Well, 2017 was a crazy ole year from moving countries, to finding a new job, to finding myself again, it was a whirlwind 12 months. As we find ourselves on the cusp of a brand-spankin’ new year many of us reflect on the previous 365 days. With 2018 looming ever closer here are 17 things learned in 2017


17 things learned in 2017


It’s ok to not know which direction we are heading

Sometimes, the best things come from the unknown and the unplanned. When we don’t have a set direction or set plan, it leaves us open to all sorts of options waiting for us to try.

The unknown can be scary but it is so empowering.


Starting over isn’t scary

I started 2017 in England and am finishing it out in New Zealand. Admittedly, I was dreading coming home. I had a nice little life in England, a job I loved, a partner, friends and a direction I thought my life was going in.

But family called and as much as the thought of starting over was scary I have managed to make the most of the fresh start. I now have a job I love even more, I am surrounded by family, reconnected with old friends and made new friends.

Falling in love with New Zealand again was one of 2017’s greatest moments for me.


Home is who we are with, not where we are

In 2015 I ran away from New Zealand, I was unhappy, depressed and couldn’t find work. I left New Zealand despising it. It was like a partner you were unhappy with, even their breathing annoys you in the end. Every little thing they do makes you want to throat punch them.

I had that kind of relationship with NZ. On coming back though I rediscovered my love for it. We just needed a break. It wasn’t the place I hated, it was the way I was living my life.

Coming back and starting over made me realise this. I was away from my friends and family even before I left and since moving back closer to them I have found my home.

It is who we are with, not where we are that is home.

How to make a mean rocky road

One of the best parts of my job is baking (my last name isn’t Bakker for no reason yo). I mastered fudges, slices, cakes, loaves, cookies and all other kinds of baking but rocky road still eluded me. How?? It is literally melted chocolate with marshmallows, hazelnuts and raspberry liquorice thrown in.

But still, I managed to (‘scuse the language) fuck it up each and every time.

Finally, after a couple of months of really bad rocky road I nailed the bastard. Boom!

Small wins sometimes equal the biggest feeling of achievement.


This blogging business

This is one I am still feeling my way around, it is an ongoing learning process, but a fun one. Who knew there was more to blogging than writing a post and waiting for people to read it (cue tumbleweed)? I am slowly getting there and am not too worried I am not a Blogging Master yet. It will (hopefully) come in time.

The process is the fun part, the sense of achievement when learning and implementing something new. Blogging isn’t a race, it’s a journey.

Aren’t I a wise old owl today?



Haircuts are important

Literally, years went by without haircuts. I looked homeless on a daily basis but I liked my hair long. Turns out if you cut it regularly it looks far more healthy. Who knew?


Being yourself isn’t so bad

You are the only you there is so why not embrace it? Not everyone is going to like you, even if you’re the nicest, loveliest, funniest person out so you may as well save yo’self some time and just be you.

Plus if you are true to you then you attract like-minded, similar peeps. And it’s hard work pretending you are someone you aren’t.

Ain’t no one got time for that.


Life is a big ole adventure

Life is an adventure. Make the most of it. It doesn’t have to be a big adventure with a bang with confetti err’where. But whatever we do, we can treat each day as a new adventure to fill.

Embrace the quirky

Your quirks are what makes you YOU. Embrace them, wear them proudly. They are what makes you unique and wonderful.

I had my job interview earlier this year. One of the questions was, “How would your friends describe you?” My mind went blank. This was a potential employer. Did I really want them to know that my friends would describe me as a quirky, foul-mouthed, wine drinking, piss-taking smartarse? Not really.

How are you really supposed to answer that question?? Honestly, if you know, let me know in the comments.

I answered with “quirky”. It was the truth and I still ended up getting the job. Boom! A few months later, my workmate said, “Now I know why you said quirky. I am so glad you work here” after we were in fits of laughter for one thing or another.

Anywho, the point of my tangent was, embrace the things that make you unique. No one else has your exact mannerisms, sense of humour or ways of doing things.


The little moments are where the joy comes from

Sure life can be routine and the daily grind a little boring. But you can make it fun. We have to write a prep-list at work for the next person on shift so they know what jobs need to be done. Just writing a list is pretty dull, lets face it. So to make the mundane a little more interesting I like to leave the next person something fun to read.

The little moments such as a laugh with a good friend, a walk in the rain, sharing an inside joke, watching the butterflies in the sun is what life is about. These little moments all add up and if we notice them then we add to our joy bank (something I just made up just now).


The olds are actually pretty choice

I love my folks. This year has taught me to appreciate them so much more. When I moved out of home I moved far away and after 15 years away it was time to reconnect again.

Ma is so funny, lovely, a little ditsy but has the kindest heart of anyone. Pa is a typical kiwi bloke, loves the outdoors, doesn’t say much and thinks he’s pretty funny. Don’t tell him, he is actually pretty funny.

Learning to have a different kind of relationship with them has been a bit of a curve. The last time I spent loads of time with them was when I was a teenager living at home. Now that I am an adult – kind of – we have had to navigate a different kind of relationship. One that has moved more towards friendship as well as parental. Which is actually pretty cool.


Happiness isn’t an end destination

For years every year one of my New Years resolutions was “To be happy”. This year I came to realise, happiness isn’t an end destination. You don’t just wake up and go, “oh I am happy now” and go about your merry way. Wouldn’t that be nice though?

Happiness is a journey. One that is much like a road trip with lots of T-intersections, windy hills and U-Turns when you get lost. The journey is the fun part, where the bad singing comes out loudly and proudly, where the silly conversations happen, the serious conversations, the spontaneous stops along the way. Happiness shouldn’t be an endgame or you will never reach it. It will be that elusive rainbow in the distance stepping further away the closer you get if you treat it as the destination.

Embrace the now, make the most of the daily grind because, let’s face it, that’s where you spend most of your time so you may as well have some fun along the way.

Plan A doesn’t always work out

Have a Plan B through Z. Just in case. My Plan A was to stay married to my hubby, pursue my teaching career and live the nuclear family life. That didn’t work out so Plan B was needed. I think I’m on Plan K now. Much like starting over, moving onto the next plan doesn’t need to be scary.

Think of it as a time to learn and grow as a person. Mistakes and failures don’t make you a failure.

They are the best time to think, “oh, well that didn’t work out. How can I improve to make the next plan even better? What have I learned? How did I grow as a person from this?”

Plus how many people do you know go through their life on Plan A? I would like to meet them.


My love of exploring has deepened

The world is wide and long (well, it’s round, but a big round). There is so much to see, do, experience, explore. Even in our own little corners of the world, you could endlessly explore. I made a goal to myself earlier in the year to go somewhere new every month. And I did.

I didn’t broadcast it because it was a personal goal, just for me.

Seeing new places in my own country gave me an appreciation of the beauty of the world. It made me want to see more and experience more of it.

2018 will be a year of more exploring, and not just NZ exploring if all goes to plan. But ’nuff bout that. ‘Tis top secret fo now.


The awe of Mother Nature is addictive

Ah Mother Nature, how beautiful you are. Hiking is my happy place, surrounded by the smells, sounds, feel and tranquillity of nature brings an immense sense of peace. When I haven’t invaded Mother Nature for a few weeks I get antsy.

Mother Nature has an astounding ability to change with the seasons and place, every place is different and every season she changes.

Each is as wonderous as the last.

If you want to read more about my hikes and NZ adventures. Check them out here.


Getting out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens

This is where you push yourself and learn. It’s hard to learn and grow when you are happily plodding along inside your comfort zone. You can’t learn to push yourself and what you are capable of unless you try something new.

Plus the sense of satisfaction is something truly addictive and worthwhile.


I am capable

I can move across the world and carve out a fulfilling life for myself. I can start a new job and work my way up. I can be happy. I can start my life over. We are all capable if we believe we are.

So there are 17 things learned in 2017 from me. What are some things you learned in 2017?



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3 comments on “17 things learned in 2017”

  1. What a wonderful reflection of your year! It seems like you have learned so many powerful lessons. You share find great insight and advice for your readers too! Cheers to a new year full of happiness, success, & fulfillment. PS- I am glad you nailed the Rocky Road concoction. It sounds amazing!!

  2. Lots of stuffs on this list are true to me too. I moved back to Indonesia after living in the U.S. for 16 yrs. It was a really rough transition. I was a pastry gal there (so I find those white boards of 86-ed items pretty funny), but I am moving on to a completely different field — wanna guess what it is :). I don’t know… I think I am on plan K, maybe. I LOVE LOVE LOVE hiking although I can’t do it at the moment…so, my travel bucket list has been growing and growing… Wishing you a wonderful year ahead, Jem. 🙂

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