Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013: The Top Ten Posts

I started this final post of 2013 with a hypothesis in mind when I first outlined it a couple of weeks ago. My hypothesis was that your top five most popular posts would line up pretty closely with my major life events from 2013. As I began pulling the most popular posts, I realized I'd missed the forest for the trees; I'd ignored 2012, looking at 2013 as a whole--a journey.
Top 10 Posts of 2013
The top ten posts from 2013 showcase unscripted lives -- mine as well as two guest contributors: Michelle Wear and Jennifer Hurlburt. Lives with ups and downs. Lives made up of little details. Lives where we don't have enough time. Lives where we embrace the chaos and try our best each day. I'm incredibly touched by you and the posts you found most interesting. Beginning with the tenth most popular post, here we go!

10. Around Our Home: Our First Dining Table

Growing up our family gather together each night around the dining table for dinner. There we'd share stories from our day.
Best of 2013: 10. Our New Dining Table
I believe the best place to tell a story is over a home-cooked meal around a dinner table--or any table. Until May 2012, cubes and I hosted guests around our coffee table. When we moved into The Station, we purchased a three-seat round table for our kitchen. But we hadn't had a real dining table that would seat a larger group of friends and family until this year. I'm glad you shared my excitement, making the news, Around Our Home: Our First Dining Table, the 10th most popular post of 2013.

9. Font Fun: I AM Photo Labels

I remember singing "Sticks and stones may break my bones. But names will never hurt me." frequently as a child in response to bullies. Until the Find Your Voice Workshop this summer, I'd never thought of looking at the compliments others give as well.
Best of 2013: 9. I AM Photo Labels
With the I AM Photo Labels activity that I created using Kristin Ruskin's Currently cards as inspiration I put positive and negative qualities side by side and looked at who I am objectively. I was incredibly touched to find this project pinned to a few educators' activity boards.

8. Planning for Emergencies

The second half of 2013 was crazy around here. While cubes has given me permission to share the details of his hospitalization and recovery, I personally haven't been able to--I'm still too raw.
Best of 2013: 8. Plan for Emergencies
When life is going great and we have everything we'd ever dreamed of, it's easy to think bad things only happen to others. It's then that it's most important to Plan for Emergencies. I'm glad you found my tips on what to do before you have a health emergency in your family to be helpful.

7. Twenty Minutes a Day of Creativity

"What can you do in 20 minutes?" More than you can think.
Best of 2013: 7. 20 Minutes of Creativity
I'm so thankful that I attended the "Makers Gotta Make" roundtable hosted by Sandra Harris of Raincoast Creative Salon and Jennifer Cooper of Classic Play at Alt in January. They allowed me to see that even if I didn't have time for long form prose I could still be creative. Twenty Minutes a Day of Creativity led to a couple of Instagram photo series (#MondayMaxim and #TheSceneToday) and opened my eyes to a new way of seeing.

6. A Good Life Snapshot: Michelle Wear of Table for Five

2013 was the first year that I had guest contributors here on the blog. Once I made the decision to focus the blog on experiences and items that make a good life, I realized that individually we don't have all the answers. Hence A Good Life Snapshot series was born.
Books to read in 2014
Michelle's tip for having a good life that really resonated with me was to be intentional and that we make the decision to have a good life every day. Be sure to read the rest of Michelle Wear's A Good Life Snapshot to learn what question she asks when faced a decision to stay on the road to The Good Life.

5. Who I Am

As a writer, there are posts that we agonize over and wonder if we left ourselves too vulnerable. The fifth most popular post of 2013 was one I almost didn't publish.
Best of 2013: 5. Find Your Voice Workshop - Who Are You?
Like the I AM photo labels, this Who I Am post and the ever-changing photo gallery I created for it, came out my participation as a contributor to the Find Your Voice workshop this past summer. I loved the opportunity to really dive into my personal story and view myself objectively as an actor.

4. Recap: Choosing the Right Alt Summit for You

2013 could be best described as the year I realized I had an addiction: an Alt addiction.
Best of 2013: 4. Choosing the Right Alt Summit for You
I kicked off the year attending Alt Summit SLC, then Alt for Everyone -- their first online conference in May, and finished with Alt Summit SF in July. Had my schedule allowed, I would have attended the second Alt for Everyone in September. For me each conference satisfies different goals. In the fourth popular post of 2013, Recap: Choosing Your Flavor of Alt Summit, I compare three of the four conferences (Alt Summit NY is excluded as I haven't attended one).

3. Recap: The Business Cards of Alt Summit SF

Alt Summit SF is smaller than Alt Summit SLC so I was surprised when two of my recap posts from Alt Summit SF ended up in the top five most popular posts.
Best of 2013: 3. Business Cards of Alt Summit SF
One of the things I especially enjoyed about Alt Summit SF was the size of the event. Because I had conversations lasting a few minutes with everyone I traded cards with, I can still remember their faces months later.

2. Font Fun: Matching Fonts to Your Personality

One of the most fun -- and most frustrating -- exercises I completed this year was choosing new fonts for my logo.
Best of 2013: 2. Fonts that Match My Personality
In the second most popular post of 2013, Font Fun: Choosing Fonts to Match Your Personality, I shared tips I learned on how to choose a font that matches your personality.

1. A Good Life Snapshot: Jennifer Hurlburt of Jennifer Witt Photography

In A Good Life Snapshot: Jennifer Hurlburt of Jennifer Witt Photography, Jennifer shares that she didn't always have The Good Life and says how five years ago she achieved it.
Books to read in 2014
Jennifer, like Michelle, believes the key to a good life is living intentionally. A tip she shared that really resonated with me was posting family values for all to see daily. I especially liked her family's "Be You" value. How about you?
Did your favorite post make the Top 10?

A Confession and A Thank You

Once I realized I'd overlooked a year over year comparison in my 2013 wrap up, I was curious to see if this year's top ten matched last year's. So I quickly went back to the Best of 2012: Top Ten Posts. Immediately I noticed a couple of things I'd overlooked as I'd been focusing on details. The unique views for this year's top ten posts are 363% greater than than last year's top ten posts. And, traffic to the blog increased even though I jettisoned two of last year's most popular series: Thursday Purseday and Tuesday Shoesday.
I was scared.
When I made the decision to get more personal and focus on experiences and items that make a good life, I was scared. I didn't know if you'd stick with me or if you'd want to hear what I had to say. But you did. And you shared the posts with your friends, and they came. And 43% of you keep coming back--regularly. Thank you for that.
Thank you for being loyal fans and for sharing what you like!
It means a lot that there are readers who still appreciate a story told from the heart, one filled with imperfection. I am so thankful for this opportunity to share with you and learn from you. You made 2013 great, and I can't wait to share my plans for 2014 with you. I hope you'll stick around, because 2014 is going to be amazing!
Ciao Bella!
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Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.