2018 Year in Review and 2019 Goals

2018 in review.jpg

Here we are again. New Years Eve is behind us and it’s time for Helene In Between’s start of the year link-up. As I write this, it is New Years Day and I’m working the 2nd shift. It’s quiet, the holiday decorations have already been taken down, and the building is practically empty after the New Years Eve partiers have left. The post-holiday blues are hitting me a bit hard this year. I was so excited for them to come for what felt like forever, and I prepared and counted down the days. Then, as the season went on there was something off about it.

Maybe it was work. Maybe it was how our weather went all topsy-turvey in Chicago and it was one of the warmest Decembers ever. (I know snow has nothing to do with Christmas, but I need snow and cold weather at Christmas. I just do. I let Bing Crosby infiltrate my brain too much.) My family and I had a great holiday, and I spent New Years Eve with some friends. Yet, I’m caught off guard by the arrival of 2019.

Everyone has been sharing their favorite memories of 2018. A lot of people openly admitted this year wasn’t the best, but they still had special moments to look back on. As I tried to think of how this past year as been for me, it was a struggle.


2018 In Review

2018 wasn’t a bad year. At least not for me personally. We didn’t have any big tragedies with my family or my close friends. Jobs remained the same. My parents and I moved again which was annoying, but the house we’re in now is much better than the condo we were in previously. The animals, Bandit and Peanut, remain well. Yet, I still can’t imagine myself looking back on this past year and thinking “Wow! That was a great year!”

The best part for sure was watching my niece grow. She’s 13 months now, and we loved every moment of watching all of her firsts and are excited for all of the rest of them to come. Then as I thought about it, that’s not really my life. It’s her life and my sisters and my brother-in-law’s. Yes, I get to participate in large parts of it and I’m so fortunate to have a family where we’re all included. But, it’s not necessarily part of my life.

Or maybe it is? I don’t know.

I’m sure somewhere in all of this there’s a lesson about how significant and wonderful it is to be the person to be happy and supportive of the people around them. Which is awesome, and I’m happy to be that person. I love celebrating alongside the people I care about and raising them up when awesome things happen.

But yet…



The goals I set for myself never panned out. I didn’t travel. Heck, I don’t think I even took my vacation week - even if I didn’t go anywhere I could have had a staycation.


2018 wasn’t a bad year for me. There were some fun moments. I went to C2E2 and took photos with the cast of Gilmore Girls and This is Us. (Although it all happened so quickly that I didn’t even register it happened until I saw the photos.)


I saw three musicals downtown, including my first pre-Broadway premire (Pretty Woman) where I also met Samantha Barks, Steve Kazee, Tony Bracco, and others at stage door. As big of a Broadway geek I am, I’ve never gone to the pre-Broadway previews or stage door before and it was fun! I also saw Waitress for my birthday, then Miss Saigon in November. I honestly couldn’t tell you which of the tree I liked the most. All of them were so wonderful!


I also saw Josh Groban and Idnina Menzel at United Center. I never go to concerts, but when I heard these two were touring together I knew I had to go. It was completely amazing after being such a fan of theirs for so long. I think I died about 20 million times through the whole thing.

In October a friend and I went to a VE Schwab event at a local book store. We didn’t do the meet and greet line (which, I’d met her at YallFest a couple years ago) but we loved hearing her speak and talk about her writing process. I admire her so much.

I stole this from VE Schwab’s instagram.

I stole this from VE Schwab’s instagram.

On the writing front, I started out working on my Vampire Snow White novel but got stuck. So, I switched over to my fairy tale mash-up, White Rose. I participated in PitchWars for the second year in a row, and all of August was basically dedicated to completing the first draft of White Rose. It was hard, and while I didn’t get chosen for PitchWars it was still an awesome experience and I’ve learned so much since then thanks to the people I’ve met through it. But now as I’ve been attempting to do rewrites and revisions, it’s been difficult to recapture how happy I was that I’d finished the draft. Something in that creative side of my brain that was dedicated to that novel seems to have dried up, and I’m trying to get it back.

This picture has nothing to do with anything. I just really like how it turned out.

This picture has nothing to do with anything. I just really like how it turned out.

I’d had the goal of having something query ready by the end of the year… and it didn’t happen.

Another thing on the writing front was that a small group of writing friends and I went on a retreat together over the summer. It was really fun, and I hope we can do it again. There’s been some chat of trying again this winter.


On the media front…

I read 100 books - which did complete my goal of reading less. I read 113 books n 2017. I will also have a post wrapping up and sharing my favorite books of 2018 in a week or two.

According to Spotify my #1 song was “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman. (Not surprising in the least and that was definitely the song of the year and it was ROBBED at the Oscars. ROBBED I TELL YOU.) I also listened to a lot of Taylor Switft, Demi Lovato, musical soundtracks, Sia, and Josh Groban. All of these are also not surprising. The first song I listened to was “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga and she is a most excellent way to start out the listening year.

With movies, I LOVED Love, Simon and saw it twice. Which is also something not that surprising since I’ve read the book at least seven times. It was a fantastic adaptation. Speaking of adaptations, To All the Boys I Loved Before , The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and Dumplin’ on Netflix were also pretty fantastic. Some other movies I loved were: Lady Bird, The Christmas Chronicles, The Princess Switch, Mama Mia! Here We Go Again, and finished out the year by seeing Mary Poppins Returns which was a fantastic life choice.

For TV… I finally started watching Parks and Rec and I can’t believe it took me this long. I’m on season 6 and almost done! I binged The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and while there are for sure some issues, it was entertaining and a good watch for the Halloween season. I tried The Haunting of Hill House but only made it through one episode because I’m a scaredy-cat. I did a rewatch of Glee, That 70s Show, Gilmore Girls, and now I’m rewatching Friends. I do a lot of rewatching of TV shows cause then I can have it on in the background and if I’m not completely paying attention it’s not a big deal. I was outraged (OUTRAGED I TELL YOU) when Evana Lynch didn’t win Dancing with the Stars, and I’m annoyed that Colton is going to be the new Bachelor because especially on Bachelor in Paradise he just wasn’t that great. But, we all know come Monday night I’m gonna watch and get sucked into all of the drama anyway. I was also really mad that Kennedy didn’t win The Voice, but Chevelle was my 2nd choice so at least she won. I started Riverdale but need to still catch up on season 2. Then, of course, I think we can all agree that one of the best things to come out of 2018 is the Netflix revival of Queer Eye. Or did it release in 2017? I don’t remember. Either way, if season 1 was last year and season 2 was this year it was still one of the best parts of 2018. THE QUEER EYE GUYS HAVE SAVED 2018 FOR US OKAY?


I listened to a lot of podcasts and discovered a lot of new ones! Of course, there’s Johnathan Van Ness’ podcast, Getting Curious where he interviews experts about topics he’s curious about. I continued to listen to some of my favorites: Writer Writer Pants on Fire, Writing Excuses, Broadway Backstory, Myths and Legends , and Print Run Podcast. But, I’ve become OBSESSED with Female Criminals and The History Chicks. I could listen to those all day and not be bored for a single moment. They’re completely fascinating. Then, my friends over at The Snark Squad started THE MOST AMAZING podcast this year too, and I love listening to them laugh and discuss pop culture and media. I’ve secretly been wanting them to start a podcast in addition to their blog for a long time now and I’m so glad they finally did.

My last selfie of 2018. My niece is always entertained by the filters.

My last selfie of 2018. My niece is always entertained by the filters.

And… that’s about it. Nothing has really changed for me and my life. Same job, same friends, same neighborhood (even if we changed addresses… the Southwest suburbs of Chicago are weird like that), and I get to watch my niece grow up. Which isn’t bad. I have so much to be thankful for.



Yet, there’s still that nagging feeling of “what else?”


Looking Ahead to 2019

So, now we’re here in 2019. A new year. A new start. I rang it in at a relaxed party with some old friends, a couple whom I hadn’t seen in a long time, then even made it home by midnight to wish my family a happy new year. (I told you it was relaxed. We played Pandemic through the Times Square Ball drop and didn’t even break open the champagne.)

I’m hesitantly looking forward to the new year. Excited is a bit too strong of a word for it, but I am curious about the new year. I know the whole thing is a “social construct.” There is no magic which happens when the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve. If you want do something to change your life, you can do it any day of the year.

There’s something I like about having that set day as a fresh start. All together we can turn the page into a new chapter and start over.

Once again, I’m setting the goal of having something query ready this year.

I want to take a freaking vacation. Even if it’s a “staycation.”

I’m lowering my reading goal to 80 books because I still feel like my reading-life balance isn’t particularly healthy.

I want to take more photos. I used to take pictures of me, my friends, and my family all of the time. Not because there was something special we were doing, but just because. I take a lot of photos still, but of nothing that special. It’s all for social media where I pose my book in a pretty way and talk about what I’m reading. Which, there’s nothing wrong with that and I’m going to keep doing that. But, I noticed that my phone is severely lacking photos of people over the last 12 months. Heck, I barely even took any selfies this year. That needs to change.

Most of all though, in 2019 I want to be open. Open to new things, changes, family, friends… life in general.

I’ve never been one to do a “word of the year.” But if I were, I think “open” would be a good one.


How are you all feeling going into the new year? And don’t forget to write your own post and link it up and/or check out everyone else’s posts via Helene In Between!


Like what you read? Consider buying me a coffee.