It seems like year in review posts (mine included) are always focused on the highlights which is only fair — who wants to dredge up and relive the bad? 2012 is different though. While it is (was) full of high points and memorable moments, even more importantly, it was full of major growth. And while growth is good in the long run, when you’re in the midst of it, it can be difficult. There were a lot of times behind the scenes this year where I was bummed out — I missed a lot of parties, a lot of time with friends and even time with family due to work. My 31st birthday hit a few days before I left for The Blogcademy and I’m not even sure I went out for that! But the payoff was immense. Every year up until now has felt like a steep climb and like I was just trying to hold onto the momentum I’d built. In my mind, it was a slippery slope but maybe that’s what your late 20′s are about…just trying to get some steady footing in life.
This year, nearly everything finally felt right — like my plan was clear and maybe the life I’d been wanting to live was actually a reality. There were still plenty of uneasy moments but more often than not, the good outweighed the bad. And that is something to be very grateful for.
Here are some of my favorite moments of this year. Taking a trip down memory lane…
This was the first year I did D.I.Y. projects on the blog. I’m pretty open about my lack of crafting ability — on the other hand, Joey excels at it and he helped make a D.I.Y. skateboard and some custom Christmas ornaments. Thanks to your positive feedback, I’m already bothering him to come up with some new ideas for 2013.
It’s weird to think about but when my trip to Las Vegas with Gala rolled around in February, I’d never met Kat in person. She was a longtime client of mine but we’d never hung out as friends. I met Kat that first night in Vegas to hand off magazine proofs and her, Gala and I felt like old friends right away. I had no idea that a few days together would turn into the adventure of a lifetime with The Blogcademy launch just a few months later. Some things are just meant to happen.
Being in Vegas with two other ambitious bloggers and a few wedding photographers naturally led to completely insane photo shoots scattered across casino campgrounds and ghost towns. We hit the road with fresh bouquets of flowers and garbage bags stuffed with clothes along with wedding photographers Lisa Devlin and David McNeil for a day that felt very cinematic.
Las Vegas Shoots:
Laugh all you want but one of my biggest personal moments this year was traveling to Halfway, Oregon with my friend Joey to visit Nigel, a llama I love very much. Driving 8 hours to visit a llama might seem extreme but we have a long history together! And Halfway was amazing. We were left with the keys to a massive bed & breakfast on 150 acres and a plate of freshly baked cookies. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the country, that’s for sure.
I’ve been to LA a lot of times and it’s aways been great but this time, Gala thought we should mix it up. In June, we traded in our usual West Hollywood digs for The Viceroy in Santa Monica and it totally changed the way we saw LA. Walking everywhere and being a few minutes from the beach was a huge relief (on our past trips, we spent hours in traffic). We did yoga, ate yogurt for breakfast and rode bikes along the beach. By the end of our stay, we were feeling very “Californian” and digging our newly adopted lifestyle! The Made U Look girls came by The Viceroy and shot us with mostly film — I’ll always treasure the snaps they got.
Santa Monica Posts:
I made myself a promise this year: no matter what, I was going to make time to visit the Oregon Coast. Neither Joey nor Rocky had ever been! Joey is a warm, California beach type of guy but to my surprise, they both loved it. We stayed in a suite overlooking Cannon Beach and that’s still one of my best memories from this year.
Our Trip To The Oregon Coast:
I’d been wanting to redesign my blog and update my branding for a long time but it just kept getting put off. Finally, there were no more excuses — my five year anniversary was quickly approaching in August and I made the deadline just in time thanks to Star’s responsive dev skills.
One of the biggest shifts I felt in my career came with attending the Design Life retreat in Palm Springs. I still remember when the invite landed in my inbox a few months before — I had to let it sink in for a few days before I even responded. The list included a lot of people I admire and I was a little freaked out. I finally said yes and it was one of the best things to happen all year. Being around so many of my female peers and having an open dialogue where we could openly share tips and talk about our struggles really impacted my mindset for the better moving forward. Star came along for the ride and we ended up having crazy conversations about pickup artists, tarps and Burning Man late into the night. Oh, and The Ace had a photo booth that accepted credit cards. Always dangerous. Haha.
Palm Springs Posts:
We didn’t do any major house renovations for most of the year but some of the small updates were pretty awesome. We added a new light to our dining room, a dreamy blanket to the living room but most exciting was the crawlspace Joey remodeled and miraculously turned into a shoe closet.
House & Decor Posts:
Once or twice a year, I come up with a style direction. It helps me stay motivated with dressing up and inspires me to switch things up. To me, personal style is just another form of art. It’s all about layering, combining textures, pulling together color combos into something that feels uniquely you.
Since a good majority of my life is spent doing design, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite projects from the last year. The most ambitious by far was the second issue of Rock N Roll Bride magazine which clocked in at 80 pages. I did all the design and production and it reminded me why that one year I spent at a studio here in Portland doing all production for 8 hours a day was worth it (I think). I also did some fun stuff for Luke Copping and The Blogcademy.
Favorite Design Projects:
Towards the Fall, I’d started making some realizations about my brand. The Blogcademy was going strong and with another project launching in mid-2013, I needed to get real and make some changes. I’d started blogging in 2001, began this blog in 2007 and knew it was time to do a brand audit to get my online and offline lives aligned. In the process, I realized that using a nickname online was limiting me since I was now managing projects beyond just Nubby Twiglet. I started transitioning my social media profiles and about page over to using my name, Shauna and creating clearer processes to deal with multiple businesses. I’m almost there…there will be a follow-up post on brand audits very soon!
Personal Business & Design Collateral Posts:
This was my favorite picture of Rocky all year. I never knew that a 9 pound creature could make my life so much better. I always joke that meeting Joey was like a 2-for-1 special. I couldn’t have one without the other! He’d already had Rocky for a few years and they were totally inseparable. For those of you that are curious, he’s a powderpuff Chinese Crested. But he sometimes resembles a dwarfed goat. Or a tiny pony. Haha.
If you know me or read this blog regularly, you’ve no doubt gathered that I love shoes. I worked in shoe stores for five years before becoming a designer and it put me on a path of obsession! Luckily, I’m friends with the folks at Solestruck and they invited me to do a feature with these spiked sneakers. My friend Shaun at Mutt did the shoot and it was my chance to show just how in love with these shoes I really was.
One of the funniest moments this year was heading out to the Mötley Crüe and Kiss concert in another state with my brother, totally spur of the moment with no tickets. It was a Sunday night and The Blogcademy was going live the next morning but I knew it was a once in a lifetime chance. We showed up, grabbed general admission tickets and walked in right as “Shout At The Devil” was playing. It was pretty perfect. I rolled home super late, wrapped up the last of The Blogcademy graphics and we launched on time!
The biggest highlight of my year by far was starting The Blogcademy with two friends, Gala Darling and Kat Williams. Blogging has played an important part in our lives and it’s how I connected with both of them. We’d all been individually talking about doing workshops (and Kat had already had one, School Of Rock) but after meeting in Vegas in February, we realized we’d be much stronger as a team. Creating a strategy-based blogging workshop just felt right. We’ve all had a great number of successes and failures and learned a great deal along the way and it was the right time to share that knowledge with other bloggers. Flying to New York and teaching that workshop was a game changer. Meeting 30 ambitious, excited women and making friends with a lot of them, not to mention getting to travel with two of my closest friends made me incredibly fulfilled. Not to get all cheesy…but it was a dream come true.
The Blogcademy Highlights:
As a blogger, I believe that we all have life experiences and insights that are valuable and that can help others. Even though it’s not as often as I’d like, doing an advice column and helping aspiring creatives is one of my favorite parts about this blog. My goal is to do a lot more of these next year.
• Does Blogging & Self-Promotion Make Me Vain?
• 11 Tips For Acing Your Next Design Interview
• More College Degrees?! What Do You Really Want?
• What’s Your Secret To Shooting Great Photos?
• How Do I Build My Font Library?
Thanks for joining me for this (very long) recap. I’ll see you back here on January 1st — in the meantime, catch me on Instagram. Any big plans or projects you’re working on for the new year?