Just like that we’re saying goodbye to another year and what a year it’s been. 2015 came in like a lamb and is roaring out like a lion. If 2014 was the year of incredible personal milestones, 2015 was the year my professional life started coming together and took off in unimaginable ways. But it took some time for those engines to really get going.
The first part of 2015 was a pretty tough time for me. I was grappling with the stresses of finding paid work, picking up various odd jobs here and there that had nothing to do with what I was interested in. I couldn’t get an interview if my life depended on it and with that came thoughts of self-doubt that spiraled deeper and deeper as the weeks and months progressed. These thoughts spilled over into my personal life and I lost inspiration to create content for the blog. I hit my lowest points in February and March. I rarely left my condo (made worse by the constant -30 degree weather we had in February), stopped going to the gym, gained weight, had trouble sleeping, and slowly watched my savings dwindle away in order to pay my mortgage and put food on the table. When I would go out and see friends, I wouldn’t let on that I was struggling but at home in my own little bubble I was lost and in a dark place. It wasn’t obvious to me at the time but I was in a state of depression.
By the end of March, I knew things had to change and decided that my pity-party for one had to come to an end. I started throwing myself back into the blog, working on content I’d been meaning to put up for months. I was finally going to give this site my all and see where it would take me. Nothing else seemed to be working out for me so I had nothing to lose.
The arrival of spring brought a much needed emotional and physical lift. I was working out at the gym regularly (I even tried out pilates for the month of April and loved it), turning out posts and videos for the site that I was really proud of, and networking and hustling at industry and travel events. I put a lot of pots on the stove to see which ones would boil and anxiously waited to see what would happen. Then the turning point came…
Looking back on 2015, I can distinctly see where the shift happened. In mid-May, I was contacted by World Vision Canada to join a celebrity charity climb on Mt. Kilimanjaro. For years I had been thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro and suddenly I was being presented with the opportunity to do it. The only hiccup? I had 3 weeks notice before we were due to fly out. It wasn’t the ideal length of time to prep and train for the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. For those 3 weeks I was a completely different person than I was at the beginning of 2015. I was in action, prepping what I needed for the climb, securing clothing sponsorship, and fitting in physical training where ever I could.
Climbing Kilimanjaro was both the most incredible experience I’ve ever had and the most difficult thing I’ve done to date. For 8 days, I pushed my body and mind to lengths I previously didn’t think I was capable of achieving. And wouldn’t you know it, I made it to the summit.
I really do believe that things happen for a reason, and Kilimanjaro came at the time when I needed it the most. I can’t help but see the correlation of that climb to what I went through in the early months of 2015. At times I wanted to stop, I wanted to give up, I wanted say ‘I can’t do it’. But I pushed through and came off that mountain a different person. And then things really started to take off.
To make my Kilimanjaro climb a little more difficult (as if it wasn’t difficult enough to begin with), I video documented the entire experience. I couldn’t find a good video series that broke down the climb and thus decided that I would create that video series myself. I spent the summer putting together a 9-part video series that I released weekly on my YouTube channel. It gave insights into what the climb was all about and was received very well. But more importantly I was really proud of it. It reinstated the confidence in myself that I had lost earlier in the year and I grabbed that confidence and ran with it for the rest of the year.
After climbing Kilimanjaro, my freelance work started to explode. A week after returning from Tanzania, I was flying out to Washington D.C to cover the July 4th festivities for iTravel2000. It was my first travel gig where I was specifically sent ‘on-assignment’ and was paid for the work I did. I was thrilled! To top that off, I landed a social media manager job that same month for an awesome adventure travel company that, funny enough, specializes in Kilimanjaro climbs. I was now starting to earn a regular paycheck, something I hadn’t seen for over a year. In the summer I was also hired to produce, film and edit a promotional video for a group called Classical Pursuits, and I was even filming and editing workout videos for a yoga instructor.
Once September rolled around, things kicked into high gear. I started freelancing as a video editor for an advertising agency in downtown Toronto and I began doing camera work at various corporate events with a duo of kick-ass women. I soon realized how much I missed working with people and having a collaborative working environment, something I don’t get working on this site.
In the Fall, I also saw my name in print for the first time! I was featured in an article for Canadian Living, sharing my tips for getting a good night’s sleep while traveling. And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, my Kilimanjaro Montage Video won 1st place in the Travel & Adventure category at Buffer Festival 2015.
My travels for the year weren’t finished yet. At the end of November, I headed to Bangkok, Thailand. The reason? To film an episode for a new travel television show! It was a whirlwind experience flying halfway across the world, filming for 4 long days, and immediately heading back to Toronto. I was brought on board to appear as the Travel Expert for an episode of ‘Fabulocity’ where I got to choose and critique a dream itinerary in Bangkok. I had a fantastic experience working with a small crew to put together a fun and exciting television show and I can’t wait for you guys to see the episode in Spring of 2016!
In December, I picked up 2 more video editing gigs and actually looked forward to taking some time off over the holidays. By the end of the year, not only was I making money again but I was even able to start putting money back into my savings account.
“It’s not how you start, but how you finish”
Looking Ahead to 2016
I never would have imagined 2015 wrapping up the way it did and I’m now more inspired and more motivated than ever to bring this feeling into 2016. In fact, 2016 is already shaping up to be an amazing year in travel.
In January, I’ll be spending a bit of time in Ontario’s Highlands producing a video series about winter adventure activities in the region. Then in February, Tristan and I will be heading to Quebec City to experience Winter Carnival for the first time, plus we’ll explore the Lanaudière & Mauricie regions in Quebec for more winter adventures! And of course, we’ve got the epic 3-month USA roadtrip in the summer we’re SO excited for.
In terms of the blog, I’ll continue to focus on creating video content again in 2016. I created a whopping 33 videos in 2015 and I know I’ll more than double that in the new year. I also want to bring back more personal posts on the blog with monthly ‘musings’ on life and such. I know the informational style posts are important and valuable for travelers but I want to bring a more personal voice back to the site.
I have 2 resolutions for the year; be kinder to myself and find a balance between work and life. I can be really hard on myself and will stress about things far out of my control. If there’s one thing to take away from 2015, it’s to trust in the process. Both Kilimanjaro and the Fabulocity show were opportunities that came to me. I didn’t seek them out. So I have to trust in the process that the hard work I put in to the blog and my freelance work will find their way back to me. Finding a balance between work and life is a big priority for me in 2016 as well. Too often this year I found myself working late into the evenings, seeing the weekends as 2 more days to get work done, or burying my nose in my phone. I’ll need a better balance to avoid burnout and to be fully present with the people who matter most in my life.
Phew! That was a lengthy wrap up of 2015. If you’re still reading this, you’re amazing. Now it’s time to bid adieu to 2015 and say hello to the endless and unimaginable possibilities that 2016 will bring!
Let me know all about your 2016 plans in the comments below!