2018 Life Olympics

Let’s get one thing straight: 2018 was not a year. 2018 was actually a decade in annum’s disguise. Things happened in January or February 2018 that I would have blindly guessed had occurred at least three years ago. The Winter Olympics, for example. How do you measure a year? In heartburn, in wrinkles, in gray hairs, in stress disorders.

Have you ever had a moment when you come face-to-face with your own specific brand of crazy? (I know the answer is yes because you’re reading this and all of my friends and casual observers are a little bit crazy. It takes one to know one). Anywho, the other day I sat down to do my annual reconciliation of goals that I set this time last year… all 32 of them. 32 goals. What the what? What sort of lunatic sets 32 annual goals? Even several days later, I can’t even type this without laughing at myself. Some of these goals are things like “Raise X million dollars” – a months-long affair involving dozens or hundreds of tasks. 1/32! I tallied it up and I somehow managed to hit 20 of these crazy goals, in a year that I had written off as “terrible,” “horrible,” “no good,” and “very bad.”

Coincidentally, my word for 2019 is “boundaries” – may I set them, may I respect them.

2018 Life Olympics Recap


By objective measures, Allovue had a pretty good year. We are now supporting over $10 billion in school budgets for about one million students – milestones of which I’m very proud. We added terrific people to our team, we made huge improvements to the product, we hosted an awesome Summit, and we brought on exciting new partners.

Personally, I just didn’t feel like it was my best year. This is partly because I set insane expectations for myself and then felt disappointed when I couldn’t match them. My attention was divided across several core functions, which made me feel generally frazzled and unfocused for large swaths of the year. When I get stressed, my instinct is to double-down and work harder, which catalyzes a vicious spiral of overwork/exhaustion.

At least twice this year, I dismissed serious health issues as “probably just from stress” and I got sick more than I have in the past several years combined. Next year, I’m putting boundaries in place to help me focus on the goals that really matter to me and to do so with a clear head and a healthy body.

Home – Did not place

Ooph. The gods of hearth and home were not on my side this year. I had an attempted break-in at my rental house that resulted in someone smashing through my backyard fence Hulk-style. My second-floor ceiling caved-in from water damage. Tenants made a mess of the house, resulting in three months of deep-cleaning and painting (and income-loss). My basement flooded. I discovered (because I smelled gas one night) that the gas line in my house was too small (who even knew that was a thing?) and had to be entirely ripped out and replaced. My taxes increased 300 percent. And to top off the year, a new roof. Throughout all of this, I really tried to exercise gratitude for having house(s) in which things break, but it still sucks to write those checks. I’m praying that all will be quiet on the home-front next year. Please.

::Burns sage::

Health Bronze

While I felt sick and run-down quite a bit this year, I still did some healthy things that I’m proud of. Early in the year, I made the decision to give up my car when the lease was up. I have always characterized my driving as “all of the adrenaline but none of the skill of Batman” and I think it’s maybe safer for everyone if I sit in the passenger seat of cars. I anticipated that I would spend about as much money on transportation with increased rideshare spending, but thought the trade-off of stress and time spent driving would be a net good. I was wrong:

chart (2).png

In 2017, I spent $5,067 on transportation. In 2018, I increased my spending on rideshare 1000% but it still didn’t come close to the total cost of having a car. In 2018, I spent $2,791, which includes the remaining $550 balance on my car payments. If I take that out and factor in post-car rideshare spending, I’m still saving 50% or more on transportation costs. This is wild. One cost not shown here, since it’s a one-time expense, is my new bike. I could buy and outfit a brand new bike every year and still only hit about 75% of my spending level with a car. I’m extremely pleased with this decision.

I also joined a new gym and hired a personal trainer this year. These costs probably offset what I saved in transportation, but I feel good about investing in my health. I exercised more regularly this year than ever before, even if it wasn’t quite at the level of frequency I was aiming for, and I built a lot of muscle with weight training.

My biggest health fails this year were 1) eating like crap during busy travel seasons and 2) generally eating way too much sugar. I’m increasingly seeing studies about the long-term health consequences of processed foods and sugar. I don’t do well with total elimination diets, but I want to dramatically reduce my intake of sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods, as well as managing my diet better when I’m on the road.

Soul – Silver

Shockingly, this was my best category this year. I hit the most goals in this LO category, which included time for writing, singing, traveling, theatre/concert-going, and other activities that make my soul happy. I saw some terrific performances this year, including Audra McDonald and Cynthia Erivo at BSO, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Wonder in My Soul at CenterStage, Waitress at Hippodrome, Ingrid Michaelson at the Beacon, Spring Awakening at StillPointe, Remember Jones at Soundstage, Wye Oak at Ottobar, and Once on This Island on Broadway. I didn’t write quite as much as I had hoped (ya’ll, I thought I was going to draft two books this year. My concept of time is WILD.) But I still had op-eds published in The Baltimore Sun and Forbes, as well as a few pieces in Medium and on my own blog. I also sang a lot of songs that I loved this year and played the piano more than I have in years. More of all this. I fell short of my 36-book reading goal, but still clocked in a respectable 32 – my second-best reading year since I started tracking in 2012. For the past several years, I’ve been making a conscious effort to diversify the authors I’m reading. This year, 53% of books I read were authored by people of color and 60% were authored by women. Only 15% were authored by men of color, so that’s an area for improvement next year.

Favorite novel(s): Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Favorite poetry: Helium by Rudy Francisco, Felicity by Mary Oliver

Favorite business/strategy: The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath; Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke

Favorite memoir/essays: we are never meeting in real life. by Samantha Irby; We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

Relationships – Bronze

I had a fun time engaging with friends and family in new ways this year. I hosted a wine-tasting night and piano concert at my house. I went on trips and to festivals with friends. I also made peace with letting go of some relationships. I spent time with my family and celebrated 21 years of our Boxing Day tradition with my Dad.

I’m taking a hiatus from dating through 2019; at least, a sabbatical from trying. The various apps and profiles have been deleted; my swiping finger is retired. I’ve been at this game for over a decade with very little success and there’s absolutely nothing else in my life that I would invest this much time in for so little joy or purpose. A big part of my goal for 2018 was to retire old narratives that no longer suit me and I decided around November that this story of infinite first dates is just not working for me. For a while, it was fun, then funny. At some point, though, it turned into an exercise in drudgery. I cannot continue to invest this much time and emotional labor and hope into an activity that continuously drains and disappoints me. There is too much else far more worthy of my time and energy: myself, Allovue, my family, my friends – the true loves of my life.

ListenI see you grinning over there, thinking, “Oh, this is it. Now that she has given up, love is just going to drop right into her lap.” I think you’ve been watching too many Hallmark Holiday movies; this is not The Christmas Crush. This is the real world where men flake and cheat and ghost and zombie and ghost again and I’m all the way over it. Let me be. I can live happily ever after anyway.

Andddd that’s a wrap on 2018. I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go. I’m closing out the year in Mexico, binge-reading novels, listening to the ocean, doing yoga, eating chilaquiles, and setting a reasonable number of goals that (mostly) adhere to the confines of the space-time continuum. See you on the other side.


One thought on “2018 Life Olympics

  1. […] Even amidst a rough 2018 of homeowner problems, my house looked pretty tidy, but my mind still felt cluttered. Throughout much of the last year, I felt scattered, exhausted, and just generally unwell. For years, I had neglected the Health category on my Life Olympics and I was feeling it. I committed to finally making my mental and physical health a priority for 2019… and that was going to require setting some boundaries. […]


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