2019: The Closing Ceremony

Well hello there and a happy new year to you all. I’m back…oh what? You didn’t notice I was gone? I’ve been in England for four weeks – something I’ll tell you about progressively once I sort through the words in my journal and the hundreds thousands of photos that I’ve taken. I also need to catch up on sleep – I don’t sleep on the plane at all, so went around 48 hours on less than 2 hours dozing. Then there’s the jet lag – but don’t get me started on that!

I have to say that it was weird, surreal even, being so far away from home as what seemed like most of Australia was burning. The situation was reported extensively in England and everywhere we went people recognised our accents and asked about it. The sheer scale of the fires and the areas burned was difficult to comprehend to us, let alone attempt to explain to others. 

My sister was caught up in it in Lake Conjola on New Year’s Eve, having to physically run from what she said was a massive fireball. Her house by the lake (pictured below) was saved, but around 90 others in that tiny community were not. 

Other family members have been evacuated from their town in the NSW snowy mountains but are, thankfully, all safe and sound.

We arrived back in Australia early on Sunday morning and back home yesterday. Because we’d flown out of Sydney so we could see my family for Christmas, getting home involved a 1000 odd km drive, but it’s done and, as much as it’s fabulous to get away, it’s equally so to come home.

That aside, on the whole 2019 has been busy but, relatively speaking, good to us. I’ll reveal my word of the year for 2020 next week, for now, though, let’s wrap up 2019. Oh, before I forget, in case you missed it, I also posted a wrap on the decade that was. You’ll find it here.

What did you do that you’ve never done before?

In September I ventured into The Smashpit – it’s sort of what’s known as a “Rage Room” and it’s a lot of fun.

Finally, we spent our first Christmas in the northern hemisphere. It was so completely different from how Christmas has always been, and we loved it.

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

I chose not to have a word of the year in 2019.

Where did you travel to in 2019?

2019 was a massive year for travel with holidays in New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and the UK.

In addition to this, there were three short breaks in Melbourne, a “camping” trip to Eucumbene, a long weekend in Agnes Water and more trips to Sydney for work than I’d like to count.

Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions?

I didn’t set any in 2019. Instead, I continued to work my way through my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.

Did anyone close to you give birth?


Did anyone close to you get married?


Did anyone close to you pass away?

Sadly yes. 

In March we lost the patriarch of our family last Friday – with the passing of my uncle, my father’s oldest brother, at the grand age of 91.

He lived every single one of those 91 years in my Dad’s hometown, Tumbarumba – as had both of my grandparents before him. 

Then, just days before we left for England, my sister’s sister-in-law passed suddenly in a ridiculously random accident that left everyone who had been privileged to know her devastated.

How did you spend New Year’s Eve 2018?

In bed by 9pm. I’m such a party animal.

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

I turned 52 in 2019 and was in New Zealand for my birthday. We celebrated with lunch out before heading to NZ and spent the actual day sight-seeing in The Coromandel and travelling down to Rotorua.

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

I’m not going to say hours in the day because I’d only find something else to fill them with. What I’d really like more of in 2020 is book sales. I’d also like to have more dollars coming in the door but suspect that won’t be happening without either a) taking on more in the day job or b) selling more books!

Did you tick anything off your bucket list this year?

Christmas in the northern hemisphere. 

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

Christmas Day was pretty special. It could only have been better if we’d had snow on the day – which means, of course, that I’ll have to go back!

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Happy Ever After placing second in the RWA (Romance Writers of Australia) Ruby (Romantic Book of the Year) Awards. I’m so proud of this book.

I’ve never won anything for my work before, so I reckon I was the most excited second place getter on the night.

What did you learn this year?

  • That while I love flexibility (okay, some might call it chaos), I need routine in order to function effectively and actually achieve anything.
  • That I need to simplify my life in order to cope with what I know is coming in 2020 – workwise, at least. 
  • I need to find certainty and structure where I can – again, I suspect it’s the only way I’ll cope with what’s on my plate in 2020
  • That I have more balls than I need in the air at any one time and am deliberately allowing some to fall.
  • That I can’t do everything. (In full disclosure I might have learnt this in 2019 but that doesn’t follow that I’ll actually do anything about it.)

Did you suffer illness or injury?

Due, I think, to the number of times I was in Sydney over the winter in 2019 I had three head-colds – that’s two more than I usually get. It seemed that every time I was in town for work the office was full of sick people.

I also had the same dodgy ankle issues in 2019 – and at the same time – as I had in 2018. This seems to be linked to lymphatic drainage issues – which is why it reoccurs when the humidity starts here. I’m seeing an osteopath for this and the weight loss is helping too. 

What was the best movie you saw all year?

I didn’t go to the movies this year – nothing unusual in that, I do most of my movie watching on planes. Of the movies I saw Crazy Rich AsiansBohemian RhapsodyRocketman and Yesterday stood out.

What song was on high rotation this year?

While I listen to a lot of music, I didn’t listen to anything more than anything else this year. 

Where did your money go this year?

Travel…mostly…and books. Same, same.

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.

Thinner or fatter?

Ten kilos lighter. I started 2019 the fattest that I’d ever been and got serious about doing something about that in July. It took me six months to lose the ten kilos – a few of which I’m sure that I put back on in England…but I’m yet to stand on the scales so officially it hasn’t happened!

Richer or poorer?

Poorer – 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 spending too much, 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 2019?

In The Cotswolds in England. It was our very first cold climate Christmas and we loved every second of it. Friends from New Zealand joined us, and then some of their friends came along as well. We were a very merry bunch.

What was the best book you read?

I just happened to have prepared an entire post on that…you can find it here.

What TV shows did you watch?

I watched a lot of cooking shows (no surprises there), enjoyed Masterchef and Bake-off (both the English and Australian versions), and new series of Harrow and Agatha Raisin.

Other than that I’d need to refer back to my monthly wrap-ups to jog my memory.

Who did I miss this year?

As always, friends and family left back in Sydney…but not enough to even consider looking backwards. 

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?

Unusually for me, I have no holidays booked for 2020. This is partly because 2019 was such a travel-centric year and I need to replenish the financial coffers, but also 2020 is looking to be ridiculously busy work-wise. I take on the (voluntary) role of RWA President in mid-January and will be juggling that with my corporate day job, writing some more novels and, of course, blogging here.

So far, though, the following is in the calendar:

  • I have a girl’s weekend in Queenstown planned with my daughter at the end of March.
  • Also in March, I have a planning and strategy session on booked in as part of my new role as RWA President.
  • The RWA Presidency also means that I’ll be attending the conference in Fremantle in August. I’m planning to add on a couple of days at either end of this to catch up with Perth based friends.
  • Depending on how quickly I can write – and my fabulous editor’s availability – there’ll be more novels.

Okay, that was my year in words…how was yours? Highlights? Learnings?

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

28 thoughts

  1. Hi Jo, I followed your UK visit on Instagram and it inspired me to want to spend Christmas in the Cotswolds next year. I have already started researching cottages and assessing the family’s attitude about the idea.Thanks for sharing some amazing photos. Nice recap of a busy year.

    1. We had such a good time Suzanne. I’ll be blogging it progressively so keep your eye open for those posts. We stayed in a couple of lovely cottages & explored from there.

  2. Welcome home! I know you had a wonderful trip. This was a fun post to read. Surely you will add travel to your docket for 2020 once you catch your breath. I am hoping somehow we can go somewhere for fun this year. Of your favorite movies, we’ve seen all but Bohemian Rhapsody and I have heard such great things about it. Need to find that on Neflix.

    1. I really loved BoRhap… We had a fabulous holiday & over the next couple of months I’ll be telling you all about it! Happy new year to you.

  3. It looks like you had a fabulous 2019 here’s to a fulfilling 2020 🙂 Cotswolds are so beautiful, we housesitted in that region quite a few times, loved it. Enjoy the rest of your time in the UK.

    1. We had a fab time, thanks. Now it’s back to the day job and reality today…sigh…to save up for the next trip!

  4. If I did this at the end of each year maybe I wouldn’t feel so guilty about not keeping a daily journal. You’ve actually included quite a bit of info in a short space. I like this idea.

  5. What a busy time! It must have been horrible to watch the news about the fires from so far away. When I see it on the news (I’m in the UK) it seems hard to believe that something that ferocious and huge is happening. Let’s hope that the worst is well and truly over now.

    1. Thanks, Deb. We had that reaction everywhere – to try to explain that what had burned (at that point in time) was an area twice the size of Wales was incomprehensible to many…as indeed it should be. Thanks for dropping by and wishing you a fabulous 2020.

  6. Well Jo, you wrapped up a VERY busy year with a wonderful trip. I’m not sure how you’re going to condense down all those photos – I can’t even imagine taking that many in the first place!
    Good luck with the book sales and writing, I’ll be watching your busy 2020 unfold as I cruise through mine. I’m sharing my WOTY tomorrow and then I’m planning on allowing myself to take the year ahead at a slow and steady pace until I figure out where it’s going to take me.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

    1. Last year felt unstructured and manic, this year it will be busier but I’m hoping to put some more structure and routine behind it.

  7. I enjoyed your wrap up Jo and can relate to much of what you say! I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip and agree it’s been quite surreal being over here in the UK while the country at home was burning. I’m not looking forward to going home in some ways especially knowing our daughter has masks ready for us when we arrive in Canberra. All the best for 2020 x #mlstl

  8. Oh how wonderful to have a cold Christmas..pity it didn’t snow. My bestie went to Europe she did get snow…a smattering though. One year I would love to spend Christmas in the Northern Hemphisphere. The fires are awful and so much lost our animals and all the flora. Lets hope for rain. #MLSTL

  9. Well you did get around a lot last year! Scary for your relatives caught up in these dreadful fires. And I’m off right now to take a look at the book you mention on another post ….

  10. Well, that was a fun read, Jo. I may have to go back and answer those questions for myself. I love this as a way of reviewing the year and setting my sights on 2020. Off the top of my head, some of the highlights of 2019 for me were our family trip to Mazatlan, my daughter’s fiance was granted a K1 Visa, my mother passed away, and we bought a lot in Southern Utah, which we should start building on soon. Here’s to an inspiring, adventurous, fulfilling 2020! #MLSTL

    1. Thanks Christie. I’ve been using this format for about 4 or 5 years now and love it as a memory jogger. Wishing you a fab 2020.

  11. Hi again, Joanne. I have enjoyed following you on Instagram. I am very sorry to hear about your sister and everyone in Australia. No words to express the magnitude of all. Really fun to learn more about you and your life, Joanne. I look forward to connecting in 2020. Thank you for being you and sharing.

  12. What a wonderful year Jo and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Congratulations on so many areas in your life, especially the role of President of RWA. If you have time on the GC I would love to catch up. Best wishes to you and your family for 2020 and keep enjoying life. xx

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