Just like that the year is coming to a close. It feels like yesterday when I was thinking the same thing. Time just seems to go way too fast. It is frightening at times but I’ve realized that you can’t dwell. Time is time and it goes rather quickly when you are doing the things you love. 2015 was another year of amazing growth and travels. It was much better than 2014 which was a difficult year for me.

I finally had the time to become more committed to my writing. My children are both old enough that I have the freedom to do a little more for myself which is bittersweet. My son has already turned 11 meaning he is over half way through his childhood before he leaves home. That is a sobering thought! My daughter is already nine. It is hard to believe it.

As always I try to focus on the positive, beautiful things in my life. It is the only way to live. Looking back at 2015, here are some of my greatest moments and memories.


Life in Minnesota after the holidays and the deep, cold chill of winter always hits hard in January. The Christmas lights are gone and the excitement and anticipation of the holidays is a distant memory. January is always a time to reflect, hunker down and read a book. I didn’t travel in January yet spent a lot of time outdoors skiing, walking around the frozen lake and sledding with the kids.

My favorite post of the month: Exploring the Grand Canyon: A Hike Down the Rim to Ooh Aah Point


February meant more downhill skiing on the weekends with my husband and kids, and a wonderful trip to Haiti with the Heart of Haiti program.

There was also a special three-generational ski trip to Snowbird in Utah with my father, daughter and me.

My favorite post of the month: The Hike to the top is worth the reward


March meant a weekend trip to New York City with my husband and no kids, the first time we had left them in over 8 years, and more winter fun at home.

Favorite post of the month: Art on Wheels: The tap taps of Port au Prince


April brought spring to Minnesota and a spring break vacation to Arizona and San Diego.

Favorite post of the month: An afternoon at Torrey Pines


I always love May in Minnesota. Everything comes to life again and it is beautiful. We enjoyed being outside and a short weekend trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Favorite post of the month: Urban Walks: NYC’s High Line to Chelsea Market


Summer arrived in Minnesota! That meant time spent up north at a friend’s cabin and lots of time outside around my favorite urban lake. My kids were also out of school for which was extra fun.

We also took a family trip to the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota.


July was the big month of the year. After months of training, I finally climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. It was an amazing experience.

My favorite post of the month: Close up in the clouds of Kilimanjaro


August was time to be at home and enjoy time with my kids before they started school again. I spent a lot of time finishing up my blog posts on Tanzania and enjoyed writing about my visit with the Maasai.

My favorite post of the month: Inspiring to be the change: #Blogust2015


September brought beautiful fall to Minnesota. The kids went back to school and we did a family trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior. I also went to my fourth Social Good Summit in NYC where I was inspired as always.

My favorite post of the month: Pride and Hope at the Crazy Horse Memorial


October was a family vacation to visit family in Virginia and a train trip to NYC with the kids, their first time in the Big Apple.

My favorite post of the month: Reaching up to the sky on top of Kilimanjaro


November was spent getting ready for the holidays. I updated my Gifts that Give Back page which ended up being one of my top viewed pages of the year with almost 10,000 views in November and December! It was also both my son and daughter’s birthdays.

My favorite post of the month: My walk with the Maasai


December meant more birthdays (my husband and I), Christmas and spending time with those I love. I can’t think of a better way to end the year!

My favorite post of the month: The Badlands at Dusk

My top 5 posts of 2015 (ranked by order and number of views).

Finding Street Art along the Walls of New York City

The Power of Five: How Amway is Beating Malnutrition Around the World

“Dèyè mòn gen mòn”: Reflections on Haiti

The Aymara Women of La Paz

Macy’s Flower Show An Explosion of “Art in Bloom”

So what does 2016 hold?

So far, 2016 is starting off as a busy year. I will be traveling seven times in the next five months, some for family and other for pleasure. Two big trips are planned in the first half of the year. One to a surf and yoga retreat for women in Nicaragua and the other is a mother, sister and me trip to Europe in May. Other big news is that we are getting a puppy in early April! It is going to be a busy year but I’m looking forward to all it has to hold. Thanks to all my wonderful, supportive readers who continue to inspire me to write this blog. Happy New Year and Best Wishes for a wonderful 2016!




  1. Hi,

    I have a question about your stay on Big Island Lake. I live in the Cities as well and was wondering if you just did a VRBO for that or what were the accommodations? I’d love to take my family there.



    1. Thanks for the comment ! We stayed at a friends cabin there. However if you haven’t been with your kids, I’d highly recommend a trip to Lutsen. There are tons of lodging options albeit expensive but the Sea Villas have an indoor pool and you can stay right on Lake Superior and have bonfires at night and hike at one of many amazing trails during the day. 😌

  2. Thanks for the advice…I’ll have to check Lutsen out. I know its expensive but it’s worth a look. Need to take advantage of those Minnesota summers!

    1. Grand View Lodge in Nisswa is also fantastic with kids year round. You can find last minute deals on their website too. I have written about it on my blog (you can search and find all my posts on MN), 😊

  3. Your climbing Kilamanjaro with Solar Sisters was definitely a highlight of my year, along with your review of 100 Under $100: Tools for Empowering Global Women. Thanks Nicole!

    1. Thank you so much Betsy! It is amazing to think by reading your book how it got me to climb Kilimanjaro with Solar Sister. The world is an amazing place. Thank you for inspiring me to do more! Happy New Year!

  4. Looks like a wonderful year, Nicole – and I think I followed most (if not all of it) live right here! I’m wavering on my Nicaragua solo trip for January (maybe just because we’ve all come home sick from Colombia 🙁 ) but can’t wait to plan all my 2016 travel. So many places, so little time …!

    1. Thanks Debbie! It was very long and took quite a bit of time. But for me personally it was a fun way to look back at a year of life and writing. 🙂 I too can hardly wait to meet you in person!!! Happy New Year!

  5. What a fun year end review! Wow you climbed Kilimanjaro! That’s impressive enough for a whole year. Happy 2016!
    We lived in Nicaragua for 6 years…so feel free to check out our blog or contact me for suggestions or questions!

    1. Wow, how great! I would love to check out your blog! Any recommendations on where to start with posts on Nicaragua? I will head over now and subscribe. I’m sure you have a tons to read! thank you and yes I will be contacting you as the trip nears! 🙂

  6. The greatest thing about your year in review was that I remember almost every one of these events! I guess I’ve been hanging out here for awhile. I have enjoyed getting to know you, your family, and the wonderful causes that you support and have furthered through your brilliant social advocacy. I am surprised that none of your Kilimanjaro posts were in the Top 5 as I loved what accomplished personally and for the Solar Sisters. Looking forward to watching you grow and give in 2016!

    1. Wow how cool is that Lisa?! Wonderful to have your support and I too have loved following you around with your amazing adventure! Pretty inspiring! As for top posts I just did by number of views and sometimes it has a lot to do with google searching. I would agree that my favorite and I think personal best of the year were about the Kilimanjaro trip. I was so inspired by the journey that writing it was really special for me. Take care and looking forward to following you along for whatever 2016 brings! 😌

  7. Almost don’t know where to begin 🙂 Incredible blog period. Great writing and photography ~ and looking at all you’ve done is inspirational, but I think it pales to what you are doing now ~ focusing on both travel and the family time, a beautiful combination. Wishing you a great 2016 ~

    1. Wow, thank you so much! I subscribed to your blog but did it through WP so I’m hoping I get your posts via email (is there a place to sign up on your blog for an email of all posts?). Your blog is beautiful and I’m thankful that Tina told me about it. As a mom, I don’t have a ton of time to research blogs to follow so always go by my fellow bloggers recommendations. I’m so happy I found your blog! 🙂 Thanks for the nice comments. I look forward to following you!

      1. It is great that Tina brought you here ~ like you I don’t get on WP too much (I try to blog once a month…), but very much enjoy finding blogs that click with me. Cheers to a good week ahead…

    1. Yes, I think it meant so much for me to go back over the year. Time goes so fast and I often don’t have much time to think or reflect. I hope you enjoyed your holiday Sally. I’ve really been so touched by your writing. It comes from the heart and really moves me. Looking forward to reading your words and seeing your lovely photography in the coming year! 🙂

  8. Lovely review of your year Nicole. You achieved so much but the gems are the pictures of you and your wonderful family. With my best wishes for the year ahead 🙂

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