Pole Diaries: January

Pole Diary

Warning: There are some pictures of, um, people on, um, poles. So if you are sensitive towards this type of content, please skip this post and come back on Monday 🙂

Hello everyone!

One of my goals this year is to post more about my non-bookish hobbies, so… Yes! I am making another post about pole! Eeeeeeek! (That’s me being excited and nervous at the same time!)

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I want to share with you guys two moves that I am VERY VERY SUPER DUPER EXCITED to have learned in the past few months. I’ve been working on these since forever, and I am SO GLAD that I can finally do them without, well, falling on my face.

The first one is the twisted-grip Ayesha:

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As you can see, this is a move that requires a lot of grip strength and arm strength, and some balance as well. (Without enough balance, you would just tip over to one side.)

It is called a twisted-grip Ayesha because of the positioning of my top hand. The twisted grip makes this move a lot easier because your grip is more secure. I am still working on the regular grip Ayesha, which really scares me!

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You guys might have seen this picture from one of my previous posts! This is a much more beautiful Ayesha. See how her legs are angled parallel to the ground? On the other hand, when I do this move, my legs are tilted upwards. One of my upcoming goals is to improve my hip flexibility to be able to make this move look better.

The second move that I am proud of is the BRASS BRIDGE!!!!!!

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This is a pretty difficult move to get into (it takes like a bajillion steps!!) Also, if you do this move wrong or slip out of it, YOU WILL FALL ON YOUR FACE. (Hence the mat underneath me.) The secret to this move is that it is ALL in your knee pit.* Your hands do almost nothing and are kinda there for a placebo effect.

*Knee pit is a term that I learned once I started pole dancing. It essentially is the back of your knee, which you use to grip the pole in moves such as this. It like your armpit except for your knee. 😉

However, this move doesn’t look very impressive yet. Here is how it is supposed to look like:

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See that CRAZY back arch!? (Which is pretty much non-existent in my version of the move.) Back flexibility is something that I want to work on this year. Flexibility in general really isn’t my forte. I can muscle my way into many moves but I get stuck when it requires bendiness :’)

My Pole Goals:

  1. Improve hip and back flexibility by stretching lots.
  2. Practice the regular grip Ayesha and the handspring Ayesha.**
  3. Find a pole studio in Vancouver where I have recently moved to.
  4. Set up my own pole & crash mats at my new place!

** I haven’t talked about the handspring Ayesha in this post. That’s because I don’t have any photos/videos to show you guys since it doesn’t exist yet!

PS. Thank you everyone for your kind wishes for my flight from Toronto to Vancouver! Charles and I have landed safely in Vancouver and moved into our new place. However, there has been some miscommunication between the building and property managers and… basically they are not sure anymore if Charles can stay (he is a greyhound which is considered a large breed). SO we might be kicked out 😦 😦 #life #adultingREALLYsucks

Otherwise we are fine and dandy :’)

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Let me know if you like this post, and if you want to see more updates about my pole journey! What do you do to stay fit? What are your fitness goals this year?

 

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Review: Far from the Tree // A heartfelt contemporary YA

Far from the Tree

Hello everyone!

So, I was about to share mini-reviews of two books. However, as I began typing the review for Far from the Tree, I realized that it was WAAAY too long to qualify for a mini-review (that’s how much I LOVED it). Therefore we will go back to the conventional review format for today!

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A contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

I loved Joaquin, Maya and Grace, who have similarities as siblings but are very different people. Maya is loud and outspoken. She feels strongly and has a witty, sarcastic style of humour. On the other hand, Grace is reserved. As a teen mom who recently gave her child away for adoption, she has a lot of guilt and sadness. However, on the outside Grace appears to have everything under control. And while Maya and Grace connected right away, Joaquin sets himself apart from the girls. As the only sibling who was not adopted and spent his life in foster care, Joaquin never felt like he belonged. He puts on an act, trying to do and say the things that people like, but he doesn’t believe that people will truly like him. Even though these characters are very different, we learn to walk in their shoes and understand how they think.

I loved the focus on family. There is a small element of romance, though this isn’t the focal point of this story. We get a glimpse of the dynamics within the different families in this story. Even though Grace, Maya and Joaquin were given up at birth, we see how they come to understand their own meaning of family.

In relation to that, I loved how parents are portrayed as human. They behave very much like real parents- They are worried about their children, sometimes in an exaggerated way, and they love their children very much.

I enjoyed the writing in this novel, which flows well and keeps me turning the pages. However, I did notice that there are some repetitive use of words. For example, on many occasions people’s “chins wobble”, they are often “shaking”. Also, people cry a lot in this book. Then again, so will you 😉

Which brings me to my next point, which is that you will not be able to get through this book with dry eyes.

The Bottom Line: 4.5/5 stars!

If you are looking for a book that will touch your heart, Far from the Tree is a must-read!

Hint: Have a box of tissues near by.

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As I am writing this post, I am preparing for my one-way flight from Toronto to Vancouver (eek!) I will talk to you guys on the other side!

 

DIY Corner: Thank You Cards

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Hello everyone!

Hope you all had a great weekend! There was a BLIZZARD here in Ontario. We were literally knee-deep in snow!

One of my goals this year is to post more about non-bookish topics. In addition to reading and writing, I also love doing arts and crafts. Today I want to share with you a collection of Thank You cards that I’ve drawn.

(To provide some context: These cards are for my coworkers, since I am leaving my workplace as I move across the country to Vancouver.)

(Although I drew these cards, the ideas and designs are from Pinterest, so I can’t take credit for these designs.)

Psssst…. did you see a greyhound card among these!? That one actually is my design :’)

Since we are on the topic of Thank You’s, here are some things that I am thankful for:

Tea & a comfortable couch. A roof above my head. Canada. Friends. Pole. Books & the blogging community. My coworkers (hence the cards). Carl (my fiance), not to be confused with Charles (my dog), although I am blessed to have both. Mom, dad & my family in China. 🙂

(I know it’s not Thanksgiving, but it is never a bad time to be thankful, is it?)

 

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Do you like DIY? What are you thankful for? Let me know which is your favourite card design!

You’re Not Good Enough Book Tag

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Hello everyone!

How are you all doing? It’s been super crazy for me (moving! elevator bookings! furniture! packing!!) However, I am hanging on :’)

Today I am going to do a fun book tag! Thank you so much to The Orangutan Librarian for tagging me! Please check out her laugh-out-loud answers! She also has many other amazing posts on her blog, so be sure to take a look 🙂

How this tag works:

Basically  it’s a tag where you pick 30 fictional characters and write their names down on pieces of paper. You then pluck two names at a time out to answer a question – so there are 15 questions. The aim of the game is to pick the character that fits the criteria the best and by doing so find the character that is not “good enough” for the answer.

1. YOU ONLY HAVE ONE MORE SPOT ON YOUR SPELLING B TEAM, WHO WOULD YOU PICK TO COMPLETE YOUR TEAM?

Julian (Here We Are Now) vs Charlie (Perks of Being a Wallflower)

However much I admire rock stars, I don’t think spelling is Julian’s strong suit. So it will have to be Charlie. Wasn’t English his favourite subject? 😉

2. BOTH CHARACTERS WANT TO KILL YOU, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU KILL FIRST SO YOU HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF SURVIVING?

Holland (A Darker Shade of Magic) vs Nick (Gone Girl)

Although some of Amy’s calculating nature did rub off on Nick, I’ll have to say that Holland is still the bigger threat.

3. YOU’RE ON THE BACHELOR/BACHELORETTE AN YOU’RE DOWN TO THESE TWO CHARACTERS, WHICH ONE ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE YOUR ROSE TOO?

Damen (Captive Prince) vs Kell (A Darker Shade of Magic)

GASP this is a difficult choice!! However Kell is more my type.

4. YOU’VE BEEN CHOSEN FOR THE HUNGER GAMES, WHO WOULD MOST LIKELY VOLUNTEER IN YOUR PLACE?

Lila (A Darker Shade of Magic) vs Laurent (Captive Prince)

Hmm… If Lila doesn’t get a chance to volunteer for the Hunger Games, she would sneak her way in 😉

5. YOU’RE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND. WHICH CHARACTER WOULD YOU SACRIFICE TO ENGAGE IN CANNIBALISM?

Kvothe (The Name of the Wind) vs Tiffany (Silver Linings Playbook)

Hard to say since I love both characters! However, I will pick Kvothe since he will probably use magic to get away unscathed.

6. YOU’RE THE NEXT DC/MARVEL SUPERHERO (WITH YOUR OWN TV SHOW OF COURSE), WHO IS YOUR SIDEKICK?

Simon (Simon Vs the Homosapiens Agenda) vs Roman (My Heart and Other Black Holes)

I can imagine Simon as a superhero sidekick 🙂

7. YOU’RE A MANAGER OF AN AVOCADO ADMIRING COMPANY, WHO WOULD YOU FIRE FOR LACK OF COMMUNICATION SKILLS?

Maya (Far From the Tree) vs Karou (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)

Although Maya expresses her feelings, she has a volatile mood and often gets into arguments. Also, can you imagine her admiring avocados?!

8. YOU’VE JUST FINISHED A BOOK IN WHICH YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTER DIES, WHICH CHARACTER IS MOST LIKELY TO COMFORT YOU?

Amy (Gone Girl) vs Ezra (Illuminae)

Absolutely Ezra. Amy is probably busy scheming against somebody 😉

9. UGH, IT’S HIGH SCHOOL. WHO WOULD MOST LIKELY BE PART OF THE POPULAR CLIQUE?

Hermione (Harry Potter) vs Blue (Simon Vs the Homosapiens Agenda)

I think Hermione will rather NOT be part of the popular crowd. On the other hand, perhaps Blue can be popular in a quiet kind of way.

10. THE DAY HAS ARRIVED; YOU’RE FINALLY A YEAR OLDER! WHO WOULD HAVE THE NERVE TO FORGET YOUR BIRTHDAY?

Malfoy (Harry Potter) vs Rhy (A Darker Shade of Magic)

Malfoy will likely remember without admitting to it, but I have a feeling that Rhy might forget and apologize endlessly about it a week later 🙂

11. YOU’VE JUST FOUND AN UPCOMING BOOKTUBE STAR? WHO WOULD MOST LIKELY BE?

Harry (Harry Potter) vs Aysel (My Heart and Other Black Holes)

Harry strikes me as more of a doer than a reader. Aysel it is!

12. SLEEPOVER TIME! UNFORTUNATELY YOU CAN ONLY INVITE ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD YOU INVITE?

Ron (Harry Potter) vs August (Our Dark Duet)

HAHA I think August is more of my type. Also, if I happen to be in a post-apocalyptic world, he can fight monsters while I sleep 🙂

13. BAM, YOU’RE PREGNANT. WHO’S THE FATHER/MOTHER?

Pat (Silver Linings Playbook) and Kady (Illuminae)

This is a tough decision since Bradley Cooper who plays Pat in the Silver Linings Playbook is super cute. However I will go with Kady, since she is much more badass, and I want a kid who kicks butt 🙂

14. YOU’VE JUST WRITTEN A SUPER IMPORTANT TEXT. WHO WOULD ‘SEE’ IT, BUT NOT REPLY?

Akiva (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) and Simon (Carry On)

I’d have to say Akiva. He’s more of the brooding type.

15. YOU’VE JUST WOKEN UP AND IT’S TIME FOR BREAKFAST. YOUR MUM’S BEEN REPLACED BY..WHO?!

Baz (Carry On) and Kate (Our Dark Duet)

It must be Baz, being a wizard and all 😉

That was fun wasn’t it!? I tag these awesome folks:

May @ Forever and Everly

Fadwa @ Word Wonders

Ioana @ Dragon Waffles

Swetlana @ The Caffeinated Bookworm

Melanie @ MN Bernard Books

If you don’t do tags or don’t want to do this one, that is all right! On the flip side, if you haven’t been tagged but you want to give this one a try, go for it!

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How was your holiday season!? Are you a last-minute packer or do you start way ahead of time? (My nature is the former but I am trying hard to become the latter 😉 )

27 Things that I Learned at 27

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Hi everyone!

So……….. Apparently this weekend I am turning 27!? It’s funny because it seemed like a short while ago when I was still 20 haha… Where did the last 7 years go!?

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(They say that time flies when you get older. One day I’ll be 65 and think, “Where did the last 45 years go!?”)

To be absolutely, positively honest, I am not fond of my own birthday. I LOVE birthdays and celebrating them with other people. However, when it comes to my own birthday… I’ve been terrified of this day since October.

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Being an introvert, I dislike being in the centre of attention. I also don’t want people to feel like they have to get me a present. (Psst… Because, well, now that I am an adult, I don’t always get my friend birthday presents. Terrible friend I am, I know!)

On the other hand, I do want to be surrounded by other people on my birthday. So… What happens is that each year on January 7, I invite my friends out to dinner hoping that no one knows that it is my birthday. The latter is only sometimes successful :’)

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However, I have no qualms with the “getting older” aspect of birthdays. I really do believe in one year older, one year wiser. Looking back, there are things that I am glad to have learned, that I didn’t realize 7 years back.

Here are some things I’ve learned 🙂

27) Tea should be steeped for 2 minutes, not 20

26) Drive to Toronto after 6PM, not before

25) The road to hell is paved by adverbs but

24) It is really hard to not use adverbs

23) If I write a chapter a day, I can finish a book, however

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22) Editing is HARD

21) I may never be 84 pounds but

20) I can run 30 kilometres and

19) Hold an Ayesha or Brass Monkey

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18) I am an introvert

17) So are Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and JK Rowling

16) I pay lip-service to travelling but

15) My favourite part is FLYING and DRIVING

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14) To be honest I don’t mind a staycation

13) My passport may be Canadian, and I love Canada and Canadians but

12) I am forever Chinese (and proud)

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11) I can be alone without being lonely

10) Less is better

9) Stay away from negativity because

8) There is a silver lining in most situations and

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7) I am very extremely superbly lucky

6) Adulting is hard (job, rent, making your own food)

5) That dream we dreamed as little kids seem far away but

4) Hold on, small steps, set goals

3) Rome was not built in a day

2) Measure my accomplishments by myself, not others

1) Never ever stop dreaming

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Photos courtesy of Pinterest 🙂

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Do you like birthdays? How do you celebrate your own birthday? Do you like getting older?

2018 Goals: reading, writing, blogging, and life

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Hello everyone!

It must be cliched for me to say this but- WOW, can you guys believe that it is the start of another year!? Time always has a way of flying by :’)

2017 was an action-packed year for me, and it looks like 2018 will be just as eventful (if not even more so!) That keeps life interesting, doesn’t it? 🙂

Personally, I do not believe in New Year resolutions per se (ie. miraculous lifestyle changes over night). If we really want to make a significant change in our lives, we can start any day of the year instead of waiting until January 1st. After all, isn’t January 1st just another day?

However, I do believe in setting goals that are challenging, but realistic and attainable.  In fact, I LOVE setting goals because it gives me a purpose, and there is that wonderful feeling when I am able to make progress towards my goal – the “I got my #&$% together” feeling 😉

Reading

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Goal #1: Read 60 books (4-6 books / month)

In 2017, I read 55 books. Most of these were read in the latter half of the year (June onwards) when I became involved with the book blogging community. Each month, I can read 4-6 books comfortably depending on how much free time I have. Taking the average of that, seems like 60 books a year is a good goal 🙂

Goal #2: Read from diverse genres and authors

In 2017, the following genres were over-represented: YA contemporary (36%), YA sci-fi (11%), Fantasy (11%), and Non-Fiction (11%). On the other hand, I’ve only read 1 Classic novel and 1 Graphic Novel, and… embarrassingly, I haven’t read a single Historical Fiction. Also, I tend to read books from my favourite authors instead of trying new ones. In 2018, I want to challenge myself by reading from diverse genres, such as these books on my TBR:

You guys may recognize these from the Goodreads Choice Awards List of 2017 😉

Goal #3: Actually HAVE a bookshelf

As in, right now, I have lots of physical books but no physical bookshelf. They kind of sit in a pile in my room. It’s kind of embarrassing.

Since I am moving to a new place and buying a whole new set of furniture, I will absolutely invest in a bookshelf 🙂

Writing

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Goal #4: Finish writing Children of the Sun (February – April)

Towards the end of 2017, I’ve been researching and editing this new baby of mine. Then, two week ago, I decided to go ahead and start writing. I plowed through about 4000 words before… well, life happened. January will likely be just as busy for me. However, starting February, I hope to be back into full-on writing mode again. My plan is to get back into the groove of writing on a daily basis, with the plan to finish Children of the Sun by the end of May.

Goal #5: Start and finish Draft 5 of Matt and Olivia (May – August)

You guys may remember Matt and Olivia from my Untitled Manuscript. This project occupied my mind for pretty much all of 2017. Since I finished Draft 4 in November, I haven’t even looked at the manuscript. (It kind of terrifies me…) However, now that I am starting to hear back from beta-readers, I am planning for a 5th draft. Not sure yet whether this will be a major revision or a polish! I hope to start this in May and complete the draft by the end of August.

Goal #6: NANOWRIMO!??! (October – November)

I missed Nanowrimo back in 2017 because of travel and family reasons, however I do love the idea of Nanowrimo, so I am REALLY excited to hop onto the wagon again for 2018! However, I have no idea what to write yet. (October is for planning!)

Blogging

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Goal #7: Get organized

I’ve been blogging 3 times weekly for the past while, which is working for me. I also VERY recently learned to write posts in advance, WHICH IS A LIFESAVER AND I MUST RECOMMEND TO ALL BLOGGERS OUT THERE! For 2018, I also invested in a journal which I will use to brainstorm and organize my blog post ideas. If this works out well, maybe I will do a post about organizing blog posts!?

Goal #8: Review 90% of the books I read

I am good at reading books however I have been TERRIBLE at posting reviews this past year. However, I discovered mini-reviews very recently, which I enjoy writing so much more than full-length reviews.

Goal #9: Write more posts about lifestyle topics

Although I love books and blogging about books, I also have lots of other interests and other ideas bouncing around my head all the time. In 2018, I hope to introduce some of these topics to my blog (such as fashion and DIY.) Of course I will continue to blog about reading and writing!

Life

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Goal #10: Live sustainably

This is something that I’ve been thinking about for the past year or so but only began to implement. Sustainability is a HUGE topic that could easily be a whole blog post on its own. Long story short: I realized that I buy so many things that I don’t even need, and much of it either ends up cluttering up my apartment. The truth is that a lot of clothing and other household goods can’t be disposed of in a manner that is environmentally friendly. Isn’t it better to buy fewer things in the first place?

Unfortunately I am actually the WORST person to be a minimalist. I am a pack rat and I find it hard to let go. However, since I am moving across the country, I’ve taken the opportunity to clean out my closet and my apartment. I am inviting some friends over for my first-ever clothing swap which I am super excited for! After this, I will be more cautious about buying things that I truly need and love.

Other than changing my shopping habits, I will also be taking the public transit more (instead of driving), and learning to compost.

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What is your approach to the New Year? What are your goals for 2018!? Do you write posts in advance? Are you a pack rat or a minimalist (or somewhere in between)?

2017 Wrap-Up: Books, blogging, writing, and life

2017

Hello everyone!

Whoa. I am a bit intimidated to write this post. It is one thing to wrap up a month but…….. an entire year!?! I am not even sure if I remember everything that happened this year, since I have a memory of a goldfish.

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However, let’s have a crack at it and see how it goes!

Reading

Read 55 books! WHICH IS MORE THAN I’VE EVER READ IN A YEAR! Though there are many amazing peeps who read many more books out there (I don’t know how you guys do it), 55 books is still very very amazing for me :’)

Discovered some amazing authors, like Becky Albertalli, V.E. Schwab, and Jasmine Warga, who I will follow to the end of the Earth until the end of time.

Fell back in love with reading. I was a big reader back in elementary school and high school. Then something happened in university (academic journal articles and pharmacology textbooks, to be exact), and… I stopped. For a long stretch of time, I thought that fiction was fiction and that though I loved reading, books can’t help me in life. But I realized that I was wrong. Because in stories, we find ourselves and we become more accepting of other people.

Blogging

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Started a blog and STUCK TO IT. To be honest, I’ve had a few failed attempts at starting blogs in the past. This time around, because I discovered the book blogging community which made all the difference! I found some amazing blogs and met some awesome people that made me want to keep blogging!

Wrote 100+ posts!!! A week or so ago, I got an alert from WordPress congratulating me on 100 posts. And I thought, “What? It can’t be?!” BUT IT WAS!!

Blogged about some topics (bookish and otherwise) that matter a lot to me. Here are some of my favourite posts:

  1. Stereotypes in Fiction
  2. On Being an Introvert
  3. The Upside of Being Alone
  4. 5 Reasons to Pole Dance
  5. Come See China with Me

I’ve always been a quiet person, but in blogging, I learned more about myself 🙂

Writing

Edited a novel for the first time (and the second, and the third.) AND WOW, writing a novel is one thing, but PERFECTING it is a whole different beast.

Posted snippets of my novel on this blog. Which is a SCARY, SCARY thing at first, but hearing others’ feedback is something I grew to enjoy.

Learned the value of plotting and research.

Dscovered other writers through blogging. For once in my life, I realized that I am not writing in a vacuum, and that there are other people who love writing as much as I do.

Life

Drove across Canada (Toronto to Vancouver), which was a super DUPER fun road trip. And WOW, Canada is a beautiful country.

Travelled to Banff, Hawaii, and China. I can’t pick a favourite place: They are wonderful in different ways.

Prepared to move across the country, which involved job interviews, apartment hunting, and figuring out what is happening with my professional license (ultimate #adulting, you guys).

AND, last but not least…

I got engaged 🙂

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And that’s all!

Of course there were a few things that I’ve set out to do in the beginning of the year that I didn’t get around to doing- books that I wanted to read, healthier eating and sleeping habits, home decorating, blog-renovating, minimalism… However, I accept that there is only so much that I can do with my time. In hindsight, I have no regrets 🙂

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How did this year go for you? What are some of the highlights? What are your proudest accomplishments?