! I am also taking my writing more seriously, both for Keeping Karissa and in general (I’d like to write a novel at some point). A friend and I agreed to take a writing class over the summer, and I’m really excited to be a part of a writing community in person and have some sense of accountability and growth.
Manage my anxiety. This is a tough one for me. I used to have crippling anxiety, but for the last few years, I’ve had fewer episodes. Recently, my anxiety has been pretty bad. I attribute it to the comparison game, an increase in flareups of my chronic back and neck pain, a lack of close in-person friends (my best friends are so far away since I’ve moved, and with my job and the erratics schedules of so many of my new friends, I haven’t really made a close-knit group I see and talk to regularly like I did in San Jose), money concerns, body image concerns, and work concerns (we’ve had a lockdown, a student take his own life, and difficult-to-integrate curriculum changes on top of the usual publish school teacher challenges), the last month or two have been rough. I’m hoping that a mindset shift and taking control of my physical health will help me control my anxiety again.
This will be the year of 5,000 views and new collaborations. I love blogging. I get to write and recommend and photograph and edit… it’s all the things I love. This year, I want to collaborate with more brands and reach 5,000 page views (modest, I know, but still above my current page count and a number I hope to surpass this year).
Thank you all so much for being a part of my adventure. I look forward to sharing another great year with you!
Interested in reading more 2019 Recaps or have one of your own to share? Helene at heleneinbetween is hosting her annual Year-End Link Up, a great way to connect with other readers and writers. Come join us!