Geopolitically 2017 was annus horribilis, but for me personally it was the best year of my life.
This year I finally got British citizenship, allowing me to visit the US without a visa. To celebrate, my partner and I spent nine days road-tripping in California during the summer.
People always say that travelling changes you, but I assumed it was a bit of a cliché. I’ve travelled a fair bit around the UK and various European cities, where I definitely experienced novelty and learned stuff, but to say I was changed would be a bit of an exaggeration. But when I came back from California I was a different person.
There was something so unexpected and surprising about the vastness of the land, the distances between populated areas, and the sheer scale of things that was unlike anything I’d seen before. Even the brightness of the sun and the saturation of colours were unlike the physical sensations I’ve experienced elsewhere. The relentless novelty of seeing different kinds of environment, from snow-topped granite mountains, gigantic trees, pristine lakes and meadows, to grassy desert, sandy salt lakes, volcanic canyons, lush pacific coastline and cities each with their own character was breathtaking.
I fell in love with California, but especially Yosemite Park, Death Valley and San Francisco. And with the food, obviously. California is a vegan paradise.
Dan and I decided to shut down our company in September. The balance of the day-to-day tasks of running a business versus doing “the work” wasn’t quite right. At some point having total freedom no longer made up for the boring bits needed to sustain it.
Shortly after that I joined Projects by IF as a Developer / Designer. It’s a real privilege to work with everyone at IF and learn from them every day.
The list of books I read this year is currently at thirty two, which is not bad. There are at least seven books I started reading and haven’t finished yet, so by the time the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve I might bring that number up.
I learned one thing this year, which is never to read a book just because I once decided I should, and always read on a whim. It’s just more fun that way. I let myself read only what excited me in the moment and those ended up being my favourite books this year.
I attended a sewing class with my cool friend Alice, where I made a pair of trousers and a denim jacket. It gave me a lot of confidence, mostly because I realised there isn’t some kind of trick I was missing as a self-taught sewist.
Alice and I carried on meeting to sew together, and it was the coolest exclusive club in the whole of London. We worked on a gift for someone we know. Alice taught me a lot about discipline and paying attention to detail.
As a present for my birthday I bought myself a ticket to a two-day jeans-making workshop at Blackhorse Lane Ateliers. It was brilliant — I made a great pair of jeans and learned a lot about premium construction.
I made my first quilt this year, and was surprised how fun it was, given that the process was a bit more repetitive than making a garment.
My knitting projects progressed extremely slowly, and I hardly finished any of them. It’s really satisfying to complete a project, but hobbies aren’t about productivity, so I don’t feel bad about not having made lots of things. For the same reason I stopped beating myself up over all the cool programming projects I started and didn’t finish. I will finish them if I feel like it and I won’t if I don’t. Ditto for my zines.
I cooked a lot of good meals, especially since the squash season started again. I feel like I am really cashing in on the effort I put into learning to cook in the last couple of years.
Nintendo Switch is honestly the best console I ever had access to. I love that I can play Zelda on a big screen but also on the built-in screen on a long-haul flight.
My favourite games were:
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Mario Odyssey
- Uncharted 4
I clocked up well over 200 hours playing Zelda, and I haven’t even finished yet.
I started this year already fit and pretty strong, so I was able to push myself more. A friend introduced me to high intensity interval training. The first session was tough, but once I did it two weeks in a row I developed so much strength I got hooked.
Needless to say cycling and running become much, much easier once you have more muscular strength. My bike commute has gotten much easier since I redoubled my gym efforts in the autumn. I installed new bars and pink bar tape on my single speed and rediscovered the joy of riding without gears since September.
I didn’t need any physiotherapy this year, so my approach of investing in posture-related problem prevention is paying off.
I also started looking after my mental and emotional wellbeing more purposefully. I used to think that being healthy, both physically and mentally, was just something that happened to you if you were lucky. Now I understand that both take deliberate and never-ending work (in addition to luck) to bring them about. That might have been the most useful realisation this year.
Next year I want to:
- do another road trip in the US
- eat more vegan waffles
- maybe learn to drive? Definitely a stretch goal.