As always, 365 days have zoomed by and we sit here surprised that it’s NYE. I was feeling giddy as I woke up this morning, grateful for everything we accomplished this past year and pumped for what’s ahead in 2018.
A Year of Multiple Adventures
We kicked off the year backing through SE Asia – hiking through the rice fields in Sa Pa, riding a hot air balloon in Laos, taking the slow boat from Laos to Thailand, riding from Chiang Mai to Pai (and falling off my scooter), exploring Lashio with Myanmar Adventure Outfitters, and chasing waterfalls in the Philippines.
After 3 months, we flew back to Australia, packed our car on hit the road for 75 days, travelling through Western Australia to get to Darwin. We swam with a whale shark in Exmouth, rode camels in Broome, took on the iconic 4WD track that is the Gibb River Road.
I explored Sri Lanka without Daniel for a couple of weeks, witnessed one of the largest gatherings of Asian elephants, hopped on an incredibly scenic train ride and explored ancient kingdoms. This marked 18 months of travel and it was time for us to take a break and stay in Perth to work on some projects.
My First Full Year of Blogging
At the start of 2017, I hoped to grow this blog but didn’t know how or exactly what to do this. Poor goal setting on my part. During the year, I debated time and time again about rebranding, changing the name and launching a new website because let’s be honest, how many of you can actually pronounce and/or spell La Vida Viva? Haha. Seriously. In the end, I decided to stick with this one and live with my forever regret of picking a terrible name. Live and learn.
I tried and failed at different things in an attempt to figure out where exactly I wanted to take this blog. Despite being like a headless chicken in the world of blogging (not knowing anything about SEO, scripting, code and other technical website stuff that I still don’t know the names of) and not having a high following, we managed to secure sponsored work with a few different businesses throughout Asia and Australia.
We were featured in the Daily Mail (I learned what it was like to get mean comments) and one of my articles was republished on Mamma Mia. All of this was more than I could have even hoped for the year and was a dream come true for a total novice blogger.
Daniel’s First Photo Exhibition
Daniel took a huge leap of faith and held his first photo exhibition – something both risky and terrifying for any photographer. He was reluctant, afraid that we’d end up blowing a lot of money if his work didn’t sell. We took the chance. We hoped and prayed to recoup the cost of the exhibition but ended up selling beyond that, making a small profit to put towards our next adventure. It was a wonderful learning experience and a reminder to never shy away just because something is risky.
Daniel was so encouraged by the sales and positive feedback that he now allows himself to dream bigger. As his wife, I have never been so proud and love watching him work tirelessly towards his aspirations as a photographer.
Life & Marriage
We came back to Perth and booked tickets to leave after 6 months – despite depleting almost all of our funds. We gave ourselves 6 months to save up even though we didn’t have jobs to come back to. Daniel landed a job 2 days before the end of our WA road trip and I got a call from my old workplace asking me to come back on a casual basis. What a miracle!
Through all of this, our marriage was challenged as we spent another year on the road. Long-term travel is testing and reveals every side of your character – things that you might not like to see. Daniel and I have had some pretty bad moments – there was one point I thought that we could only do backpacking and should avoid road trips altogether – but we figured it out and had to navigate through spending 24/7 together in close physical proximity and away from other people. Fighting for our marriage is a choice and with that means we must continually learn how to better communicate through misunderstandings.
What’s in store for 2018?
I am reminded time and time again of how truly good our life is and the privilege we have to do what we love. I know that despite what Daniel and I might try to plan for our lives, God always has something bigger and better in mind and 2017 was a true testament to that. So, we leave Perth on 1 March for another year on the road – unsure of what exactly it’s going to hold for us but knowing full well that everything will be good. We’re headed to the Middle East and will end up doing a working holiday somewhere in Europe – we’ll keep you updated!
For La Vida Viva, we have plans for it to grow as we would love to hopefully earn some income from it one day. I won’t lie, there were many times (almost daily) where I felt really discouraged and wanted to give up on the blog and shut it down. I know it’s clichéd but quitters never win and winners never quit, so I’m pushing through and setting bigger goals for 2018. Hopefully this time next year we will be sharing some great results with you.
What we need from YOU
First off, THANK YOU. We appreciate all of your support, comments, likes, feedback and shares. Without readers, this would be a really weird diary. Next, if you would like to see this blog grow, we just ask you to do what you’re doing and show us love via comments, likes and shares. We’re also still figuring out what posts work and what don’t so if there’s anything you want to see more or less of, TELL US. We LOVE feedback and that will help us provide the most useful content for you.
Well, that’s a wrap! Looking forward to bringing you more written and visual content in 2018.
Keep on adventuring, friends!