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2019 In Review

Most everything about my day-to-day life changed in 2019. New job. New house. New city. New daily schedule. Oddly, though, almost none of it felt quite as foreign as I thought it would. And in fact, the things that did feel markedly different were good things (having a washer and dryer in your house after not having them for four years feels… revolutionary). Sure, I had moments of panic (Would I fail at going freelance? Regret moving from New York City? Not like Philly at all?), but for the most part, I felt like I had prepared for it all. I had mentally run through all of it in my head for a solid year before any of it happened. It was a life Jake and I talked about for months on end, a career I had pre-designed in my brain — and though it wasn’t (and still isn’t) perfect, for the first time it actually felt intentional. There’s an refreshing sense of power in that.

For the first time, I can look back at a year and feel like I envisioned something and then I made it happen. But, let’s be clear (side note: I feel like I’ve picked up on using this phrase after watching what feels like 249 months straight of Democratic debates), the year wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows. I had months where I made less through freelance work than I did in my full-time job. I had weeks where my health anxiety consumed everything I did (Was I having a heart attack? Does this headache mean I have a brain tumor?). I got pitches rejected dozens upon dozens of times. I received bad news, so did family and friends. Lots of other things happened that were sad and hard and may never make it to this blog or an Instagram post. But all of that, in its own weird way, somehow amplified just how much of a difference it makes to control the choices you actually have the ability to control.

The truth? 2018 was the year when I told myself that I could change and shift in my life in a way that made me happier. And 2019 was the year where I actually made it all happen. I told myself often in 2018 that all these changes would add up to a life that felt more like mine rather than something that was simply happening to me, but often it was just that — me telling myself something, not me necessarily believing it. But I believe it now.

I thought about listing all the best things that happened to me in 2019 here — my accomplishments, my favorite stories, how I grew my freelancing and consulting business. But honestly? The only takeaway from this year that matters to me is that in 2018 I built a life in my head and in 2019, I stepped into it. The action of it, the shift of it all, has taught me the sheer power of intention and of having relationships with people who support that intention.

A lot of people have been posting about having a word for the new year to focus on — peace, clarity, confidence, etc. I thought about doing this too because I love this idea; it feels more solid and comforting than a resolution that looms over you throughout the year, judging your progress or lack there of. But the word I kept going back to is really the word that has served me so well for these past two years. The word that brought Jake and I to a new home and a new city and (thank God) our very own washer and dryer. The word that brought me to this new career that often drives me crazy, but always makes me feel like possibilities are limitless if I want them to be. And that word is intention. So, maybe that’s just my word from here on out.

As of right this second, though, I’m sitting on my parent’s couch with football playing in the background. Jake and I have been in Florida for the past week’s holidays, going between his parents house in Orlando and mine’s in Sarasota. I’ve eaten what feels like the world record amount of cheese and crackers (I feel I am single-handedly keeping the dairy industry alive at this point) and Jake, Winnie, and I still have a day-long drive back to Pennsylvania to tackle before getting into our usual day-to-day (plus, I have to eventually emerge from this cheese haze). I need to make time to sit down, alone, and really think about this year aside from the big events that we already have on our calendar — weddings (the first of which is, um, OURS), trips, vacations, work projects, etc. I know I’ll get around to it eventually with a coffee and a notepad in front of me, feeling ready to take on the world. But for the first time in my entire life I feel content to wait a few days before I make myself map out any big plans just yet.

Sometimes I feel like being intentional is conflated with hustle. If you are intentional in your life or business, then that must also mean doing the most, right? Doing it all? I used to think this too. But if 2019 has taught me anything, it’s that intention is really just about doing the things and making the changes that you know will make you feel like your best, happiest self. Sometimes that means doing more, but often it means doing less — dialing back, slowing down, being still and present instead of going, going, going. So right now, right this second, I feel like being still for a second (cheese haze and all), and like looking back on 2019 and feeling grateful for intention and for another year on this earth with the people I love.

  1. Julia Guerra

    January 2nd, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    Reading this post was like reading a page from my own journal. I feel the exact same way about 2019. There were so many different components to it that it’s hard to sum up. Good, bad, sad, joyous — it had a little bit of everything. I also feel like, though you and I are obviously walking different paths, we’re still together in this freelance realm, and I’ve also come to realize that, sure, the hustle can be great, but it can also be kind of destructive. Sometimes less really is more, and you have to figure out what is best for you in your own time. Love your blog, Olivia. You have a reader and fan over here. Wishing you the best.

  2. Susan Cornes

    May 13th, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    This is totally off the subject.
    I love the rug in the bedroom pictured in apartment therapy online. Can you share where you bought it?

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