Bonjour, tout le monde! I wasn’t going to write a year in review post since I’ve done so many sentimental ones in the past, but here I am… probably with a shorter one than in years past. Check out last year’s which features what I’ve learned in 10 years of blogging or this one from 2021, a very hard year. I wanted to keep things simple for this one. I’m betting about 10 of you will read this, but still, it’s important for me to do a recap of 2023.
2023 year kicked off with some personal travel. We went to Lisbon in January in celebration of my birthday, which is New Year’s Eve. It’s an easy flight from Nantes and neither Tom nor I had ever been to Portugal. We LOVED it and hope to visit more of Portugal in the coming years. To our surprise, English was widely spoken in Lisbon and we had a great tourist experience.
In May, we went to Istanbul and experienced Turkey for the first time. We had great weather and food and hope to visit Turkey again soon.
Then in June, my dad and I went on a very special trip to Alaska to honor my mom who passed away in October of 2021. It was such a meaningful and beautiful experience that I’ll always cherish. I made a YouTube video of our trip too.
Later on in the fall, I spent Thanksgiving in the U.S. for much needed time with my loved ones stateside. Family has always been important to me but since my mom died, it’s become even more important for me to spend as much time with my family as possible and to get to know my little nephew who just turned five. As we head into 2024, I’ll continue to make every effort to visit the U.S. at least once a year.
Then it was back to France and we spent Christmas and New Year’s at home. For my birthday, I bought myself an air fryer and I know I’m late to the game but I LOVE IT. So far, I’ve loved how my zucchini and brussels sprouts have turned out, as well as bacon, chicken and broccoli stir fry, and plain ol’ chicken breasts. I look forward to trying out even more fun recipes in the coming months.
Tom gifted me a Philips air purifier that I had wanted because I’m actually allergic to dust mites (les acariens) and I’d heard good things about the purifier so we’ll see if I notice a difference.
Grief & personal
Everything I tell you is 100% true but barely skims the surface of the whole picture. I keep my private life private although I wanted to talk to you about grief because it hit me so hard and I knew it would be healing for me to do so. Most of my life never makes it into a blog post or YouTube video.
Personally, 2023 has been really hard for several reasons. C’est la vie… There were family issues including a falling out I had with someone who was close to me that isn’t resolved and may never be. Friends have let me down. It hurts to feel your already small circle getting even smaller. But we do what we have to to protect ourselves. People close to me have been struggling too and that weighs on me. Somehow we find a way to keep going and try to invite moments of joy in as much as we can. For me, that was my travel, spending time with Tom, my biggest supporter, and seeing family.
Grief has still been hitting really hard, especially around the holidays and other special days. I’ve tried to be gentle with myself. My mom’s birthday was Dec. 23 and mine as I said was 12/31. Fuck cancer. I tried to distract myself with some retail therapy.
I’m always reminded that my two mainstays, Dagny and my mom, aren’t here anymore. It still feels like yesterday. I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking about them daily. While some aspects of grief have gotten easier, I don’t think the pain ever goes away — we just learn how to carry it with us as we keep going.
I don’t think I realized just how hard life can be until I lost several loved ones in relatively quick succession. I had it “easy” by comparison for three decades of my life and that’s why it’s even more important to me to cherish the good and try to seek out the positives and fun and joy when we can and focus on the people who are worth it.
It sounds cheesy but I find peace in gratitude. And solitude. Anyway, I’ve written a lot about grief in the past two years, so I don’t want to derail this post with that.
Blogging on Oui In France was how I started and I love it today as much as I did in 2012. The online landscape has shifted dramatically since then toward video and short-form content, so I appreciate those of you who have been with me for years following the written word.
I will continue blogging as long as I’m alive regardless of the landscape because it’s something that I personally find incredibly fulfilling and grounding. Hearing from you that something I wrote resonated with you or helped you on your trip is the best compliment you could give me and that’s all I need to keep going.
But let me not get too sentimental on you. 😉
Here are some of my favorite Oui In France blog posts of 2023 in case you’d like to (re)visit them. In no particular order:
1. 8 Things people MAJORLY underestimate when moving to France: This post was really popular with my readers and many of you appreciated the reality check.
2. 11 Things I miss most from the U.S. after a decade in France: Lots of you could relate and I loved hearing what you also miss from home.
3. No-BS guide on what to wear in France: This one was a long time coming and has lots of no-nonsense advice and outfit picks.
4. What it’s like having my mom back with me in diamond form: This post was extremely close to my heart.
5. 13 Things tourists do that get strange looks from the French: This post is a heads up in case you want to fit in when visiting France.
In 2023, I published 28 videos, which included a couple of shorts. I cut my publishing schedule down this past year to a more manageable level for me and published about 2-3 times per month. That’s what I can comfortably handle. I’m so grateful for those of you who watch my videos and know they’re reaching the right audience. I’ll continue to invest my ad revenue money back into my channel.
My channel has grown a little bit this year but I’m still not quite at 100k subscribers. Hitting that milestone is a BIG one and will land me the coveted silver play button. That’s what I’m chasing in 2024. When I get there, I think I’ll feel like a “real” YouTuber, whatever that means. It doesn’t get me anything other than a plaque but oh mannnn, that plaque will make it all worth it. If you’re a YouTuber reading this, you know what I mean.
But in all seriousness, YouTube is a ton of work that most people don’t realize and although it’s not my full-time job, it’s definitely work so here’s to hoping I hit that milestone sooner rather than later.
With each passing year, I tend to have a renewed sense of purpose on Oui In France and this year that is especially true. It seems like so many people out there have terrible opinions of the French and that was clearly evident in the crazy comments section of my most recent YouTube video.
So many comments were about how rude the French are and who cares what they think (and it got way more aggressive than that), which just goes to show me how important and necessary cultural education is today. Providing information on cultural norms on my blog and YouTube is much needed and goes a long way toward helping us to be better travelers in France and when interacting with the French.
Writing and filming content on cultural differences and talking about cultural understanding has become a passion of mine, so I hope you’ll continue to follow me into 2024.
With that, I’ll leave it there. Whether you’ve been following along for a day or a decade, thank you for being here. Wishing you all a peaceful and calm start to 2024.