Annual Review: What Happened in 2014

Welcome to the first post in my Annual Review. I’m going to be honest, this series, though I’m sure entertaining for some of you, is primarily written for me. I’m finding this blog is the best journal I’ve got, so this is going to be personal (though we all know, I get personal around here all the time).

I can’t believe this year is already ending. Seriously, it feels like I just had the 2014 new year party a couple weeks ago or something. But it is December, and this time, for the first time, I’ve got a lot to share.

Let’s start with a quick recount of some major events that happened this year.

Got a new Macbook Pro, and I love it.

One night while watching Sex and the City, I decided to text my best friend and ask her if she wanted to start a business together. She said yes.

Had my blog featured on another website for the first time.

Signed my second ever apartment lease.

Packed up all the things that mattered to me and moved from Edmonton to Calgary on July 15.

Made the best ever fried chicken with dad.

Had a melt down.

Launched PHOENIX|D.

Had my first blog post syndicated on another blog.

Contributed my first public piece to the dev community: a Brackets Theme.

Started blogging regularly and am on track to publish more than 90 blog posts that amount to more than 53 000 words this year.

Was a mentor for the national Girls Learning Code event and another Girls Learning Code workshop.

Went on an amazing family vacation to Florida (check out the highlights here)!

There’s some really good stuff up there. There are plenty of times I feel I’m not doing enough, not working hard enough, and not leading an interesting life. Although I still feel that way a bit and want to work to change that, I can acknowledge that I haven’t been entirely lazy or uninteresting. I’ve created good things, written words that have touched people, and ventured into new territories.


Those were the quick highlights of the year. Now l want to delve into my ‘life categories’ and see how stuff went down.

I ended a not-so-great relationship, and this change has genuinely worked wonders on my emotional and mental state. I’ve also come away with a much clearer understanding of what sort of partner I need and want, what is okay in a relationship, and what isn’t.

I started to reconnect with my family on levels I’ve never done before, especially with my brother, and this has been the dearest change to me. I developed but also overcame some social anxiety after my move to Calgary. I’m starting to make friends in this town, this is good. 🙂

Sometimes I forget just how important relationships are in life. We tend to focus more on tangible things like a career and money and other stuff that makes you ‘successful’. People like to say what’s the point of success if you don’t have anyone to share it with, and I think that still puts relationships on the side lines. Relationships are extremely important. There is no life without relationships. You can have a life without work or money or service or personal development or travel or anything else. But you can’t have a life without relationships.

Launched a business. This has been exciting and scary. We are currently working with 3 clients, and slowly but steadily growing.

Aside from PHOENIX|D, I’ve also done a much better job of blogging. I haven’t been wholly consistent, but have been getting more and more consistent. I’ve started to figure out what I really like and no longer worry that I’ll run out of things to write about or that people will think I’m an idiot when they read the blog. The traffic increases, being featured on a couple of websites, being approached for a few sponsorships (although none were a good fit and I politely declined) has been hugely gratifying and validating. I would write this blog even if 0 people read it, but let’s face it, I blog to be read, so it’s been nice!

Personal Development
This is a hard category to talk about this year. Because I didn’t set any goals in this area for 2014, except to code more. Which I most certainly did. Most of the learning I’ve done has been related to business.

Well. This area has been weird. I still look in the mirror and wonder who is staring back at me. I look at photos of myself and I cringe. I haven’t really talked about this much. But after that surgery I had in 2013, some medicine they gave me while I was under caused me to gain a lot of weight in a very short amount of time. I stayed in denial and refused to do anything about it for almost a year and a half; hoping it would go away the same way it appeared, on its own. It didn’t. And I finally accepted it.

No, I didn’t eat a crazy shit ton and sit on a chair and gain the weight because of my own doing. But it’s here. It’s hurting me. It’s making me unable to do things I love. It’s making me hate looking in the mirror. So I’ve started to slowly do things and they have made a difference. Steps I’ve taken is buying and using a Fitbit, being more conscious of my diet, etc. But this is something I’m still learning to do. I’ve never tried to lose weight before.

A terrible year, financially. I spent nearly as much as I made, which has amounted to no additions to savings. I’ve definitely dipped into my savings a lot, which means overall, I’m not in a great place financially. However, I did give to charity a fair amount this year, so there is a bright point in the category.

Working with Chic Geek here in Calgary is the first thing that pops into my mind. I’m also volunteering as an on-call developer with a Muslim start-up, Coming of Faith. But obviously, this area needs a lot of work too.

My word for the year was rise, and as I’ve mentioned before, it has been a great word for me, and I’ve certainly risen to many occasions in the past year.

It’s been a hard year.

I’ve had bouts of intense depression and spent the first half of the year battling major anxiety attacks (we’re talking full-out blinded, fainting, can’t speak, the works). The second half of the year went better. I no longer have anxiety attacks; the last time I had one was in July. I’m happier. I feel much stronger.

I have cried a lot. I have been in pain a lot. This year has been very very hard on my heart. I don’t regret anything that happened, because ultimately, I’ve grown so much from this that I almost have to give thanks. 2014 has definitely revolved around relationships, specifically, learning about relationships, my heart, love, and kindness.

I haven’t been the most reliable person this year. I left a number of projects stranded, just going AWOL and not responding to messages, calls, or anything. This has led to the break down of several friendships. I regret this. I’m also choosing not to repair them because they were a part of that whole first half of the year that gave me severe anxiety attacks. But the thing is, a lot of that could have been avoided, had I learned to say no.

I cannot take on projects I don’t like, because ultimately I’ll do a half-hearted not-so-great job or go AWOL. Either way, it sours the relationship and leaves a bad impression. By saying no, not only am I respecting myself, I’m respecting the other party and their project by recognizing that I can’t do the job well because I’m not interested enough (or whatever the reason).

Something I’ve learned to do this year is find more happiness in the present moment. This means when I look back at my year, I see it littered with moments of happiness and this makes me feel good. I may not be happy all the time, but I have learned to appreciate the moments in which I am happy. I want to talk about this more in a later post, but what it is, is slowing down to appreciate things. I’ve taken the time to look up and stargaze. I’ve stepped back and watched the beauty that is my family drinking Gløgg on Christmas Eve together. Took the time to appreciate the people I’m playing Werewolf with one late weekend night.

At the same time, this hasn’t been a happy year, overall. There were too many drastic ups and downs for that. I don’t know how much one can control the happiness level of a year, but I’d like to have a happier next year.

I just came back from vacation (official recap in the new year), and I feel rejuvenated. This also taught me a really important lesson: Turns out I can’t work all day every day and also function at my best. I knew that on an intellectual level, but I didn’t get it. I get it now. In the past two months, I’ve exploded and made poor communication decisions at work, and I’ve realized a lot of that is due to not taking time away from work. This will change.

I’m 1500 words in, but I have to tell you, this is an abridged version of things. As you can’s been a complicated year. I am happy to have made the progress I did in 2014.

2013 was my year of action, I had been in a funk for 3 years, and I made a big effort that paid off. 2014 has carried that forward, and although plenty of things have broken down, they have ultimately made space for me to create and find new things. I finally feel like my life is heading somewhere meaningful, and I am utterly grateful for this.

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow, where I share my goals for 2015. (Edit: Here’s part 2!)