This morningâ€™s email about me being nominated for a Ninjamatics weblog award in the travel category set the tone for the day/year. Holy piss, 2012 has been fabulous!
My blog readership has soared. People tend to pay more attention when you ACTUALLY travel, who knew? I also received the Top Solo Female Award from Go Abroad, and a Top Travel Blogger award from Tripping.
I love this time of year. I love reflecting. I love thinking back to how much can occur in such a short amount of time. Iâ€™m amazed, impressed, motivated, inspired. And if you wanna cut through the sap and just look at some pretty pictures, then so be it.
Even better, my writing career has SOARED.
â€¢ I became the first Newfoundland and Labrador media member of the Travel Media Association of Canada
â€¢ I was featured in a massive article in The Telegram
â€¢ I became the Lead Writing Faculty at MatadorU
â€¢ I became a regular contributor to SOAR, Halifaxâ€™s airport magazine
â€¢ I was featured in Reader Digestâ€™s Our Canada magazine
- I started working on this book with Matador Network
I had the honour of working with several tourism leaders, like Contiki, Alberta Tourism, Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, the Canadian Tourism Commission, Aeroplan, etc.
I wrote some of my favourite pieces, ever.
- Newfoundlandâ€™s food revolution â€“ which took me to dozens of restaurants for some of the most mind-blowing food experiences Iâ€™ve ever had
- Notes from a Canadian seductress â€“ which was just plain ridiculous and fun
- The unravelling of generations — The most personal piece I’ve ever written, after my grandmother’s death
Not coincidentally, 2012 has been my best year for travel. My best experiences:
â€¢ Drunk and alone at Disney World in Orlando, Florida
â€¢ Meeting my best friendâ€™s baby in Halifax, Nova Scotia
â€¢ My first taste of Quebec City
â€¢ Visiting family in Ottawa
â€¢ Living and loving in Montreal
â€¢ Being pleasantly surprised by Calgary
â€¢ Yoga atop a mountain in the Rockies
â€¢ Being a cowgirl in Saskatchewan
â€¢ Taking a REAL vacation in Dominican Republic
â€¢ Drinking all of the beers in Czech Republic
â€¢ Cruising down the river in Hungary
â€¢ Mozart and museums in Vienna
â€¢ Falling in love with Central Newfoundland
My favourite place? Prague, by far. Thereâ€™s something about such a laidback, historical city that just suits me. Plus thereâ€™s a lot of beer and sausage. I miss Europe.
Which brings me to my next point.
Where am I going in 2013?
My only solid plans right now are TBEX in Toronto (say â€œhi!â€) and the TMAC conference in Saskatoon, as well as the Calgary Stampede in July.
OH and one of my best friends is getting married in Jamaica. And Iâ€™m STANDING in it. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
BUT hereâ€™s the exciting news.
Iâ€™ve begun tracking down my family history in Ireland. In 2013, Ireland is hosting a yearlong celebration called The Gathering. Itâ€™s basically like Newfoundlandâ€™s Come Home Year: if you have family history in Ireland, youâ€™re invited back to explore your roots.
And I have to say, Iâ€™m a bit obsessed with this root exploration business. I blame my human desire to fit in SOMEWHERE.
Itâ€™s going to be an unreal experience, and Iâ€™ll be undertaking the biggest writing project Iâ€™ve ever done. I want to go back to Cork and Kerry and track down my long lost Walsh family, capture the experience, and explore those Newfoundland-Irish connections.
Naturally, Iâ€™ve come to a roadblock. While I know my great-great-great grandfather came from Kerry, I canâ€™t seem to find any record of him. My great-great grandfather was born in Lawn, and thatâ€™s it. No other records to say whom his parents were.
Itâ€™s like a goddamn genealogical treasure hunt!
Can I find them? Can I make contact with my family? Can I revel in my Irish roots? Mark Critch suggested I just show up in Ireland and tell people my name is Walsh, and inevitably Iâ€™ll find them. Iâ€™ll bring whiskey.
Once Iâ€™m through with Ireland, Iâ€™m hopping over to Iceland. Because if thereâ€™s anything I love more than genealogy, itâ€™s geology. Plus Icelandic people are fucking crazy.
Maybe Berlin? I know at some point, this year or next, I want to live there for awhile. Being in Europe this summer awoke a need to know the history there. Can you believe the Berlin Wall fell in my lifetime? Unreal.
And also, beer and sausage.
OMG I love Europe. How can I even think about exploring the rest of the world? There’s NOT ENOUGH TIME.
To enjoy life more. To not overwork myself. When I wrote that recent books of 2012 list, the fact that I had only read 16 books was a huge, glaring failure in my eyes. Itâ€™s not easy to quantify the amount of time spent with loved ones, but if I donâ€™t have enough time to enjoy one of my most beloved activities, then Iâ€™m failing at life.
Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™ve upped the book challenge to 52 in one year. Yep, one a week.
I donâ€™t have any immediate plans. To be honest, I am LOVING being home right now. I have incredible roommates, the very best of friends, a hilarious family, and a sweet rescue kitty that adores me more than my mother.
And I am alive.
What a fucking year.