Due to de­pres­sion, 2018 has been dif­fi­cult for me. But re­flect­ing on the year has helped me re­mem­ber all the fun and great ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve had. This is my an­nual write-up where I share some of the high­lights of the year and set goals for the next one.

Cruise with the fam­ily #

I mar­ried into an amaz­ing fam­ily, and that has­n’t been more ev­i­dent than on this cruise. We spent a re­lax­ing seven days in the Western Caribbean snor­kel­ing, watch­ing some great shows, and en­joy­ing the warm clear wa­ters. It was only my sec­ond cruise ever, and if I could af­ford it, I’d go on one of these every year.

New Job at Changelog #

After get­ting laid off late in 2017, I was left scram­bling to find some­thing new. Months of email­ing my ré­sumé and count­less in­ter­views left me dis­cour­aged. You al­ready know I’ve had is­sues with the hir­ing process of de­sign jobs be­fore.

One day, I was chat­ting with my friend Adam Stacoviak, and he told me Changelog was look­ing for a Senior Producer. With my pre­vi­ous pod­cast ex­pe­ri­ence, he thought I’d be a good fit.

I’ll be hon­est, I was scared at first. This was some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent to what I’d done pro­fes­sion­ally since… well… ever. But, I also knew I needed a break from the web. I was burnt out, did­n’t agree with how JavaScript-centric the in­dus­try has be­come, and dis­il­lu­sioned with how un­der­val­ued my CSS skillset is.

The Changelog team

The Changelog team

I’m so happy things came to­gether the way they did. Changelog is a won­der­ful place to work. Not only am I ex­cited by the work I get to do every­day, the Changelog team is com­posed of kind, smart, and funny peo­ple.

And they let me host my own show! Away from Keyboard is the show I’ve wanted to make for years. You may re­call I tried to do some­thing sim­i­lar back in 2015 with For the Record and made two episodes. Sad, I know.

Away from Keyboard al­ready has ten awe­some episodes, and I could­n’t be prouder of the sto­ries I’ve been able to tell. Also, I don’t think I’ll ever come up with a cooler name for a pod­cast.

Good times in Florida #

We went to Florida twice this year. In April, we went to St. Petersburg for Front End Design Conference. FEDC is a spe­cial event for me: it was the first con­fer­ence I ever went to. Now, six years later, I’d been in­vited to speak there. It was a dream come true.

Kelly at the Universal walk
Kelly on the beach.

In August, we went to Orlando as a late an­niver­sary trip. While we had a great time, Florida in August was too hot. It was­n’t any cooler than 95º the week we were there, and add to that how in­sanely hu­mid it was.

Kelly and I aren’t made for that type of heat, but it was still a re­lax­ing week. We slept in, went to Disney World, re­laxed in the pool, watched a lot of movies, and read some great books.

Denver with the Prados #

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to make it in Minnesota. This year marked my six year an­niver­sary, and the win­ters are start­ing to grate on me. Denver is a place I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in, so we de­cided to visit. Our best friends, The Prados, de­cided to come along too.

Graffiti on the tour
Abi hugging a tree.
Graffiti on the tour

We had an amaz­ing time. Denver is a beau­ti­ful place, filled with nice peo­ple and breath­tak­ing topog­ra­phy. We were only there for an ex­tended week­end, but we were able to visit Boulder and do a fun graf­fiti tour down­town.

Kelly in front of the London Eye.

London in the Fall #

Changelog sent me to Sustain Summit in October. Sustain hap­pened to be in London this year, mak­ing it my first time in England.

We only spent 4 days in London (much of it crazy jet-lagged), but we still got to do and see a lot. I’m grate­ful to Changelog and Sustain for mak­ing this un­for­get­table trip pos­si­ble.

Parents’ 28th Anniversary #

Twenty-eight years is­n’t usu­ally a big year for an­niver­saries, but I’m a sucky child that had­n’t done much of any­thing for my par­ents’ an­niver­sary as an adult. That needed to change this year. With the help of Kelly and my aunt, we planned a nice, small din­ner for my par­ents, and in­vited some of their friends. To our sur­prise, some fam­ily from California came to cel­e­brate as well.

My parents in downtown Saint Paul.

My par­ents don’t have many pic­tures to­gether, so I de­cided to gift them a pho­to­shoot

Diving deeper into pho­tog­ra­phy #

I’ve al­ways taken a lot of pic­tures—it’s been an in­ter­est of mine for a long time. This year was dif­fer­ent though, I took more pic­tures than I’ve ever taken.

The big dif­fer­en­tia­tor has been my cam­era. In April, I sold my Canon DSLR and bought a Sony α7 III. It’s changed every­thing. Yes, the gear does­n’t make the pho­tog­ra­pher, but the α7 III is much eas­ier to use. A cam­era that’s eas­ier to use, means you worry less about the tech­ni­cal as­pects, and more on the ac­tual photo. If you’re cu­ri­ous to hear my rea­sons for mov­ing to a Sony cam­era, I made a video all about it.

Getting back into comics #

I read a lot of comics this year and loved every minute of it. In the past, most of my comics were su­per­hero-re­lated. 2018 was the year I tried to broaden my hori­zons. In the process, I found great comics like Saga, Analog, Oblivion Song, and more. Back in November, I wrote about how I started read­ing comics and some of my cur­rent rec­om­men­da­tions.

In July, I started writ­ing a blog post for my weekly pull list, which has turned out to be a lot of fun. Thanks to Dave Rupert, I started tak­ing pic­tures of some of my fa­vorite cov­ers for the posts. Like Dave said from the be­gin­ning, it’s killed two birds with one stone: the ar­ti­cles are more in­ter­est­ing, and it’s helped me prac­tice my pho­tog­ra­phy.

What’s in store for 2019 #

All in all, 2018 was a fan­tas­tic year. As much as it’s been dif­fi­cult, we also trav­eled a lot, I found a job at an awe­some com­pany, and got lost in some in­cred­i­ble sto­ries.

And that’s why I write these. It’s all too easy to fo­cus on the neg­a­tive. But tak­ing a step back, I re­al­ize there is al­ways much to be happy about, and so many things to be grate­ful for.

Here are my goals for 2019:

  1. Invest our money in­tel­li­gently
    We’ve got a lit­tle bit of money saved, and it’s just sit­ting in our ac­count do­ing noth­ing. I’d re­ally like to do some­thing smart with that money and make it grow.
  2. Take my cam­era every­where
    Taking the cam­era every­where is­n’t the most con­ve­nient thing, and I’m not the only pho­tog­ra­pher to feel that way. There are many mo­ments I missed that I’m de­ter­mined not to miss next year.
  3. Lose forty pounds
    I lost thirty pounds this year, then put fif­teen back on. I’d like to lose forty next year, and keep them off.

It’s go­ing to be a great year.

Kindly edited by Kelly Smith.

Series Year in Review

My annual tradition to look back on the year and set goals for the next one.

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