The Most Wonderful Blog Post of the Year

I tell ya – I look forward to this New Year’s Questionnaire almost as much as I look forward to New Year’s Eve.

I believe this is my fourth year and counting (might be fifth) and it’s going to be a heck of a time finding photos to accompany this post – considering that I’m almost officially two years behind in photo editing. That doesn’t mean I haven’t skipped ahead and snuck behind and cut corners and taken shortcuts, and somehow still edited and published photos when I wanted to, but that means there’s still a hidden bulk out there. There’s so many photos unedited and unseen. Maybe it will be a New Year’s goal to get some of those out there. I’d like to do things wholly and completely – and madly in love too.

I always welcome the new year. I’m definitely the type to cry on Christmas Night because “it’s all over.. all of it..” but the over factor is simply not true. After Christmas, we have our closest friends over as house guests. Then the kids dip their feet back into the pool of school and routine, and I do too, only to all get pulled away BACK into vacation mode only two weeks later. We’re going to Florida in mid-January so can we really complain about the impending end of holiday vacation and the -9 degree nights? I suppose we could, but not for too long. The renovations are nearly done, the flights and hotels are booked, the pineapple juice didn’t expire 7 years ago (long story), and the house guests are here, so without further ado..

Grab the questions to post yours! It makes you look at the end differently. And sure as heckfire welcome a new beginning:

1 – What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?

Guys, I MET Tim Curry. Not only that, but I looked him in the eye and said everything he had meant to me, and how much I wished for his own joy. It was MAGIC. I also attempted to work three jobs during the busy season, and I suppose it was more than an attempt. I saved more money than I had ever thought possible, I achieved blog page views that used to only be the stuff of dreams, and I learned how to diffuse arguments and tension with Cassidy in healthier ways. There were many wins.

2 – Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I think I always do to some extent. I don’t know that I ever make grand resolutions but I make small to large goals. This was the year I wanted to get super serious about blogging. Late 2016 and early 2017 were a bit of a dead zone and it freaked me out. Everything changed around March. I became more than a blogger – I became an Influencer. I worked to the bone to find success and I believe I did, but it’s hard to tell myself that. See, I work and work, then get a break and worry about not working. Totally nutty, me. In terms of exercise, eating better, and drinking more water, they’re works-in-progress.

3 – Did anyone close to you give birth?

My sister-in-law had the adorable Joey in September, and that’s three kids for my brother’s family now. My older sister gave birth in late November, and here’s Emersyn Jane waving at you:

4 – Did anyone close to you die?

Not to make light of it, but Tom Petty’s death really crushed me. And my 5th grade teacher passed away late this year. I have written about her quite a bit in my blog, and I wrote about it here. I have dreams about her as if she hasn’t gone.

5 – What countries did you visit?

Same answer as every year. One day, I’ll have an answer for this. 2017 was not the year.

6 – What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

Better balance. Like when I’m busy, I’m too busy, but when I’m not busy, I don’t enjoy it. I just worry I’ll never be busy again. So I’d like to have less catastrophizing, if possible. And I’d like to gain back all my feels. Sometimes I can’t stop – writing, crying, feeling, loving. Other times it gets stopped up like a dam. I spent the later part of 2017 not feeling all my feels. That’s uncool. I want to feel my feels. I want to dream my dreams. I’d love to have some patience too!

7 – What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory?

mm.. I like November 25th. That’s when my niece was born.

8 – What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Oh man. I already jumped the gun! I stayed sane(ish). My page views have been awesome since March, and I have saved a ton of money. I met Tim Curry!! I’ll say that every year I say that my biggest achievement has been riding a roller coaster, but in truth, it didn’t happen until 2017. I know this because once I rode two roller coasters at Disney, I realized that they felt different than all of the kiddie fair roller coasters I’d ridden. Mainly because they actually felt like something at all.

A little terrifying and a lot exhilarating. Cheers to fighting phobias!

9 – What was your biggest failure?

Clearly, balance and patience were high up there. I was a nervous mess for some of the year. Obviously that’s going to happen and that’s ok. It’s pretty much embedded in my DNA. It’s likely that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself from it. I let go of my second born, to kindergarten, but I didn’t sail through it like I thought I would. It still freaks me out a lot.

10 – Did you suffer illness or injury?

I didn’t. Unless you count mental illness, but I’m going to give it a hard pass.

11 – What was the best thing you bought?

HELP. I bought help. Virtual Assistance. Virtual Assistants. I needed people to do the work I didn’t want to do and I finally realized it was pretty darn cool to pay people to make you feel pretty great and more relaxed about your work!

I still take my own photos and write my own words, FYI.

12 – Whose behavior merited celebration?

What an odd question. The answer is all of us – fighting for our rights to party. But no, all of us looking to make the world a better place for people – and not one riddled with difficulties and obstacles. You know who you are, morons.

13 – Where did most of your money go?

Into my business, into Disney World, and mostly – into this house! Note: it’s not done. It won’t be done until later in January but we’re using the new bathroom and sleeping in the new bedroom. It feels great but isn’t home yet. We’re getting the floors done and that can’t happen unless we’re out of the house because we’re doing it on two floors. Once that’s done, we can move the bed and decorate and just have a grand old time! So right now, it’s pretty empty but it’s big and gorgeous. The “mannequin” will be Iron Man in our bedroom, but Scarlet calls him Todd. He’s fun to wake up to, don’t you think?

14 – What did you get really, really, really excited about?

We saw two moose in October! I’m pretty darn excited about most things. Breakfast. Popcorn. A good movie. Alone time. A bath. Affection. So when you factor in travel and home renovations and life dreams and Tim Curry, I’m all up in arms!

15 – What song will always remind you of 2017?

There are a few and I won’t overthink it. Only two actually came out in 2017!

16 – Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or sadder? A little of both, really. More love and more loss.
Thinner or fatter? I started the year a bit fatter (cute and huggable, really) but I’m ending it thinner.
Richer or poorer? 100% richer, despite just dumping more money than I thought possible into this house.

17 – What do you wish you’d done more of?

RELAX. Like, for real. For Gosh sake, do I even know how?

18 – What do you wish you’d done less of?

WORKING. Yelling. Seething.

19 – Did you fall in love in 2017?

Of course!

20 – How many one-night stands?

I’m still at a solid zero. There was one incident in the early 2000’s but I don’t think it qualifies.

21 – Who were your best friends?

I use that term heavily – like I’m holding a precious gem on my tongue. I have a lot of best friends. I’m not a one best friend type of girl but I think I’m pretty lucky to have the kids, husband, mom, sisters, pets, and friends I have.

John Barrowman is my friend too, didn’t you know?

22 – What thing did you do that was meaningful to others?

I think the smaller scale stuff is what carries the weight. I used to think I had to be everything to everyone, but now I think if I can change one person’s day or life, that’s the stuff. So I hope it was in giving more of myself to others.

23 – What were your favorite TV programs?

Curb Your Enthusiasm, Stranger Things, Westworld, Doctor Who, This is Us, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Good Doctor, Life in Pieces, Superstore (!! really freaking funny), and I started watching Grey’s Anatomy which is entertaining.

24 – Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I suppose I do! They’re political people, though, and not in-person people.

25 – What was the best book you read in 2017?

I’m currently reading “Take Me With You” and it’s a slow read but oh so divine. I also loved “Big Little Lies.”

26 – What was your greatest musical discovery?

More Sia. More Bruce Hornsby. More Tom Petty. And the wonders of the Hamilton soundtrack.

27 – What did you want and get?

Quite honestly, work, money, and love.

28 – What did you want but did NOT get?

Our house renovations to end in 2017! More moose.

29 – What was your favorite film of this year?

I honestly don’t know but I went on a work trip to see Bad Moms 2 with my friend Danielle, and it was hilarious.

30 – What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 37 and I was just so happy to be older than 36 – the last age my father was. The birthday was on the quieter side. Every now and then I ask for and get big, but that was 30 and 35. So maybe 40 will be something epic.

31 – What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

My gosh, is this thing still going on? I’m fading out here! I think politically, it could have been better. There were some victories for sure but it was a weird year full of uncertainties and tragic artists’ deaths and weird weather.

32 – What kept you sane?

The thought and fact that there are many people out there operating on or near my frequency.

33 – Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Even hearing Tim Curry’s voice makes my heart a-flutter! I have to admit that when I see Lin-Manual Miranda on TV, I sit up and take notice. A lot!

34 – What political issue stirred you the most?

How could anyone even choose anymore? Women’s rights. Race. Homophobia and transphobia. A million other things.

35 – Who did you miss?

I miss all of them, always. It’s like a dull roar in my ears.

36 – Who was the best new person you met this year?

I think it’s obvious that it was Tim Curry!

37 – Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.

To get to know (more) about what I want and to pay attention to what makes me happy, or doesn’t. When you get to know this more, it becomes easier to ask for help and to ask for what you want. And it becomes easier to let go.

38 – Quote Song lyric that sums up your year:

“Baby, I’m a house on fire
And I want to keep burning
I wanna keep burning”

Tell me something about YOU! Answer one of these questions or tell me your New Year’s plans.

The Most Gorgeous Thing.

This year, man. 2016. It was a year. It just started with a bang. I started 2016 with the kind of personal problems that made me lose 10 pounds. I’m not as petite I was in high school, thank god, but I don’t really have ten pounds to lose. Five? Sure. Not ten. I believe in changes and resolutions at any time, but I still welcome 2017. The year sailed on oddly after January with the kinds of national & global problems I didn’t think were possible. Have you seen this? Take two minutes and do so:

NAILED IT.

It was the year I turned the age my father had been when he passed away.

How could I discount that 2016 saw the births of my two nephews? Not in a perfectly linear fashion, of course, because Parker was born two freakin’ months early, but he’s big and beautiful and has learned how to snort, so.. that’s a gorgeous thing.

When one video isn’t enough:

This was also the year I fulfilled my greatest travel dream of all time – Alaska – and learned that fulfilling a life dream doesn’t mean the dream is ending or dying. In fact, it’s really just beginning and being born. That’s the most gorgeous thing.

..but spoilers. These are spoilers. It’s time now to do my annual end of the year survey recap! I think this is my fourth year and counting? Feel free to grab the questions and post your own answers! It makes you look at the end differently.

And sure as heckfire welcome a new beginning:

What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

I’ve totally said this before, but this time I mean it. I went on my first roller coaster! I really did! Two years ago, I said I did at this ride at Universal Studios (below photo), but jury says it’s not a real roller coaster. It certainly thrills! What do YOU think?

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I generally do, and I make more. I have my one word/resolution/goal already in mind, but I’m going to wait until we’re on the other side – next week – to share that. My one word of the year was consistency, and I think I was about 75% consistent. That 25% may irk at me, but what can you do. I worked like a dog. I worked out most of the year. I worked on personal problems probably more than ever. I fell behind, but aren’t the most gorgeous things two steps forward, but one step back?

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! Both of my sisters! That’s a big deal!

Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my Uncle Steve passed away in June. It was rather sudden and jarring. We had last seen him in February. I still can’t believe it but I’m staying with my Aunt at their house in just two weeks from now, and it will hit me hard then.

What countries did you visit?

Same answer as last year. One day, I’ll have an answer for this. 2016 was not the year.

What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

I don’t want to give away my one word/resolution/goal of 2017, but doing things with my whole heart, doing things with integrity, doing things as ME, and not doing things that don’t work at all. Gonna be some changes made. I know it.

What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory?

I keep thinking of April 26th – our anniversary – but it wasn’t a milestone one. Also, February 24th & March 10th – for THIS:

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Oh boy, this may come out in later questions and I may elaborate here and there but I was published in THIS BOOK. I also got rewarded for my work and that will come in a later question, I promise. Also, my husband wrote this a few days ago.

This is EVERYTHING:

“As I sit here voluntarily at work contemplating existence as one does I would like to take a moment to give a shout out to my wife, Tamara. In the 12 years I have known her she has loved writing and photography. In the last few years she took those loves and figured out a way to turn them into money while still keeping the love at the core of it intact (no small feat). She’s a brilliant photographer, of course. Her writing and photography resonate with people so much that companies now throw money at her to write and photograph their stuff. Somehow she does that while still retaining her Tamaraness that keeps people coming back. And she does it at such a high level that she is receiving awards for her excellence. Not to mention being consistently nominated for Facebook ads which sends her work out to hundreds of thousands of people. I’m oversimplifying it, but hey – that’s what I do.

The crux of this is that it allowed/allows her to work from home and be around our kids more. You can’t put a dollar amount on that. I am 100% certain that the reason our kids are the way they are is because they spend so much time around her. Being a mom is beyond a full time job as we all know. To do that while simultaneously growing multiple businesses to carve out the life you want – well, it’s pretty remarkable.

Any entrepreneur knows it ain’t all gumdrops and rainbows. If it were, we’d all be doing it. So, big props to all the women out there who are doing it all and then a little bit more each day to go for the brass ring. And especially to my wife who creates so much from nothing, especially the two littles who I love more than anything.”

new year

What was your biggest failure?

Last year, I wrote this: “I don’t like to dwell on failures, but I’m officially a full year behind on family photos. Not proud.” Now I’m officially more than a year behind. I think I’m 14-15 months behind. I also worked so hard and to the bone from about September until December, that I lost sight of what is most important to me – integrity, whole heartedness, honesty.

I’m going to get back to the good stuff in everything I do.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

I got a cold in the fall, I think? Also I started Pure Barre in early 2016 and worked out too much in one week. I twisted or pulled a muscle in my stomach so hard that I thought it was Appendicitis! Which is borderline hilarious. I’m an eager student.

new year

What was the best thing you bought?

Plane tickets to ALASKA!!

new year

Whose behavior merited celebration?

I’d be hard-pressed to think of someone whose behavior didn’t merit celebration, but since Scarlet is so awesome at self-congratulating, I asked her. She said it was rescuing our kitten – Juniper – in June of 2016. We love Junie.

new year

Where did most of your money go?

Oh, easy. Food, Disney World, and ALASKA! Did I mention I went there?

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

See above! Juniper, food, Disney World, ALASKA (I really went there), and also – LulaRoe leggings. Pretty much if I’m not enthusiastic about everything, that means something is wrong. What excited me the most? Possibility, time, travel, food, kisses, the first time I see a photo on my computer screen, the book I got accepted into in 2015, but it was published in 2016!

You can see it HERE.

What song will always remind you of 2016?

Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or sadder? I dunno. Both?
Thinner or fatter? I started the year much thinner but now I’m probably happily fatter.
Richer or poorer? Richer, despite Disney World and ALASKA!

What do you wish you’d done more of?

One word – relaxing! My mind, heart, and body. It’s like I don’t know how?

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Not relaxing. Eating sugar. Losing any part of myself.

Did you fall in love in 2016?

Always.

How many one-night stands?

I’m not really a one-night stand girl. I don’t think it’s in the cards.

Who were your best friends?

It’s so hard to really pinpoint that stuff. I have sisters, old friends, new friends, a husband, pets, and more. Des and Scarlet, you are up there because you tell me I’m your best friend. All the time!

What thing did you do that was meaningful to others?

I hope it’s not just one thing, but I try to be better about connecting, gifting, teaching, being taught, hugging, kissing, listening, being open, being awestruck, donating, working, laughing, crying, parenting, loving, being windswept.

What were your favorite TV programs?

I certainly love “This Is Us.” And every Christmas Hallmark movie ever. We finished “Jessica Jones”, we’re almost caught up with “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who”. I still named my son after a character in “LOST”. We’re getting swept up in “Westworld.” I laugh at “Life in Pieces” and “New Girl.” I watch “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Jane the Virgin”, among many others.

I really like Frequency!

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No one in real life. There are people on the news who fill my heart with unpleasant feelings.

What was the best book you read in 2016?

Ohh.. I don’t know. How about, THIS ONE.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

I fell in love with Sia’s music. And this one Adele song:

What did you want and get?

Disney World, Alaska, LulaRoe leggings, good loving.

What did you want but did NOT get?

More than 25 moose.

What was your favorite film of this year?

I saw several in the last few months and loved them all: Rogue One, Doctor Strange, Arrival, Sing.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 36 and wanted it quiet. I did get my free ice cream sundae from Herrell’s and saw an exquisite rainbow.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Taking more chances and relaxing more. Ultimately, what’s done is done and it’s for a reason.

What kept you sane?

Regular exercise, good breathing, inviting books, cuddles, chocolate.

(She’s winking at YOU!)

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I don’t really do that – fancy people who aren’t in front of me. I don’t usually fancy ANYONE, no matter what they look like, until they say or do something intriguing to me. That said, there’s a really cute cowboy in “Westworld.” He’s my type.

What political issue stirred you the most?

Holy cow, take your pick! It’s astonishing and scary that people can be SO DIFFERENT in their beliefs. And let it be known – if you’re comfortable with who you are, you would never try to limit, diminish or take away from someone else. Get a life!

Who did you miss?

I always miss those who have passed in my family.

Who was the best new person you met this year?

It’s always the new school families – at Des’ preschool and at Scarlet’s school.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

You really have to work to carve out your happy place in life – it’s there for you.

Quote Song lyric that sums up your year:

I think I did this one last year and the year before and the year before. What can I say? I have a type.

“You could be my luck
Even if the sky is falling down
I know that we’ll be safe and sound
We’re safe and sound


I could fill your cup
You know my river won’t evaporate
This world we still appreciate”

**So that’s the whole questionnaire, but my friend Live By Surprise added new ones this year and I might answer one or two, or all of them. I’m just going to start and see what happens. Feel free to add your own!

What awards did you win – OR were you nominated for your blogging/writing/creative efforts?

As a matter of fact, YES! So amazing to be noticed. I got second place for applying to the most campaigns in my favorite company ever! And I took first place in getting accepted for the most campaigns I applied to for part of the year.

What notable achievements did you accomplish in blogging/writing/creative in 2016?

See above.

Did you publish a book in 2016?

It wasn’t my own, which is coming, but there was THIS!

Did you expand your professional network in 2016?

I did! I went to Blogger Bash NYC and it was so awesome! I learned so much. I am SO humbled and I realize how small I am, but all you can do is keep on keeping on. And being YOU!