Tag Archives for " year-end reviews "

Record Your Year With One Word [Free Printable / Interactive PDF]

It's no secret. I'm a big fan of the One Word practice. I love it so much, I ended up writing a workbook and a mini ebook about it.

I'm also a fan of year-end round-ups. I've done it a few times on this blog. Usually, as my last blog post or my first couple of blog posts in the new year.

Sometimes, though, year-end highlights can be a bit overwhelming to write. So, I thought this year, I'd do a different kind of round-up.

This is how I ended up with The Year in One Word printable/interactive PDF worksheet. It's now available for free in our newly revamped* Content Library. So, anyone who wants to look back on their year and record some words to remember their year can do so in a simple manner.

The image below shows the worksheet as a blank printable, which you can print using your own printer and fill out using pens, pencils, and markers. It also features my own filled-in worksheet, which I did using my computer.

The Year In One Word

I'm really pleased with how The Year in One Word printable/interactive PDF worksheet turned out. It's possible I may have spent way too much time designing it. But, I think I'd enjoy using this every year, so I figure that it's worth it. It would be even more worth the time if other people would find it useful too. That's why it's now in the Content Library.

The general idea is that this resource enables us to come up with one word summaries for the year. It has a spot to write down our Word of the Year. Then, each month of the year has a place where we can write a one word summary for that month. If we'd like to add one word (or a few) notes in each month to remember some things, there's a spot for those notes too.

I enjoyed making - and filling-in - this journaling worksheet. It was lovely to look back on the year (even with some of its tough and painful bits)... without feeling overwhelmed with all the writing and journaling.

So, I hope that you would find this useful in recording your year too!

If you're a subscriber, you'll be getting an email with the latest password for the library. If you're not subscribed yet, just sign up and make sure you watch out for your Welcome Email. That's where you'll find the password.

Happy reflecting! And, may your new year be even more amazing!


* The content library has been through several revamps this year, as new resources become available and taking list members' feedback into consideration. My hope is to design and develop a content library that's super useful, beautiful, and simple to access for list subscribers.

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2013 Highlights

Lighthouse - 2013 HighlightsDoing a series of  'closing rituals' is part of my annual tradition on the blog (since 2006) and in my private journals (since I can't remember when!).

Basically, here, it means sharing some of the highlights of the year (both blogged and un-blogged moments).  Although I kind of missed out on part of 2010 due to an extremely hectic year.

Anyway, I've done all sorts of end-of-year round-up posts:

This year, or rather, for last year's 2013 annual review, I'm not quite sure what kind of 'highlights post' I want to do. So, since I'm all for 'hybrids' at the moment, I thought I might just do a hybrid of month-by-month, list, and theme-based.

Some Things To Remember

For 2013, I chose FOCUS as my Word of the Year. While I was initially apprehensive about this word, being the slash/dash person that I am, I realised how important it was to understand what focus really means to me. Even more so, as a slash/dash person. That's why in a way, 2013 became the year when I truly connected with what matters most to me, at this stage of my life.

The Monthly Highlights

January 2013

Day 18/365 (2013): The Boy at his Birthday Party, with Sister

At the boy's birthday party at the Ice Arena. Love how his sister is looking on so sweetly. Also, looking at this, I can't believe how much 'younger' they look. Have they really changed that much in a year?

February 2013

  • Celebrated Valentine's Day with a special surprise dinner at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Organised by the hubby.
  • Hubby's birthday.
  • Celebrated 10 years of being in Australia.
  • Went to Melbourne to attend Evernote for Business event AND to be interviewed for a job. Yes, they offered me a job to become their PR Manager for their Asia Pacific office based in Singapore. However, I had to turn them down due to a number of reasons. It was a tough decision, as they seem to be an amazing company with really great people. Can't speak highly enough of the people I've met.
Day 45/365 (2013): A part-surprise Valentine's Day dinner

The Valentine's Day semi-surprise dinner at the restaurant at the Adelaide Botanical Garden was great. Loved the multi-course meal (can't remember if it was 6 or 8 or what - just plenty of food!). The hubby did well. 🙂

March 2013

  • My girl turned 6. She had a 'masquerade party' at our house with her new school friends.
  • Did my only giveaway of the year here on the blog. Haven't done this in ages!
Day 89/365 (2013): The Li'l Girl Turns 6!

My girl on her sixth birthday. So very cheeky. Always loves the camera, this girl. And, the camera seems to love her back.

April 2013

  • Celebrated my 39th birthday. Yep, last year in my 30s! Ouchie.
  • Graduated with my second Masters' degree. A Master of Teaching degree from Flinders University.
  • Went to my first Bryan Adams concert with the hubby.
Day 105/365 (2013) / 16/52: Graduation Day!

Started a second Masters' degree way back in 2009. Finally finished the coursework late in 2012. So happy to do the graduation march last April 2013 - with my kids and hubby cheering me on. It was tough to finish when I went back to full time work. And, I wish I graduated with my friends. But, I'm glad I persisted and got to the finish line.

May 2013

  • Found a house I love. Bought it.
  • Went to the Gold Coast to attend my third Connecting Up conference. My first time to attend as a non-CU staff and representing my company, Vervely, for Microsoft Citizenship APAC (my client). Great to see some old friends, meet new ones, and develop connections. Special thanks to Nerida Gill too, for being a great roomie!
  • Celebrated Vervely's first year in business.
  • Remembered my dad's fifth year death anniversary.
  • Our dog Blue turned 6!
  • Started incorporating 'Daily Writing' practice.
With Beth Kanter and John Kenyon

It was great to see Beth Kanter and John Kenyon again at the 13CU conference at the Gold Coast. Loved getting the chance to hang out again - on Aussie soil! Really amazing and smart folks, these two. Well deserved love from the NPTech community.

June 2013

"Red House" Virtual Tour

Lived here for 6.5+ years. Longest time hubby and I have ever stayed put in one place. And yes, this is is the best the house has ever looked.

July 2013

  • Moved to our new house on the 4th of July. On an incredibly stormy day.
  • Finished my first ever short script. It's in draft form, but pleased to have finally done it after years of wishing I can write a screenplay. It's loosely based on an old short story I wrote. Title: "The Last Kiss".
  • The li'l girl attended gymnastics this month - and she loves it. She got tested and was accepted into the program, and has progressed on to the next Step/Level, after her second term.
New House

Loved this house from the moment I saw it online. Didn't think I could ever own a house like this in my life. We'll see how long we can stay put in this one!

August 2013

September 2013

  • Kids won Oliphant Science Awards again. Girl won 2nd Place for Multimedia (her second win in a row). Boy had Highly Commended for his video (he wasn't too pleased he didn't win a prize after winning 1-2 prizes a year for three years in a row).
  • My company, Vervely, officially became a Microsoft direct vendor. Making me part-Microsoftee, with my own @microsoft.com email account. So thrilled to be a part of an incredible team - with an amazing company.
  • Started doing bento lunch boxes for my kids.
  • Went on a short weekend trip to the Riverlands for the first time, with the family.
1 Prize Winner and 1 Highly Commended in this year's Oliphant Science Awards. The girl's second win. The boy's first non-prize winning year after winning three years straight.   How do you balance celebrations with one child while trying to commiserate wi

One prize winner and one highly commended in this year's Oliphant Science Awards. This has become an annual thing for us too. So far.

October 2013

Adelaide Visitors

With the Goodings from New Zealand at the National Motor Museum.

November 2013

  • Launched my latest web project, as a result of my newest hobby: Bento Lunch Box Stories.
  • My mom arrived for the holiday season from Manila.
  • My little girl's first media appearance. She got featured on The Advertiser and the local Messenger paper. Much excitement.
  • Girl's first School Nativity Play. She played an angel. This is how she got into the papers. 🙂
  • Went to Melbourne to speak at Associations Forum's inaugural Future Leaders Conference. Had a great time and made some lovely new friends.
  • Went to Melbourne again to attend Microsoft Citizenship APAC's Social Media for Social Good Event at the local MSFT HQ. My fourth Microsoft office visit (Sydney, Redmond, Adelaide are the first three, in that order).
  • I also received another feature on The Philippine Times (Australia).
Li'l girl on The Advertiser Nov 2013

When we did a birth announcement for the girl on The Advertiser 6+ years ago, we called her our 'little star'. On her first official media appearance, we see the words 'stars shine' with her photo on the same newspaper. Ah, how cool is that? So much excitement over this, of course.

December 2013

  • Attended Girl Geek Coffee and Giving Tuesday at the local Microsoft Adelaide office. Also started meeting - and getting welcomed into - the amazing local team.
  • Celebrated 14th Wedding Anniversary.
  • Celebrated my mom's birthday.
  • Mum-in-Law and Dad-in-Law arrived for the holiday season from Johannesburg.
  • Family trip to the Yorke Peninsula. Our first time to visit the area.
  • Fabulous Christmas Day celebrations at home, with the family. Kids loved spending it with all grandparents for the first time (including my dad, in spirit).
  • Spent a lovely New Year's Eve at Brighton Beach with the family.
Santa has come to visit! And, the rest of the grown-ups went a bit overboard with the pressies again, methinks. ;) Looking forward to the kids' reactions in the morning. How amazing is it that we get to celebrate Jesus' birthday around the world this way,

So. Many. Presents. Yes, these kids get spoilt. Especially with three grandparents around who enjoy going overboard at Christmas time!

It was a great day for strawberry picking...

At Beerenberg Farm in Hahndorf. Best strawberry picking day ever. Lovely weather. Huge, plump, juicy strawberries.  Some of them, as big as a small child's fist. It was great to spend time with the parents/grandparents over the holidays! 

Projects and Themes To Remember

Art/Creativity Moments: 

Favourite New Gadgets of the Year:

  • Finally abandoned my old iPhone, in exchange for my brand new Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone.
  • Trying to motivate myself to become healthier, so decided to buy and start using Fitbit.
  • My new LG Roboking (gotta blog about this some time!).
  • The fridge that the previous homeowners of our new house left us. Not really new, but new to us.
  • Projector, screen, and sound system for our very own home cinema. Projector and screen are also from the previous homeowners. The sound system is new.

More Family Moments:

  • Both the kids are still playing piano and they had a recital at school together for the first time.
  • The boy is still playing soccer and has had trials for the next season. It looks like he's still going to continue. It will be his fifth year.
  • Both kids started playing a little bit of squash, with some external and daddy coaching. They seem to be enjoying, but not sure if they'll continue.
  • They're also still taking swimming lessons, but the boy has been allowed to take two terms on and two terms off this year. He has participated in their school's swimming carnival and their team won. They both love having our very own pool.

Entertainment Notes:

  • This is the year that I've been introduced to Netflix and has finally given in and explored Spotify a lot more. Loving them both at the moment.
  • This is also the year when I probably watched the most movies ever - and got introduced to some great TV shows. I became a Trekkie, a Whovian, and a Browncoat all in the same year.
  • I also got to read a bit, but not as much as I'd like.

Other Blogging Highlights:

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2012: The Year of Possibility

It’s that time of the year again. A time when I reflect on the year that just passed and highlight some of the best and not-so-good parts. Mostly to help me to remember.

As some of you might know, I have chosen POSSIBILITY as my 2012 Word of the Year. And, just like my previous WOTYs, this one provided unexpected turns for me. Another testament to the power of that One Word.

As I recall moments under 12 themes for 2012, you’ll see how “Possibility” became part of my year.

Possibility: 2012

I. Milestone Moments

These are some of the really major things that happened for me personally and professionally in the year…

  • In mid-May, I returned to Start-up Life when I began my new business, Vervely. To me, this is probably one of the biggest changes of the year – and one that embodies “possibility” in many ways. Although I started the year off happily employed, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of asking myself: “What’s next?” When people asked me that question, I didn’t know what to say. And, that kind of spooked me. I always had a plan of some kind. Something I need to do or to accomplish. Cruising was never something I like. So, when I couldn’t answer that question in the job that I had, I knew something needed to change. I just wasn’t sure what. In an unexpected twist, I ended up having to leave that job – and becoming my own boss again. Although at the time, I still wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted to do. Strangely enough, one of the jokes that hubby and I shared when I was considering my next steps was getting a job at a place like Microsoft. Well, I didn’t quite get a job there, but the world of possibility landed me not one, but TWO long-term contracts with two different teams from Microsoft. Plus, I also ended up booking a couple of other projects with two other clients. That’s why within 6 months of operating my new business, I met and surpassed my first year goals. I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for me and Vervely!
  •  Finally finished my second Masters’ degree! In-between juggling a full time job in the first part of the year, travelling overseas and interstate, domestic duties, and then setting up a new business, I finally managed to complete my second postgraduate degree. Yes, I now have three degrees: a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) degree from UST in the Philippines, a Master of Social Sciences (Applied Psychology) degree from the National University of Singapore, and now, a Master of Teaching (Primary/Special Education) from Flinders University here in Adelaide, Australia.  I have yet to graduate officially, but all the studying’s done. And, even though I told myself “A pass is all I need” to finish my remaining subjects, I'm pleased to say that I still ended up with decent marks. In fact, I believe I managed to maintain a Grade Point Average of approximately 6.5 (with 7 being the highest GPA). Please excuse my terrible happiness and pride.
  • Celebrating my 38th birthday in style! Well, okay, maybe not really that stylish. But, I have to say that even though I ended up celebrating my actual birthday away from my favourite people in the world (hubby and kids), I had the best birthday in a long long while. It was partly because I’ve finally done a fundraising event as part of my birthday celebrations. My first official fundraiser. And partly because I allowed myself to be happy on this day, instead of being all hung up about it. Yes, I celebrated my birthday in the streets of San Francisco – complete with a Mars bar “birthday cake” - with a bunch of strangers. And loved it. Plus, I got to hang out with some really cool folks in SF that week – and even spent time with my brother and his family in Ohio. Then, when I came home to my family, I had a surprise set of gifts from the hubby and kids, so I got to celebrate my special day all over again.
  • Becoming a property investor. This is something that hubby and I have considered for some time now, but have never really ventured into seriously until this year. Although we have entered the property market back in 2004, we did it primarily to own a home. Late this year, we have purchased a new apartment in the CBD, which has now been rented. Big move indeed.

II. Family Milestones

Not only did I celebrate my personal milestones, I also enjoyed the successes of my beloved family

  • The husband finished his PhD! Yep, I wasn’t the only one who finally saw the end of postgraduate studies this year. I am now married to Doctor Husband, who also received a special commendation for his doctorate thesis from Adelaide University (from Law School!). And, yes, this is also his second postgraduate degree, as he has finished a Master of Commercial Law degree a few years ago (from the UK). He also stayed as the coach of our son’s soccer team. Proof of something that I’ve known all along: Brainy boys ARE sexy. Brainy boys who love sport and family: Even better! 😉
  • The girl turned 5 this year, with a number of amazing milestones. She started school in July for a mid-year Reception start. By the end of two terms, she was reading at Level 18, writing, spelling, and doing maths. She was even invited to join “extension classes”. Her end-of-year report was great. She also continued swimming lessons the whole year, but decided to stop her dance and French lessons mid-year. She did, however, start Piano lessons in July and had her first recital in December. She also entered – and won – her first Oliphant Science Award. And yes, she finally allowed us to cut her hair short!
  • The boy turned 8 this year, and continues to do incredible stuff. Like doing really really well for his first NAPLAN tests. And doing well with most of his ICAS exams, and particularly well in Computing (he received a special medal for being a top scorer in his year, from all of South Australia and the Northern Territory). He continued Piano lessons and playing soccer for his club. He did swimming for most of the year but asked for a break during the last term. His film from last year was shown in an international film festival. He was also invited in Adelaide United’s mascot program, where he got to accompany a professional footy player to the pitch, and also play in a stadium during half time. The boy also attended a third Oliphant Science Award, winning his fifth prize in three years. Yes, there were some challenging moments too. In fact, this year was probably one of the most challenging times we’ve had with him so far. But, for the most part, he kept us happy and proud.

III. Travels

Unlike 2011, I didn’t spend most of my year in airports and hotels. Thankfully! Having said that, I still did get my fair share of seeing the world. And I am grateful for it.

  • Sydney. This is the place that I visited the most this year. First, early in January when hubby and I took the kids and the parents-in-laws to Sydney for the first time. It was a lovely trip! Returned to Sydney early in May for my previous workplace’s annual conference, where I was one of the main organisers and speakers. And again, in October as a guest of Microsoft Australia, attending the Windows 8 launch. And, I’m coming back again early in 2013, this time, to take my mom and sis there for the first time.
  • San Francisco and Ohio. This trip was my first big trip of the year overseas (Mar/Apr), which was primarily for attending NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco, where I was a speaker. It was my second year attending this incredible event, and I felt very lucky to have that opportunity. Apart from attending 12NTC and celebrating my birthday, I also decided to stay an extra few days in SF to travel around a little, and also to head to Ohio for the first time to see family.
  • New Zealand. This is, without a doubt, my Road Trip of the Year. The family and I visited Auckland, Christchurch, Fox Glacier, and Queenstown (plus places in-between) in June/July – and what a trip it was. It was all our first trip to NZ and we all loved it. I still can’t stop thinking and talking about this amazing place of Middle Earth beauty. The kids saw snow for the first time. We all experienced skiing for the first time (yes, the kids are SO much better at it, of course!). We got to spend some time with my good friend Christine and her lovely family in Christchurch. The kids filmed their award-winning multimedia entries for the Oliphant Awards. We walked/hiked, went swimming in hot pools in –2’C temperature, had an epic train ride, and more. Needless to say, it’s a trip that we will remember forever.
  • Local trips: We had another family trip to Clayton Bay (on our own as a family) and Narnu Farm (family + my mom and sis) this year. A repeat of last year’s great experiences. And, of course, some small day trips.

IV. Main Events

These are some of the events that I was a part of this year…

  • Return to Blogging. Even though I  haven’t blogged as much as I’d like to this year, I still consider 2012 as my return to blogging because I’ve finally started taking blogging more seriously again (outside of paid blogging work). And yes, it’s the year when I started attending blogging events again.
  • Attending Adelaide Beauty Bloggers Conference for the first time. Yep, this is a blogging event where I was just an attendee. What a rarity! And, I really really enjoyed it. Got to know some new Aussie products. And best of all: Met some new blogging friends locally!
  • Food blogging lives! Not only did I revive my food blogging this year, I also had the pleasure of being invited as a delegate and speaker at the 3rd Australian Food Blogging Conference, which was held here in Adelaide (in November) . It was so wonderful, I ended up dedicating two blog posts to this event here and here. Apart from the yummy treats, my favourite part is meeting new amazing bloggers.
  • More speaking gigs! Apart from the food blogging conference, NTC12 in San Francisco, and CU12 conference in Sydney, I have also presented at Collaborate to Innovate: Adelaide and did a number of webinars for my clients + Associations Forum.
  • Coaching Start-ups. For the first time, I also took part in StartUp Weekend Adelaide as one of the mentors. It was a great, enlightening experience that really fuelled my interest in taking part in the local StartUp scene.

V. Digital + Social Media Matters

  • Meeting 5,000+ followers mark on Twitter. This was a goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year. Some time last year, I talked about the idea of getting to 10,000 followers. At the time, I only had 3,400+ followers and I went on an experimental journey to learn more about increasing followers. Learning what I have learned, I knew that I didn’t have the time and the energy to get to 10K followers (without paying for them!). But, I knew 5K was doable within the year. So, I set myself that goal, and I met it some time last month – with my personal account now closing in on 5,200. A 52.94% increase. I’m looking forward to seeing how this will continue to grow and to evolve.
  • Facebook continues to be my most engaged social platform. While I really love Twitter, I find that I still get the most engagement out of my Facebook contacts. Considering I only have around 960+ contacts there (yep, just added around 100 this year), I find that I have many more conversations on my posts through FB. Including 100+ birthday greetings. And, a majority of my donors for my fundraising event also seemed to be through my FB posts. You can see some of my 2012 moments through FB.
  • Growing social media presence. I’ve continued to grow my use of LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest this year, but I haven’t really put in that much time in to them. I’ve also maintained Google Plus, Flickr and Tumblr, but completely ignored MySpace and YouTube. The breakout social platforms for me this year are Storify and Yelp. I know they’ve been around longer, but I’ve only really explored it this year. Really enjoying its capabilities, even if I have a long “wish list” for them.
  • Apps Most Used (in no particular order): Evernote, HootSuite, Live.com/Outlook (breakout), SkyDrive, DropBox, Windows Live Writer, Kindle, iBooks, ArtRage, WordPress, Paper (new), iThoughtsHD, Skype, IE, Firefox, Safari, HoursTracker (new), HopAboard, and ABC iView.

VI. ShaiCoggins.com Highlights

  • Loving my readers from different parts of the world! Always. And, they’re from: United States (36.7%), Philippines (14.68%), Australia (9.48%), UK (7.88%), Canada (5.56%), Singapore (2.78%), India (2.76%) and Malaysia (1.82%).
  • Especially loving active, regular readers! I am grateful to all of you who link here, subscribe to the feed, and more. Extra love and thanks go to the Top Commenters of 2012: Kari, Connie, Christina, Mel, Mitch, Sasha, Celeste, and Joanna. Thank you all!
  • Notes from Shai. Yep, finally managed to set up this mailing last! Very much overdue. No issues out yet, so watch out for it in 2013 (and make sure you’re subscribed ;)).

VII. Best of Entertainment and More

As I’ve mentioned in Best Books of 2012, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of being able to read a lot this year. I’ve also gotten to watch a lot of movies and TV. And even played a few video games. So, even though I’ve had quite an active, productive year, I’ve also given myself a lot of down time and fun time. Yes, looking back on it now, 2012 is something that feels a lot more balanced.

  • My favourite movies of the year: This is a bit tough because I can’t remember them all. Offhand, I’d say: The Avengers, Hunger Games, and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. I also liked Les Miserables, but it’s a bit hard to love it because I kept comparing the movie experience to the theatre experience and it just comes up short. Oh, and for lighthearted fun, I unexpectedly ended up really enjoying Chalet Girl and I Don’t Know How She Does It.
  • My favourite TV shows of the year: Hands down, the best one, is Game of Thrones (Season 2). You knew I’d say that, right? I’m already really looking forward to Season 3. Some of my favourite TV fixations also include Merlin (Season 5), Gossip Girl (Season 6), and Once Upon a Time (Season 2). A new discovery (and guilty pleasure) for me this year is Hart of Dixie. I ended up catching up on all of Season 1 and now in the middle of Season 2.
  • Video Games Fun! This is the year that I played a bit more video games than I’ve ever had time for. Mostly, though, I used video games for fitness. My faves, of course, are: Zumba for the Wii (wish I had this on the Kinect instead) and Dance Central 1 for the Xbox Kinect. Also got a bit addicted to playing Wordament on Xbox for Windows 8-enabled Tablet PC. Yes, I’m a nerd.

VIII. Favourite New Gadgets

Some of my favourite new toys from 2012…

  • Sony VAIO Ultrabook 11 Duo. Yes, it’s my brand new Windows 8 Tablet PC that I have yet to blog about. It’s not perfect (got a horrid scratch on its screen already : (), but I’m really enjoying being back on Windows because of it.
  • Nikon D7000 DSLR. I still haven’t had the chance to give this brand new DSLR camera a proper whirl, as it’s only a few days old (part of my Christmas haul). But, I love, love, love it already.
  • Canon SX40 HS Superzoom Camera. Yes, this is another year where I’ve collected a good number of new cameras (the other time was in 2009). And, even though I pretty much ignored this camera for most of the year, I’ve ended up falling in love with it recently.
  • Nintendo 3DS XL. Nope, not mine. The kids received one each as one of their Christmas presents. They’ve been begging for a new DS for months now, and we managed to hold out until Christmas day. They love it, and I must say, from the few times I managed to get a play with them, I’m completely amazed by them. Finding the 3D technology quite incredible. And wowsers on the Augmented Reality games! Hope to share more on this later. I might get the kids to review them here. Heh.
  • The so-so iPad 3rd Gen. Bought myself the third generation iPad in May this year, when I had to return my iPad2 to work. And, while I continue to use it a lot (especially as an e-reader and notetaker), it has lost a bit of its charm on me. Partly because I’ve had loads of trouble with this iPad. Primarily, the issue of shutting down. A LOT.  It doesn’t help that it boots up soooo slowly whenever it crashes. Sometimes, it shuts down so much that I just can’t bear to use it. Unfortunately, my VAIO is a bit too big (and doesn’t have all the apps I need) to use in bed. Plus, Kindle Fire isn’t available in Australia. Otherwise, I would’ve been tempted to swap my iPad for a Kindle instead.
  • New kitchen gadgets! Yes, I managed to stock my kitchen with a few brand new gadgets this year, including: an ice cream maker, a breadmaker, a food processor, and a slow cooker. The ice cream maker has broken after a few batches of homemade ice cream, but the others are still being put to good use.

IX. Personal and Professional Development

Apart from finishing my postgraduate degree, reading plenty of books, and attending events, these are some other things that I’ve also done to improve my skills…

  • Completed a Leading and Managing People course from the Adelaide University. The first lot of a two-day professional development series I signed up for. This one was in March 2012.
  • Also completed a Coaching for Managers course from the Adelaide University. This is the second two-day professional development course. Also in March 2012.
  • Becoming a member of the South Australian Writers’ Centre and Oxfam Australia. I also signed up for a membership with Women on Boards.
  • Got interviewed twice for a couple of board membership roles in two national organisations. Even though I didn’t get the appointments, the whole board membership exploration was a great learning experience for me.
  • Officially explored the concept of mentorship. This is something that I’ve been meaning to write more about as well, but haven’t had the chance to do so. In any case, early this year, I received the privilege of being partly mentored by people I admire a lot. There were also a couple of informal mentors that came up in my life this year, who provided a lot of help as I was exploring my new career direction.

X. The Rough Times

Not everything turned out great this year. In fact, I’ve experienced one of the worst betrayals I’ve ever had. But, thankfully, one of my super powers is turning Bad Things in to Good Stuff, so that horrible experience gave me the opportunity to lead a better, more balanced life this year. And yes, in the great big scheme of things, these rough times aren’t really all that bad.

  • Getting hit by the Google bug. While my Twitter follower increased, my blog’s traffic has decreased this year. The first time I’ve seen a real decrease in this blog’s traffic. And yes, it all started around May, due to Google’s change in algorithm. ShaiCoggins.com has withstood all of Google’s previous changes, but this time, it has really affected the site. But, I’ve never been too bothered by my traffic before, and I’m not about to start now. In fact, if anything, I’m slowly figuring out ways to be less and less dependent on Google. That’s why I’ve also decreased my AdSense displays in this blog, with a view of completely removing it one day, as I’m seriously considering changing the way that I run ads around here.
  • Leaving my job at CU. It’s hard to find a job you love and one that suits you perfectly. So, when you find it, you think it’s something that might last forever. But, just like some experiences are only meant to last briefly (no matter how great they are) – so are some jobs only meant to be around for a certain time before you know that the best thing that can happen is to move on. I’m glad for my experience at CU, and it was difficult to leave. But, I am where I am now because I moved on. Another proof that tough times can always be turned around for good.
  • Some minor health issues. There had been no major dramas health-wise this year, thankfully. Sure, I still caught colds and the flu more than I’d care to. But, for the most part, things had been good . Not just for me, but also for the whole family. However, a couple of ongoing health-related issues were highlighted this year that I might finally need to address next year to improve some areas of my health.
  • Failure to deliver on a couple of goals. Out of 12 goals for 2012, I’ve managed to check off 10 things. Unfortunately, I slipped on a couple. One of these goals is: “Keeping a Daily Creative Practice.” And, even though I didn’t officially try for another 365 this year, I did look in to doing a 52 Weeks Project. And yes, I still didn’t get to finish. I’m slightly disappointed that I seem unable to carry through with this, but I also know that when it comes to these types of projects, it’s never a waste of time to attempt them. Even if I never get to complete them. I still learn and develop a lot during the process. Like doing my daily morning pages for 3 to 4 months straight this year. Or completing about 30+ self portraits for the 52 Weeks Project. It was still worth giving the projects a go. And yes, I’m planning some projects again in 2013.

XI. Creative Highlights

Creativity is part of my core, my essence… And yet, I find that I’m not giving myself enough time for it. So, I’d like to celebrate some minor victories that help to keep my creative juices flowing…

  • Started doodling and creating again. Not a heck of a lot, mind you. But, I’m still glad that I managed to find some time anyway. Especially happy with doing more digital doodles again.
  • Worked on a couple of novels early this year. Yes, I started off the year with working on the novel that I completed back in 2009 – but have yet to finish revising. Unfortunately, I got myself stuck again, so I stopped revisions. Hope to pick it up again some time. And yes, I also ended up starting 1 or 2 other stories. Nothing completed.
  • Getting back in to photography. As mentioned before, I’ve rekindled my love for creating photographic images again. Hence, the new cameras. I’ve done a handful of shoots this year that I ended up really liking. That includes this set of photos from our Narnu Farm 2012 trip (taken with my CASZ, my Canon superzoom).
  • Catching up in video making. One of the things I like doing is creating a collection of snaps and clips to capture moments for our family. I don’t get to do this often enough. This year, I’m pleased to say that I’ve managed to create about 3 new video collections. A record indeed! I’m hoping that my video skills will also get used for my blog again next year. 😉

XII. Miscellaneous

Other things worth noting and remembering…

  • A special Valentine’s Day. It has been a long time since hubby and I enjoyed a Valentine’s Day celebration. And, this spontaneous one became quite a memorable treat.
  • Cut my hair short. ‘been a while since I’ve had a short hairdo, but I’m enjoying the change so far.
  • New specs. Got myself new ones this year, as my eyesight is progressively getting worse (see health-related rough times). Ergh.
  • Explored co-working this year. Something that I’ve always wanted to do ever since I’ve heard of the whole concept. In any case, I will evaluate this again some time.
  • Did the City to Bay with the family Even though I promised not to do it again, my kids' request to join them in this year's walkathon weakened my resolve. Thankfully, I only did the 6k walk, so it wasn't as painful.
  • Spending time with extended family. Early in the year, we still had my parents-in-law for the holidays. Later in the year, my mom and sister have come over for a holiday visit too. Great times indeed.

Do you do an annual review of your year? What are your highlights and challenges in 2012?

Now, here’s wishing us all an incredible new year!

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A World of Good: My 2011 in Review

If I were to describe my 2011 in one word, it would have to be: EPIC.

How can any other word suffice when I've managed to pack so much more than I would ever hope to pack in one year? Life has changed so much for me within 12 months - both personally and professionally.

The people I met, the places I've been, the things I've experienced... From stories I've shared all over the web to those I can't even begin to write about.

I'm just here to do a round-up of memories, as part of my annual tradition here at Studio Notes. Since I've done a semi round-up halfway through the year, I thought I'd skip the month-by-month. But yeah, something about looking back that makes me realise just how much life can take different turns within a year...

So, here are the highlights from my year, organised in 11 themes, for 2011...

Special Milestones
There are many day-to-day stuff that I'd love to remember and to celebrate. Some of them do stand out more than others.

I've travelled a bit in the past decade or so. But, I don't think I've ever travelled so much within a year. Ever. So, to me, 2011 is really My Year of Travel. And here are some highlights...

  • 3 trips to the Philippines - 1 for a family trip, as part of Christmas/New Year (Jan). Then, 2 trips for work, speaking in Davao and Manila (Feb), then Bacolod and Cebu (Nov). Work trips have been courtesy of Microsoft and TechSoup Asia, through my day job at Connecting Up.
  • 2 trips to Malaysia - Again, 1 as part of a family trip to KL (Jan). And a return trip for work (Mar). Again, the work part is for Microsoft/TS Asia/Connecting Up.
  • 2 Trips to the USA - Including my first visit to San Francisco (Feb), and a return to Washington DC (Mar). Both times, for work. Speaking and in two incredible events. This one's primarily connected with Connecting Up, attending the TechSoup Global Summit and NTEN's Nonprofit Technology Conference.
  • My first trip to Sri Lanka, speaking in 2 events in Colombo (May). Both events are for Microsoft/TSAsia/Connecting Up.
  • Plus, some interstate travel: Brisbane, for Drupal Down Under (Jan); Melbourne, for Connecting Up Conference (June); Melbourne again, for Philanthropy Australia (Jul); and Canberra, for AuSAE (Sep).
  • And, personal travels to (all for the first time): Mount Gambier, SA (Apr); Clayton Bay, SA (Jul); Narnu Farm, SA (Dec).

There are many work-related highlights that I hope to remember from 2011. Some of them include:

  • Growing from a one-person team, to hiring two new people and adding one new team member. So yes, by the end of the year, I conducted a meeting with THREE new additions in my sub-team. Needless to say, my role is constantly evolving and I'm always learning.
  • Taking part in establishing NetSquared in Adelaide. Really feel happy that this has started off early in the year. While I haven't had much to do with it after it was launched, I'm hoping that its growing community would continue to give it life.
  • Completely ending my personal and professional ties with b5media, by finally selling my shares. It was a great ride, that one. But, it's also good to have a complete break at last.
  • Went back to postgrad school, after a year of leave. This is just to try and finish of my Masters' degree in teaching. I completed two subjects this year (last semester), and now I've got two subjects left, so hopefully, I will finish and graduate in 2012.

General Learning and Personal Development
I love learning new things. I enjoy taking classes and workshops. Both formally and informally. That's why I know I'd be a perpetual student, no matter what. Here are some of the things that I've learned this year...

  • Enrolled in a virtual workshop on Visual Facilitation. Loving the practice, but haven't had much time to develop it. Hope to keep doing this in the new year...
  • Also went back to dance classes this year. I only had one term, but enjoyed doing hiphop and jazz/modern. Hope to get back again next term.
  • When it comes to cooking and baking, I've returned to experimenting a bit again in 2011. Some of my favourite finds for the year: apple strudel, meat pie, baked cheesecakes, macarons, strawberry shortcake, char kway teow, and making fresh pasta/sauces/pizza.

All in the Family
This year has been a great time for seeing family. Considering we usually don't have family around where we live, 2011 has given us more than our usual opportunities to spend some quality time with our loved ones... Plus, there are a few things we celebrated this year.

  • Late last year/early this year, I've managed to see all my siblings, my brother's wife and kids, and my mom, as well some cousins, uncles, and aunts...
  • My sister also came to stay in Adelaide with my family for more than two months. She joined our road trip to Mount Gambier, and even followed me to Melbourne once.
  • Also saw my mom and sis a couple of extra times, during my two unexpected trips back to the Philippines.
  • And, to top it all off, my mum-in-law and dad-in-law is spending Christmas and New Year with us in Adelaide.
  • Family birthdays: My boy's 7th year birthday party, crabbing with his friends at Grange Beach. My girl's 4th year birthday, celebrating it with a Fairy party. And yes, me turning 37, working in the office on my first strategic planning day. No parties. Meh.
  • My girl starting kindy. Doing her first art exhibit and fundraising at kindy. Leaving Montessori and getting a nice report from teachers.
  • The girl also doing really well with her two ballet recitals.
  • When my girl just started showing off her reading skills. Picked up Green Eggs and Ham, for example, and read most of it to me independently.
  • My son, winning 2 Oliphant Science Awards again (+ 2 special commendations). This is his second year joining the competition.
  • The boy also joined a filmmaking workshop for kids and ended up in his first film festival through this class. His group won "Best Film" and he received a commendation on the "Best Overall Team Member" category.
  • The boy also received a great end-of-year school report. On top of becoming SRC for the year. Amongst other things.
  • It was also the year the boy has been asked by the school to finally get tested by an Educational Psychologist due to his abilities. The idea of getting a 'label' is something we've never really sought after, but the school deemed it necessary in order to receive extra support. I'm sure this is a blog post for another time.

On Friends and Socials
There are also a lot of times for friendships and socials. Much more than what I'm accustomed to, to be honest. Made a lot of new friends and contacts from around the world, especially thanks to the travels and events I've attended this year. And, there are a lot of new connections made right here at home in Adelaide...

  • Some catch-ups with some of my good buddies: Christine (in Melbourne) and Jasmine (who I only saw 3-4x this year).
  • Attending a couple of fun #socadl events.
  • Starting Yam Basket Hunt lunch club with a few lovely folks in Adelaide. Making some great new friends through our love for food.
  • Hanging out with some of my good work mates outside the office. Other than our usual Market Tuesdays and Pub Fridays, there are after-work stuff and some other fun antics. I especially enjoyed our post-event parties in Brisbane, San Francisco, and Melbourne. And some local ones in Adelaide too. Like post-AGM and post-Christmas in July. Heh. And hiphop dance classes and dinners. Plus a 30th birthday.
  • After postgrad class hang-out at the Uni with one of my besties.

The Rough Stuff
Life's not been all great, of course. There had been some rough and challenging moments. Thankfully, nothing that breaks the spirit too much.

  • Like being quite unwell a bit this year. Including an unexpected week-long illness a few weeks ago.
  • A couple of online dramas that were taken offline that I cannot blog about in full. At least not just yet.
  • A question of personal and professional directions.
  • Of course, all the travels and work commitments have taken a toll in a few other ways too. But, nothing too bad. However, I'm certainly up for making things less hectic in 2012.

The Light Stuff
Then, there are the little and shallow things that just tickled my fancy...

  • Like my newfound love for coloured shoes.
  • Getting my first swoon-worthy celebrity Tweet. Haha.
  • Finding and falling in love with Matthew Goode
  • Making a longer commitment with my new 'do --- curly long hair. And finally experimenting with colour. A lot.

Books, TV, and Movies I Loved
Although I managed to watch a few movies this year (hello, in-flight entertainment and streaming!)... and even got to catch up on some TV viewing... I didn't really get to read as much as I'd like. And, I think I started reading several books but haven't been able to complete them yet. Oh, and this is also the year where I actually bought and read many more digital book format than ever before. Anyway, some of my favourites from the year:

  • My fave fiction books of the year: Rick Riordan's follow-up to the Percy Jackson series --- The Olympian Heroes. Read books 1 and 2 (The Lost Hero and Son of Neptune).
  • Enjoyed Sisterhood Everlasting, the "when they were grown up" book follow-up to the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series.
  • Also liked Charlaine Harris' Dead Until Dark, but really couldn't get in to vampire stuff too much. So, haven't read any other in the Sookie Stackhouse series.
  • Some fave nonfiction reads: Content Strategy books and Drawing Lab.
  • Love, love, love these newbie movies that I watched this year (not equally, mind you): Thor, Harry Potter 7 (Part 2), Cars 2, X Men: First Class, Leap Year, King's Speech, and The Social Network.
  • Some oldies that I just watched this year (and loved): Penelope, the first three X-Men films, Transformers 1, Brideshead Revisited, Chasing Liberty, Dorian Grey, and Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister.
  • TV series I've loved: Merlin (Seasons 3 & 4), Masterchef (Season 3), Paper Giants, The Slap, Dead Gorgeous, Extreme Fishing with Robson Greene, and Chuck (Season 1).

Also see: Best Family Movies of 2011.

Gadgets, Apps and Tools Galore
When it comes to gadgets, this year has been quite amplified for me and my family... It's the year where we all ended up with an i-something. Kids both have iPod touch, hubby has iPad, and well... here are the rest...

    • Got myself a smart phone. Finally. Yes, succumbed to an iPhone 4 early this year.
    • Also replaced my year-old first generation iPad with an iPad2.
    • Bought the family a Microsoft XBox and Kinect for Christmas. Finally.
    • The husband ended up buying 2 new flat screen TVs. Almost accidentally, really. Long story, but yeah... After having the old TV for years... We finally upgraded. A lot, it seems.
    • Also started enjoying Apple TV.
    • Oh, and yes, finally got a Time Machine/Capsule. The Apple variety, again.
    • Favourite social media platforms of the year: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, FourSquare, and GetGlue.
    • Some of my favourite apps and tools: Evernote (though it did collapse on me a little this year!), Wunderlist, BBC iPlayer, ABC iView, Notebook for iPad, Dropbox, Incredibooth, Kindle, iBooks, Keynote...
    • Games that sucked some of my time this year: Sims FreePlay and Words with Friends.
    • Breakout social media platform: Pinterest

Unfortunately, though, my Nikon D40x finally died this year and hasn't been replaced yet. 🙁

Miscellaneous Memories
Here are just some random personal memories and world events that affected me in some ways...

  • Watching Wicked (The Musical) with the hubby.
  • Drinks of the Year: Mojitos and Cider. Especially pear cider. Heh.
  • Major renovations for our master bedroom and study.
  • World news and tidbits: Steve Jobs' quitting as CEO and his death, Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding, the Brisbane floods, Philippine typhoons and floods, Christchurch earthquakes...
  • According to Facebook (thanks new Timeline): I've added 109 FB friends in 2011, 157 friends posted on my Wall, and 84 friends greeted me on my birthday.
  • Oh, and I shall also remember this year as the year where I finally have my very own "stupid story" (yep, the kind that you can't exactly blog about). Haha.

I'm pretty sure there's more that I'd like to commit to memory somehow. But, this should do.

What did I say? 2011 has been epic!

What a year indeed. Bring it on, 2012...

Also wish to say special thanks to: Kari, Diane Lee, Melissa W, Nenette, Nicola, Christine Gooding, Connie, Jenseeya, and Kharen... For being the top commentators here at Studio Notes in 2011. You ladies help to keep this blog alive! 🙂

Source: tumblr.com via Shai on Pinterest


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An Amazing Year: Part II

Clayton Bay, Lake Alexandrina

As promised, here I am again to complete this two-part round-up of the last 12 months. I'm especially inspired to complete this after a few encouraging words from some of you. Thank you!

In any case, if you haven't read part 1 yet, check out: An Amazing Year: Part I.

Now, here goes the rest of the story... And yes, this is the part where I rack up Frequent Flier miles.

January 2011

  • Said goodbyes to family in Manila, then off to a short trip to see friends in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was the kids' first visit to KL and they had a ball.
  • Boy turned 7. Celebrated with a "crabbing with friends" birthday party at Grange.
  • Got my geek on and attended my first Drupal conference with a colleague. The event was called Drupal DownUnder, which was the very first Drupal conference in Australia. It was held in Brisbane. Just shortly after the floods. Really interesting to see some of the effects in person. A very memorable trip.
  • The words "If Only..." meant a lot more to me at this time than I expected.

February 2011

  • Crazy month for me in more ways than one.
  • First trip to San Francisco, USA. Attended TSG Summit 2011 in Silicon Valley with our org's CEO and another colleague (who became my unofficial SF guide!). Presented and facilitated a few times during the summit. Met lots of fabulous people from TechSoup Global, its partner networks around the world, and the general Nonprofit Technology community (like Beth Kanter, Holly Ross, Amy Sample Ward, Allen 'Gunner' Gunn, etc). Even briefly met Craig Newmark (of Craig's List), Annie Leonard (Story of Stuff), and Bill Strathmann (Network for Good), among many others. Completely overwhelmed and amazed. Loved it all. Including SF!
  • Upon arriving back in Adelaide, I only had enough time to unpack and repack my luggage within 24 hours, as I headed back to the Philippines. This time, to present at two Microsoft NGO days - MS NGO Day Davao and MS NGO Day Manila. Managed to catch up with mom and sis, and met lots of great folks from Microsoft Philippines and the NGO community.
  • Just about missed my husband's birthday, due to travels and work commitments.

March 2011

  • Got my first hire at work! Someone to be part of my growing li'l team.
  • Presented my social media for nonprofits presentation at another MS NGO Day. This time, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Yes, I didn't expect to return to KL so soon. But, it was great, though a bit daunting. Still, I met some amazing people and learned a lot.
  • Had a few days break from travels before heading back to the US. This time, off to Washington DC to attend the Nonprofit Technology Conference '11 (2011) by NTEN, which is probably one of the biggest conference I've ever attended. Not sure of NTC'11 (with 2000+ delegates) is bigger than BlogWorld Expo '08. My attendance was largely due to the fact that Connecting Up has sent 3 full scholars as delegates to NTC'11 (+ 2 part scholars). I also happened to facilitate a Global Nonprofits session. And, it was also a great chance for me to meet more new folks (like Nancy Schwartz, Kivi Leroux Miller, etc) and to catch up again with some of those that I met in San Francisco.
  • Introduced the latest look and format here at Studio Notes.
  • My girl turned 4 and we celebrated with a fairy party.
  • Got back in touch with a good friend whom I have been missing.

April 2011

  • Finally took a break from extremely hectic travel. Was supposed to go to Singapore for another MS NGO Day presentation, but had to decline.
  • Ended up with just a road trip or two with the family. Including visiting Mount Gambier for the first time.
  • My sister arrived in Adelaide for a 2.5-month long visit. Kids pleased to see their Tita.
  • Celebrated my 37th birthday. Sort of.
  • Got my first iPhone (an iPhone4). Finally.

May 2011

  • Watched Wicked the musical with the hubby. Loved it. Definitely became one of my faves. That evening definitely brought up a couple of nice memories.
  • Travelled to Colombo, Sri Lanka, for the very first time with our CEO. I presented at the MS NGO Day Colombo and the APAC Tech4Good Summit. Enjoyed it. Loved meeting MS and nonprofit folks from around the region. Even enjoyed a nice beach side dinner, courtesy of Microsoft crew.

June 2011

  • Biggest moment was the Connecting Up '11 conference in Melbourne, which I helped to co-organise. I also presented in a plenary of 300+ folks. My biggest speaking audience, I think. Great turn out, great feedback... Really good stuff. Met more fantastic folks. Lots of side memories that went with the event too... dinners, walks, drinks, club, dance, talks, laughs... Great times.
  • A few weeks away from completing my 2nd 365 attempt, I decided to quit. And, I told myself that I won't ever attempt it again unless I have a better way of approaching it.
  • Had to say farewell to my sis... Or, until next meeting anyway. But not before a couple of fun despidida parties. 🙂
  • Finally got my P plates off. Yes, seriously. It took me five years, but yeah... I did it. At long last. It was on my Goals list for the year, so I was so stoked to make my way to the transport office and pass my Hazard Perception Test in one go, so I can get on to a full license. Then, I went on my first long drive. In my pink car. During a short break at Clayton Bay. Part of it spent with my family. Part of it on my own. Which I adored. It was the perfect way to end my crazy hectic year since starting full time work.

So, there you go. My year from July 2010 to June 2011 in a nutshell.

Oh, and thanks to these round-ups, I was inspired to put together my first Blurb book. Just placed an order recently and I'm now awaiting the hard copy. Here's a preview, if you're keen to peek...

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