2018 in Review: Road Trips & Personal Development Galore

I’ve been thinking about how to write this blog post for weeks now. Surely it should be a cinch to rehash the major highlights of the past year, especially since most of them already exist in the form of other blog posts, right?

WELL. You see… 2018 wasn’t all about travel for me. It was a year of personal growth and learning, moreso than perhaps any other year in the past. It’s not so easy to put into words the ways in which I’ve changed and grown this year.

I spent much of the year engrossed in self help books, online courses, and even a classroom course – not because I felt like I had issues I needed help with, but because this stuff fascinates me and there’s always more to learn and improve about myself.

But don’t worry, I balanced the nerdery with a generous number of road trips and a month-long stint in the USA.

Ready for the highlight reel? Here… we… go!

cape cod beach
Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Travels in 2018

I think I struck a healthy balance between home and travel last year. For me, a balance means spending most of my time at home in Sydney (particularly during summer), with plenty of day and weekend trips, a couple of Aussie road trips, and one big international trip.
Some travel highlights from 2018:

The Warrumbungles

We headed inland for the long Easter weekend and camped and hiked around this gorgeous spot in NSW.

warrumbungles walks

High Country Road Trip

I got to explore the Victorian high country during peak fall foliage. It was cycling and wine tasting galore!

High Country Victoria

Cape Cod

To kick off my month in the US, I spent a week on the beach in Cape Cod with my family. It was oh-so-good to be back in the place where we’d spent so many summer holidays when I was younger. The beaches there are really something special.

cape cod

NYC

What’s a trip back to the States without a few days spent in New York? Thankfully this time the weather was absolute perfection as I revisited my old haunts: Williamsburg, Central Park, Hudson River Park.

upper west side nyc

NorCal Road Trip

Jamie and I rented an RV for a week and explored Northern California, finally ticking Yosemite and Big Sur off ye olde bucket list. We also hit up Mammoth and fell in utter love with the hot springs there.

yosemite campgrounds

San Francisco

I ended my US trip with a week in SF, basing myself in Berkeley and making quick trips into the city for meetups and frolics.

san francisco beach

Byron Bay Road Trip

I escaped Sydney winter again and drove up the coast with Marijs to Byron Bay, where we logged some much-needed beach time and explored the hinterland and other towns outside of Byron.

byron bay travel blog

Far North Queensland Road Trip

In September I snuck off to Cairns for the first time, rented a campervan, and sought out the best waterfalls and beaches of FNQ. Holy moly, this is one part of Australia I see myself returning to time and time again – there’s always more to see there!

cairns waterfall

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

I finally remedied one of my biggest Aussie oversights by going diving in the GBR. Unfortunately I suffered from terrible sea sickness for most of the trip, but I’m so happy I got a few good dives in at least.

Outback NSW Road Trip

Because I didn’t take enough road trips this year (*cough* pls note the sarcasm), I crammed in one more from Sydney to Broken Hill to explore Outback NSW. I absolutely LOVED experiencing this offbeat region in Australia.

broken hill travel blog

Other Awesome Things In 2018

Jamie’s visit – My little sister came to visit me in Sydney for 2 weeks in February and it was THE BEST getting to show her what my life is like here in Bondi. Baaaaaasically we went to the beach every day and did yoga and ate lots of healthy brunches. We hardly did any touristy things and only left Sydney for a day to check out the Blue Mountains. Still, this time together was so special to me.

Session with a Healer – I wrote about this in depth in another post so I won’t rehash here, but I went to see a healer/psychic in Melbourne and she was scarily spot-on with everything she said about me. I’ve been integrating everything from our session since then and feel like it was VERY worth the investment.

NLP course – My curiosity about life coaching led me to sign up for a course in NLP (neurolinguistic programming), which ended up being a very intense 8 days of awareness-building and identity-shredding.

australia travel blog

The Well – I joined this brand-new gym and wellness center early in the year and have been a very devoted pilates student, pull-up practicer (is that a word?), and cafe dweller there ever since. The Well is like my second home here in Bondi and I love the community there so much!

Spotify – I realize I’m way late to the game here, but in 2018 I finally gave in and created a Spotify Premium account (necessary for all the road trips!) and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s changed my life. I’ve discovered so many songs I never would have without it!

The Gathering – I started attending this new biweekly event late last year and already feel like it’s going to be a fixture on my 2019 calendar. A Sunday night alcohol-free vegan potluck hanging out with cool spiritual people? Sign me up!

New Years Eve – Snagging a last minute invite to what might be the best view of the Sydney NYE fireworks was the BEST way to end the year. I’m still not over it!

sydney nye fireworks

My Friend MVPs (FrieMVPs?) of 2018

I love and appreciate all my friends, but when I look back on 2018 there are 3 people that instantly pop into my mind as really making the year what it was for me:

Marijs – My travel blogging adventure buddy! We went on a couple of epic road trips and weekend trips, logged plenty of cafe work time and beach time together, and still haven’t managed to get sick of each other yet (well, at least from my end!).

Jojo – Unfortunately I met this guy not too long before he had to leave Australia (#visaproblems), buuuuuut we became fast friends and bonded over our love for travel, the outdoors, and all things ridiculous. We’ve already got a reunion in the works for this year!

Britt – My fabulous new flatmate! My friends warned me not to pick a 21 year old to move into my apartment, but I chose to ignore them and go with my gut on this one. I’m so glad I did! Britt and her cat Ivy moved in last July and they have brought so much joy and laughter to my days that it was almost worth enduring a stream of shittastic flatmates before I found her.

sydney travel blog
Being weird is what Britt and I do best!

Things I Learned in 2018

Nearly all of my disappointments, frustrations, and problems in life are the result of my expectations not being met. This truth bomb hit me square in the face midway through my NLP course and when it did, SO many things started to click for me. What’s more, I realized that 1). My expectations are too high (and too many!), and 2). All the time I spend thinking about these things and expecting them is time spent in un-reality, aka a big fat WASTE of my energy.

Being feminine is a good and natural thing. I think this year was when I finally started to understand masculinity and femininity. Not as in, he’s a man and I’m a woman – but as in, masculine vs feminine energy. I realized that I’ve been carrying a lot of masculine energy with me since I was a child and maybe it would do me good to try to balance that out more. Because the fact is, it is natural for most women to have more feminine energy than masculine – only, I don’t know how this even feels because I’ve been masculine-dominant for like 25 years now. I’ve always been more logical, high energy, really good at getting shit done. I think it might be time to tap into my feminine side a bit more now and see how it feels to be more flowy and less action-oriented.

ku ring gai beach

2018 Goals/Intentions & How I Did In Achieving them

In short: some goals I absolutely killed, while others I may as well have forgotten about.

Interestingly, I feel really good about what I accomplished and how I felt about 2018 overall. The old Lindsay would have destroyed herself just for the sake of achieving a goal, but today’s Lindsay is ok with quitting things, changing her mind, and redefining what it means to be successful in her life. I may not have been able to check off all of my 2018 goals, but I feel like I learned and grew beyond what I had envisioned for myself last year – which, to me, is even better.

Feel more comfortable and less guilty spending money

This ended up being one of my main focuses for 2018 and I feel like I’ve come such a long way in my relationship with money this past year. I was raised to believe that I always had to be saving money for a rainy day, and was brought up with more of a “money scarcity” than a “money abundance” mindset. So while I’ve always been really responsible with money, I’m constantly tortured by my limiting beliefs and guilt around spending it.

For someone who values freedom over pretty much everything, I realized that if I truly wanted to be free, I had to do something about my money mindset. That’s what last year was all about for me.

Something that helped me feel ok about some of the spending was to budget $X/year for certain things. Doing that was like giving myself permission to spend the money, which meant I didn’t have to feel guilty about it. So I treated myself to a monthly massage. I indulged in gel manicures every 2-3 weeks (you guys, it’s so much cheaper in Australia and also I can’t believe how much time and hassle it saves me from doing my own nails with regular polish that chips in a few days).

I bought some expensive bikinis I definitely didn’t need. I splashed out for an NLP course, a new camera, and a new laptop. I sat with my feelings of guilt and when all was said and done, I realized… I was ok. I still had money in the bank. And the things I purchased were all mindfully selected and have added value to my life.

sydney blog

Embrace my own journey and stop comparing it to others

I think this will always be a goal of mine because it’s SO DAMN HARD to stop comparing yourself to others. If anything, I became more aware of when I did this in 2018 – and that’s the first step.

Follow the path of least resistance

… or go with the flow, as I like to think of it.

Still a work in progress with this one. I like to think I can make anything happen, and sometimes I try a little too hard when maybe I should just accept that it’s not meant to be for whatever reason.

It helps when I remind myself that most of the best things in my life have happened naturally and spontaneously, without being planned in advance. They happened because I surrendered to the flow of life.
So yep, carrying this one into 2019 and beyond.

blue mountains lincoln rock
Lincoln Rock, Blue Mountains.

Ask for what I want

I did this more often in 2018 and it was extremely uncomfortable for me. BUT, I was always better off afterwards, so I know that usually it’s good to have the confrontation that I’m dreading instead of letting the bad feelings simmer inside me.

Get comfortable driving on the left side of the road

I smashed this goal early on in the year when my sister Jamie came to visit me in Sydney. I didn’t want her to worry about driving on the other side of the road on top of jet lag and, um, just getting used to the IDEA of driving on the left. At least I was used to being in moving vehicles on the left side of the road, even if I hadn’t driven them myself.

I was super nervous to get behind the wheel of our rental car, but driving it was the easiest thing! I can’t believe I went 3 years without driving here. And now that I feel comfortable doing so, it’s given me so much more freedom. I even embarked on 3 road trips around the country this year basically just because I could.

bondi beach blog

Spend more mornings at the beach

HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA. HA.

Yeah, nah (as they say in Australia!).

I’m of two minds on this one. I have a lot of guilt and feelings of laziness/ineffectiveness over not being a morning person. But I’m not sure if it’s because society praises morning people (and in general caters to a morning person’s schedule), or if I really would be more efficient/productive with my time if I started my day earlier.

I want to refine my routine in general this year, so I may carry this goal over into 2019.

Learn how to play guitar

Also a no, but only because the class schedule never aligned with mine and I was always out of town for part of each course (it’s held 4x a year for 8 weeks). I did, however, invest in that NLP course which I feel I needed more last year than guitar.

sydney opera house yoga

Be more intentional and make more of an effort with photography

I feel like I did and didn’t accomplish this goal. I didn’t take any trips centered around photography and I didn’t go out of my way to, like, wake up early and shoot with the morning light.

But I did carry my camera on me more often. I caught so many sunsets from the beach and always had my camera on hand. I roped friends into doing little photo shoots with me.

Could I have done more, or done better? Sure. But you can ALWAYS do more.

Break US$1000/month on display ad earnings

So this one’s a little tough because I don’t have direct control over Google’s algorithm or how much advertisers pay for display ads on my site. I can optimize the crap out of all my blog posts, but there’s no guarantee that my traffic or income will go up. And what’s more, it can take several months before the changes you make will be reflected in the search rankings.

So while I didn’t quite reach this goal, my ad revenue did increase by a couple hundred or so each month, which is still a win.

About midway through last year I started following the process outlined in the Make Traffic Happen ebooks, and this year I’m going to commit to optimizing 10 old posts per month. My goal for 2019 is to DOUBLE last year’s goal and earn $2000/month on display ads!

tamarama yoga

Complete at least half of the Popsugar Reading Challenge (25 books)

Well, I ended up reading 13 books in 2018 and giving up on the challenge halfway through the year as I decided to work through some self help books instead. I’ve been “stuck” on a Tony Robbins book for at least 6 months now which kept me from reading more books last year. I don’t feel bad about it though – it’s actually a great book, it’s just taking me ages to get through because I need to take it slow and spend time reflecting, journaling, and integrating as I go.

And though I didn’t read 25 books, I feel like the reading challenge served its purpose. I read several books that I normally wouldn’t have ever considered had I not been trying to find a book that fit a certain category – and I really enjoyed them.

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