It’s New Year’s Day as I write this 2022 goals review blog post. The gloomy, grey, and rainy exterior are a sharp contrast to the sunny optimism on the screen of my new laptop. Usually by the time I sit down to write my annual review post, I’ve already taken stock of the previous year’s events. This time is a little different. Actually, this year feels drastically different than the last few. Then again, perhaps that can be said about each passing year. Maybe it’s because I left the province and country for the first time since 2019. Maybe it was because I checked off a 5-year goal that I was convinced had no real chance of happening at this point in time. Or maybe it’s because the possibilities seem endless again.
This last year was full of energy upheavals. I lived in different places while subletting my apartment and then returned to an absolute mess that the subletter left behind. I also returned to life on the road, doubled down on well-being routines, experienced crowds of people enjoying life and buzzing off of each other “like the good ol’ days”, learned new skills, and more. 2022 was a lot. It felt like how I imagine the ground resettles after an earthquake, with energy morphing from all-consuming chaos to deafening quiet to an everyday hum. These transitions are simultaneous moments of destruction, chaos, beauty, and creation. They’re out of the ordinary and perfectly normal. That’s what 2022 was too.
At the beginning of the year, I made a conscious decision to focus on my goals with laser intent. After an amicable parting with my long-term partner in 2021, I continued to re-evaluate and re-calibrate life throughout 2022. And while this blog is not a space where I will ever share much about my personal relationships, it’s important to acknowledge because everything is connected.
Over the past 12 months I began to feel more like myself than I have in a very long time. A large part of this gradual shift was thanks to reintroducing 2 of the activities that make me feel the most alive: travel and live music. In April, I nervously boarded a plane to TravelCon in Memphis, Tennessee. Unlike many of my travel industry colleagues, I hadn’t left the province or country up to that point in the pandemic. I was curious to experience the new normal in airports while hoping like hell that I didn’t get covid in the US. Add to the nervousness a bursting excitement because I had just purchased a campervan and it’s safe to say I was absolutely buzzing. It was wild going from the airport in Toronto where family and friends weren’t allowed inside and masking was mandatory, to landing in Newark where 50% of people masked up, to arriving in Memphis where it appeared pandemics were a fictional concept. I was one of a few attendees wearing a mask that weekend, however everyone sans one was kind and understanding making the experience so much better.
In mid-May I took two more leaps, attending my first live gig in a few years. Foy Vance was brilliant, as always. The next day I hopped on a plane overseas to Ireland, over the moon that I’d be returning to my favourite island and reconnecting with friends. Though it was unplanned, I had duplicated my 2019 concert-Ireland itinerary. Three years ago I saw the same musician, at the same venue in Toronto no less, and hopped on a plane to Dublin the next morning. Maybe it’s just me, but butterflies let loose in my belly when magical happenstance like this occur. They are some of my favourite life moments.
I returned home, energized, light, and excited for the next chapter when I received an opportunity for a short-term teaching contract to close out the public board’s school year. I said yes even though it wasn’t my plan for June. The timing was perfect however, and the extra cash could be put towards the van. Why not walk through open doors, right?
The summer was a whirlwind of joy and disbelief as I acquainted myself with the van and the possibilities ahead. The shock that I could travel with relative certainty because the van shielded plans from covid chaos was balanced by the giddy excitement I felt each time I turned the key in the ignition. I relished the simple pleasure of rolling down the windows, flipping through my cd collection, cranking the tunes on full blast, and cruising down many an Ontario road over the next few months. It was so much fun to share that time and this out-of-the-ordinary lifestyle with friends and family who joined on adventures. Early on I popped my Walmart sleepover cherry and slept in stealth locations like a regular CSIS agent. I made lots of mistakes, including getting stuck in mud in the first 5 minutes of my first meetup and not securing water jugs, among others. A new blog series came to fruition when I visited at least a dozen Ontario craft cideries. With the help of new van friends, we installed a fan on the hottest day of the summer. I stayed at numerous amazing Harvest Host locations, attended a 500-rig festival in Québec, and so much more. It was heaven!!!
Not all was rosy though, as I experienced what it feels like to be blatantly unwelcome in Prince Edward County. Ironically the region is known for its tourism and hospitality sectors. Thankfully, a former colleague saved the weekend and lent a helping hand in a tough situation. Into the fall and winter I dove into van renovations and painted Betty’s interior a cozy green. The bathroom walls were torn down and my new fridge and water tank trekked across the country in a terrible snowstorm, thanks to an Instagram van friend’s kind detour. I learned how to use power tools and became more confident knowing what I needed with each subsequent jaunt to Home Depot. In October, another big goal of mine was checked off when my siblings, their partners, and I travelled to Florida. It has been a bucket list item for a long time and I hope we share many more travels together. In October I spoke at my first conference and met so many fantastic individuals over the weekend’s events. The last few days of the year ended with a CAA-towing-maintenance saga that I look forward to being resolved soon.
Phew! I don’t usually recount the year to intro these posts, but 2022 warranted the brief look-back. Thank you, if you’ve read this far! Without further ado, let’s see how 2022’s goals stacked up.
- Read 24 Books – As with previous years, I chunked this goal into 2 books per month. Unfortunately I still failed miserably this year and only read 9 books. The irony is that I love reading, but since university and then later starting a business I often feel guilty for taking time to read for leisure. Anyhow. January didn’t get off to a fabulous start because I didn’t finish reading anything. I made up for the lacklustre start and read three books in February: See You on the Internet, MotherFoclóir, and Atomic Habits. In March I finished a memoir set between Ireland and Canada called Moments of Glad Grace and in April I finished Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers. I thought I might pick things up with the summer, but from May to September the only book I completed was The Vanishing Half. The fall was a little better, with two books read in October: a novel about The Troubles in Ireland called Northern Spy and the beautifully written The Art of Stillness by the talented and kind Pico Iyer. I made it partway through 2 other books in 2022: Return: Why We Go Back to Where We Come From written by Yemeni-Canadian Kamal Al-Solaylee and the stunning Braiding Sweetgrass. I plan to finish them each in January this year and already dove back into Braiding Sweetgrass. The last book I read in 2022 was a short one that I ripped through in one December night called How to Thrive in Remote Working Environments. Honestly, I didn’t find it that great and the only satisfaction came from being able to say that I actually completed a winter read. Ouf. Not a great year for reading at all.
- Health – Last year I made an outrageous statement. I said that I’d try a “dry month” with chocolate. Hilarious! Also insane. Why would anyone do that?! Why would I even suggest that?! Yeah, I definitely dropped that thought as fast as I typed it onto the screen. We all have momentary lapses of judgement, right? Now on to the good stuff. I was pretty consistent for the first four and last three months with my fitness goals, working out several times per week. Being in one place, however temporary, has really helped with maintaining healthy habits. Carrying them on the road was tough, but I’m chalking that up to not having a shower set up yet. I will figure out how to workout while on the road in 2023…once the shower is in place. I didn’t walk or run 50km every month, or perhaps I just didn’t track it that well since I walked a lot while exploring in the summer. I was consistent with daily hydration, however my sleep patterns could still use some work.
- Live Clean – I purchased a few new necessary clothing items this year, but nothing frivolous. I haven’t gotten back into composting, what with my move-around living situation, but I definitely maintained low food waste levels and using health-friendly cleaning products.
- Visit 10 Ontario 160 Sites – I threw this one into the mix last year figuring I wouldn’t be able to do much else again with the pandemic. Gleefully, I was wrong. I traversed Ontario and Québec in the van, flew to Memphis (USA), and returned to Ireland. I did make it to a few Ontario 160 spots this year, most of which were intentional, and one which was thanks to the awful PEC encounter. There’s always a silver lining!
The first Ontario 160 location I visited in 2022 was Rockingham Church near Barry’s Bay. My sister-in-law invited me on a work trip in Bancroft and I noticed that Rockingham was only an hour away. It was a lot of adventuring with her, a fellow adventurer and a professional wedding photographer (she took the kickass cover photo for this blog post). Another unusual site I visited this past year was Sudbury. I had hoped to work with the tourism board but when things didn’t pan out, I made my own fun while passing through the city. While on the infamous girls’ trip in Prince Edward County, I was forced to leave the accommodations we booked (long story). After finding somewhere else I could sleep, I realized that I passed Camp Picton on my morning and evening route to and from where my friends were staying. I had seen the old WWII base camp on previous trips to The County, but had never driven through it. After the world’s worst hosts banished me, I made the best of the experience and explored Camp Picton’s grounds. Then, while in Toronto for a whirlwind 3-week van trip with a visiting Irish friend, we met up with another creative traveller in his backyard: the Toronto Distillery District! Having lived in Toronto twice, I’m no stranger to the delicious Distillery District, but for the sake of record keeping, I’m adding it to 2022’s list.
After a fun weekend in Wheatley Provincial Park with a few other van friends, I scooted the short distance over to Point Pelee National Park, only to realize that was a very poor planning move since it was Canada Day. Needless to say, the lineup of cars stretched forever and I decided to leave. My stellar planning skills kicked in once again while driving home from Sault Ste. Marie when I attempted a visit to Fort. St. Joseph. This time the national park was closed, barricaded road and all. Oops! The stop was far from a bust though, as I enjoyed a fabulous waterside lunch and meandered around the (larger than anticipated) island I’d heard so much about growing up.
Despite all of these near misses, there was one extremely cool Ontario 160 spot I did get to see up north for the first time: the ancient Agawa Pictographs. It’s a spiritual place for the Ojibwe people and I was fortunate to experience it without any crowds. Additionally, the hike to get there is beautiful and my uncle and I got to adventure together!
If we’re including near misses, my 2022 count is 7. If we’re getting technical, I visited 5. I’m actually pretty happy with the “result” of this goal. It was set because I didn’t anticipate travelling anywhere at all in 2022, and I ended up leaving the province and country. The Ontario 160 trips were the travel cherry on top of a wonderful 2022 sundae.
Another thing I did this year with regards to the Ontario 160 blog series was leaf through the whole book again and make note of any sites that I’d visited prior to starting the series. They include: the Kingston Penitentiary (199?), Picton’s Birdhouse City (2017 sister trip), Sandbanks Provincial Park (2017 university friends’ trip), Eugenia Arches (*2021), Port Burwell Wind Farm (*2021), Toronto’s Chinatown (2013), Toronto’s Old City Hall Gargoyles (2013), Grimsby Chautauqua (2019), and the Big Apple (2021).
This brings my total Ontario 160 unusual sites visited to 37 (29 unwritten blogs + 8 written blogs), a quarter of the total number of places to see.
- Travel Outside Ontario – YAHOOOOOOOO!!!! The elation I feel at being able to type that I travelled outside of Ontario in 2022 is REAL, folks! Not only did I make it across provincial lines to Québec, I travelled to a new state (Tennessee), and hopped across the Atlantic Ocean to Ireland. This was not a wild travel year by any stretch of the imagination, but man oh man did it feel incredible all the same.
- Write 3 Blog Posts per Month – This post is my 20th for the year. I’m not exactly hitting the mark on 36 posts, but to be honest, it’s more than I thought I wrote. That’s not saying much either. What kept me on some sort of track is the monthly vanlife expense posts I’ve began in April. They don’t require much time or any research, unlike the Ontario 160 posts which I love writing, but are quite labour-intensive. I didn’t write a single language post this year, and in conversations with a few trusted people I’m toying with reimagining the travel “and language” side of the website. Without a doubt, it was easier for me to write about travel this year. The energy was different. The possibilities in sight. I had an absolute blast learning about and meeting with the owners of the world’s smallest cinema at the beginning of the year when we were still very much in high alert mode. I felt inspired (and crazy!) enough to start a new blog series, titled the Ontario Cider Trail series. The tourism board in St. Thomas welcomed me back for a work trip exploring the Whistlestop Trail. And I returned to a couple of my favourite cities, discovering Toronto’s Liberty Village and savouring the Stratford Chocolate Trail. There’s still a lot more in my noggin to get out from these adventures. My mind and heart felt clearer and able to write and I anticipate more of that energy flying down the pipeline in 2023.
- Send 1 Newsletter per Month – I changed things up a wee bit this year, sending out 6 newsletters, 1 bonus email with all sorts of travel discounts and deals (which confusingly had more unsubscribes than anything I’ve ever sent out), and 1 email announcing the release of my online Travel Coaching course. I might move to quarterly newsletters next year to make this more manageable. Whether you are or aren’t on the list (subscribe below if you want travel updates, deals, and other great tidbits!), would you prefer a monthly email or a quarterly one? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Social Media – Partway through the year I no longer cared about the 5k follower goal. I started focusing more on being consistent with stories and creating more reels. I also started posting more to the Travel with TMc Facebook group.
- Earn Steady Monthly Income through Travel with TMc – Mission accomplished! Onwards and upwards from here. I also made money from my first affiliate partnerships which felt badass, despite the dollar amount.
- Write 5 Guest Blogs – I wrote 1 guest blog last year on Kitchener’s Best Bakeries for Eat Local Ontario. Not only was the research positively delicious, the writing process was enjoyable as well. This was another goal that I decided not to pursue partway through the year as it is no longer as important as a blogging strategy. If opportunities come up in the future, I’ll say yes, but I won’t be actively seeking them out right now.
- Create a Travel Hacking Course – Ahhhhh!!!! I did it! I really didn’t know if this, and the next goal on the list, could happen this year. I knew I was capable of designing a course. I’m a French teacher by trade which means that lesson planning, learning objectives, tests and worksheets are very much in my professional wheelhouse. I also already had the content, since it is exactly what I share with 1-on-1 travel coaching clients. It was more a matter of setting aside the time, and stressing a little less once I decided not to include a video component. The course was released in December and the sign-ups are coming in as people are once again getting excited to plan their future travels. If you want to learn to pay yourself to travel, just like I have for the past decade, then don’t wait. Use code BLOG2022 to get $20 off and sign up. I may be biased, but this course is gold! You will literally save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars from the information you learn in it.
- Start a Podcast and / or a YouTube Channel – There are a lot of moving parts for this one. I’ve been tinkering with starting both of these projects for a few years. There was, however, one massive issue blocking the way; I didn’t have a laptop strong enough to tackle video editing. My “laptop” had been more of a desktop for the better part of the past 3 years. It also took me at least a year to bite the bullet and buy a new laptop. I have resisted crossing over to the dark side for quite some time as I’ve been a PC gal forever. Well folks, in November I got a Mac. Let me tell you, I did a TON of research on what my PC options were. I asked, nay pestered, family and friends in the industry ad nauseam. Thankfully they still talk to me. I can report to you that I am typing this blog post on a Mac and am surviving. I might even be thriving since I no longer need to make sure there are receptacles everywhere I work! One of the first things I learned to smooth this transition was keyboard short codes. So far, so good. I’ve set time aside in January to start diving into Adobe Premiere Pro, since I’ve never used the program before. We’ll see where things go from there with YouTube! As for the podcast, earlier in the year I purchased a book called NPR’s Podcast Startup Guide to enter the headspace and planning phases. I’d love to run the podcast from the road, with the van as the studio, and already have a few concepts in mind. Is there anything in particular with regards to travel that you’d like to hear on a podcast?
- Build a Camper Van and Document It – Pinch me. Pinch me again! AGAIN!!! Five years, a gazillion hours watching YouTube videos, and a wild far-fetched goal later and I finally have my very own campervan. When I say I wrote this goal last year with a 3% belief it would happen, I am not exaggerating. Three might even be a stretch. Somehow the stars aligned, many times over, and Betty White (yes, she has a name), is now my trusty travel companion, vehicle, and new future home. I lived and travelled in the van this past summer for a few months and will be moving back in once renovations are done complete this spring. YAHOOOOO!!!
Did You Make a 2022 Goals Review of Your Own?
It has been a wild year. I knew it as it was happening, but writing this 2022 Goals Review really has it all sink in. Reflecting and look back on the year is one of my favourite traditions. I’m curious to know if you do anything similar. As always, thank you so much for being here and sharing the journey with me. Buckle up, friends, because 2023 is looking bright!!! A very happy, healthy, and “travelful” new year to you all!