Saying a fond farewell to the (very pink) year that was 2016 and a big hello to the shiny new 2017.
Happy New Year to you! 2016 was full of incredible, wonderful things but was also one of the hardest, personally. I'm choosing to look back on the year as one of transformation and growth, and working to apply the lessons learned from the tough times to more positive outcomes in the coming year.
Joshua and I renovated our sweet 60's house, spending the first 3 months of the year working every weekend with my younger brothers on a complete overhaul. We would drive 3 hours from Sydney on the Friday evening, work on the house solidly over the weekend, then drive the 3 hours back to Sydney again on the Sunday evening before a full work week. Rinse and repeat for 12 weeks. A huge, stressful job that was draining emotionally, physically and financially, but so rewarding to look back on to see how much we accomplished in such a short time, as well as being a wonderful bonding experience with my little brothers, and a unifying experience for our marriage.
We visited New York, Palm Springs and Los Angeles, meeting up with old friends and making some new ones, and taking in plenty of inspiration for the year ahead. We also visited cities closer to home, with a birthday trip to Hobart in the middle of the year, an Easter break in Orange, and a couple of visits to Melbourne. Squeezing in a very fun week in Tokyo with family was a big highlight, and has made me vow to just book the flights when you find them cheap, and figure out the rest later! We've been able to do lots of writing for Expedia as a result of all of the travel, and will be aiming to do even more in 2017.
McKean Studio turned 2 in the middle of the year, a business birthday I'm so proud of, despite - and because of - the frustrating hardships we've faced this year. A quiet year for retail meant several weeks of working for no return (and zero pay) and trusting that each financial investment would pay off at some stage. It eventually did, after a lot of terrifying decisions, and some well timed print features that gave us the right boosts at the right times. We clocked up one year in our little McKean Studio HQ, and sent out parcels to countries and cities all around the world. The rent and bills have always been paid and the business isn't in debt - and while these seem like minor achievements, they're also really big ones that have kept us going this past year.
For most of 2016 I was also working on my book, which was published in October. An absolute joy to work on, but also one of the toughest projects I've ever put myself through. I suffered terribly from Imposter Syndrome; each round of artwork I sent off, each manuscript draft I emailed, brought a critical fear of being 'found out', of not being good enough, and I spent most of the time waiting for my publisher to ask for my advance back and cancel the contract. A years worth of cumulative stress and self expectation was a recipe for health disaster and I've spent the last several months of 2016 trying to recover from what I'd done to my health.
A couple of days before Christmas I spoke with my publisher, who told me that in less than 3 months the book had almost sold out of the 1st edition and the second print run is already underway. Unprecedented for children's books, and the best Christmas present I could have asked for really - and a helpful reminder that hard work pays off, even when it doesn't feel like enough to me in the moment. For that, this recovering stress-addicted-perfectionist is really bloody proud.
2016 was a huge year of learning; learning not to put my expectations onto other people (and to not take on theirs either) as well as learning that my achievements are mine alone to be proud of. With the new year already full of big plans and projects, I'm already applying some of the tough lessons learned to make more mindful, healthy approaches. Here's to a more confident 2017!