2018 Year In Review, Celebrating All The Highs & Learning From All The Lows

December 31, 2018

* Long post alert *

Sharing a peek into both my professional and personal highs and lows from this year as I celebrate them and learn from them. After all, I can only inspire and influence others if I share my own examples and stories, speaking about ONLY the highs (and being vague about them) does no one any good, not even me. I mean, why should you care if I went to a dozen countries, or got promoted, or partnered with some amazing brands? What's in it for you? Unless you can learn a thing or two from my stories (success and failure), feel inspired, and write your own. Otherwise, it's just me bragging about those 2431 that happened to me last year, don't you agree? 

Happy New Year’s Eve you guys! 
How the heck is it Dec 31st, 2018 already?

As always, that is typical me the last day of the year…

But this year seems to have flown by exceptionally faster, mostly for all the reasons mentioned below. 
But but but, how is it that it still feels as if it was just yesterday when our baby boy was crawling all over the place as we popped open the bubbly watching the spectacular fireworks over Space Needle? 
And today, forget walking, our baby boy is running all over the place, literally and figuratively as we wrap up the year! 
Though, with all that he has learned this year, it ought to have been at least half a dozen years between then and now, but it has only been a year, which feels more like yesterday than 365 days ago...

To sum up the year in just a few sentences, as I said in this Instagram post, ‘When a New Year rolls around everyone keeps saying 'starting the New Year with a bang' but I had a different take on it, I wanted to end the year with a bang and I am just so thrilled to say that I did exactly that (and more)’ At the same time, this has also been a year when my life has felt like its been completely off-balance, read on…


‘Year in review posts’ are one of my favorite types of posts to write (read more here, here, here and here) as I reflect upon the year and pat myself on the back for all the amazing things I have done in a year. It is also the time when I give myself a good long signature ‘Kusum stare’ (that only the hubby is privy to otherwise) and say to myself, ‘OMG woman, get your s*** together’, or ‘you couldn’t have been serious!!’, or ‘about freaking time!’, or ‘can’t believe even after all this time you are still struggling with xyz’... Well, those self-depreciating remarks go on and on as I am my own worst critic (sure, maybe there have been more downs than ups, or maybe I dwell on the downfalls a lot longer than I do on all the high points) but at the same time, I also feel proud about everything I have learned in a year, about every goal I have been able to reach, and about every bucket list item (and more) that got checked off.

To start with (in no particular order)…

2018 was a lot of impromptu or last-minute go-with-the-flow (and insanely crazy busy) kinda year. Did a lot of things we hadn’t originally planned to as we kicked off the year, a lot of things were dictated by what was happening in our lives and everything happening with others in our family too (not just the 3 of us). In the midst of all this, we did check off a lot of unplanned things of our bucket list, small and big…

It was also a year with lots of highs and lows, highs mostly professional, lows mostly personal (more below). 


Professionally, it has been my best year yet! With so much that was happening in our lives, and with so much that had been going against me, I didn’t think that my blogging career was going to reach new heights, but it did! I achieved way more than I had set out to, rather, new and unforeseen opportunities knocked on my door (and some I had to knock on), but no matter what, I made most of every.single.opportunity and it has been extremely rewarding! 

My personal favorite was working on the Pioneer Square campaign (watch the video here) - this one is too close to home, not because it was a big campaign but because of all the little details that went into the making of it, and because of all the #BehindTheScenes which made it one of the most memorable projects ever!!! 


The above photo was taken by Element Creative Co

It was also a year when I said more NO’s to collaboration opportunities and other things in general (saying NO is an extremely powerful thing) than I did in the past few years. I have always been picky in the kind of brands I partner with, but this year I took it to a whole other level. Said NO to brands (including some big ones) that were not willing to meet me halfway, brands that didn’t recognize the value an influencer brings in, brands who thought you owe them 35426 things and 9727 hrs of your time in exchange for products or for peanuts (nope, they don't pay my bills)! (Will probably talk more about it in a separate post). One thing I did was standing my ground and not giving in (especially when working with brands) or giving up and that has brought so much satisfaction all around. My time is extremely valuable to me and I will only spend it on what brings me joy! 

Traveling (this will have to be a whole other post, but this is a quick recap) - we traveled to 6 countries, 4 states in the US (and a 5th one on my own, my first Solo trip, more below), and dozens of cities all over (honestly, lost count). Took my entire family on what they described as the best traveling experience ever #ProudDaughter! All with a hyperactive toddler in our lives is an achievement in itself! So had to completely slow down on the travel front end of the year, more on that in a separate post. 



We went to India twice in one year! Now that’s a first and we hadn’t gone in 5 long years. Though we had visited India twice during our engagement/wedding, that wasn’t in the same year, but within a year. You surely need a vacation (or 2) after returning from a whirlwind of a vacation in India (ask any of your Indian friends if you don’t trust me :)). A vacation during a vacation in India with our entire family was surely another highlight! 

Plus, this was our baby’s first India trip! He was a total champ in India, went wherever we took him, did whatever we had planned (including being dressed as a girl for a photo shoot to being a naughty little Krishna), and didn’t fall sick, not once, a trooper indeed, a little over 8 weeks in India is no joke! He stayed with his grandparents all happy and cheerful and enjoyed every bit of the special attention he got when us parents went galavanting in other parts of the world. And traveling the world with our baby boy, even though challenging, is the most amazing thing ever! 

My little brother got married, and it was one-long-celebration for our whole family with one too many events for all of 2 weeks! We shopped till we dropped, ate too much food, and of course, got all decked up in Indian attire for every single occassion, which in and of itself needs a special mention, especially with our son stealing everyone’s heart (and pulling everyone’s hair in excitement)! 


Speaking of stealing hearts, our baby boy turned 1 this year (aka we survived 1 year of being parents)! He has brought Vinay and I SOOO much happiness and joy that the whole expereince is just something that we could never put in words! Becoming his mom and dad is the best thing that has ever happened to us. Nothing can ever prepare you for what a wonderful journey parenthood is - it is just so full of laughter, love, and life! We have learned so much from our son this year, he teaches us how to be parents, we adult and at the same time, we also become kids again (if you know what I mean). Vinay and I have always enjoyed the little things in life, but with our son in the picture, we cherish every moment even more than ever before! He makes every experience a million times more awesome!!! 


I didn’t ever think that being a mother would come just so naturally to me, but when I think about how I take care of our son I feel so proud of what I do as a mom (especially when I have such a challenging and demanding career). Sure, I goof up more often than not, sure there’s that mom guilt of not being able to do xyz for my baby, but when I look at the big picture I do recognize that I have been doing a good job at being his mother. 


And I am even more proud of Vinay for the kind of dad he is to our son. I feel like being a father has come even more naturally to him. I fall more and more in love with Vinay when I see him with our son and how he dotes on him, how he takes care of him, how he plays with him, how he teaches him, how he is always there for him, well, I can go on and on, but I will just say that our son is incredibly lucky to have Vinay as his dada and his role model. These 2 boys make my world go around! 


Seeing our baby boy learn sooo fast and grow everyday is our highest of highs. He can say alphabets, he can say numbers upto 22, he can point to things and say what they are (and say and do a lot lot more), and to think he is ONLY 20 months old, WOW :o (he is one very mischevious-ever-smiling-smart kid). He is also so FULL OF LOVE! He is the most active and the cutest baby ever! #proudmama ;)


Vinay and I discovered the innumerable perks of staycations this year. Read all about it here and here. Since becoming parents in 2017, Vinay and I also traveled without our baby boy for the first time this year (something that is equally important to us, will write a separate blogpost about it later). 

After all these years of being married, I went on my first solo trip this year. When? Not just when I was only married, but after becoming a mother. Read here as to why I highly recommend it to you all too, no matter your relationship status - single, engaged, married, complicated, or mother. 


This was also the year when I went on a girls only trip with my girlfriends. This warrants a sepearte blogpost, but let me just say that I had missed these girls so bad and I am so glad that this trip happened, I sooo needed this. All our girl talks (mostly positives but also some negatives) ignite such a spark in me that they keep me going (this one surely did through the end of the year). I surely hope that this becomes an annual thing just like my plans to travel solo at least once every year! 

Vinay got promoted at work this year!! It surely is a HUGE accomplishment after being in the company for such a short period of time (for the reputation his company has, very picky and only promote the best of the best of the best!). All his hard work definitely paid off (contrary to what some of you seem to think, he does have a full-time job in the tech industry, and an extremely demanding one at that hehe :)). 

And we ended the year on another high and a first for the whole family - snow sledding! Seeing our son enjoy the snow and not one-bit care about the cold just made the last day of our year extra special and so memorable... it was a perfect way to say goodbye to 2018 - a little family adventure in snow-capped Steven’s Pass, the baby Alps of PNW! 




On the low side, my relationships, social life, and health/fitness took a total backseat this year… 


As I mentioned in one of my Instagram posts back in October, ‘a little #BehindTheScenes #RealLife update, I have at least 2 dozen blogposts about 90% complete (#nokidding) - some are missing the final touches, some are waiting for photos to be taken, some need photos to be edited, and so on and so forth, and hence these posts are patiently waiting their turn to see the light of the day :o And that's just one aspect of life... Sometimes it feels like such a struggle to find the time for all the things you WANT to do in life, especially when you are a mom. Balance is really really really hard! People keep asking me how do you do it all (first of all, #DoItAll in itself is a big misconception IMHO). It probably might seem that way on the outside, but the truth is, NO, I don't do it all, in fact, I am far from it. After all, I am human too. Just know that if you are investing more time in one thing then another area of your life is undoubtedly suffering (one might choose to admit it or not, people who claim otherwise are either lying to themselves and others, or simply unaware of the reality). So don't let anyone make you feel like they are doing it all while you are unable to get through 8 hrs of a workday, their #highlights is not your #reallife. What truly matters is to be determined to make the most of every opportunity we create or seek and give it our all’.


On that note, this year has been one which has been completely off-balance for me!

For the first time in 8 years, I felt like Vinay and I barely had time for each other (which has probably made us both irritable). We have both been busy trying to keep up with life and its demands. We have not one but two babies, 1. our baby boy 2. this blog. Both are extremely demanding, and both have totally different kinds of needs, and constantly changing needs at that. Add another extremely demanding job (i.e. Vinay’s) to this picture and you have a very chaotic us. Trying to balance work, life, travels, etc has completely taken a toll on our relationship. Especially with our son being at home and not going to daycare, our time and energy is spent taking care of him and his needs, so when one of us is away working the other tends to his needs which barely gives us both any time with each other. (Again, a separate blogpost maybe). We both make a great team and partner at being parents but that took away the focus from being husband and wife first.


While we traveled soooo much this year, we didn’t make it out to the east coast, not even once this entire year. Our baby, who will be 2 years soon still hasn’t met his uncles/aunts/friends from the other side of the country. We miss our east coast friends dearly, we miss all the gatherings, we miss all the parties, we miss all the dancing, we miss all the fun times with our friends who are more like family! 

Not being able to find a good daycare for our son and having to keep him home and take care of him while also trying to work was probably the lowest of lows (and mostly the reason for the many lows this year, it was a domino effect, we just couldn't seem to catch a break after our bad experience with his first daycare. Not to forget the sickness that followed for almost 2 months, Vinay and I hadn't been that sick, ever, and our poor baby too!). While I was happy about being able to spend so much time with our son and take care of him all by myself during the day (while Vinay did the same once he got back from work) and being able to see all his first moves (without missing a single one) it also took a toll on everything else that I had to do, I was always trying to juggle between things. It always felt like I wasn’t doing justice to anything and the guilt only got worse over time. 


Aside from when we were traveling, our social life was almost abysmal this year! With either being away from home traveling or taking care of truckloads of pending work and chores and everything in between when we were back home, we barely made it to any social outings. So meeting friends, having them over, and spending time with them were far and few. 

And with us living in the burbs and away from the city now, this year I said NO to at least 95% of the events and invites I got. It doesn’t make any sense for me to leave my baby behind and travel 2+ hours to get to an event in the city fighting Seattle’s crazy traffic and parking situation to only spend an hour or 2 there. So there goes my social life on the professional and semi-professional front out the window. I barely met any of my blogger friends either. So its basically been me either traveling the world with the family or me being at home (aside from going out shopping/running errands, but again, by myself). Basically, social life was = rock bottom! 


This one I have been getting a lot of heat from Vinay for, that I have almost neglected my health and fitness this year. I won’t get into the details here, but I have just been soooo terrible at taking care of myself this year, ugh! Though I did get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but that is hardly a measure of how fit or healthy one is!!

Another one along the same lines... in general, I love to cook and bake and experiment in the kitchen (it is also such a stress buster!). But not this year, I barely had any time for baking or any of the myriad experiments in the kitchen. Just had to make do with the minimal cooking I did make the time for. Plus, the several DIY and home projects that got put on the back burner. 

And there wasn’t much hiking on the schedule either (except for when we were traveling), though Vinay and I LOVE to hike. But where was the time for it!? 

There was also another low, something that we didn’t at all expect to happen, it was scary, it was terrifying, and something that was completely out of our hands (maybe it was all for a good reason). It is way too personal to talk about, will share that with you all someday, but just not today. This also had quite an impact on the personal front.

Last but definitely not the least, I have also been largely inconsistent when it came to publishing blogposts (though I have content for at least over 100 new blog posts), and also on Instagram Stories (though I have a gazillion things to say and share and LOVE connecting with you all through stories). With this blogpost, I hit 50 posts this year, half of which have been published just in the last 3 months (I really had to kick it up several notches, but at the cost of making some sacrifices which definitely led to other lows). I feel really terrible about not getting around to writing some of the highly requested blogposts from you all (like how do you guys manage to travel so much, especially with a baby, or like the try-on, grocery hauls that you all love so much). I also feel extremely horrible and even more guilty about missing several emails, DMs, and messages on other platforms, they get buried so deep that I only get around to them when it is too late.

But 2019 will be the year to fix all the lows (and more)… 



Whoa, now that became way way longer than what I thought this blogpost was going to be (if you stuck around to read until the very end, hats off to you, and thank you for being such a huge supporter!). See, this is exactly why introspecting and reflecting on the past is great (but just don’t dwell on it), it puts things in perspective and tells you the areas you need to work on! 

On that note, let’s all do more of the same things that brought us success and not repeat the same old mistakes (but we can surely make new ones)! 

Celebrating all the highs and learning from all the lows, today, and every day! 

Here’s to an incredible 2018 and an even more spectacular 2019!

Wishing you all the best one yet, HAPPY NEW YEAR, from our family to yours!!! 


“Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”

xoxo,

Kusum

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