The Best is Yet to Come: My 2019 Year in Review

I’d like to say 2019 was my best year yet, but honestly, I’ve had a pretty incredible decade and it’s hard to pick and choose which one stands out the most.

That being said, 2019 has been my best year yet in terms of my business and where I’ve taken The Lost Girl’s Guide to Finding the World – closing out my fourth year as an entrepreneur.

I set some intense goals at the beginning of the year and although I didn’t achieve all of them (I still need to paint my house and learn more about keyword research) I did achieve some big goals and landed some even bigger opportunities I didn’t know were coming.

It’s hard to summarize 365 days of growth and change into a few bullet points but I’m going to see what I can put together here as major highlights from 2019.

In no particular order:

1. Running 1020km this Year

Early in January, I set a goal of attempting to run 1020 kilometres this year (2020 seemed a little aggressive).

The year started off great and I logged 625km by the end of May. I experimented with some extremely cold winter running and logged 21 of 28 days in February despite the insane weather and windchill of mostly -40.

I took the summer off partly due to my hectic travel schedule but also because I tore a muscle in my calf. By autumn I was leaning back into running and in November and December logged an additional 275 km.

On December 22nd, I knocked off my goal of 1020 kilometres in 2019! (Then ended up taking the next two weeks off due to a very nasty cold and sinus infection I can’t seem to shake).

2. Filming with Tourism Saskatoon for their new Flagship Tourism Video

For the first six months of 2019, I spent about 10 days filming across three seasons with Tourism Saskatoon for their new flagship tourism video.

Professionally it was a pretty big honour to be asked to represent the city I call home. I also got to film alongside Mayor Charlie Clark and landed a front-row spot for a few songs at the Jazzfest.

I was a bit nervous as I’m not an actress. Making sure I nailed the lines at the beginning and end were my biggest worries. But I’m so excited how the video turned out.

If you’d like to see the video Studio 10 Productions filmed for Tourism Saskatoon, you can watch it here:



3. Driving a Military Tank in Ireland

I can’t believe this actually happened! (Although I admit I still need to edit the video I shot of this unbelievable experience. )

It was a complete surprise organized by Shane Reenan of Louth Adventures during my media trip to Ireland. It truly was such a once-in-a-lifetime experience to drive a 15-tonne APC military tank at the Irish Military War Museum

4. Taking a Week Roadtrip through Southern Saskatchewan in a Van with a Dog

When Matt Scobel headed off to Amsterdam for 10 days, he left me in charge of his 1987 Westfalia and his 1-year-old pup Alpine. I took the responsibility very seriously and planned out a 1500-kilometre road trip down to Regina, through the Big Muddy and into Grasslands National Park and back.

It was originally supposed to be a week to spend time working on my book (which I still have yet to complete) but I had some epic adventures including a night out in a tent in a horrifying windstorm in Grasslands that made for a good story to tell.

5. Capturing a Bucket List Photo of the Northern Lights Dancing Above the Bessborough Hotel in Saskatoon

It’s been on my bucket list for years after seeing a similar shot photographer Michael Murchison took in 2017. I wanted to capture a photo of the northern lights dancing over the Delta Bessborough hotel in downtown Saskatoon.

In the early morning hours of May 14, I headed outside Saskatoon as I heard the aurora was going to be impressive. The moon was nearly full and washed the sky out (and the northern lights out consequently) but gave beautiful lighting to the scenery.

I snapped a few shots east of 8th street then came back into town at about 2 AM. Instead of heading home, I drove downtown and set up to capture one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken.

6. Taking my Dad to a Packers Game

Normally my mom gets the perks as my plus-one when I travel for work but this time it was the perfect opportunity to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with my Dad.

All thanks to NFL Canada, they flew my Dad and me down to Green Bay to watch a game at Lambeau Field. Another big thanks to Bill Stefaniuk and Red Batty for hooking us up with a few behind-the-scenes experiences.

To read more about our trip, click here.

7. Discovering How Amazing Nordic Spas Are

This year I had the opportunity to experience Kananaskis Nordic Spa and Winnipeg’s Thermea thanks to Creator House Banff and Creator House Winnipeg. Normally, I wouldn’t consider a spa as a top place I would spend time, but oh my goodness you guys, they are amazing!

They operate on the principles of thermal therapy: alternate hot and cold temperatures then rest for a period for a variety of benefits. I loved being able to turn off my phone and relax for a few hours in beautiful locations.

If you haven’t tried a nordic spa, I highly recommend it. It’s worth every penny!

8. Going on a Fly-In Canoe Trip (Twice!)

This year I had the privilege of going on not one, but two fly-in canoe trips. The first was because of a connection through my friend Katee Pederson where we completed our Paddle Canada Wilderness Camping certification. The second trip was in partnership with Ron Schlamp and The Birch Bark Guild. We wanted to give back to caregivers in our community and offer them an outdoor experience that would reconnect them with nature.

Both trips were incredible experiences that involved paddling whitewater, sleeping under the stars, watching the northern lights and spending time with some truly amazing individuals.

I hope to be able to offer another experience like this in 2020.

9. Hiking and Camping

This year I spent 22 nights in a tent, sleeping in a hammock or wrapped up in my sleeping bag under the stars. I had the opportunity to spend four days hiking in the Kananaskis backcountry as well a day trip hik up Sarrail Ridge.

I was able to do some hiking close to home with a few girl friends, camping in the backcountry at the Gem Lakes.

Although I didn’t do as much this year as I have in previous years, it was amazing to get out in nature and spend some time offline.

10. Girl’s Trips to Regina with my Mom – Twice!

This year I was able to escape to Regina for a girl’s trip with my mom – twice! The first time we enjoyed a Cirque du Soleil show and did some antiquing and exploring in the city. You can read about it all here.

The second trip we enjoyed an incredible night out thanks to Hillberg and Berk at Nature en Nuit and the launch of their autumn collection. My mom and I each took home a beautiful new necklace (thanks Mom!).

There’s nothing more special than being able to share trips and adventures with loved ones as it’s not about the places you see but the people you see them with.

11. Finding my Lost Drone

Remember that time my new drone flew away on me and was lost forever? Until it was found 8 months later after a particularly cold and harsh winter – and still worked!

Yup, that actually happened. You can read the whole amazing story here.

12. Working With Amazing International and Local Brands and Tourism Boards

This year I was so fortunate to grow my social media audience while working with some incredible local, national and international brands and PR agencies. I continued my relationship with NFL Canada and McDonald’s (I’m such a hardcore fan – read about the Big Mac’s I’ve eaten in every country I’ve travelled to). I also partnered with Clif Bar, icebreaker and Husky as well as some incredible local companies like Wild Prairie Designs, True Leaf Collections and Meatchops.

I was also able to build relationships with a number of tourism boards like Tourism Edmonton, Travel Manitoba, Banff and Lake Louise Tourism and Travel Alberta as well as continue my relationships with Tourism Regina, Tourism Saskatoon, Tourism Saskatchewan, Prairies North Magazine and CAA Saskatchewan Magazine.

Without all the support of these companies, brands, businesses and tourism boards, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

13. Escaping to the Mountains

Sometimes a girl just needs to get away.

I was so thankful to mix a couple of business opportunities with some personal time off in the mountains all thanks to Matt Scobel.

Matt and I met over a year and a half ago and have been able to go on some extraordinary trips and experiences together. This year alone we travelled across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario for a variety of different reasons.

With his home base in Canmore, I was able to take some time off work and enjoy exploring and adventuring in the mountains.

I can’t thank him enough for all the amazing adventures we’ve been able to pitch, put together or escape on.

Alumna Ashlyn George delivers a message to graduates

14. Hosting and Speaking at Events

My biggest opportunity for growth this year came in the form of speaking events. Although I’ve been part of numerous events and conferences over the years, I managed to land some of the biggest opportunities and contracts of my career.

I was honoured to deliver the alumni address at the University of Saskatchewan College of Arts and Science Convocation Awards Ceremony in June. I co-hosted the FIBA 3×3 Basketball competition in July and co-hosted the U of S Orientation for a second year in September. This fall I landed a contract with FCC to emcee 7 conferences across Canada in 2019 and 2020.

On top of all that I stepped back into the classroom and put together an intensive 8-hour social media workshop in partnership with Saskatoon Business College.

I guess you can take the girl out of the classroom, but you can’t take the teacher out of the girl!

15. Being Named a Top Travel Hacker by Kayak

A huge career nod was when I was listed by Kayak as a top travel hacker to follow in 2019. I think my jaw hit the floor when I heard and read about it.

BONUS:

But most of all, I couldn’t do what I do without all of your support and encouragement. My career and business wouldn’t exist without all of you who follow along and like my posts, leave comments, read my stories and share my content. Thank you to all of you for making 2019 such a stellar year!

**And although this is a list of highlights and wonderful things that happened this year, on the flip side, not everything always went to plan and there were some tough times including a torn calf muscle, a (twice) smashed cell phone screen, a lost (but eventually found) passport, a car accident, a broken vehicle and some behind-the-scenes struggles and demands of what I do that I don’t talk about publicly.

I also really learned the importance of how much I need to rest and avoid burning out as there were several times I didn’t know if I could manage everything.

But overall I’m so appreciative of all the opportunities, experiences and people who shared in my life this past year. This blog post really can’t do justice for a year-in-review but it will be a positive reminder to come back and read in the years to come.

I’m so looking forward to the experiences, adventures and dreams of 2020!

TOP STATS OF 2019

Here are some interesting stats from this past year:

FITNESS: I ran and hiked 1030 kilometres over 145 days in 120 hours (about 7 kilometres a run) with a total elevation climb of 7,600 metres

FLIGHTS: 19 including 2 floatplanes and 2 helicopters

KILOMETRES DRIVEN: +15,000 kilometres in my vehicle but estimate another 10,000 with rental cars, other vehicles and driving with friends (and paid $70 in parking)

DAYS ON THE ROAD: 150 days on the road and 119 nights in hotels, hostels, AirBnbs, yurts, tents and vans (22 days in a tent and 29 days in a van)

That’s about 40% of my time on the road and 33% sleeping everywhere but my own bed.

WORDS WRITTEN: 45 articles (15 published on my blog, 12 of which were sponsored plus 30 for clients published elsewhere) and almost 51,000 words this year.

9 articles weren’t about Saskatchewan.

If I combined them all together, that would be the equivalent of writing a novel.

My top three blogs on my website this year (all written in previous years):

  1. Saskatchewan’s Distinct Dialect: 10 Phrases Unique to this Province
  2. One of Saskatchewan’s Best Getaways: A Luxury Grain Bin
  3. How to Book a Last Minute Cruise to Antarctica and Save Thousands

PHOTOS TAKEN: over 56,000 photos were snapped and videos shot (not including the thousands more I deleted)

1.35 TB of data

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