It’s that time of the year! 2022 is nearly over, my birthday is on the horizon, and I’m recapping the year with some top posts, stats, and what’s next.
First up… New Year’s Eve is my birthday and Tom and I are going to celebrate with my in-laws over some delicious fondue. It’s become a tradition and one that I love and look forward to each year. Cheers to that!
But before the celebrations commence, it’s time for this year-end wrap up post. I like doing these “Year in Review” style posts and enjoy reading ones from other bloggers. They help me see where I’ve been, what I’ve worked on, and reflect on goals and choices I’ve made both personally and professionally.
Some of the blogs I enjoy the most are ones where in addition to great content, you also get to know the human behind the blog, so that’s where I’m coming from here. 😉
Before I get into it, I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday season and it’s full of good eats and beautiful moments with loved ones. I spent Christmas in the U.S. for the first time in a decade and it was good to be stateside with my dad and brother’s family.
Did 2022 go by for you in a flash or did it feel slow? For me, it kind of felt like both. Let’s start with January.
The first couple of months of 2022 were a blur, looking back, although in the moment, it felt like time was standing still. We sadly said goodbye to Dagny on March 5 and the months in between my mom’s death and hers almost five months to the day later felt like a death march. Each day felt worse than the last.
As you know, Dagny wasn’t a dog to us. She was our child, a cherished family member, and my entire world. She’s been by my side since Day 1 in France. You can search by her name in my search bar and you’ll see she was a presence on Oui in France from the start. That’s her in my logo even. Everything feels different now.
That 5-month period of trying to deal with both extreme grief from losing my mom and the anticipatory grief of losing Dagny was the hardest of my life and I don’t say that lightly. I talked about it a little in this post, but that period is something I don’t want to revisit and don’t even want to think about (although my mind wanders there often).
It was a traumatic time for so many reasons. I think about Dagny and my mom all the time and try to focus on the good times. It’s a work in progress.
Wow, writing this is harder than I thought it would be. Anyway, moving on…
Shortly after Dagny passed away, I went to Florida to spend some time with my dad and get out of my house, which felt lonely and suffocating. Without her, it still does in a lot of ways, but I try to distract myself. Can I do that forever?
Maybe that feeling will lessen in time. It still feels like something is missing everywhere I look. It’s hard to walk in the park. Her park, alone. I go anyway. I cry under my sunglasses.
It’s all part of the healing process.
In May, Tom and I took a family trip with his parents to St. Jean de Luz. We visited Biarritz for the first time as well and then made our way over to St. Sebastian, Spain, while in the area. It was a distraction we needed and we chose it because we had never been there before with Dagny. It would have been unbearable to have revisited a place in the wake of her passing where we once made memories. We did the best we could.
Then over the summer, Tom and I went to Disneyland Paris and then two phenomenal press trips that were phenomenal. One was with Costa Cruises to the Mediterranean in June and the other was to Norway with Holland America Line in July. The trips were the respite we needed and we thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunities. Check out the videos I made here: Med and Norway.
The fall was pretty uneventful but the highlight of the year for me was going to the U.S. to visit my dad, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew for the holidays. The Florida weather is growing on me. Sure beats “winter” in my area of France, which is 40s F and rain most of the time. It’s actually raining now.
Let’s move onto the blog…
Looking back at the blog
2022 was my 10-year blogiversary. It was a year of growth for the blog and I couldn’t be happier about that! I love blogging today just as much as I did when I started, so I look forward to bringing you more content in 2023.
I’ve developed so many skills running this site and that continuous learning curve is exciting to me.
Blogging has always been a calming and grounding force in my life and I love sharing a mix of informational/personal posts about life in France, French culture and just life in general. I’ll continue to do more of that.
Let’s talk numbers. I published 44 new blog posts (including this one) in 2022. As usual, most of my readers are located in the U.S. (48%) and are female (62%). France and the UK tie for second place, each taking a 10% chunk of my readership.
In terms of age, 25% of you are between 25-34 years old. 64% read my site on a mobile device and of that, 62% visit Oui in France on their iPhone.
About 71% of my site’s traffic comes from search engines. Social media accounts for about 16% of my total traffic.
Top 5 most-read posts of 2022:
In terms of top posts, here are the top 5 most-read posts of 2022 (based on page views as reported by Google Analytics). Keep in mind they are the most-read posts of 2022 of all time, not necessarily new posts written in 2022. As it turns out, none were written this year and the top 4 got the majority of views from Google searches.
1. 73 questions challenge: I wrote this at Nantes airport a few years ago on my way to Haiti for work, kind of on a whim. I never imagined it would be such a big search term and the best-performing post on my entire site!
2. Dating a French guy tips: This is an oldddd post but it’s proof that lots of you out there are looking for info on dating a French guy.
3. Best Peloton instructors: Peloton gives me life, so seeing this post doing well where I share my thoughts on all the different instructors makes me really happy.
4. Guide to tipping in France (don’t do it!): Tipping culture in France is not the same as it is in the U.S., and I break it down in this popular post.
5. American habits I lost when I moved to France: Cultural differences are always a hot topic. This fun post continues to perform well on Pinterest.
Now for the top 10 most-read posts published in 2022 (not all time):
Many of these also secured their spot in my top 10 thanks to people searching on Google.
1. 250 Popular French boy names in France from 1910 through today: Lots of people out there are looking for info on French boys’ names. Happy to help! 🙂
2. What currency does France use?: Another post that brought Googlers to my site and important info to know, might I add.
3. 250 Most popular French girl names you’ll want to steal for yourself!: Glad to see that this one wasn’t left out of my Top 10.
4. Guide to train travel in France: Train travel in Europe is often cost effective and fast. This post tells you what you need to know.
5. Things I never owned before moving to France: You guys liked this one and I think curiosity led to the clicks.
6. 11 Surprising differences between French grocery stores & American ones: Grocery store content always does well, so no surprises here.
7. My picks for the best French market bags & baskets: A versatile and functional French market bag is a necessity whether you live in France or not.
8. Do you know these 10 American medications & their French equivalents?: This post is full of practical info and I’m relieved to see it on my list, as it’s the one that was the most time intensive out of everything I published in 2022.
9. What I’d do differently if I were moving to France today: Hindsight is 20/20 and lots of you appreciated my insight here (or could relate).
10. What’s an 8-day Mediterranean cruise like on Costa Cruises?: Costa isn’t super well known to American audiences and there’s not a ton of content out there in English, so that’s why this post made my list… and so happy it did!
Here are two blog posts you might have missed that weren’t quite as popular but were important to me.
What 10 years of blogging has taught me about life: A reflective post that marked a decade of blogging.
Stop believing these lies about French people!: A bit of a rant, this post addresses something that has gotten under my skin.
9 Things French people love that I’ve come to love too: An interesting French culture post that I had fun putting together.
I’ve taken a few weeks off from publishing content on YouTube for the holidays but am really happy with the work I’ve put in this year on my channel (you can subscribe to Oui In France on YouTube here). In total, I published 31 new videos (not including shorts) and worked my way up to about 81,000 subscribers.
This one was my top performing video published in 2022 with 67k views.
Back in 2021, I pushed really hard, too hard, putting out a video or more a week — a distraction from my grief — but it wasn’t a sustainable pace. In 2022, I made it a point to take a more relaxed approach and mainly made videos from my office, which felt more manageable to me.
If I had to pick three videos I’m the most proud of on my channel from 2022, I’d pick these:
It’s been 1 year since my mom died: This personal update was cathartic for me and continued the much-needed grief convo, one that I think all too often gets swept under the rug.
Norway cruise vlog: I enjoy making (and watching!) vlog-style travel videos and the scenery in Norway was some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!
8 More things you can do in France (but not the US!): I love doing fun cultural comparisons and this one tops my list.
Also, I collabed with French Mornings with Elisa on a video on whether or not the French are arrogant. Here’s me speaking French.
Still working on that… One thing that is for sure is that for 2023, I hope to continue making videos at a more relaxed pace. Sometimes as creators, we can feel like we’re on a never-ending hamster wheel and almost like we’re slaves to the algorithm or even the creation process in general.
It can be all-consuming and bad for one’s mental health, so I’m continuing to opt out of the pressure for 2023. It’s not healthy for me to feel like there’s a whip being cracked behind my back and pushing as hard as I did in 2021.
I’d rather focus on making the content I want to make, at a pace that feels right for me at this time in my life, and making connections with subscribers who understand my point of view and appreciate my content than push myself toward burnout.
When you feel pressure — self imposed or from any other source — it’s not a great feeling to have day in and day out. YouTube is not my full-time job.
Truth be told, as we approach 2023, I don’t have a 6-month content plan mapped out to the very second and am figuring it out little by little.
I roughly know what types of videos I want to make, but I go back and forth in my head. I always said the majority of videos on my channel would NOT be talking head videos (me talking to the camera from home on a particular topic) because I could make that kind of content in the U.S. I don’t need to be in France to make talking head videos.
What sets me apart is that I actually live in France and want to show what life is like out and about from my point of view. I’ve gotten away from that and the majority of my content is me in my house.
I loved doing my behind the scenes at a chocolate shop for you and a day with a Vouvray wine producer (whipped out the drone and everything!). But videos like that are super time consuming and expensive (assistant, equipment rental, travel costs, etc.) and they don’t always do well.
Let me give you an example. I loved making my Beillevaire series for you guys and despite it being the most high budget series on my channel, it performed really poorly which sucked the wind out of my sails (and wallet).
If you’re curious, that video earned me $23.24 TOTAL since it was published. I spent a ton more than that making the video and it’s not sustainable to keep doing that. That was a hard lesson to learn.
I put most of the money I make from ad revenue back into my channel and while YouTube is not my full-time job as I mentioned, it is part of how I earn a living. I need to be on the plus side, at the very least.
Something I’m working on is finding the perfect mix of talking head vs. out and about videos that makes sense for my creative side, energy levels, location, and budget.
Anyway, just talking out loud. Whatever I decide, you’ll continue to see me on YouTube with new content in 2023.
For more YouTube thoughts, check out this post about what it’s like to have a video go viral and what I love and hate about having a YouTube channel.
Ah, 2022, let’s be real. I can’t say I’m sorry to see you go. It was a hard year. I won’t sugarcoat that or give you some nonsense about how amazing every moment of the year was just to keep this space palatable. Not my style.
Sure, I had some fun times — many of them! — but real life comes with real loss. I feel like we’ve been through the wringer in 2021 and 2022.
Losing Dagny on March 5 of this year was heartbreaking and the devastation, trauma, and compounded grief was unfortunately a huge part of my 2022. I hope that as we move into 2023, Tom and I can find peace little by little and find comfort as we get further away from the losses.
But it’s a process and not an easy one. This holiday season was the first without both my mom and Dagny and tomorrow is my first birthday in 11 years without Dagny. Special days are the worst, from a grief perspective.
As a sensitive person, I feel it’s hitting me especially hard.
Right after my mom died, I saw this grief graphic below on Instagram that depicts a ball of grief in a jar. While I understood what it was saying then, I didn’t truly understand how that could be the case. Now I fully understand.
The grief doesn’t go away or get smaller. Time helps you get some distance from the searing pain so it’s not debilitating, but it’s still there. I know we’re all different, but I don’t think the grief will ever go away. I guess that’s a good thing, in a sense.
I naively thought the grief would fade, but that’s not how it works.
View this post on Instagram
Next up is the most important part of this post. I want to say thank you… and a very special thanks to those of you who have read my grief content this year (even if you’ve never commented) and to those of you who have made it this far, nearly 3,000 words in. 😉
These posts about the surprising parts of grief I didn’t expect, how I’m making a diamond from my mom’s ashes, an update at the 1-year mark after my mom died, and 11 things that helped me deal with grief were extremely personal to me. It means a lot that you took time out of your day to read those specific posts.
If I’ve learned anything from losing 4 loved ones in rather quick succession, it’s that life is hard and we all carry burdens, no matter how cheery or put-together or successful we may appear.
I’ve also learned that the best way to honor those no longer here is to live life to the fullest extent possible. That looks different for each of us. I know it’s not always easy to pull ourselves up and out of our own heads (or black holes), but above all, I am so grateful for all the good in my life and the people who love me and I love back.
Having support is an amazing thing and I don’t know where I’d be without it.
Also, all the joyful moments seem to mean more. It brings me so much joy to continue to work on Oui In France, wherever it takes me. Knowing you’re right there to support what I do here truly means the world. Thank you. If you’re curious about how to support a blog (for free!), read this.
My birthday is New Year’s Eve as I said in the intro and Tom and I will be going to Portugal for the first time in January for a long weekend to celebrate. We’re both really looking forward to that.
Later in the year, we’re honoring my mom by going on a trip with my dad that she always wanted to take. We’re going to Alaska! But beyond that, we’re just taking 2023 as it comes. No big plans.
Anyway, let me leave it there. I hope 2023 is full of peace, joy, and love for you and those you hold close. Wishing you all the best now and always.
Thank you again for being here.
P.S. Want more recaps? Here are the ones from 2021 and 2020.
P.S. Do you know I have a France travel tips eGuide and lifestyle blogging book for beginners?
Birgitta Qvarnström Frykner says
Well Gott Nytt År Diane.
The grief jars were interesting, i lost my father 97 but the missing him is there, the memories are still great. There are still things i want to tell him. How my life has developed , new town new life, grand grandchildren of my own. But my belief is that he knows that.
I wish you and your husband a nice trip to Portugal and an “easier” life in 2023. And we long to hear from you.
Hi Birgitta, thank you for your kind words and continued support. I have to believe our love ones know how we’re doing, at least on some level and are cheering us on from afar.
Bonne année !
Mike S says
Thank you Diane for all of your great posts! I was hoping that your pharmacy video (was that 2022?) would have made the top 5 as I shared it with my health care colleagues here in the States and brought about a lot of constructive conversations.
Enjoy your trip to Portugal! (There has been a lot of discussion in the States about Portugal’s “golden visa” program making it easier to get Portuguese (and EU) residency. I hope to get there soon).
I appreciate it, Mike, thanks! That pharmacy video was actually from 2021. Time flies, right?
Steve Johnson says
We really enjoyed your work this year and know the losses you are experiencing this year. Our year was greatly enhanced by your work. We did get our 3 months in France this year. Our highlights included, Les Alpages le Retour festival in Annecy the weekend of October 8th. 2 hours in the Castle on the Cap Roquebrune near Antibes where we were the only people in the Castle. Sarlat, Beynac, Bordeaux, Paris, Lyon, Aix en provence and more. We fantasize of living full time in France, but likely we missed our window in this life, maybe the next one. Thank you, Our wishes for a calmer 2023 for you. Keep up the good work.
Thank Steve, I appreciate your kind words and it makes me so happy to know that what I do here is indeed helping people. You’ve really gotten around France this year, that’s amazing! Cheers to 2023!
Mimi Whitney-Hafft says
Diane: As an animal lover, who has had many four-legged family members, I totally understood what you were going through this past year. In fact, I have one last furbaby “Mama” who is hanging on at age 17 or 18. There will be no more furbabies for me after this as I am too old now.
I enjoy your common sense approach to life and your ability to explain things in a realistic manner. I have traveled in France many times and the advice you give about everyday experiences reinforces my own experiences.
Merci and meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année!
Hi Mimi, thank you for understanding and that is really something that you have a 17-year-old pet! That might be one for the Guinness Book of World Records!
So happy you enjoy what I do here! ;-)))))
Karen Lewis says
Diane, may 2023 bring good things to you and Tom. Those darned animals – they are life-changing for us and heart-breaking when we lose them. There won’t be another Dagny but maybe, one day, your arms will be ready for another one. I’m happy that you get to do your mom’s trip in honor of her – with your dad. It’s important to have those points of joy out in front of us.
Thank you for your blog – I always enjoy it!
Thank you so much, Karen. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. 😉
Happy Birthday Diane! I hope 2023 is a better year for you, for us all. I can’t remember if I commented on any of your posts about grief but I did read them and am sorry you had to go through all that. Sending lots of random internet love. And enjoy Alaska, it’s like top 3 I-want-to-go-to-there for me and I will live vicariously through anything you happen to write about it.
Thanks so much, LC! So nice to know some blogger friends are out there and that you read my grief stuff. Here’s to hoping for a better 2023 for everyone!
Francoise Peterson says
merci pour tous vos posts et ceux de votre mari. J’ai quitté la France il y 55 ans pour me marier avec un “Kansas Citian”…toujours mariés! Vos histoires, vos vidéos me donnent de temps en temps le mal du pays mais sont très informatives pour tous.
Joyeux anniversaire aujourd’hui (la Saint Sylvestre), aussi l’anniversaire de ma fille!
Meilleurs vœux pour une nouvelle année pleine de bonnes choses pour vous et les vôtres.
Merci beaucoup, Francoise! C’est d’autant plus appreciable quand une francaise aime mon blog. <3 😉
Ronald Kielar says
In what I have studied, read philosophically, and lived a life with family, friends and colleagues thru the years we have losses that hurt. I feel your hurt because I have experienced losses of family and friends.
Grief is there but grief has two pathways which lead to deeper and deeper depression or grief diminishes
To anew pathway of renewed daily remembrances of love and joy those who we lost gave us thru all the years we were with those who cared and love us. Please, choose and live the right pathway.
I know you will because your husband wants joy and happiness for you.
Finally remember the words of the great Yankee catcher Yogi Berra quote:
When you come to a fork in the road take it!
Thanks for your support, Ronald!
I hope you had a great birthday and start to 2023, Diane! I totally resonate with the pressure to create content and am also trying to go at a more relaxed pace this year. Looking forward to what you create and wishing you a year full of healing, happiness, and success.
Thanks so much, Lily! 2023 was off to a slow start because I caught a bug in the airport on the way back I think (not Covid though, phew). But I’m back on my feet now. Wishing you an amazing 2023 too!