I’m currently working on my yearly review in my 2020 Goals workbooks, and thought it would be fun to do a round up post here as well to share with you all of how this year has been for me… life, business and all the good stuff!
This is a massive review – just under 5,000 words!
In it I’ll share:
- some of the hardest parts of our family’s year
- our transition from homeschooling to schooling
- some of the best ideas I had that changed my life
- where I focussed my business over the last 12 months
- what I sold the most of
- how I changed my philanthropic focus
- the piece of technology that helped me simplify and increase profits this year.
I’ll talk about life first… because that’s the most important thing!
We bought a new house this year after 12 months of living on the Sunshine Coast. It was our original plan to do this – we bought a smaller property to live in while we decided where we wanted to live on the coast, and then bought a larger house on an acreage. We kept the smaller house to rent out.
We’ve been in our new home for six months now, and it’s such a blessing to live on acreage again. We are on two acres, surrounded by birds and trees. I feel so grateful. I love the spaciousness… being on acreage has always been my dream, and when we lived in the rainforest in Kuranda on acreage I was just thrilled with it. We definitely thought we’d keep living on acreages, but our adventures took us in different directions. Until now!
To come back to acreage after four years of longing feels very lucky.
I still love living on the Sunshine Coast, and we will probably be here for a few years at least. KNOCK ON WOOD! HA!
If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know we’ve been pretty transient with our homes, and have lived in 8 places in 10 years from Cairns to Hobart. On good days I think we’ve just had a magical, unexplainable journey of slow travel around Australia. On bad days, I wonder WTF we were thinking. Ha! Luckily, my days are almost always good.
What I love about the Sunshine Coast:
- the water. I love being near the beach and rivers and lakes. Gosh it’s good medicine for the soul.
- the people. Honestly I’ve met so many lovely, educated hippies… it’s hard to keep up with all the beautiful hearts I’ve met.
- the weather. Sub tropical mild magic! Not so endlessly hot you feel like you are one giant sweaty inferno of a ball sack. (Can you tell I’ve lived in Cairns?) Not so endlessly cold you feel like your asshole has frost bite. (Can you tell I’ve lived in Tasmania and Canberra?)
- the greens and blues. After a few years of living in the alpine mountains, I realised I need super-saturated colours in my landscape. It makes my eyes happy. I feel more creative here.
- the educational options. Which leads me to…
Homeschooling => Back to school
After two years of homeschooling both my kids, we decided with my eldest to try a term at a small independent school here. I’d done a tour of it previously and had been really excited by its approach. When we took a tour with my eldest, she said in the car on the way there: “I don’t want to look at a school! I love homeschooling!” But by the end of the tour, she told us: “I want to go to school here.”
So she did. We thought we would give it a go for a term and see what it was like for her and us. And it was great, so we continued. It’s been a year now, and it’s really been wonderful. My kid still adores it, and has learned SO MUCH. She is truly thriving. My youngest will start there in 2020 and we will be regularly kid-free for the first time in a decade (!!!!)
I do sometimes miss how much time we had together as a family, how much freedom we had when homeschooling, and how we got to choose our own schedule. My mental health is a lotttttt better when I’m not homeschooling – just being able to have more time to myself is crucial. Plus, it’s a pretty big mental responsibility to take on your kids’ education, so I found that taxing too. My kid has absolutely blossomed at school, educationally and emotionally, so it’s the right choice for us right now.
I’m grateful for the example of homeschooling friends who are “Flexi learners” – they take it term by term, and will happily homeschool or have the kids at school – it depends on what is needed by the family members at the time.
I appreciate that philosophy – that there’s no one right way to do things permanently. You can just choose, and choose again. Keep choosing what’s right for you and and your family and your kid to bloom.
I’ve been working out of a corner of our bedroom for 18 months. We just didn’t have the space in our first house, and I didn’t really care. I knew I could cope with just having a desk for the short term. Let’s face it – I barely even use a desk anyway. I usually work from bed or the couch.
Anyways, when we moved into our new acreage, there was an extra room behind our garage that was used as a bar or games room. It didn’t have any windows, and was a bit dark and sad. We knew we’d use it as my office/studio once we renovated. In my impatience, I expected I’d be using it within a couple of weeks of moving in. In reality, it took six months for us to renovate it and get it where it needed to be for it to be usable.
We got a new glass door installed, plus two large picture windows to add in light and breeze. I repainted all the walls – Taubmans Chalk Wash Quarter for three walls, and British Paints Tropical Bird for a feature wall (does anyone even say feature wall anymore? Or is that very 1990’s?) I also added a coat of Dulux Glitter Effect over the Tropical Bird to make it shimmer.
It’s now an amazing space to create in, and I’m so thrilled!
We’ve all been in good health this year, thank goodness. There’s been some years where that hasn’t been the case – between mental health, hyperemesis gravidarum and a shithouse immune system. This year has been healthy and happy though!
It’s definitely been the Year of Dental Work however… I had my wisdom teeth removed under twilight sedation (much good, highly recommend!) and I also had a root canal and new crown. My youngest Beth had the same teeth condition my eldest Ostara had – enamel hypomineralisation, likely caused by me having hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy. It meant she had to have the same surgery Ostara had at the same age – go under a GA for extensive repair and removal. I didn’t expect it to be super difficult – my gentle, placid-natured Ostara had no issues with the GA, and was out like a light.
For my strong spirited, boisterous Beth however, she did NOT enjoy going under GA, and was suuuuuper pissed off at the anaesthetist, fighting the whole way down (it probably only took a few minutes, but it felt like a lifetime). I ended up sobbing hysterically in the waiting room. She woke up quickly in recovery, climbed onto a nurse like a koala and sleepily proclaimed: “I AM HUNGRY!” This makes me smile – Beth, always hungry, always up for a hug. And that’s where I found her. The nurses transferred Sleepy, Hungry, Koala Beth onto me, and popped me onto the hospital bed with her on top of me. They tucked me in, and treated us both so gently. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of it.
They fetched Beth endless food – ice-blocks, ice-cream, custard, jelly. And yet she was STILL HUNGRY. Beth had been deprived of food for 5 whole hours, and she needed to redress that imbalance stat. Her recovery went beautifully. Beth now has some silver plated teeth which she is very excited by. She announces to every stranger in sight: “LOOK AT MY SILVER TEEEETH!”
Beth gave us another trip to emergency this year as well – she split her head open on a table at home and had to be glued back together. I will say: if the doctor asks you if you want to see the cleaned out head wound before they mesh it back together, say NO. I’m usually pretty fine with blood and said YES like a NOVICE PARENT. DO NOT BE LIKE ME. I don’t think I’ve managed to erase that visual memory yet. I still feel a bit vommy when I think about it.
Anyways, I’m always so blooming grateful when I go to hospital: it gives me a humanity tune-up to my heart. It reminds me just how vulnerable we all are. How much we adore our children, and how much we ache when they ache. And it reminds me to love perfect strangers, how thin the veneer of normality really is.
OUR SWEET DOGGY
At the start of the year, my husband met me at the door one afternoon when I got home with the kids.
“Honey,” he said, shaking just a little bit. “I think there’s something wrong with Angel.”
He’d noticed she’d had issues with eating, and inspected, and some of her teeth looked like they needed removal.
My husband ADORES dogs, and is very attached to our pets. He’s got such a soft heart when it comes to them.
I had a look, agreed, and calmed him down. I told him I’d take her to the vet in the morning, and that she’d be totally fine, she just needed some dental work done.
The next morning, I take her to the vet (my husband is too worried to come). The vet checks her teeth, agrees she needs some dental work, and says they can fit in Angel for treatment today. She does a health check over Angel to make sure she’s ok for dental surgery. I remember the moment: the vet puts her hand over Angel’s stomach to check her organs, and stops. She gets a frown on her face, and keeps pressing on her stomach.
In my head, I think: FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK. This is it. This is the beginning of the end. This is the bad news that none of us want.
We’ve had Angel for over 10 years now. She’s a part of our family. And we still miss our Charlie who died from a brain tumour a few years ago.
The vet finally says: “I can’t tell, but I think Angel has a large tumour. I need to get her scanned as soon as we can.”
FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK.
The vet pulls off some kind of miracle, and gets her business partner to bring scanning equipment from another surgery. They confirm she has a large tumour which needs immediate removal as it could potentially burst. They decide to perform surgery straight away, and send us home.
Hours later, they call. The surgery took much longer than they expected. They found the tumour was even larger than they anticipated – it was larger than a baseball (absolutely massive for a 3kg dog!) and took up all space in her rib cage. In an absolute miracle however, they were able to remove the whole thing, it did not cause haemorrhaging, it was not cancerous and she made a full recovery. The vets were stunned at how miraculous the whole thing was.
We are so grateful that she survived… and that we’d discovered it so serendipitously. We feel lucky for the extra time we’ve been given with her. At the age of 14, she is now in great health and is naughtier than ever. Sometimes I tell her: “ANGEL! CALM DOWN OR I WILL SHOVE THAT TUMOUR BACK INSIDE YOU!” Ha! Seriously though, thank goodness for her fluffy face and getting to keep loving her up.
We got to experience another “life crisis” first this year… we were evacuated!
In November, a bushfire became out of control near our acreage, and we were evacuated for three days.
It was really bloody intense, and happened so fast. We saw smoke, and didn’t know what was happening. Beth was standing outside with us, wearing only swimming togs as we were supposed to be going to the pool. She was crying because of the smoke, and I was trying to calm her while we worked out what was happening and what we should do. As we stood outside, neighbours pulled up and told us it was close and very large, and they were evacuating. So we jumped in the car too, with barely a change of clothes and nothing useful. I managed to bring litres of kombucha though! You really don’t think straight in emergencies.
It was only 40 minutes from the time we saw the smoke to the roads being closed down. We evacuated, but didn’t get government text messages to evacuate until we were out. The roads were so smoky, full of evacuees and emergency services.
I got teary – while we were all running from the fire, emergency services were running towards it. I can’t believe their sacrifice and bravery.
We drove to pick up our eldest from school. When I told her we were evacuated, she burst into tears and sobbed for a long while.
Evacuation centres were opened, but we didn’t feel we could take Angel there safely – she’s elderly, anti-social and cantankerous around other dogs. Luckily, our lovely friends had already texted us and offered their house to us. It was an absolute blessing. That’s the thing – during all the odd, hard parts of this year, we were saved by the grace of angels. Vets, nurses, generous friends. I feel so very lucky.
It’s very odd to be evacuated though – it feels like a very tense wait in an airport. We mostly listened to the radio for updates, checked our phones for updates, and texted other evacuated friends to check they were okay. Tried to make things as gentle and calm for the kids as we could. Held them as they cried. We slept all curled up together in one room.
The next morning, we drove to the shops to buy some undies, clothes and food. We could tell the other evacuees – we were all bedraggled and shell shocked. Big W lady said most evacuees bought thongs/flip flops – we’d all run away so fast we literally forgot to wear shoes.
That night, we still couldn’t go home and were going stir crazy. A cousin of mine offered up his beach house on Bribie Island to stay at, so we made a last minute decision to drive down there for a change of pace. We are NEEEEVERRRR spontaneous, so it was like the forced evacuation made us free. Who cares where we are? We can’t go home, so let’s go anywhere!
All up, we were evacuated for three days. It was strange coming home – we were still on high alert for a few weeks as there were spot fires and hot temperatures. It’s made climate change and conservation so much more front of mind for me.
And I know I’m not unique in this experience… Australia continues to burn, and so many are evacuated right now right across the country. It’s a crisis, and difficult to understand the extent of it. I’ll talk more about what I’m going to do about it later in this article.
OTHER LIFE THINGS THIS YEAR!
- Read a lotttt of books this year. About 400. Here’s my list of the best ones I read.
- Monthly spa dates. I have a lot of mates on the Sunshine Coast (as I said – it’s full of good peeps!) So much so – I find it difficult to catch up with all of them. Plus I am always trying to fit in more self care. So I decided to batch it all, and organise monthly spa days. I invite about 30 of my local mates, and whoever is free comes along. We go to a local spa who offers spa parties – everyone pays a fee, and we get a 60 minute massage and access to the pool, spa and sauna. We all bring food and drinks, set up camp, and live our best lives for the next 5 hours. We talk shit and laugh hysterically and enter into deeeeep chill. It’s magical, and honestly the BEST idea. Highly recommend doing the same!
- Created a travelling art journal circle. Again – bloody tops idea that’s brought me a HUGE amount of creativity, connection and joy this year.
- Art swaps – me and a few of my favourite creative friends also swapped artworks this year. Here’s one I did with Kristie Porters – will share more with you soon!
- Painted a crap tonne of stuff with the kids.
If there was anything blank around the house, we painted it. Old step ladders! Plant pots and garden statues!
- Started talking about zebras.
- Tried a rainbow book shelf after dissing it for years. I’m ridiculously in love with it – it looks brilliant and is actually a fun way to find new books to read!
- Got to hang out with magical, wonderful friends including: Kaylia, Julie, Sarah, Brigit, Madi, Jo, Alecia, Julia, Jody, Keira, Bee & more!
This was a year of shifting into a new business model – away from having a membership site (the Academy which I ran for 9 years) and into producing stand-alone e-courses again.
I’ve felt so creatively juiced up, and excited by getting to make so many new courses – all up, I’ve made 6 new full-length courses this year! It’s been such a joy to connect with students and see them get results like this.
Most popular courses:
- Money, Manifesting & Multiple Streams of Income: 1367 enrolments
- 40 Days To Create & Sell Your E-Course: 1162 enrolments
- 40 Days To A Finished Book: 906 enrolments
- Goal Getter mastermind: 550 enrolments (it still hasn’t started yet – will probably double before it begins Jan 15)
- Anxiety Balm: 177 enrolments
- Self Sabotage Solution: this is a bonus course I created for students in my Book, E-course and Goal Getter courses!
Lessons learned from what was popular:
Honestly, I never really know how a course is going to go until I launch it. I thought the Anxiety Balm one would have been super popular, but it just didn’t call to people in the same way as my other courses did. I’m still glad I did it though – it’s an important topic and I feel like it was a kind of public service to share about it in the way I did.
I’m a bit surprised that my Money course has been the most popular – I came up with the idea one Friday night and launched it by Monday. I have marketed it more via a webinar, so maybe that is why it’s become so popular. I’ll probably create companion webinars for my other courses too. They are so much fun to do, and peeps seem to get so much out of the free training.
2020 My Shining Year Goals Workbooks
It’s officially a decade since the first edition of My Shining Year goals workbooks were released! I had no idea 10 years ago that those little rainbow worksheets I made for myself to plan my next year in life and business would end up being used by over 350,000 people worldwide.
This year, they were published by Ben Bella publishing house in the US. They are a slightly smaller size than usual – they are more portable plus needed to be reduced in size in order to fit in bookstore shelves!
Me and Chris also worked on new sections for the 2020 workbooks… including my new favourite game show… WHAT WORKED! WHAT DIDN’T!
I’m blooming THRILLED with them, and adore sharing them with the world.
I’m in the midst of my own planning this year, going through the workbooks. It really is one of my favourite rituals and traditions that makes such a difference for the rest of my year.
I go into more detail on this in my Money course, but I have three main business income streams – my e-courses, royalties from my workbooks, plus I still receive money from my doTERRA side business, and I’m an affiliate for a few companies I use like Kajabi. Those are the income streams that fall under our company, plus we have some more that are our private investments.
A few years ago I experimented with having a larger team to cope with business growth. At one point we had about 15 employees I think? I discovered I hated it with a passion – I ended up spending my time managing staff instead of creating, and it broke me. So I downsized in order to rightsize my business. It was blooming HARD at the time, but I’m now well and truly back in my sweet spot. I have one part-time VA who largely manages herself. She does all customer service, and some admin. And my time is focussed on creating, marketing and strategy, which very much is my sweet spot.
I still earn about as much profit (just under 7 figures). I think I can manage this kind of extreme profit business working 10 hours a week or so for two reasons:
- I adhere pretty strictly to Pareto’s Principle that 20% of effort creates 80% of income. So I worked out what tasks are profit-generating, and I chop the rest (i.e. the 80% of effort that only creates 20% of results).
- I have the right business model. I don’t have physical products, I don’t manufacture. I used to self-publish my workbooks by printing them in China and having 3 distribution houses shipping. It was fascinating to learn, but HOLY FUCK was it time consuming, costly and stressful. It also required so much more staffing. It just wasn’t the right business model for me. So now I have a publishing deal, and work with a company who prints them for me. It’s not as profitable doing it this way, but it frees me up to create income in other ways. I’m much happier doing it this way!
In other staffing news, Chris (my loverrrrrrrrr/husband) still does all the layout for the workbooks and other acts of tech slavery. He says working with me is fine, but the sexual harassment from his boss is a bit hard to take at times. I told him to make an official complaint to 1-800-SHUT UP AND KISS ME.
I’m massssively in the mood for simplification in my business now. I’ve built my business over years and years, hodge-podging together lots of different software solutions for different areas of my business. It got so complicated it was difficult to execute anything. For example, to create a webinar, I previously would have had to create an opt-in page using Leadpages, and get it to link to Infusionsoft (my previous email marketing software) and create tags and an auto-responder sequence from scratch. Infusionsoft would need to link back to landing pages on my website, and then I’d need to use video conferencing software to run the whole thing. Consequently, it was so complicated I either had to outsource it to staff to do, or just… no do it because I was so confused. Then, to sell a new e-course, it was even harder – I had to set it up in Infusionsoft to sell via our shopping cart software and integrate with a WordPress plugin. Fuck.dis.shit.
I wanted to feel empowered in my business again – like I could just have an idea and RUN with it, and make it happen simply and easily without complication or interference or staff needed.
I ended up transitioning to an all-in-one online business platform called Kajabi.
Here’s a list of what I got to kill off because I moved to Kajabi:
- Amazon S3.
Kajabi has a shit tonne of features:
- I can sell e-courses, products or even a membership platform again
- I can do all my email marketing
- I can offer an affiliate program again
- I can do webinars and opt-ins super easily – it’s all integrated, and it will even create the email templates for me.
It’s not perfect – for example, it’s email marketing system could probably be a bit more customisable, and email deliverability rates are about 1% behind ConvertKit, but its benefits are so huge they outweigh any issues completely for me.
I’m just so glad I’ve been able to get back to coming up with ideas and executing them super quickly by myself.
I’ve donated to a large number of charities over the years – built a library in Vietnam through Room to Read, helped build a school in West Ghana through Pencils of Promise, I’m in the top 1% of Kiva lenders worldwide and donated to loads more from WWF to Red Cross to World Vision. I donated over $40,000 to an orphanage. I want to share publicly here as well: as I learn more about racial justice, I increasingly feel more uncomfortable with supporting orphanages. More info here, here, here and here.
This year I made the decision to make a change with my philanthropic work.
I decided to centre my philanthropy going forward on climate change and the environment. It’s the place that I feel is the highest priority going forward, and feel passionate about.
I remember Kelly Cutrone wrote in one of her books to do the work that feels most important to you at the time. So that’s where I’m at.
Most Popular Blog Posts I Wrote This Year:
- 50 Ways To Earn Money From A Side Hustle – Online and Offline Business Ideas!
- I Fucking Love Anti-Depressants
- 31 Portraits in 3 Weeks: How I Did It & Other Creative Details
- How I Have Sold Over $1 Million In Books
- Should I Charge Higher or Lower Prices: Which is Better?
- Day in the Life of a Leonie!
- My No Spend Experiment
- Broken Hearted and Lovelier Than Ever
- Best Books 2019
- What I’m Thinking About
Other things I’ve done in my business in 2019:
- I did a huge website and brand redesign… we’re entering final development now so hopefully should be out early 2020!
- As part of the redesign, I did a photoshoot with Eyes of Love. I was freaking STOKED with the images we created, and have been using them all year long for my projects. Plus, I adore Michelle and Jacko. Total champions!
- I did stacks of podcast interviews. Totally enjoyed this method of connecting. (If you want to interview me, ask me here!)
- I used a coach for 3 months which was totally helpful in helping strategise my next steps in business. I haven’t used a coach since 2012 as I’m pretty self-directed, so it was a change to use one! I used Brigit Esselmont, and she was bonza. Brigit is also a mate of mine who lives close by, and I really just wanted an opportunity to pick her brain more.
- I used a daily accountability buddy. Basically – me and one of my closest mates would FB message each other our daily to do list, and check-in once we were done, or if we were stuck. It definitely helped!
In rounding up…
Even though there were some challenges this year with family health and bushfires, I feel really freaking lucky with my family. I feel grounded and grateful to be back on land. I am SO freaking relieved we’ve found a schooling method that is working beautifully for us. I’m so glad we’re here, doing our best, turning up, together.
Business was a real blessing and joy this year. I feel more creatively in my flow than I have in a long time, and that feels super exciting. It’s been a ray full of gladness to reconnect with myself and what I want to share with the world, and connect with the beautiful souls who are called to be a part of my offerings.
What’s next for 2020?
More of the same. More new e-courses. More live rounds of the e-courses I’ve already created. More workbooks. More free webinars. More creativity and sharing in all its forms.
More philanthropy. More looking at ways I can reduce my impact on the earth.
More grounding. More art. More friendship. More self care. And more family adventures.
That all feels very good.
I’m sending you so much love, right where you are.