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2018: Year in Review

Highlights of the past year

Due to depression, 2018 has been difficult for me. But reflecting on the year has helped me remember all the fun and great experiences I’ve had. This is my annual write-up where I share some of the highlights of the year and set goals for the next one.

Kelly on the beach

Cruise with the family

I married into an amazing family, and that hasn’t been more evident than on this cruise. We spent a relaxing seven days in the Western Caribbean snorkeling, watching some great shows, and enjoying the warm clear waters. It was only my second cruise ever, and if I could afford it, I’d go on one of these every year.

New Job at Changelog

After getting laid off late in 2017, I was left scrambling to find something new. Months of emailing my résumé and countless interviews left me discouraged. You already know I’ve had issues with the hiring process of design jobs before.

One day, I was chatting with my friend Adam Stacoviak, and he told me Changelog was looking for a Senior Producer. With my previous podcast experience, he thought I’d be a good fit.

I’ll be honest, I was scared at first. This was something completely different to what I’d done professionally since… well… ever. But, I also knew I needed a break from the web. I was burnt out, didn’t agree with how JavaScript-centric the industry has become, and disillusioned with how undervalued my CSS skillset is.

The Changelog team.
The Changelog team

I’m so happy things came together the way they did. Changelog is a wonderful place to work. Not only am I excited by the work I get to do everyday, the Changelog team is composed of kind, smart, and funny people.

And they let me host my own show! Away from Keyboard is the show I’ve wanted to make for years. You may recall I tried to do something similar back in 2015 with For the Record and made two episodes. Sad, I know.

Away from Keyboard already has ten awesome episodes, and I couldn’t be prouder of the stories I’ve been able to tell. Also, I don’t think I’ll ever come up with a cooler name for a podcast.

Good times in Florida

We went to Florida twice this year. In April, we went to St. Petersburg for Front End Design Conference. FEDC is a special event for me: it was the first conference I ever went to. Now, six years later, I’d been invited to speak there. It was a dream come true.

Kelly at the Universal walk. Kelly on the beach. Kelly and I at Disney World.

In August, we went to Orlando as a late anniversary trip. While we had a great time, Florida in August was too hot. It wasn’t any cooler than 95º the week we were there, and add to that how insanely humid it was.

Kelly and I aren’t made for that type of heat, but it was still a relaxing week. We slept in, went to Disney World, relaxed in the pool, watched a lot of movies, and read some great books.

Denver with the Prados

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to make it in Minnesota. This year marked my six year anniversary, and the winters are starting to grate on me. Denver is a place I’ve always been interested in, so we decided to visit. Our best friends, The Prados, decided to come along too.

Graffiti on the tour Graffiti on the tour Abi hugging a tree. Felipe leaning against a wall.

We had an amazing time. Denver is a beautiful place, filled with nice people and breathtaking topography. We were only there for an extended weekend, but we were able to visit Boulder and do a fun graffiti tour downtown.

Kelly in front of the London Eye.

London in the Fall

Changelog sent me to Sustain Summit in October. Sustain happened to be in London this year, making it my first time in England.

We only spent 4 days in London (much of it crazy jet-lagged), but we still got to do and see a lot. I’m grateful to Changelog and Sustain for making this unforgettable trip possible.

Parents’ 28th Anniversary

Twenty-eight years isn’t usually a big year for anniversaries, but I’m a sucky child that hadn’t done much of anything for my parents’ anniversary as an adult. That needed to change this year. With the help of Kelly and my aunt, we planned a nice, small dinner for my parents, and invited some of their friends. To our surprise, some family from California came to celebrate as well.

My parents in downtown Saint Paul.
My parents don’t have many pictures together, so I decided to gift them a photoshoot

Diving deeper into photography

I’ve always taken a lot of pictures—it’s been an interest of mine for a long time. This year was different though, I took more pictures than I’ve ever taken.

The big differentiator has been my camera. In April, I sold my Canon DSLR and bought a Sony α7 III. It’s changed everything. Yes, the gear doesn’t make the photographer, but the α7 III is much easier to use. A camera that’s easier to use, means you worry less about the technical aspects, and more on the actual photo. If you’re curious to hear my reasons for moving to a Sony camera, I made a video all about it.

Getting back into comics

I read a lot of comics this year and loved every minute of it. In the past, most of my comics were superhero-related. 2018 was the year I tried to broaden my horizons. In the process, I found great comics like Saga, Analog, Oblivion Song, and more. Back in November, I wrote about how I started reading comics and some of my current recommendations.

Had so much fun taking pictures of comics

In July, I started writing a blog post for my weekly pull list, which has turned out to be a lot of fun. Thanks to Dave Rupert, I started taking pictures of some of my favorite covers for the posts. Like Dave said from the beginning, it’s killed two birds with one stone: the articles are more interesting, and it’s helped me practice my photography.

What’s in store for 2019

All in all, 2018 was a fantastic year. As much as it’s been difficult, we also traveled a lot, I found a job at an awesome company, and got lost in some incredible stories.

And that’s why I write these. It’s all too easy to focus on the negative. But taking a step back, I realize there is always much to be happy about, and so many things to be grateful for.

Here are my goals for 2019:

  1. Invest our money intelligently
    We’ve got a little bit of money saved, and it’s just sitting in our account doing nothing. I’d really like to do something smart with that money and make it grow.
  2. Take my camera everywhere
    Taking the camera everywhere isn’t the most convenient thing, and I’m not the only photographer to feel that way. There are many moments I missed that I’m determined not to miss next year.
  3. Lose forty pounds
    I lost thirty pounds this year, then put fifteen back on. I’d like to lose forty next year, and keep them off.

It’s going to be a great year.


Kindly edited by Kelly Smith.