2015 Year-in-Review

If I had to sum up 2015 for me with one word, it would be freedom.

I made a lot of goals for 2015 at the beginning of the year. I wanted to:

  1. travel as much as possible
  2. illustrate a children’s book
  3. read more
  4. write songs
  5. do yoga every day
  6. have better posture
  7. successfully grow some mushrooms
  8. become a knitwear designer

I did three of those things. Almost did most of them.

My intentions for 2015 year were vague: be more compassionate and bring happiness into the world.

I’m pretty sure I was successful in doing those things.

Having quit my full-time job in December 2014, I had a lot of free time last year and I spent a lot of time reflecting on my goals and intentions. Definitely a ‘first-world-problem’, but quitting my job was also the shedding of an identity. I could no longer introduce myself as, “Mandy, a web designer.” I was free from a job title but this left me feeling that I needed to define myself.

How do I want to feel? (These came from reading The Desire Map)

I have no clue how many self-help books I read last year trying to find my new purpose but my favorites were:

  • The Renaissance Soul (basically how to split up your time between multiple hobbies/callings so you don’t have to drop everything to work towards one goal)
  • The Desire Map (figure out how you want to feel rather than what you want to do)
  • The Crossroads of Should and Must (for makers/creatives, how to stop following what you think you should do and do what calls you)

My walls are covered in goals and intentions to remind me of what I’m hoping to move towards. My time was so open and free, I wanted to make sure it counted and that I didn’t forget what I really wanted to accomplish and feel.


My main goal for the year was to travel and travel we did! We fell in love with Oregon and are making plans to move there in the next few years. We worked on a farm in West Virginia, visited my mom in Pittsburgh and took a road trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway. Right before John started school, we took a trip to Colorado to visit my sister and headed to Alaska from there. Here’s a smattering of photos from our trips last year but if you want to see and read more about them, head over to our blog, Off to Earth.

I thought working on the farm would dissuade me and my husband from this crazy dream I developed a couple of years ago to start my own alpaca farm. I thought it would be way too hard and I would be over it in a day or two. And it was really hard but I loved it. I wanted to stay forever, waking up with the sun, working in the fields and with the animals until I was so hungry I couldn’t stand it, eating lunch and working again until I was so tired I could fall asleep in my dinner.

I tried here and there to illustrate the children’s book John had written, but again, never got anywhere substantial. I don’t know why my heart isn’t in it.

I took an online course to learn how to write a song, but never got anywhere.

I read about 15 more books last year than I had in the previous year. Goal met!

I did yoga a lot, but definitely not every day. Sometimes not even weekly. I’m still working on it. This goal goes hand-in-hand with better posture.

The mushrooms are going to have to be a 2016 goal. We’ve got the log plugged with shiitakes, ready to go!

Become a Knitwear Designer

The last goal somehow managed to happen. I struggled with it all year, not sure where to start, not sure how to come up with ideas and then actually knit them. Winging it when it came to knitting just wasn’t happening in my brain.

Then I saw a call for submissions for a collection that Kate from A Playful Day was curating for Knit Now magazine. At first I thought there was no way I could ever get into a magazine — I hadn’t even written one pattern yet! And I’d probably have to knit faster than I am able to meet a deadline. But then I learned that a submission is only a sketch, a swatch, and some written ideas. I could do that. And there’s no way they’d pick me anyway, right?

I submitted an idea. And I was actually commissioned!

I knit my sample like a mad man and shipped it off to the UK. It should be published in April, but must be kept a secret until then! It’s a small step, but one that really helped to boost my confidence.


In between traveling, I started volunteering on a weekly basis at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey and volunteering irregularly at other places when the opportunity arose. It’s been a great way to meet like-minded people and generate compassion.

I also decided to stop eating meat unless I knew it was humanely raised or wild-caught. I started paying more for eggs from pasture-raised chickens instead of saving a few bucks on eggs from chickens kept in tiny cages. The switch to eating meat (usually fish) only once per week or less was not difficult, though I thought it would be.

What’s in store for 2016

My main goal for this year is to work on designing knitting patterns. I created a map for the first 6 months of 2016 and would like to create and self-publish 6 knitting patterns.

In the gaps, I’ll still be teaching at Valencia, doing a bit of freelance web design (still my most lucrative source of income), volunteering, and coming up with a plan for moving to Oregon, including purchasing land for a farm.

As far as intentions: compassion, compassion, compassion. More meditation, more yoga, more gardening, more reading, always creating.

5 Replies to “2015 Year-in-Review”

  1. That is a great year, and worthy goals. Your intentions are more of what you’re doing, not doing something different, and that shows that you are doing the right things! Happy January.

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