2018 – The Closing Ceremony

On the whole 2018 has been, relatively speaking, good to us and – after the stress of 2015, 2016 and the first half of 2017 – that was a huge relief. I continued to work my day job and we think hubby has probably retired and is now doing some volunteer work. Our 20-year-old daughter finished her 2nd year at uni – she’s doing Occupational Therapy – and is working for the same charity that hubby volunteers for.

Okay, let’s wrap up the year…

What did you do that you’ve never done before

Ummm it was as always an action-packed year but not one where I pushed any decent boundaries or made myself uncomfortable in any way. While I firmly believe that discomfort is needed for personal growth, we’d had a few years in a row where things were supremely uncomfortable so 2018 felt a tad cruisey…no complaints.

Having said all that, I did a road trip through France and went glamping – both things I’ve never done before.

What was your word for the year? How did you go with that?

My word for 2018 was Heart, and other than continuing to put my heart into everything I pretty much ignored the intent behind the word – which was to be heart healthy. Let’s just say that’s still on my agenda.

What countries did you visit?

France, Belgium and the Netherlands

Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions?

Are you kidding? You’d think that I’d know better by now.


  • My pack pain is heaps – and I mean heaps – better.
  • I hit the fattest point I’ve ever been in 2018, so enough said about that one.
  • I spent the last couple of months of the year with ankle tendon issues – due at least in part to the point immediately above.


Actually, I did pretty well on this.

  • I revamped this site and launched my kitchen diaries blog
  • I kept a fairly consistent blogging schedule, although let the content slip on the astro site for most of the year
  • Visitor numbers were down on the astro site – largely as a result of no new content – but still totalled over 400,000 for the year, bringing me in at no. 2 in the Australian astrology blog list and no. 38 on the international list.
  • I’m still struggling with visitor numbers on my personal blogs although there were some improvements this year. It’s still well below where I’d like to see it.


  • I published Happy Ever After and drafted Careful What You Wish For. I Want You Back is still sitting there waiting on the completion of Careful What You Wish For and It’s In The Stars– which is about 60% there.


Our year started in Fraser Island and pretty much went from there:

  • 3 weeks in France road-tripping, including almost a week in Paris. We had an amazing time.
  • A long weekend “glamping” in the Scenic Rim in Southern Queensland
  • A 3000 km road trip through country NSW to go “camping” with my brother and his family.
  • Four trips to Sydney for work and to visit family.
  • A couple of trips to Melbourne for play
  • An unscheduled trip to Canberra for a funeral
  • A weekend in Brisbane to celebrate the release of Happy Ever After and do some Christmas shopping and exploring

Did anyone close to you give birth?


Did anyone close to you get married?


Did anyone close to you pass away?

Sadly yes. We said a final goodbye to a close friend in November.

How did you spend New Year’s Eve 2017?

In Fraser Island with friends. We had dinner and then danced and drank champagne. I managed to last until 11pm – which I was proud of.

How did you spend your birthday in 2018 and how old were you?

It was a Monday so I was at work. Oh, I was 51. We went for dinner at the Surf Club and I broke my no dessert practice for the members birthday special – a Vienetta. Yum! (For US readers it’s a vanilla ice-cream cake with cracky chocolate in the layers…)

What would you like to have more of next year that you lacked in this one?

Willpower and book sales.

Did you tick anything off your bucket list this year?

  • Road-tripping through France
  • Speaking French in France (I’m fluent in menu)
  • A cooking class in France

What dates from this year will remain etched in your memory and why?

My father’s 80th birthday at the end of October was pretty special.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Publishing Happy Ever After. I’m so flipping proud of this book.

What did you learn this year?

  • That I’m ridiculously busy, but not nearly as productive as I could be.
  • That we have enough.
  • That we are enough.
  • Self-care is an entirely different concept from self–nurturing. I’m good at the latter, not so much with the tough love aspect of the former.
  • Losing an entire salary has proved to us the importance of retirement planning.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

A head cold in August and a dodgy left ankle – tendon issues.

What was the best movie you saw all year?

The only movie I actually went to see was The Greatest Showman. I did, however, enjoy Mamma Mia 2 and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

What song was on high rotation this year?

As I was writing Happy Ever After it was Elton John’s “Something About The Way You Look Tonight” and Katie Melua’s “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today”. As I drafted Careful What You Wish For I played Mika’s “Any Other World,” Dido’s “Don’t Believe In Love” and “See You Soon.” Other than that I downloaded music by Amy Shark, Dean Lewis, She & Him, Missy Higgins, Jasmine Thompson, Agnes Obel and Vance Joy.

Where did your money go this year?

Ummmm books, music and travel.

Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or sadder?

About the same – “contented” would probably be the word I’d use. It might sound trite but every night before I go to bed I’m grateful for our house and every morning I’m grateful for where we live. We might be earning substantially less money than when we were in Sydney but I love our life so much more.

Thinner or fatter?

Fatter – by a kilo. I finished 2017 the fattest that I’d ever been and I can now safely say the same about 2018. It’s not something I’m proud of.

Richer or poorer?

Poorer – we’re down an entire income on this time last year and there was lots of fabulous travel – but richer in terms of contentment and experience.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing, exercising, marketing and selling more books.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Beating myself up for eating too much, drinking too much, not exercising enough, not being productive enough and not marketing enough to sell more books.

How did you spend Christmas 2018?

For the first time ever it was just the three of us. We started the day with a swim and some bubbles at the beach and, once home, ate lunch in spaced out courses – with swims in between. The food was great, it was put together easily, but we did miss the noise and bustle of the big family Christmas that we’re used to.

What was the best book you read?

According to Goodreads I ended up reading a total of 100 books by the end of the year and was obviously feeling very generous this year as I handed out 5 stars to 17 reads. I’m not a great critic – if I’ve really enjoyed something it will get the marks from me. As for my favourites out of this list? That’s a tad tougher, but in no specific order here is my top 5:

  • The Land Before Avocado, Richard Glover
  • Paris Is Always A Good Idea, Nicholas Barreau
  • The Man I Think I Knew, Mike Gayle
  • The Chilbury Ladies Choir, Jennifer Ryan
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

For a rundown of my reading in 2018 check out this post.

What TV shows did you watch?

The Split, 800 Words, Rake, Bodyguard, Unforgotten, The Crown, Harrow, Maigret, Pacific – In The Footsteps Of Captain Cook…and more…

Who did I miss this year?

Friends and family left back in Sydney…but not enough to even consider looking backwards. I also missed dumplings and diversity…does that count?

What kept you sane this year?

Kali, Adventure Spaniel snoring under my desk. Also, my walks along the beach with hubby followed by coffee most weekday mornings are the highlight of my working day.

What has 2019 got in store for you…so far?

  • I have a girl’s weekend in Melbourne planned with my daughter at the beginning of February.
  • In March we have a mini road-trip in NZ North Island to attend a friend’s 60th birthday/30th wedding anniversary in Wellington
  • In May we’ll celebrate 30 years together and 25 years married by revisiting Penang and Singapore
  • We’re planning to have Christmas 2019 in the UK
  • Depending on how quickly I can write – and my fabulous editor’s availability – there’ll be more novels, possibly even the Christmas one that’s crowding my head at present.

That was my year? How was yours? Any highlights? Lessons learnt?

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishWrite of the Middle, and, of course, me.




Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

23 thoughts

  1. What a rich and full year you have had, Jo! I’m inspired reading this!
    Congratulations on publishing ‘Happily Ever After.’
    Finally knowing that we have enough and are enough is a wonderful realization and colors so many other things in our lives with positivity.
    Wishing you a wonderful 2019 ahead. I will be following right along~!

  2. Thanks, Donna – it was certainly a great year in many many ways. Let’s keep the conversation going in 2019!

  3. Congratulations, Jo, on publishing ‘Happily Ever After’ while working full-time and having an action-packed 2018! It’s a great year when you feel you’re richer in terms of contentment and experience. Wishing you an amazing 2019!

    1. It’s amazing what you can do when you really want to. I’m not great at the whole sitting still thing. Wishing you a fab 2019 too!

  4. What a great summary of the year, and some terrific achievements. The books! The HUGE numbers of visitors to your astrology site! You should feel very proud. Gail (UK)

    1. Thanks Gail. It blows my mind the number of people that visit that site – yet very few of them cross over to here…go figure. It was a busy year, but also a fabulous one. Wishing you a great 2019.

  5. I live in the UK and it always seems weird to read of people spending Christmas in the sunshine! Sounds like you had a good year in 2018 – I hope 2019 is just as good, if not better!

    1. We had a fantabulous year, thanks Deb. We spent the lead-up to Christmas a few years ago in the UK & it showed us what Christmas is capable of being. Wishing you a great 2019 too…

  6. I loved reading your review, and not only due to all those lovely photos from France. What a great trip you had. My lovin life for 2018 definitely included meeting you in real life. Hopefully we can catch up again soon.

    1. Likewise…on all counts! As an aside, I’m looking forward to vicariously travelling through northern France with you again this year.

  7. What great prompts – can I borrow them this/next year? I feel like we need to debrief over coffee – what an action packed post! First, I’m so pleased that you loved The Man I Think I Know it was definitely one of my favourite reads of the year – I think he must think I am a right stalker, I keep leaving comments on his FB page, dropping unsubtle hints about book tours down under!

    I too have finished the year heavier than ever. I would like to blame it on my lack of thyroid but really it’s down to my love of cake (and dumplings) and my lack of willpower. Still, I am back on the wagon with the 5:2 diet so fingers crossed.

    I’m in awe of your astrology site – go you! I must go and check it out. I studied astrology for a bit and was all over it back in the day, that is one ball I really wish I hadn’t dropped! Personal blogging is so hard. The more I look at the numbers, the more it seems like a popularity contest and the less I enjoy it.

    Congrats too on the book – I can’t wait to read it! And congrats on your move, you’re living my dream. As I get older, I can live more with less. It’s our health that makes us wealthy and our time is worth more than money – if only it could pay the bills! Ha!

    Wishing you and yours a happy and fulfilling 2019! Hope it’s full of good things!

    1. Thanks Sammie. Steal away – I probably stole them from someone in the first place lol, but have been using this template for a few years now & it covers all the important bases for me. I’ll let you know next time I’m in Sydney town & we’ll make a real-life catch-up happen. I’m starting 5:2 next week but am having fun sourcing accidentally healthy recipes as I’ve made a commitment to my family to cut down on the baking so they don’t put on any more weight too…lol. Am reading Diana Henry’s A Change Of Appetite at the moment & am inspired.

  8. What a great recap of an amazing year! The travel, the book… Excellent prompts too!

    I love that 2019 is already full of adventures for you.

    Happy New Year!

    SSG xxx

  9. That was a lovely read Jo. Your contentment shines through! I think it’s wonderful that you can plan and do all you are. It was something that never happened for us and in general my husband’s health and money would be reasons for no travel but also for me, I had to be motivated to do that. I did travel OS once and at least I have that. I am always happy to read what’s the latest with Jo!
    Denyse x

  10. Hi Jo, I absolutely loved reading this, and you have inspired me in several areas. Your reference to self care vs. self nurturing particularly resonated. I’m a bit reverse from you I think, in that I’m pretty good at the former, but not so much the self-nurturing. I’m going to give more thought to that in 2019!

    And also your comment about being busy vs. productive – nicely put, and something I struggle with at times as well.

    Congratulations on the publishing of your novel. What an accomplishment! 👏👏👏

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