I think it’s a given that 2016 pretty much sucked for everyone. My idols are dead and my enemies are in power. For me, personally, it’s been a complete and utter rollercoaster, and I really hate rollercoasters.
It wasn’t all bad though, and with the lows, came tremendous highs. In what might be my most self indulgent post yet. Here is my year in review.
The year started off strong, at home in England, with my family, ringing in the new year with drunk dancing and cigars in front of the TV and, in the New Year, stomping over a wet and windy Dartmoor. Business was thriving, I had a great team, a downtown office, monthly work trips to NYC (both a blessing and a curse) and was feeling really positive about 2016. I believe I may have even said “this is my year!” *massive eye roll*
The year took a dramatic turn in the third week of January when we suddenly lost our family patriarch. My grandfather, Papa Douglas.
It’s hard to describe the impact of this lost, I’m sure many of you have lost a grandparent. My relationship with my Papa was rock steady. He’d been an epic presence in my life, for better and worse. I loved him so very much. I was his story keeper, his sometime political ally and definitely his best sparring partner. It’s been almost a year. I still miss him every day.
The year wins round one. 2016: 1, Kelsi: 0.
February began much like January did, at home, in England, with my family. Though this time was not celebratory. My whole family gathered to lay Papa to rest. I delivered a tearful eulogy. I sobbed with my sister and cousin’s daughter in the back of his Audi, listening to his favourite song (Simply the Best, by Tina Turner).
As hard as it was, life does go on, and the Stylesmith team ended February with a desert road trip. When I think of 2016 as the giant pile of shit that it was, this time with my girls, in the desert stands out as a highlight. A really special week. We went to Salvation Mountain and Salton Sea, where we did photo shoots with our resident model Seidi (for the soon to be launched Conscious Collective Co) and we spent time with some incredible makers up in Joshua Tree for the second annual Desert and Denim. We stayed in a shack under the stars, drank rum and tortured Seidi with creepy dolls.
February, a decisive tie. The year leads. 2016: 2, Kelsi: 1
In March things started to mend and work continued to be busy. March was good. I turned 32. Scott turned 38. Our marriage turned 9.
We went to Cuba. When I talk about highlights of the year, man was this up there. I’d go as far as saying highlight of the decade. It was an incredible experience. You can read about it here, here, here, here, here and here. In 2017 we’ll return to Cuba and I look forward to seeing how the past year has evolved the country, if any.
Kelsi catches up. 2016: 2, Kelsi: 2.
Oof. April. It started off strong. We launched Conscious Collective Co and again whisked the team off for a weekend in the desert. This time Palm Springs, where we rented a house during Coachella Weekend One and dubbed it “The Greenhouse”. We invited bloggers to come celebrate conscious brands, we indigo dyed Jungmaven t-shirts in the desert sun.
My team and I, with Hagop in tow as our official Stylesmith boy, laughed till we cried. And sometimes just cried. As this was the same weekend we realized things just wouldn’t be the same for Stylesmith moving forward. That same Friday our biggest client let us know they were moving everything in house, at a time when, all our eggs were in one giant basket. We had 30 days to turn it around, or not.
The entire weekend was a whirlwind. We were intent on keeping each other joyful, we understood that this was the last time we’d all be together like this. The girls made me a music video that I promised I’d never share. Laura became a Snapchat superstar for the weekend. I applied for a job.
The year won this month, but forever grateful to my girls for making it less painful. 2016: 3, Kelsi: 2.
The remainder of April and beginning of May were spent closing down Stylesmith HQ. It’d been our home for three years and as my perfect mid-century, mint green couch, sourced from the Rose Bowl just three years prior, was loaded into the freight elevator it was the end of an era.
I interviewed for the one job applied for. Unsure what my plan really was. I ran away to my safe place, up to Portland. Spent time up the mountain. I was with my safe people. If I got the job I would celebrate with my favourites. If I didn’t they’d catch me as I fell.
I got the job. I started May 23rd.
I think, despite the odds, I won this round year. 2016: 3, Kelsi: 3.
My first full month as an Account Director at McBeard. It all seems a bit of a blur. I started to bond with my new team, won the Fullscreen Cup (Yes, my team won a sporting event, I’m confused too). It wasn’t an easy adjustment even if I rather stoically (foolishly?) attempted to make it one. I jumped in with both feet, for better or worse, often worse. But I tried really hard and it felt like the right move for me, thankfully. We also started work on a campaign for Mary Kay that has become a career highlight.
On the flipside, after a year of pain got increasingly worse, and I spent a whole day unable to move thanks to the pain and what was effectively my womb hemorrhaging (possibly being dramatic), I finally went to a doctor to work out what was wrong with me. Apparently my ovaries don’t just produce eggs anymore, but cysts too. Fun times.
This month was a tie. Work was a win, but my ovaries are bitches. 2016: 4, Kelsi: 4.
Scott and I kicked off the month up in Portland (yes again). We traversed the Oregon forests, mountains and coastlines. We ate and drank all the best food and cider with friends. I swam in a lake. Swimming in nature is my favourite.
I also attended a bizarre conference in Palm Springs. The highlight of which was a weekend with one of my besties. That and dancing all night.
I ended July and started August in Dallas. Two weeks in Texas a year prior would have sounded terrible. But I really rather liked Dallas. We were working on a giant photoshoot project at Mary Kay Seminar. In my down time I reunited with recently relocated chums and hung out in Fort Worth Stockyards with the cowboys.
Winner, winner, fried chicken dinner. This month went to me. 2016: 4, Kelsi: 5.
We hit August on an upswing. 2016: 3, Me: 5. All the work we did in July was now being moulded into a campaign. It flew by in a flurry of work. I was working business owner hours again (nights + weekends) and it was non stop. I loved it. Busy is in my DNA. I felt like I was really getting somewhere in the job and worked with a great team to make it all come together for a September 1st launch.
A winning streak. 2016: 4, Kelsi: 6.
We started on a high, launching the campaign we’d all worked so hard on. Billboards in Times Square, print ads, and of course social media, all launched with much fanfare. On the flip side work was a struggle and much of the adjustment process that had been swept under the proverbial carpet while we worked our butts off on the project rose to the surface. It was tough. I questioned everything. I was sad.
I went to Portland.
The struggle was real. 2016: 5, Kelsi: 6
Refreshed and determined I returned to Los Angeles and focused on my role and really making it work. Things started to improve. My team and I started to connect and communicate better. Changes that had been difficult started to make sense and things started to flow better.
I went back to the desert, this time alone (like completely alone), checked into a luxury hotel and saw Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, The Who and Roger Waters at Desert Trip. It was a weird experience, being that alone, but sharing an experience with 100’s of thousands of strangers. I spent my days biking round Palm Springs and my evenings in a field, on a blanket, listening to legends. It was quite remarkable and quite an exercise in independence.
At the end of the month I headed back to England where we celebrated my Grandmother’s 90th birthday as well as scattered my Papa’s ashes with my whole family. I spent a week or so gallivanting around the Westcountry as November rolled on in.
A definitive win. 2016: 5, Kelsi: 7.
The first part of November was spent in England, we headed into London where I spent time with old friends and old haunts. I patched things over with one of my closest allies in life and felt like we reached a new place of understanding. We’ll see.
Then fucking Trump happened. I cried, a bunch. I made panicked resolutions. I almost didn’t leave London. The guy at British Airways gave us a whole row of seats because he felt sorry for us.
Trump fucked this one up and was three points worthy. 2016: 8, Kelsi: 8.
Life goes on, I found myself saying for the nth time this year. I am now not just a feminist. I’m a militant one. I found myself boiling with anger that could easily spill over into violence several times over. I’m not sure what the next four years will bring. I feel a little powerless. But am trying to channel my fear, frustrations and anger into good.
Work is great. Finally I got there, six months deep. I’ve earned the trust, and I hope, respect of my team and colleagues. I feel like I belong and I feel like I have a future. Future is important to me as I constantly ask myself “what next?”.
I went back to Portland. Hung with some of my most favourite people. Some of which continue to allude selfies…. Someday I’ll give into this city and move there. I’m better there. I feel better there. For now I’ll continue to visit with an alarming regularity. My best friend, my new friend and I road tripped down the west coast. I cried over a starry sky and I embraced redwoods like old friends. I’m a fucking hippy. In real nice clothes. I’m ok with that.
It’s now New Years Eve. I’m watching TV, in my PJ’s. Surrounded by cats and my husband. I’m considering walking to the gym to sign up. It feels symbolic to do so prior to the new year. I’ll probably do this, especially since I’ve decided that I really like eating great food and drinking great beer and that isn’t ending anytime soon but I really need to curb this waistline.
Start as you mean to go on and all that.
December, you pushed me over the finish line as a winner. You sexy beast. 2016: 8, Kelsi: 9.
I won. Barely. I’ve learned a lot this year, and they’re all lessons I’m taking into 2017 and making it better. I’m activated for good. I will not take a Trump Presidency lying down. I’m focusing on things that make me happy; travel, being outdoors. I’m investing in the people that invest in me, my close friends, my family. I’m going to work hard. I’m going to be intentional about my future.
See ya later 2016. 2017, be nice kay?