2015 in Review (and Favorite Books)

It's time to sum up the year on Packing Lust! This is my fourth year doing this, and it's one of my favorite ways to get the big picture and remember the year as a whole. In 2015, we didn't travel outside of the U.S., however we certainly did some significant traveling and moving within the states. It was a family-focused year as we learned to parent and watch Bump thrive over the course of his first year of life. Our doggie, Jelly Bean, spent a few months living with my parents and then reunited with us in Washington, D.C. in October. At the end of the year we moved again (yes, just a couple days ago) and we're having fun in our new city.

Favorite Books

Of the dozens of books I read this year, my top three favorites were:

      1. Dying to Be Me -- A kind of spiritual-health memoir by Anita Moorjani about her near death experience and subsequent speedy healing from cancer. She shares her unusual experience in vivid and convincing detail and what she learned about the importance of living fearlessly and as true to her self as possible.

2. Me Before You: a Novel -- I've read two Jojo Moyes books and both placed one of their main characters in the type of ethical quandary that most of us will never have to experience. This one is about the relationship between a paralyzed man with a death wish and one of his caretakers. I loved the masterful storytelling and the way it helped me see the central question from several perspectives.

3. Life in Motion: an Unlikely Ballerina -- Misty Copeland's memoir reveals her journey to become the first African-American principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre.  I loved the window into the life of an elite dancer driven by the pursuit of excellence. Most of us will never experience being a prodigy in anything; this books lets you share the excitement of being 14 and discovering that you are one of the world's most naturally talented ballerinas. I was also impressed with the storytelling; it manages to be a page-turner even though we already know the happy ending to the story. I laughed; I cried. At one point I had to put the book down and dance alone in the room just to express the triumph I shared with her. This book is for anyone who ever worked hard on a dream and had to overcome unexpected obstacles to achieve excellence.

By Month

January

Having had baby boy Bump in late November 2014, I was two things: A) tired and B) excited to maintain my writing habit and keep the creative juices flowing.

To help out with A) I featured a guest post on creating a digital vision board to inspire your travel dreams and B) I did a 7-day blogging challenge.

February

My only post for February was a 2014 year in review piece. I guess I was still sleep-deprived from those early months as a new parent.

March

This month I launched SimpleLivingToolkit.com where I help people to declutter and join the simple living movement. I kept getting advice to narrow down/focus what I do to help people with my business (it's so hard when I do a variety of things, both to help people and just to express my creativity) so this new website was my answer. Join other simple living enthusiasts by signing up here.

April

This month I felt that it was time to share what I'd learned about about two things. One: self-publishing. Two: keeping things simple (stuff-wise) when you have a baby. Check out the very shareable "Minimalist Baby" list.

MINI BABY

May

This month we took a romantic-foodie trip to Myrtle Beach while my parents took care of Bump. Fun and yummy. 2015-05-22 10.44.53Another fun outing was the Dance of the Spring Moon powwow.

Also this month I launched my "Start a Daily Writing Habit" email coaching series. It's awesome and a great way to kick start yourself if you want to write more in 2016.

June

I posted my first and only packing related piece this year in June. It's about how you pack differently when you become a mommy and how certain things are less glamorous than... I thought they would be. I also blogged about a couple trips I took to Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston (34)

July

We moved from Lumberton, NC, to Arlington, VA and I wrote about the ups and downs of big city life with a baby.

I reflected on how simple living lets me enjoy textures and details.

August

Though my book on habits to help you make money from your creativity is very behind schedule, I did work on it this year with additional research. I posted this month and later in the year when I found articles about creativity and about the changing landscape of making money as a creative.

Don't worry ; I didn't let the year go by without publishing. Prince Charming and I co-wrote a book called Simple Kitchen and published it this month to Amazon Kindle and Audible. It's a quick read you'll want to check out if you like keeping things simple in the kitchen without sacrificing the cooking experience.

After moving to the Washington, D.C. area last month, we enjoyed exploring our new city including a trip to Teddy Island.

At the end of the month, Bump (his nickname on the blog) turned 9 months old and we took photos in a park in our Rosslyn neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia. I shot more people too.

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September

We explored the Washington, D.C. area. You know us; it was all about the food.

pickles Creative types may enjoy my notes on an interview that Elizabeth Gilbert gave in which she talked about fear and creativity and being a grown-up.

October

We moved within the D.C. metro area from Arlington, Virginia to the Columbia Heights area of Washington.

I traveled to Black Mountain, North Carolina, reuniting with a bunch of family on my mom's side to celebrate my grandmother's 80th's birthday.

sunshine

November

We enjoyed exploring our neighborhood of Washington (Columbia Heights) on foot and living car-free. On the blog, I wrote about a memory of a snow ball fight I had back in Palestine in 2013. Bump turned one this month and started walking just before he hit that milestone birthday.

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December

We moved to Los Angeles on the eve of Christmas Eve. Now, rather unexpectedly, but very happily, we're back in the city where Prince Charming and I met over five and a half years ago. I'm looking forward to what life in this city over the next year brings.