Looking Forward: 2015

how all of 2014 felt *
how all of 2014 felt *

For 2014, I wanted to focus on authenticity. When December was winding to a close, I was working a job that seemed to be sucking my soul out through my eyelids, and I didn’t like what it was doing to me or my life. I was bored and listless, angry and sullen, lethargic and unmotivated. I was not doing any of the things I loved because I was simply too tired to even consider doing anything besides sitting on the couch and staring at the TV. Bryan and I fought a lot because I was very unhappy, and that unhappiness seeped into every aspect of my life, most especially my home life.

By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, I knew that I had to make some changes, that the life that I was living did not look anything like the life I wanted to be living. Where was my joy and spontaneity, my creativity and travel, my quality time with the people that I love?

I wanted to focus on creating a more authentic life for myself, focusing on the things that I wanted and needed, rather than the things that people expected of me. I stayed in that job longer than I should have in large part because I knew that some people would be disappointed in my choice if I quit. And guess what? They were. But it didn’t matter. Because they were people who loved me, and when they saw how happy I was after I made that change, their disappointment disappeared.

I quit that job. I got a job that I love. I am working in a field that I love, that I find desperately, wonderfully challenging, that keeps me on my toes, happy and engaged and exhausted in a way that still allows me the time and energy to participate in the other activities that I love the best: spending quality, unangry time with Bryan; painting and drawing; writing; doing yoga; reading; traveling. My creativity has soared in the last year. With each decision that I made for myself, for all the right reasons, I have found it easier to be true to myself, easier to make tough decisions, easier to tell people what I need and why. I have accomplished more this year than I think I ever have: finishing a novel, starting a new blog, going on four different trips to six different places, downsizing to a smaller apartment, completing a half-marathon, getting married (!!). Making the decision to remove myself from a bad situation and to pursue what I actually wanted in life was an empowering decision that set off a chain reaction.

2014 has been the best year yet.

I want to carry that forward into 2015. This year, I am still going to focus on authenticity, because I think that it is an important mindset. I cast around for a while trying to figure out what my focus for the following year should be. At first, I thought creativity, then I thought connection, and then I realized that the thing that has been holding me back in both of those arenas has been my unwillingness to be vulnerable. Click. There it is.

My focus for 2015 is vulnerability, which I hope will marry nicely with my focus on authenticity, and continue the upward trajectory that I have been riding.

Goals for 2015:

  • Health and Fitness
    • beat my half-marathon time of 2:57:30
    • take a circus aerials class
    • do a 30 day yoga challenge
    • complete the New Rules of Lifting for Women workout – 6 months
    • cut out sugar completely
    • cook one healthy new recipe a week


  • Adventure
    • make it to one new country
    • purchase a camper van
    • go on three trips
    • take surf lessons


  • Creativity
    • edit NaNoWriMo 2013 and 2014 drafts
    • complete NaNoWriMo 2015
    • learn to draw people
    • take a writing class
    • learn some new painting techniques
    • start a creatives’ circle
    • complete a 365 photo project
    • write and illustrate a children’s book


  • Finance and Career
    • save $10 000
    • be debt free
    • get a second job


  • Spiritual
    • attend a meditation retreat
    • practice daily meditation


  • Friends and Family
    • host a dinner party
    • say yes to more invitations than we say no to – say yes at least once a week
    • work on healthy argument resolution
    • attend 3 sorority events


  • Personal Development
    • read 150 books
    • become conversant in a language (Spanish? French? Italian?)
    • learn how to change a tire
    • learn to drive a standard transmission vehicle
    • take piano lessons (or voice lessons?)
    • be in a play or do an improv workshop
    • complete 75% of my 101 in 1001 goal list
    • create a new 101 in 1001 goal list
    • learn a new hard skill

Do you have a watchword or theme for 2015? What are your goals?

*photo by Kaihla Tonai Photography

Looking Forward: 2015

Looking Back: 2014

In the early days of January 2013, I flew to Dublin, Ireland, alone, embarking on what was meant to be a six month journey. It ended early, but that is besides the point, which is that that trip changed my whole life. Literally.

It showed me that I am capable of making my dreams into reality.

It showed me that I am capable of dealing with crappy situations (see: hundreds of delayed flights in a foreign city, extreme homesickness, extreme sickness in a foreign country).

It showed me that I am only limited by the limits of my imagination.

It made it possible for me to have the 2014 that I did. Here are some of the highlights.


Art! #art #painting #acrylic #jessabellepaints

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I find this building so soothing to look at. #sunset #yyc #architecture #calgary

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I quit my unproductive and unright for me job! The near-crushing relief.

Challenged my idea of myself as a non-visually creative person (I don’t even know what that means now) by painting with acrylics.

Started my Canadian Military History course.

Barenaked Ladies concert – third time seeing them live, never a disappointment. Especially their mash-ups at the end, which are always incredible.

Got First Aid and CPR-C certified.


Sun on the mountains. #canmore #explorealberta #mountains #beauty #latergram #inthesun

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Time for a mountain adventure! #roadtrip #explorealberta #adventuretime

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Mountains through the bridge #explorealberta #canmore #contrast #nofilter #rawimage

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Started a new, amazing job. Learned that choosing the inconvenient option that your heart truly wants is always the best choice.

Day trip to Canmore. Our proximity to the mountains is one of the only things that I miss about our old life in Calgary.


There was a lot of baby time this week. <3 #cutest

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Playing in the waves #playalindabeach #Florida #sisters

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Waiting for #veronicamars with @bcoopphotog – been waiting a year for this moment!

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Went to the Veronica Mars movie that I helped Kickstart.

Went to Florida with my family!

Giselle the ballet.

Spent a few days in Cold Lake visiting my favorite little ones.

Started this blog.


#sunset in #yql #solarflare

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Snow run #cantstopwontstop #running

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Started volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club.

Lethbridge visit.

Finished my Canadian Military History class – ended up with a B- even though I got an A on the midterm and on my paper (whoops).

We went to the Calgary Expo again. We had a hometown adventure by staying in a hotel in downtown Calgary for the whole weekend. We won it as a prize, and it was such a fun time!

Started my superhero novel.


#everythingedmonton was so much fun! A great evening of local music, photography, and community at #yellowheadbrewery

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Wedding dress sneak peak #wedding #dress #weddingdress

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Failed horribly at the Wildrose Cleanse (good riddance).

Bought my wedding dress.

Two trips to Edmonton, including one for Cooper and O’Hara’s Everything Edmonton event. Which was kind of the impetus for our decision to move back to Edmonton.


I thought Mud Hero wasn't until August… #runordyereddeer #fromwhereistand

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See? I told you it was adorable. #tattoo #immaculateconcept #junegoals

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I've officially started! #yearbook2013 #scrapbooking #junegoals

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SO EXCITED. #thenightbeforeourstars @johngreenwritesbooks

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Made our 2013 yearbook. I used a smashbook from Michael’s and prints from Printstagram, which was a LOT more work than just getting a book printed from somewhere like Blurb or MyPublisher or Artifact Uprising, but it was also a fun experience to go through all of the photos myself and put them on the pages with my own hands. I love the end result, and am excited to get my new smashbook in the mail and get started on 2014’s yearbook.

Went to the special pre-screening presentation of The Fault in Our Stars movie. Cried buckets.

Donated blood, and then five days later got my second tattoo.

Turned 25. Whaaat? Bri came down to celebrate, but in typical us fashion, we have no photographic evidence of this happening.

Run or Dye, which was SO muddy and awful. It rained for days beforehand and the run site was basically a mud pit.

Brett & Kaelynn’s wedding, where I met my father-in-law’s side of the family for the first time. It was an absolute blast, definitely the best wedding that I have ever been to.


Bring on the adventure. #coupleselfie #jandbdoportland

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Canada Day road trip to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, spending the whole time bowled over by how incredibly beautiful it all is.

Learned how to waterski.

Did solo karaoke for the first time ever (so glad there is no longer video evidence of that!).

5  year anniversary. Road trip to Portland, Cannon Beach, and Vancouver.



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Officially a finisher (in lopsided clothing). 21.1 km in 2:57:29. #edmontonmarathon #workinonmyfitness #101in1001

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My life lately. Sigh.

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Boats. #vancouver #stanleypark

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Spent a night in Revelstoke on our way home from Vancouver.

My mom and several family members organized a sweet bridal shower for me in under 2 weeks. It was super fun.

Did not get to participate in Mud Hero because I had a super intense throat infection.

Engagement photos.

The day that I had my hair and makeup trial for the wedding, we did the VIP experience at Cavalia with my family, which was such a cool experience. We even got to go in and meet the horses afterwards! It is definitely good to be married to a professional photographer.

The day after that, I ran the Edmonton Half-Marathon, my first half-marathon. It was a CHALLENGE, oh my God, but I think it is one of the accomplishments that I am the most proud of. It was an amazing feeing to cross that finish line and see Bryan waiting there for me.

X-fest music festival, where I got to see Death Cab for Cutie and Tegan and Sara, two of my favorite bands. I have been a Death Cab fan for nearly ten years, and seeing them live was a rush. And hearing them sing I Will Follow You Into the Dark in Calgary was even better.


Packing, beer, #Buffy. Could be worse. #teamspikeforever #etownbound

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The Golden Gate Bridge is poking out of @bcoopphotog's head! #goldengatebridge #jandbdosanfran #coupleselfie

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Ready and waiting… #jandbwedding2014 #backyardwedding

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Horseback riding!! #bacheloretteparty #horsebackriding #selfie #jandbwedding2014

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Jesse and the Dandelions. #jesseandthedandelions #highhopes #zatnp

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Zack and the Non-Profits High Hopes benefit concert. A friend of mine helped to organize this event to memorialize the five students killed last April, as well as raise money for the various charities and scholarships that have been set up in their names. It was a great evening of music.

Horseback riding bachelorette party. It was really special to have all of my closest friends and my sisters all in the same place at the same time.

Got married. Say WHAT?

Honeymoon in San Francisco. The coolest place ever. I could have stayed forever and ever.

Packing packing packing. The most fun was when the power went out the night before we were moving out, and so we spent three hours cleaning by the light of our cellphones and a battery pack Bryan keeps for photography purposes. Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe the process of moving?


#weareoilcountry Awesome seats at tonight's #oilers game.

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Moved to Edmonton! It was so the right decision and in three months we have never looked back.

Run for the Cure.

Started another new job. Very challenging. Very rewarding.

ANOTHER incredibly painful and dramatic throat infection (that’s what I get for working with children). It worked its way into my lymph node and I ended up with a golfball sized lump in my left node. Super unpleasant. I have a photo but I will spare you that experience!

Started playing rec volleyball.

Oilers game – and we actually won! (such a rarity.)

Rapid Fire Theatre Theatresports – LOVE improv. Edmonton Oktoberfest Beer Festival.


When you say best friends means friends forever. #bffs #selfielove #jandbdomontreal

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#parliamenthill #snow #jandbdoottawa #ottawa #vscocam #minimalist

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Completed NaNoWriMo for the third time. I am very excited to go back and edit what I have. Which is the first time that has ever happened, so it will be interesting to see the quality of the draft that I have, haha.

Ottawa and Montreal. Saw my best friend Bri! Started listening to Serial.

Volunteered with Homes for the Holidays, which is an interesting event in which five homes are decorated for Christmas and people pay to tour them. It is run by the Edmonton Junior League and proceeds go to a different charity each year; this year’s was WIN House. We were in the vintage Christmas house! It was fun to do something as a couple to give back to other people at Christmas.

Royal Bison local artisan show.


Christmas round 3. #splitfamiliesmeanmanychristmases #christmas #christmastree #merrychristmaseve #lights

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Coulee-adventure shot. #coulees #lethbridge #yql #landscape #freedom #adventure

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Table Top Cafe evening – played Carcassonne and Betrayal at House on the Hill. We went with a couple that we are close friends with; we usually play board games at their house. But Table Top is such a great concept! Each person pays $5 and they have a selection of HUNDREDS of board games that you can play! They also have food and drinks, including beer, and you can play for as long as you want (until they close anyway). I highly recommend this place – or a place like it where you live – if you and your people like playing board games. It is a great way to try games that you haven’t played before or games that you love but don’t want to spend $100 to own (seriously, games are so expensive!).

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald concert. I did not know if I was going to enjoy this concert or not, I had never even heard of MBF before, but Bryan wanted to go, so we got tickets, and lo and behold, it was SUCH A FUN NIGHT. Fantastic music, and amazing energy. I didn’t want it to end.

Busy busy busy. Three Christmases, hours of travel (Sylvan, Lethbridge, Okotoks). That is what split families will do for you – give you hours in the car, as well as multiple meals! Not so bad. 🙂

We went to The Nutcracker ballet. I have liked ballet for a while, but I think I have decided that I like plays and the like better.

Obsessed with Scandal. Thinking intently about the new year and what I want out of life (tis the season, right?).


Going over this past year was eye-opening. I knew that a lot had happened, but I forgot just how much. How humbling to see it all laid out before me. I am overwhelmed with gratitude, and look to the next year with high hopes that it will be more of the same.

Happy New Year to all of you! I hope that you have a beautiful, safe, ecstatic night with people that you love. See you in 2015.

Looking Back: 2014