These past few days I've been thinking, like everybody else, that 2016 was kind of shit. We've reached a worldwide consensus on this affirmation. So many awful things happened: conflicts, deaths, bombings, political changes, divisions, all that didn't leave much space for positivity. However in this post, I would like to focus on the positive. The good things that happened to me in 2016. Because yes, it wasn't my best year (2015, I miss you) but when you want to, you can find highlights anywhere. It doesn't have to be anything big, sometimes it's the little things that make a difference. So it's time for me to reflect on 2016 and all the great things that came with it for me...


This year, my love for Paris has grown into something different from what it was before. One might think that being there every day would make me feel less excited about it, but my routine commute to university hasn't made me love the city less. I never took it for granted and always rejoiced at the thought of how lucky I am to be able to experience it over and over again. Some of my favourite things to do in Paris this year were going for a walk around the river on warm days, having lunch and chatting for hours around Notre Dame with my friend Angelina, spending entire afternoons alone in the Louvre to admire centuries of Art and History, discover the old Galerie Vivienne and sit under the trees of the Jardins du Palais Royal. Now that I live in England, I miss Paris more than I've ever missed it before, and it's always a pleasure to come back.


This year was definitely the year of travel for me. I discovered some amazing places, went back to some I love, and had an amazing time during each trip. The best trips were my two stays in Sicily, with my friends Julie and Céline. I love them to bits, and sharing these moments with them, walking until our feet hurt, laughing over silly things, eating ice cream and pasta, getting cocktails and wandering around the old, shattered streets of Palermo day and night... all that was probably the best time I've had this year. There's nothing like a trip to a foreign land with friends to create memories you'll never forget. 
During the summer I discovered some British seaside towns as I worked as a summer camp leader, taking French kids to England and we had a fabulous time too. It was my first time experiencing England in the summer and it felt like discovering something new.

I've jumped in trains and planes in 2016 more than I've ever done in the past years. I love the feeling of excitement you get when you land in a new place, the amazement as you discover these new cities, see the locals, how they live, how they speak, the streets, the buildings, the atmosphere; everything is so overwhelming and yet so intoxicating. I keep my fingers crossed in hope that I will get to travel again in 2017. One particular stop is on my list: beautiful Rome!


The photo of this sunset in Sicily was taken on our second to last evening there with my friend Julie. We sat in front of the sea, watching people walk by, fisherman on the rocks trying to catch something, joggers running on the seafront, as the temperatures cooled down in that warm September day. All the while we were sitting there, I admired the sky, the changing colours as the light dimmed, I looked around me and felt truly happy and blessed. I also felt a kind of nostalgia, because I knew that it was the last time I went there, and that it was my last chance to enjoy this little spot of Palermo. That feeling of happiness, nostalgia and full consciousness of the present was so strong, and this is the feeling I've managed to understand and accept in 2016.
I used to be very upset with change in the past. It was hard for me to admit that time passed, people and circumstances changed, and that the friends you had in high school would go their own way just as I went mine, and our friendship would evolve in something different. Today, I know that things can never stay the same forever. I welcome change, new people and new experiences more than I've ever done in the past. I don't look back with sadness, but with joy and satisfaction to have lived these very happy moments. Some people come and go, some will stay by my side, and I am excited about all those I haven't met yet. I embrace the unexpected, when, some years ago, it was the last thing I wanted in my life. I am grateful for all the people I've met, the ones that make my days brighter. My colleague Dee who drives me to work every day, the children I work with, my friend Alberto who knows how to make me smile when I'm feeling down. No matter if we'll have to say goodbye one day and go different ways, I feel blessed to have them here right now and that's all I need.


In September, I moved to Northampton on my own, to start a new job, in a new place. I have met new, amazing people, I face challenges and learn to manage the life I'm building up little by little. I take my own decisions without caring about what other people say, I don't define myself according to people's opinions and advice, but according to my own choices and wishes. If there's one thing I have understood, it is that you should never let people choose for you and you should never set yourself limits or be afraid to do things. Don't be stuck in a situation you feel trapped in. Move, try things out. There is nothing definite.
A few years ago I watched Zoella talking about 'just saying yes', embracing opportunities and going forward, and I totally understand what she meant now. This year I have said yes to new experiences and new possibilities, at work and to people. I have opened up and this has only brought positive outcomes. I met very different people, from different parts of the planet, with different lives from mine and some of them have become very good friends. In Sicily we decided to trust people we barely knew, if not at all, and it led us to the funniest evenings of our holidays. Earlier in the year I met up with a group of people I had known and worked with online for years, but never met in person. We had the loveliest afternoon together and it made everything more real, while this is an opportunity I would never have taken a few years ago. 
In November, I flew to Madrid to meet in person a guy that I had been talking to for a few months, just because I wanted to go, without second thoughts or doubts. Today he is my boyfriend, and if I had never had the curiosity to open up and meet new people, if I had let common sense rule my decisions, our paths would never have crossed. He has made 2016 end on a brighter and happier note than I had ever imagined. Will embodies all the good changes that have happened in me these past months: opening up to people, trusting them, accepting the unplanned without worrying. Who would have thought that a few messages exchanged online from our different parts of the world would have led to us meeting in Spain, and going from penfriends to partners? This is the sort of beautiful surprise that makes me want to say yes more. I've tried to be reasonable my whole life, and this past year I realised that overthinking and over planning did not mean that everything will go well. Sometimes things get sorted out by themselves, you just have to let them.


Looking back, 2016 wasn't the worst of years. It was challenging, distressing on many levels (I still think the world is going straight to the wall, but hey at least we're aware of it so we can be prepared) but on a personal level, it was a fruitful year, full of self-reflection, encounters and experiences. Now that 2017 is here, there is just one big thing I need that I lacked in 2016: motivation. And a remedy for procrastination. May 2017 be the year when I get stuff done. 

What were the highlights of YOUR 2016? What are the good things you'll remember from it?


  1. My highlight was welcoming my son, my big beautiful always smiling baby into our family. And moving to a place that I not rented, but bought. Reconnecting with friends I had in school but lost contact with.
    Yes, there wer challenges and stressful moments. There were some moments I wish I could erase. But overall I am content.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

    1. Having a new child is such a beautiful experience, 2016 will always be a special year for you! Also congratulations for buying your own house, that's another big step :D xx

  2. I love to hear how intense your 2016 was - wish you a great 2017 too Julia. My highlight was definitely and finally discover where I want to be and what I want to do. I followed my heart and instincts to find my home. (:

    xx from italy
    Cate ღ 35mm in Style

    1. Thank you so much Cate! Figuring out what you want to do is a really big thing. It's amazing 2016 brought you that awareness, and hopefully it will lead you to a beautiful 2017! xx

  3. Your travels look like so much fun! I'm heading to Italy in the spring and I'm so excited! :)

    1. They were a lot of fun! You'll love Italy, it's such an amazing amazing place. I can't wait to read about your adventures :D xx

  4. I'm so glad 2016 was a good year for you personally, despite it being a bit of strange one politically etc! I'm so pleased meeting the guy you'd been talking to has ended in you being in a relationship, how lovely :) I hope 2017 is a fantastic one for you Julia!


    1. Thank you so much Gabrielle, I hope your 2016 was just as good - and that 2017 will bring you lots of beautiful things! xx

  5. Seems like you had a lot of fun! I wish 2017 will be even more fun for you and everyone!!


  6. 2016 had been such an amazing year for you and lucky you to travel to so many lovely places. Mine has to be our decision to build our dream home from scratch, it was a huge leap but one that I'm glad we took.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity