In thinking about the year just past, my first thought was that it was a boring year. Not bad as such, but I felt like I went through the whole 12 months without a satisfactory answer to the perennial question: “How have you been?” In other words, I constantly had nothing new to report. Whenever I responded that I’d been “good”, I meant it literally rather than as a polite non-answer.

2018 provided plenty of change in significant areas of my life so 2019 was certainly dull in comparison. And really in comparison to the whole previous decade of my life, which barely saw me doing the same thing for more than a year.

But I don’t want to be ungrateful. If I pause to ponder the last 12 months a little more, I’m able to find a few highlights. They may seem simple, but they have nonetheless enriched my life and I am thankful for these little things.

1. I discovered audiobooks

The first book I ever listened to was J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It was okay but a far cry from the Harry Potter series. What I actually loved most was the texture in Eddie Redmayne’s reading voice.

But then I listened to Michelle Obama read her own autobiography and THAT, my friends, was a watershed as far as mundane discoveries go. I’ve never been much into non-fiction books but hers is a great story. Plus it’s kinda cool seeing Barack Obama through his wife’s eyes.

Photo credit: Jealous Weekends.

I followed this up with Julia Baird’s excellent biography of Queen Victoria, confirming that audiobooks are indeed a pleasant way to get through non-fiction and to multitask while driving or cooking.

2. I had my first (totally unrelated to pregnancy) nesting experience

For the first time in my entire life, I lived alone – that is, I did for a couple of months before my friend Skye moved in. I’m a pretty social person with only positive sharehousing experiences. I prefer company and sometimes I actually enjoy just the fact of having another person physically in the flat.

All the same it was nice to have a place to myself for a bit. Initially setting up house (in 2018) was more tiresome than fun, but by 2019 it was all done and I found myself grateful to have a space that is furnished to my taste.

Boshy's Lounge.jpg
How many IKEA items can you spot?

3. I celebrated a third year at the same workplace

While many will say constant job-hopping is typical of the millennial generation, I have plenty of peers who have been with the same employer for five or more years with a few due for long service leave soon.

For me, three years (and two months, and counting!) is now the longest that I have ever been with a single employer, with the exception of the casual tutoring I did at the ANU while I was studying there. So it’s a big deal for me and that’s how great International Justice Mission is – just sayin’!

ijmaus team fun-ink

4. I became a gym person

This, dear readers, is a minor miracle that no prophet could have predicted! I think gyms are boring, I don’t know how to use the equipment and I don’t want to pay money to do something I don’t enjoy. But in a mighty feat of marketing, no less, I was persuaded to sign up.

Well, there were a few factors. Firstly, it was getting increasingly difficult to get out and play beach volleyball regularly. This had previously been my sole form of exercise.

Secondly (this is the marketing bit), the gym in between my 4-minute walk from the office to the train station offered me a membership at $5.45 a week. You can’t beat that for convenience and price. I had previously trained for a month at this gym ahead of my Cambodia cycling trip, then cancelled my membership but they lured me back in with a brilliant reacquisition strategy.

Thirdly, I already had professional cycling pants from that Cambodia trip.

Fourthly, I realised I could be on the exercise bike while listening to podcasts or audiobooks. As someone who is relatively poor at multitasking, this was an exciting prospect for me.

Not me … yet! Photo credit: John Arano.


It turns out this post was kind of easy, kind of fun and kind of encouraging to write.

So, how was your 2019? Maybe it was super exciting with lots of fun new things. But more likely it was really average or really hard – and whether it was the former or the latter, can I challenge you to find the hidden highlights in the humdrum or in the hard? I promise it will be a positive way to start 2020.

Header image: NordWood Themes.

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  1. My 2019 was quite different from 2018. I would probably say better. I got to Costa Rica and opened up my travel planning ideas. I managed to confirm a relationship that started at the end of 2018. I managed to ride the wave of crappy office politics and am basically unscarred.
    2020 looks even better.
    By the way, I didn’t read about your Cambodia cycling trip. Did you self organize or go with a group? I took the Exodus Thailand/Vietnam/Cambodia trip. The cycling wasn’t so great in Cambodia, but the sites were ….amazing and frightening.

    1. Thanks for your comment and for sharing about your 2019! Glad you had a positive year and are looking forward to 2020? I did Cambodia with a group and it was organised by Grasshopper Tours – it’s the only cycle trip I’ve ever done so hard for me to compare it with other cycling destinations. But yes great sites? I’ve only been briefly to Costa Rica – was part of a cruise so we didn’t see much and it was a rainy day!

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