“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”. – Confucius

As the year draws to a close, I always find it important to take the time to reflect upon the last twelve months of my life. It never ceases to amaze me how frighteningly fast time goes. In a blink of the eye, my children are 11 and 13 and I’m nearing 50 (well still four years to go but still the number lurks inside my head). I see now where my dad came up with this funny way of telling his age to others. Instead of 46, I am 36 + 10.

Yet on a more serious note, I reflect back on a year filled with many wonderful highs and of course those not-so-pleasant-but-part-of-life lows. To be quite honest, I was off to a rocky start in 2017 with the change in our nation’s leadership and all the threats to my uttermost, sacred beliefs that followed. I unexpectedly found myself in a downward spiral of anxiety and despair as so many of my values and beliefs on human rights, the environment and just being a decent human being, were and continue to be threatened. Thankfully I caught myself about eight months later and am back on track with the help of some serious soul searching, mindfulness meditation, spending more time outdoors and with family, and an overall avoidance of the depressing, hateful news which oftentimes feels like a powerful, never-ending machine in this country.  

As the year comes to a close, I look back with bittersweet memories and continue to move ahead and hope. I hope that the world is a better place for our grandchildren and all the people suffering even though it terrifies me to think of all the issues they will have to face.

As I complete my seventh year of blogging, I realize more than ever why I started blogging in the first place. To have a voice and to offer some sort of inspiration in a world filled with so much ugliness and sadness. There is so much beauty in the world. So much hope. I found it on the streets of Haiti and in the eyes of the children all around. In all the amazing people around the world doing good and putting in their effort to make the world a better, kinder more just place for all.

I hope that you have found some inspiration in my pictures and words. I greatly appreciate all of the truly special friendships I’ve made through my blog. It keeps me writing! So, without further ado here are the highlights of 2017. It was hard to pick the right pictures since I tend to take so many but alas I found these ones that each had a special memory attached to it. Hope they will do!

Exploring the remote Osa Peninsula

White-faced or Capuchin monkey

White-faced or Capuchin monkey is one of four kinds of monkeys found in the Osa.

Laguna Chocuaco, Rancho Quemado, Osa Península, Costa Rica

Playa San Jocesito, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

A view from my horse (looking back to where we came from)

Sunrise over Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Family trip to Costa Rica

A surprise for later…family shot at Arenal Volcano.

Manuel Antonio Park Costa RicaManuel Antonio Park Costa RicaManuel Antonio Park Costa RicaMistical Hanging Bridges Park, Arenal, Costa Rica

Tubing in Rio Frio, Costa Rica

Tenorio Volcano National Park/Parque Nacional Volcan Tenorio, Costa Rica

Off-the-beaten path in Haiti

Cap-Haitien, Haiti

View from our hotel overlooking Cap-Haitien.

Haitian countryside

Mountains beyond mountains. Much of Haiti is covered in mountains.

Haiti beaches

Spending the day at the beach is a treat

Citadelle Henry, Haiti

The mountain fortress of Citadel Henry is awash with history as it is a place where the struggle for Haitian independence began.

Observatoire, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

The stunning terrace at the Observatoire is darn right magical.

Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti

Jean Mikron -Artist, Croix-des-Bouquets

Citadelle Henry, Cap-Haïtien, Haiti

I couldn’t resist her beautiful smile and of course bought some of her necklaces.

Chile: A special trip with my Dad

Morado Hanging Glacier, ChileMorado Hanging Glacier, ChileJuncal Glacier, Chilean Andes

Portillo, Chile


Drive to the coast of Chile

Me loving my wine in Chile. Mmmmm

My dad trying to take a photo of me in Valparaiso yet we couldn’t get the stray dog out of the shot. (He followed us for blocks)

Plenty of memorable Minnesota moments

Northernair Lodge, Ely MinnesotaSunset, Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MN

Eagle Mountain, Minnesota

Us on top of Eagle Mountain

Grand Portage State ParkNorthernair Lodge, Ely Minnesota

And a family trip out East to the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Duck, Outer BanksDuck, Outer Banks

And last but not least, a family trip to Tucson and California for the holidays

Sabino Canyon, Arizona

Family Hike in my favorite Sabino Canyon near my parents house

Pima Canyon, Tucson

Three generational hike in Pima Canyon, Tucson Arizona

Building Sand Castles on the beach in Southern California

Torrey Pines, California

My daughter walking along the beach at sunset in Torrey Pines Reserve

El Madador Park, California

Spending the day at El Madador Park near Malibu, California

It has been a wonderful year of personal growth. I’ve learned a lot and of course I always count my blessings in life. Health, happiness and love. Thanks for all my supporters out there who continue to read my blog. It has been a labor of love and I never would have thought when I begin writing seven years ago, that I’d still be here. So thank you and Wishing you all a wonderful 2018!

Thanks WordPress for prompting me to share my 2017 Favorites. 


    1. Oh so beautiful! Thank you for the inspiring words! 😌 I have to check out your blog as I’m sure it is inspiring! 🙏

  1. I felt the same way after the election. But I refuse to let the darkness win, and choose to fill it with as much light as I can. I’m glad so many others are, too. Including you! Beautiful pictures. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! I agree we can’t let darkness win. The world has always had so much heart ache but if we let it bring us down then we would be miserable. We’ve got to appreciate our blessings and do what we can to help others and be kind and caring. Happy New Year! Thanks for reading my post🙏

    1. Thanks Alison! Happy Happy New Year to you and Don! I have loved following you and reading your beautiful words and seeing your gorgeous photos. You are an inspiration! Wishing you a wonderful 2018 my friend. ✨🌟✨🌟🙏

    1. Thank you Debra! As you know, I absolutely love your blog . I wish you a wonderful 2018 and I can’t wait to read all your beautiful posts. ✨🌟✨🌟

  2. you obviously had a very good year!!! And you perfected your sunset shots. Love the lady with the smile and necklaces…happy new year and 7 years blogging? wow

    1. Thank you! Yes hard to believe seven years but my blog is my love. It’s been a fun ride! Happy New Year and I look forward to reading your next post. I love your blog! 😌

  3. What a year you have had Nicole! I especially loved the family trip to Costa Rica. Even though I am in Canada, I felt unsettled as well. For me I decided all I could really do was to spread kindness and compassion in my own world. Let us hope that 2018 sees an outpouring of understanding. Very best wishes to you and your family in 2018.

    1. Beautiful Sue! Yes we can do the best we can and spreading kindness and being a good human being is so important. 😌 Happy Happy New Year to you and Dave and wishing you a lovely beautiful 2018! ✨✨✨✨

  4. I have indeed found inspiration in your photos and words, which often blow me out of the water with their beauty and wisdom. And although all of the photos you posted here are worthy of this “year in review” post I think my favorite is of that photo-bombing stray dog. His obviously wanting to be near you speaks to the connections you forge when you travel, with humans and furry creatures alike. It’s a pity you couldn’t bring him home; he looks like a real sweetheart. Oh! And one last thing: Try not to sweat the big 5-0 (or 40 + 10) too much. If your experience is anything like mine was, you’ll discover you’re still the same person you were in your 30s and 40s — only smarter and less worried about the little things. My very best to you in 2018!

    1. Love your words of wisdom! Thank you so much! I’m smiling! 🙂 Yes, I am indeed getting a bit wiser with age. Just scary how fast time in flying which is even more reason to enjoy it and slow down. As with the photo bombing dog, it was pretty funny. He liked us! 🙂 Thanks again for the kind words of encouragement. That is what keeps us going, right! 🙂 Happy New Year!

  5. I definitely understand your anxiety at the beginning of 2017. But, we continue to do the best that we can and resist, speak out, and vote! I am optimistic about changes this new year. I just have to be patient. Thanks for the lovely and inspiring new year post. Feliz Año Nuevo mi Amiga.

    1. Thanks so much Debbie for your kind, encouraging words. Yes, resist, speak out and vote! We are so fortunate to have a voice in this country. Thanks again and happy happy new year!

  6. You’ve had a great year, Nicole! Many of us started 2017 with a terrible feeling in the pit of our stomachs, but it turned out to be a pretty good year outside of the political arena. Keep up the inspiring social good advocacy, and enjoy those kids before they grow up and go away! 🙁 (There are wonderful things about that, too, of course!) Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Lexi! I truly appreciate your support and continued friendship. Best Wishes for a fantastic 2018! I am just planning our Europe trip out and glad I am as things are already booking up for June/July! Thanks for all the advice on that too! 🙂 Happy New Year!

  7. What a year it has been Nicole. I share your despair over what kind of a world we are leaving for our children but I know I must focus on the good in this country and the world. I can do my part to make this world a better place by spreading compassion and kindness where I can. I am planning on participating in the Women’s March on Jan 20th in the hopes of starting the year off on a strong note. The happiest of new years to you and your family.

    1. Thanks so much LuAnn for your incredible words of wisdom and encouragement. You always inspire me! The Women’s March sounds amazing! Can’t wait to hear about it. Happy New Year!

  8. I’ve enjoyed all your pix through your amazing adventures. Glad I clicked on your Instagram link. I do love the picture where you are in the graffitied alleyway with the dog that followed you guys around. Sunsets & graffiti are two of my “things”= Art. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photographic travels & a I wish a very Happy New Year to you & yours.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, I do love sunsets a lot. The beauty just warms up my soul. Happy New Year to you as well! 🙂

  9. Absolutely gorgeous impressions from last year, Nicole!
    Wishing you and yours a healthy, happy and prosperous 2018!✨

  10. This is such a beautiful post and I loved looking back at all of your special memories. You had a remarkable year of travel. Keep inspiring us with your unique voice Nicole and your spectacular pictures. Yes, time might be getting on and our kids are getting older but all the more reason to continue living life to the full. Have a wonderful 2018. ❤️ xo

    1. Oh thanks so much for the inspiring words Miriam. I truly appreciate it. Yes I love the quote “Every day is a gift. That is why they call it the present.” So true. Best for 2018 Miriam and I always look forward to reading your inspiring words.

      1. Thanks Nicole, you’re so kind. I truly hope the year ahead is a wonderful one for you and your family. Keep inspiring. xo

  11. So lovely to see your year in review and the beautiful photos particularly of your lovely family! The photos of Haiti are dear to my heart, given we were there after the earthquake trying (unsuccessfully it turned out) to bring low cost bamboo housing to people in need. We did however bring in 100 bamboo seedlings which today are the start of a Guadua bamboo forest for the people of Haiti.

    The year definitely had a rough start that felt like a punch in the stomach to so many of us and was overall depressing and gloomy and I still am frankly in shock with the political situation in the U.S. It is just so very hard to believe and will sadly be very difficult to recover from in years to come.

    Wonderful photos, happy 2018 with the hope for a better political situation.


    1. Thanks for the lovely comment Peta! I remember you telling me about your trip to Haiti. I feel so fortunate to have been there twice now. As for the political situation, it is such a nightmare. I’ve really now had to come to terms with it and do what I can. It caused so much anxiety and still does. I’m doing my best to continue to fight for my beliefs and help out in the small ways I can. Happy New Year to you as well! I loved your year in review post! Nicole

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