Justin Tadlock

2018 year in review

A bundled of dozens of freshly-picked carrots from the garden.

It happened last night. I’d felt the rumblings of it on occasion in the past couple of weeks. It’s that moment when you realize there’s something you’d simply rather be doing than the thing that you’re doing.

It was just past 9 p.m. I’d spent most of the night switching between reading Mistborn: The Final Empire and watching television. I’d just come off a second reading session and planned to put the book down for the night. I’d catch some show or another before getting a bit of shuteye. But, there was nothing I wanted to watch in particular. The novel was far more interesting than anything I had to watch. I could’ve chosen between 100s of shows or movies that I own on DVD/Blu-ray. I could’ve watched anything on Netflix. I could’ve switched to over-the-air TV. But, what was the point?

It took me a full year to get here, but I finally realized that I’d hit my true goal of the year. The goal beneath the goal where reading was more interesting to me than lazily watching TV.

I flipped back the cover to my Kindle Paperwhite and began reading again. I had about 80 pages left in the book and needed to know how the story ended.

The year of books

In January, I dubbed 2018 “the year of books.” My big goal of the year was to read 100 of them.

Yeah, that was a bit crazy.

After several years of only putting down about 15-20 books or so, it was a bit crazy to think that I’d hit 100 this year. I read a lot though. More than many previous years. I’m not exactly sure on the number because I didn’t track them, which I will definitely be doing in 2019.

There were times throughout the year when I got a bit lazy. There were months in the late spring and early summer where the most reading I done was with a bathroom book. At that time, I was trying to maintain my garden and keep up with my normal work. I didn’t have enough balance and my reading habits waned.

I did get a Kindle Paperwhite as a gift, which boosted my reading habits. My Kindle library is growing, and I have plenty of books awaiting in 2019.

I had planned to donate many of my old books to the high school library. However, after suggesting the same to a friend trying to get rid of some books on Facebook, the librarian commented on the post and didn’t seem too keen on the idea. So, I abandoned my own plan to do so.

I’ve also started reviewing books again here on the blog. It’s hard to believe that I’d gone over 11 years without reviewing a book. This is a practice that I hope to continue, sharing what great adventures I go on with the world.

Writing

I found my passion for writing again.

The biggest accomplishment of the year was competing in and winning National Novel Writing Month. It was one of the toughest and most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m glad to have done it and hope I can compete again next year.

My passion for blogging has also returned. A major part of this was finally deciding to drop WordPress and move to a custom system for my personal blog here. Over the years, I felt like WordPress simply didn’t suit me well as a blogger. My new system is far simpler and more focused on the things that I need for sharing my thoughts online. After June 2015, I hit a block and never fully recovered until a few months ago. I’ve written more this month than I have in any of the previous two years.

Dungeons & Dragons

This was the year that I first played D&D. I’ve known about the game for many years but have failed to find anyone in my group of friends to try it out. Fortunately, my cousin’s teenage kid plays and ran us through our first game. It was fun.

I was so excited about future adventures that I put all three of the core handbooks on my Amazon Wish List and got all three as gifts from some awesome folks.

10 years of Theme Hybrid

In August, I celebrated 10 years of running Theme Hybrid, my WordPress theme and plugin site. That was a huge accomplishment for me. I don’t think I really believed I’d be doing this thing for 10 years when I first began.

It also marked a turning point where I was going to refocus the site on two primary projects. One project would be my popular Members plugin (news on version 3.0 coming soon). The other project would be…

The Mythic starter theme

I spent most of the year working on a starter theme for WordPress, which I named Mythic. This was the culmination of everything I’ve learned in the past 10 years with a focus on the future of WordPress. It was good timing considering that WordPress itself is at a turning point in how it manages content.

I’m proud of the work that I and several others put into this project.

Finances

This year was a bit of a letdown financially. I had too many ups and downs, never seeing any sort of stability. Some of this had to do with putting too many projects on the backburner while I worked on the Mythic starter theme, which was not earning me any money in the many months it took to develop.

I’ve been fortunate to have been my own boss now for 10 years with a lot of flexibility with how I want to live my life. However, I need to do far better in the years to come. Right now, I’m just not where I need to be.

Gardening

It seems like ages ago since I’ve set foot in the garden. This past season was a mishmash of success and failure.

In the late winter and into spring was the brightest spot. I grew enough red potatoes that we never ran out. It was only this month that the remaining potatoes went bad from some freezing nights where they sat under a shed. I made enough onions to last well into the fall. I also grew bigger and better carrots than I ever have after several failed attempts in past years.

Most everything else during the late spring and summer months was mediocre at best. We had nearly two months of solid rain, never going more than three days without at least a shower. That pretty much makes it impossible to garden. Weeds take over. You can’t get in with a hoe and work soggy ground. It was a mess.

All along, there were a few bright spots. But, I’d grown tired of trying to fight against the messy rain and gave up the fight until 2019.