In 2016, I committed to post a photo on Instagram every day of the year as part of a challenge called #366DaysOfMakingSpace. Even though the subject of the challenge — anything that relates to making space in my life — was broad, and even though I didn’t have to post photos on the actual day they were taken, this challenge was damn hard. It was so hard that my blogger friend who convinced me to do the challenge in the first place didn’t finish herself. (You know I love you anyway, Dee.)

Istanbul sunsetI’m interspersing this post with some of my favorite #366daysofmakingspace shots from 2016. I posted this one during my visit to Istanbul in February.

I only missed one #366daysofmakingspace post the whole year. I was in Cappadocia in Turkey, and was so overwhelmed by the scenery that I forgot to do a post. I made up for it by double-posting the following day.

Cappadocia, also in February.

There were many days in 2016 when I felt uninspired and had to dig way back into my archives to find a photo. (I never posted any photos that I’d posted on Instagram previously.) There were days when I was insanely busy and didn’t remember the challenge until right before I fell asleep, then had to drag myself up and find a picture.

White lionsWhite lions at the Global White Lion Protection Trust, where I visited in August. Keeping up the #366days challenge was difficult at GWLPT, where there was no 3G and the wifi was weak. Somehow I managed.

This challenge forced me to post photos that I wouldn’t normally post on Instagram — photos that I loved but suspected my audience wouldn’t like. #366daysofmakingspace reminded me that my Instagram feed belongs to me, not my followers, and I should post what I like.

Looking Back on My Instagram Challenge

I’m happy I did this challenge. 2016 was a hard year, both personally and for the world. There are a million articles out there about how much 2016 sucked so I won’t dwell on that angle. But looking back over my #366daysofmakingspace photos (see all of my #366days photos here, minus the two still to come), I’m reminded of all the wonderful experiences I had in 2016. I visited amazing places and had great times at home, both on my own and with people I care about.

Figs and cheese at Ruth and Michale's houseFigs and cheese on a Westdene rooftop with my friends Ruth and Michael in April. A great memory of a lovely evening.

Ray in the DrakensbergOn holiday with Ray in the Drakensberg in March.

Ballet dancers at Joziburg LaneBallet dancers at the opening of Joziburg Lane in June.

The Melville Cat on the roofThe Melville Cat, exceptionally fluffy in his winter coat, spying on me from the roof of our house in May.

Inside mini PonteInside “Mini Ponte”, one of my favorite Jozi discoveries of the year, in June.
 Susanna pregnant in Gather My sister Susanna, five months pregnant, at our father’s house in Maryland last November.

Flyfishing in MagoebaskloofA misty September morning in Magoebaskloof.

Fahema in JeppestownFahema snaps a mist-shrouded Jozi skyline at a rainy Instameet in May.

The 2017 Challenge: #Gauteng52

I’m looking forward to the first of January, when I don’t have to post anything on Instagram unless I feel like it.

But for some bizarre reason, I’ve decided to start another challenge in 2017. This will be a weekly challenge, not a daily one, but I suspect it will be more difficult than #366daysofmakingspace because: 1) It’s location-specific; and 2) It involves blog posts rather than Instagram posts.

The challenge will be called #Gauteng52. Every week of the year I will blog about a place in Gauteng Province that I’ve never been to before. (Gauteng is one of South Africa’s nine provinces and it includes Johannesburg and Pretoria. It’s pronounced something like “HOW-teng”, with a guttural throat sound in place of the H.)

The new places I blog about can be anything — restaurants, shops, parks, monuments, neighborhoods. The only rule is they must be places I’ve never been. I plan to explore every part of Joburg, especially areas I don’t know well like the West Rand, the East Rand, the South, and the outlying townships in every direction. I’m also keen to explore more of Pretoria and other towns in Gauteng.

A few of my friends are concerned I won’t be able to find 52 interesting places that I’ve never visited before. I know this won’t be a problem. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in six-and-a-half years of living in Joburg, it’s that this city will never stop surprising me.

The real hard part will be finding time to write a #Gauteng52 blog post every week, even when I’m traveling. I’m up for the challenge though.

Now I need help from you, dear readers. Do you have an idea for a quirky, interesting place in Gauteng that you think I should visit? If so, do a quick search on my blog to ensure it’s not there already and then send your suggestion via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Please remember that I’m not made of money and I won’t be accepting free meals (or anything else for free) during this challenge. Affordable suggestions — or even better, free suggestions — are ideal.

Keep an eye out for my first #Gauteng52 post next week. Also, feel free to join in.

Lightning storm from RandlordsMy favorite #366days post of 2016, shot just a week ago.

Happy New Year.

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