What a year! 2018 was big and exciting but also intentionally less hustle, more calm for me. I entered the year with some doubts in my heart, but ended it with more confidence and a lot of joy.
The word or theme I went into the year with was “wellness”, and I fell back to that when questioning choices and deciding how to spend my time and energy. I wasn’t sure how taking a more gentle approach to my work and side quests would affect my productivity, but I think that focus allowed me to say no to less important things and pour more into bigger projects. It also saw me get healthier (in a way that works for me) just generally be more chill.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights.
Life & Wellness
I spent the first half of the year really focusing on wellness – physical and mental – as a priority. I began the year at the heaviest I’d ever been, but rather than solely losing weight I wanted to find a lifestyle that I can feel good about in the long term, starting from things I actually enjoy and going from there. I started rucking (walking/hiking with a weighted backpack), did hip hop dance classes (I was terrible but it was so much fun), tried out a few different yoga studios, and did more frequent reformer Pilates classes. I paid more attention to what I was eating and how it made me feel. I stopped planning too many side projects or forcing myself to work on something, and just rolled with what I felt interested in. I tried to remind myself that it’s okay to still be learning at work, and to stop questioning people’s genuine praise.
By the middle of the year I was feeling better than I had in a while, and as cliche as it might sound I think that’s why I was able to get pregnant – I was well and ready.
I spent the second half of the year pregnant, along with a surprising number of close friends, all due within a few months of each other. Pregnancy kind of forces you to focus on wellness, because your body is constantly changing to adapt to the life growing inside you, and the changes are not always enjoyable or predictable! I found it important to keep checking in with myself and responding to how I was feeling (mostly tired or thirsty), and it was easier to not feel selfish because it’s for the good of the baby!
We somehow won tickets to the Australian Open, and despite only having a weekend free and not exactly being huge tennis fans we decided to go to Melbourne for it. I can confirm I’m too old for the Perth to Melbourne redeye flight – I was taking micro sleeps between sets, and Jeff fell asleep during The Book of Mormon the next day. But silly and extravagant as 36 hours in Melbourne was, we had an awesome time and really did manage to pack a lot in!
Leaning in to forms of exercise that I actually like, we did quite a few walks around Perth, Albany and the Margaret River region this year. Getting our dog Jasper a tiny backpack to carry his water bowl was one of the best decisions of the year (it was $5 and never fails to get a smile from people passing by). I’d never been as far along the bottom of WA as Denmark before – despite the winter weather when we were down there, the beaches were stunning and worth a return visit.
This was the year that Jeff got into barbecuing and smoking food, so there’s been a lot of delicious meats in our diets. It actually got a bit too much for me in early pregnancy, and I’ve now struck a balance between some smoked meats and more plant-based meals. I haven’t had food cravings as such (unless you count giving in more frequently to my general desire for ice cream), but have found myself eating a lot more fruit than I do usually.
Other food highlights of 2018 include the Winter Feast dinner party continuing, Wills Domain, Wildflower, and a whole lot of ice cream.
I slowed down on the lettering a bit last year, but dabbled more in ceramics. A lot of my experiments came out awful, and I’m pretty sure I wasted more clay in failed throwing than the last time I attempted it, but I like to think this is all due to trying to push my skills further. I’ve had to take a break from pottery since it’s rough on my back even when not pregnant, but can’t wait to get back into it when I’m ready!
I did manage to run a few workshops before going on ‘maternity leave’ for a while, attended a couple of lettering workshops myself, and did some interesting lettering for the #HOMwork challenges.
A proud moment for me was finally opening an online store with my own products, including my first ever enamel pin! It did far better than I could have hoped, and I’m still considering what my next pin will be. Investing in physical products is expensive and risky, especially with relatively low quantities, so I’m glad this gamble paid off. It’s also really nice having people notice my pin and talk about how it’s a good reminder to have a little empathy. I was feeling a bit in over my head at work when I designed it, but clearly I’m not the only one!
I was struggling to find my feet in a new role and company towards the end of 2017, and the first half of 2018 continued to be tough. But things have improved thanks to my excellent teams and slowly gaining experience and confidence in user experience design. I still have bouts of imposter syndrome and worry a little about taking most of 2019 off to have a baby, but overall things are pretty good.
I also got the opportunity to go to excellent conferences like Perth Web Accessibility Camp and Design Research in Melbourne, and gave my first ever conference talk at DDD Perth. I’d had the ideas for “Sketching & How to Win at Pictionary” for some time, and it was fun sharing the intersection between my art, UX design, sketchnotes and journaling.
2019 is going to have some huge changes for me, but thanks to a restful (but still very fruitful) 2018, I’m feeling as ready as I can be. I hope you have a good one!