THOUGHTS ON LAST YEAR…

Happy New Year loves! This week I’m working on getting re-organized, new content and (videos!) – so in the meantime I wanted to take a minute and reflect on the last year and what I thought about 2017. There were some great highs, and even some lows. I am grateful for all of it though!

Last year (above photo) we started off January in Turks & Caicos (which is pretty hard to top, considering it’s -16 outside!) and that was the clearest water I have ever swam in! Neal and I were so relaxed, and loved being in the salt water. We love getting away to a warm place to kick off the year because we’re usually burned out after end of year projects and it’s freezing in Canada!!

We got invited on a press trip with a few other influencers and creatives to celebrate #Canada150 and made some amazing friendships we still have today on that trip! It was so cool to be apart of something that celebrated our beautiful country and that we could share on our platforms! YAY CANADA!

I also got back on a snowboard which I had not done in years, and let’s just say, I was not as good as I used to be (spent a lot of time on my bum). How beautiful is the view from the top of the mountain in Mt.Tremblant? One of my favourite places in Canada!

One of my lifelong dreams was to visit Hawaii. It always felt so unattainable, far away, or that there wasn’t a good time. Last year Neal and I just bit the bullet and booked our flight! It’s a good 14 hour flight (with connections) to get to Maui but it was well worth it. This is easily my favourite place we have ever visited! Nature is so bountiful and lush (the rainforests are gorgeous on the road to Hana), the people were some of the kindest we had ever met and everywhere felt so spiritual and pure. Above is a shot Neal took on our helicopter ride above West Maui – it was the most incredible thing flying so close to the waterfalls!! So sad we never got to finish part 2 of our vlog, but maybe one day we’ll put together a compilation of our favourite places we’ve traveled to! You can watch Part 1 here (tour of our hotel, Fairmont Kea Lani).

I felt right at home with my hair in a wet bun, relaxed clothes, sun kissed skin and fresh juices/acai bowls. Mahalo Maui for being so sweet to us! When can I move here?

Shortly after Hawaii, another trip presented itself to us – a cruise across the West Mediterranean! Again we got to cross off bucket list stuff like visiting the Vatican in Rome (oh how I loved Roma, and just Italy in general is probably my favourite country in Europe), the Amalfi Coast, Positano, Monaco/Monte-Carlo, Mallorca and Barcelona! We did mini Insta-videos (you can watch on my hashtag on #ssworldtravels or my hubby’s account: @nealjolly). It was a fast paced trip (so much we wanted to see) and it had us hungry to explore Europe a lot more…

We ate endless gelato and fresh fruit from the markets in Italy – it was perfect.

Amalfi Gelato Heaven

A stunning cathedral in Monaco…

We celebrated our first year of marriage on July 3rd! The past year was one where we moved in together for the first time and Neal quit his job to work as a team full-time — two major changes. Living and working together 24/7 brought it’s challenges, but we are so grateful they happened and taught us valuable lessons for the years ahead. The first year of marriage definitely strengthened our bond and commitment to be a team, which came with a lot of grace from God, and a lot of grace we gave each other. I love that my husband challenges me to be better at everything I do personally, professionally and spiritually. I could not have accomplished half of my goals this year without him and he is a big reason why I now have a YouTube channel! It took a lot for me to step out on a new platform that is so heavily saturated and I felt really camera shy on video, but now I love it! Neal shoots and edits all of my video, and I have loved seeing him excel in this creative outlet – I love how hard he works! A lot of people say married couples should not work together, but I think it all depends on the couple. It is tough at times, and some just aren’t meant to do it, but I have always believed that Neal and I are were meant to do a lot more together and I love that this is just the beginning of that! I love having him everyday to encourage me with all that I do. It’s also so important to shut off work and focus on each other, put away our phones, plan little dates and sweet gestures. Work and money is not our foundation, we set out to do everything to glorify God, and it is not without His grace that we have been able to have a successful marriage and business. Thank You Jesus!

You can probably guess this one was coming… WE GOT A PUPPY!!

Bringing our sweet Lucy in to the family was one of the happiest and best decisions we made all year (aka all of my life). She is sweet and spicy! Loves to cuddle, but is definitely sassy and dominant. Puppies are a lot of work, and honestly Neal and I always joke that it’s been great training for us before we have kids one day (not anytime soon *wink*). She is the best work though. If I had a bigger home, I’d probably adopt 10 more, but I’ll pace myself (somewhere Neal’s heart is racing, haha). So thankful to my parents for giving her the best home away from home whenever we had to travel. We didn’t do too many trips (short ones only) as she was just a puppy and we wanted to slow down a bit after being so go-go-go.

Getting her photo taken by @thedogist for a Body Shop campaign (look at her posing!)

Bandit might look like he’s smiling, but don’t be deceived, he is so annoyed by her, haha!

Forever regretting I never set up an Instagram account for her because she does something hilarious every 5 minutes I want to take a photo of! You can follow her hashtag #LucyJolly 🙂

Daddy-Daughter Blue Jays game days in the summer watching from our patio. We had the best summer with Lucy, it makes me sad she’s not this tiny anymore!

My sister got married over the summer and we had the best night partying away. Nothing better than seeing your family happy! Above is a photo of Neal and I at the reception!

We kept the summer pretty chill – new puppy, my sister’s wedding, our first wedding anniversary but we did get to make it out to this awesome Treehouse (see the tour on my channel here).

We end off each year in a cozy Christmas-y spot or ski town because we love to watch the snow, experience all of the lights and get away during the hustle and bustle. This year we did Old Quebec and it was like walking into a Christmas card (watch the vlog here). It was the perfect way to end off the year!

2017 Travels & Adventures: Turks & Caicos, New York, Ottawa, Montebello, Mt.Tremblant, Hawaii, Barcelona, Rome, Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento, Livorno (Italy), Cannes (France), Monaco, Monte-Carlo, Mallorca (Spain), Buffalo, Prince Edward County, Treehouse Retreat, New York (again) and Old Quebec! 

This year we have 365 opportunities.

Last year I learned a lot about myself, what I want, what I don’t want, business (trials and errors), relationships, friendships, getting over a lot of fears and anxieties (praise the Lord), and my walk with God. I am grateful for the bad that comes with the good, because it ultimately helps build character, it helps us learn to give more grace (to ourselves and others) and reminds me that I need God always. One of the biggest goals we had for 2018 was to get our hands more involved in helping others. Donating money is great, but touching lives in person is so much more rewarding. I have seen God’s hand in my life this past year especially, and I just want to use what He has given us to produce more fruit a hundred times more to help others. One of my favourite pastors/authors, John Mark Comer said in a recent podcast (which if you’re looking for a good one download his here), “…What we do flows out of who we are.” His podcast on “identity” really struck a chord with me and had me reflecting more on the direction of my life – I want it to be purposeful and fruitful.

Thank you so much for following, reading, commenting, emailing, DM-ing, liking and overall just being here with me. I am so grateful for each and every one of you and I want to connect and engage with you even more in 2018! I have loved reading your comments on my channels and sweet DM’s. You all mean so much to me, and really motivate me to keep doing what I do! THANK YOU!

I love leaving you with tools (whether it’s an app, podcast, journal etc.) whenever I do reflective posts, so I wanted to leave you with a book recommendation this time! I hope it will inspire you, the way it has inspired me…

GARDEN CITY BY JOHN MARK COMER

You’ve heard people say “Who you are matters more than what you do”. Does the Bible really teach that? In Garden City, John Mark Comer gives a fresh take on our calling and our purpose, with a surprisingly counter-culture take. Through his creative and conversational style, Comer takes a good look at Genesis and the story of a man, a woman, and a garden. He unpacks God’s creation and his original intent for how we are meant to spend our time. Here, you’ll find answers to questions like “Does God care where I work?”  “What about what I do with my free time or how much rest I get?” “Does he have a clear direction for me?” Practical and theologically rich, Garden City speaks to twenty and thirty-somethings who are figuring out next steps and direction in their lives.

Garden City is the Purpose Driven Life for the next generation—the book that helps us answer why we are here and what should we do about it.

via Amazon