The Mad Hatters NYC Blog: Year Three in Review

Throughout the year, the pervasive mood in the country has been dour, an ominous shadow hanging over virtually everything else. And yet, we still put ourselves out there, traveling more this year than we had in the last two combined, which was simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. But 2018 was a challenging year for us personally, too. We both work full-time and there were some notable changes to our jobs, which upended the comfortable life we’d built. We were plagued with some health challenges, though fortunately nothing too serious. We had some unfortunate luck, like discovering our toilet was leaking the day before we were due to leave for a trip. And finally, in a real gut-punch, we lost a few friends unexpectedly–a fellow blogger to a freak accident and a longtime co-worker to cancer.

As for the blog, it’s hard to believe it’s been three years since its inception. Some days it feels like the time has flown by, while others it feels like a slow, steady, relentless grind. At this point, we could forgive you for assuming the blog is humming along like a well-oiled machine. But that hasn’t been the case. The curve balls have kept coming, so let’s talk about what the year brought us.

Wins and Losses

Street art featuring two fingers upheld and text reading Together We Can. We Will. in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC BlogLynn and Justin in front of Giant Blue Rooster in Minneapolis Sculpture Garden via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Our biggest challenge this year has been finding balance. With so much upheaval in our personal lives, keeping all the balls in the air became a day-to-day challenge. We had trouble maintaining a schedule with our posts, and we disappeared from social media for protracted periods. So why did we still do it? Because this blog continues to be our connection with the world. It’s where we share, where we learn and where we grow.

We finally cleaned up our site a little. We streamlined our blog categories, separating our Adventures in New York City and our Escapes from New York City. We started writing our Mad Chatter posts, which allowed us to ruminate on some issues that were on our minds, and to see if you were thinking about them too. We also added a calendar to our website, which allows us to feature some of our favorite seasonal activities.

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Last year we mentioned that we’d met up with readers, fellow bloggers and social media buddies, and we’re happy to have continued that trend in 2018. But for those we haven’t been able to connect with in real life, our November project on Instagram proved the power of a virtual connection. With a few simple questions, comments turned into conversations. If you’re curious, this post kicked it off, and we have a summary in our Highlights on Instagram.

We were proud to have made the runner-up list on Lonely Planet’s Pathfinders site, and to have been featured on Vivant and INSIDER. We also had some fun collaborations, like the one with Vetexbart which translated our New York City Lower East Side recommendations into Dutch. And we would be remiss not to mention the death of Google+, a social platform that never really lived up to its lofty goals. Google+ was very good to us in our first year, featuring our blog early on and gaining us international readers. We’re sad to see it go.

It’s getting more and more difficult to pick favorite posts, so we’ll share a few of our popular ones:

27 Club mural by Kobra Street Art featuring Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

In Living Color: The 2018 Kobra Street Art Occupation of New York City

Pittaki Street in Psyrri neighborhood of Athens which features an alley with lamps and graffiti via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

5 Things to Do in Athens Besides the Acropolis

View of Mount Urgull and Concha Bay in San Sebastian via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

How to Experience the Best of San Sebastián, Spain in Two Days


2019 feels like a true refresh–a chance to get things back in balance. Though we’ll look to find more ways to highlight all the things we love about New York City, we also hope to travel as much or more than we did in 2018. We’re also planning to finally make a trip back to Malaysia to see friends and family, which will be our first trip home in six years. And we’re going to make a concerted effort to be more present. We need to spend more time connecting: with each other, with those around us, and with our experiences.

Moving Forward

Street Art with text reading Give Thanks in neon design in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC BlogLynn and Justin with ice cream cone in Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

We abandoned the idea of blog milestones a long time ago, choosing to make this about what felt right for us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do better. We want to craft more robust posts, engage in different ways, pick up new skills and reach wider audiences.

The thought of writing this year-end review gave us pause, but we realized that despite our challenges, we continue to have plenty to be grateful for. One of our favorite sayings is, “It’s not happy people who are thankful, it’s thankful people who are happy.” We believe that to be true, and we appreciate all the opportunities and friends this blog has brought our way.

Our biggest joy in this endeavor has been the dialogue. We love when someone tells us that they tried something we featured, or added something we did to an itinerary. We enjoy hearing from someone who shares our enthusiasm for a dish or a destination, as well as someone who disagrees with us completely. We’re especially grateful to everyone who’s taken the time to share their recommendations with us, giving us a wealth of new experiences. We’re honored when you mention us to someone else, and when you share something we’ve written. But more than anything, we’ve enjoyed the company. We’re thrilled to have you along on this journey. We love the thoughtful insights and the humorous comments. So we hope you’ll continue to share them.

Now it’s your turn: how was your 2018, and what would you like to do differently in 2019?

Lynn and Justin behind the La Huella digital (Finger Print) sculpture by Juan José Novellas on Artxanda in Bilbao via Mad Hatters NYC

– L. & J.

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1 year ago

Such a heartfelt and honest Post! Hugs. This year has been difficult! I agree there is a cloud hanging over almost everything. I am sorry about the difficulties you guys have faced and the losses you have had to deal with; not to mention yucky toilet issues. 🙂 Hope 2019 is more peaceful and you continue to find the balance we all seek. Hope your trip to the Malaysia brings you comfort from being with family and friends. I plan to breath, trust the universe, keep my head calm and take small steps moving forward in 2019. Oh and to… Read more »

1 year ago

I’m not sure I agree with the serene approach to life but. But I’ve had some “mental cleaning,” which resulted in the above comment.
I hope “It” stays on for a while.

1 year ago

So wonderful to read your recap of life in 2018. I enjoy following your adventures and love the tips. We do one longer vacation each year and always consider where you have been and your posts from there. It has been a fortunate yeAr here good health and family intact and growing. Love to you both in 2019.

1 year ago

I feel that the challenging life events make me refocus and strive for more balance. I’m sorry to hear you have had some struggles but love that you two are appreciating more. I hope we can visit this year, we miss you both and NYC!

1 year ago

You two do make it look effortless. This year was a total struggle for me, personally as well as blog-wise. I’m not good at resolutions so I’ll just say that I’ll do better next year. Both of you were so kind, funny (Justin I have blackmail photos), and gracious to me and it’s very much appreciated. Cheers to another year, friends.

1 year ago

Thank you. And Lynn, I got you!

Berkeley Square Barbarian

Enjoyed reading that, guys. Seems like a real roller-coaster year. Clicked on most links, including collaborations and that Insta post re which song makes you happy. The last couple shot is incredible, you guys got rock star qualities! Merry Xmas & Happy New Year, Stefan & Ellie

1 year ago

“It’s not happy people who are thankful, it’s thankful people who are happy.” This resonated with me SO much, and is essentially the core principal of one of the best books I’ve read all year – “The Gratitude Diaries.”

Anyway…I loved reading this post and I love YOU guys so much! Your thoughtful, informative prose and consistent striving to learn, grow, and improve is inspiring. I am truly thankful for blogging because it brought us together, and I am so excited to see where you guys continue to go!

Cynthia | Adventuring Woman

Thank you, Lynn and Justin, for sharing your reflections on the past year of blogging and life. I am notoriously slow (ahem), so am still engaging in the year-end reflection process, but one of the things I have enjoyed most over my past year of blogging is connecting with the two of you. For me it’s been a year of relationships: getting closer to Bee and traveling a bit together, starting to develop our own traditions; my “relationship” with my writing self, and the huge amount of learning required to create and maintain a blog; and my relationships with people… Read more »

Cynthia | Adventuring Woman

OMG. Tears. Thanks for this!

1 year ago

Isn’t it strange that so many people are looking to 2019 for a new fresh day! 2018 for us was an incredible year. Our best year since way back when….we would like for it to repeat. Thanks to both of you for helping make that happen.

We hope that your 2019 brings you happiness and your travels are safe. We are looking forward to seeing you again soon.

For us, what we would like to do for 2019 is to make a U-turn.