Unraveling – Goodbye to 2016

I want to start by saying that this is going to be a long post. These reflective posts are how I make sure to live my life intentionally. They matter to me and I love being able to look back on them in future years. I know that this might not be interesting to many (if not any) of you, so please feel free to skip it. If some of you find it interesting, all the better.

This particular exercise is following Susannah Conway’s Unraveling 2016 sheet. You can download it right here. I split the reflective questions looking back on 2016 in and the questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2017 into two posts. This is part I, the 2017 post will show up here later this week. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

Before we start unravelling 2017, let’s take a moment to look back over the last twelve months. Maybe there were lots of changes for you in 2016. Maybe it’s been a year of growing or nesting or exploring or letting go. Whatever’s happened this year it’s got you to this point, right now. Exactly where you’re meant to be. Pick up your pen and let’s do some digging.

  1. First of all, did you have a word for 2016? Yes, my word was choose.

  2. If you did, how did your word help to guide you through the last 12 months? Can you think of any specific examples? I wanted to live more intentionally and choose my actions instead of feeling like things were happening to me. I feel like what helped me the most has been writing the weekly intention posts. They helped me see the choices I was making weekly. I want to live all of my life intentionally.

  3. What did you embrace in 2016? I think more than anything else, 2016 was a test in embracing change. David moved to a new school which meant major changes in schedule/routine. My work moved from Zurich to Sydney and Seattle, which also meant big changes in routine/schedule. These were not sad changes but they were big changes. I learned to embrace change and go with it.

  4. What did you let go of in 2016? I let go of controlling my destiny so closely. I learned to step into life and work with it. I let go of the idea that it can only work one way.

  5. What changed for you in 2016? Heh. So many things. My work and David’s school are the biggest changes by far, though.

  6. What did you discover about yourself in 2016? That I am strong. I can make it work. I was very afraid of both of these changes. And yet. I made them work. I am making them work. I can do so much more than I thought. Also, I discovered that I like traveling for work. I like both the quiet time and the intensity of work that comes with the travel. I also like how my boys all get to have some time just the three of them.

  7. What were you most grateful for in 2016? I am always most grateful for my family. My kids, my husband, my parents, my sister and her family. This year I am also extremely grateful for my parents’ generosity. I don’t know what I did to deserve all this kindness but I am deeply grateful for it.

  8. When did fear hold you back in 2016? Hmmm. I was scared a lot but I try not to let fear hold me back. At least not in any big way.

  9. Where did you practice bravery in 2016? Many times. At the kids’ schools. At work with all the changes. At every single social event I go to and every single business trip I go to. I practice bravery almost every single day.

  10. What surprised you in 2016? Well, besides my work moving from Europe to the southern hemisphere? I think that one takes the cake.

  11. What made you smile in 2016? My kids. My husband. David getting into the school of his dreams and their creation winning an award at the Tech Challenge. Seeing David play the guitar on stage. Nathaniel’s joy in doing math. Tucking Nathaniel in every night. Hugging Jake. Every single time.

  12. What conclusions did you reach in 2016? That I can make anything work. That I find ways to adjust. That I love my job. Love what I do and the people I do it with. That I love reading and listening to books. That I need to work harder on eating well and finding some exercise I like to do. That I need to be kinder to myself. That I am loved. That I am incredibly lucky.

  13. Let’s think about your ACCOMPLISHMENTS in 2016. List three things that went really well this year — personally or professionally, what are you most proud of? For each accomplishment, consider the following: What skills helped you make it happen? How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself? How did you celebrate or acknowledge your accomplishment? (If you didn’t, how could you next time?)

    1. I helped my son get into the school of his dreams. I wrote my essays, helped him write his essays, drove him to each shadow, sat with him, worked with him, and I showed up. My consistency, organizational skills, hard work, and persistence helped make it happen. I learned that I am tough and can do what needs to be done and I also learned that sometimes I need to take time to sit with myself and release what I need so I can make room for my kids to be who they want to be. We celebrated a bunch of times but for this one, we took David out of class and accepted in person and then went out to celebrate as a family.

    2. I transitioned my project from Zurich to Sydney and took on five new teams. This was a lot of work. My willingness to make it work, hard work, and openness made it happen. I learned that I can learn new things. I can make different schedules work and I can do this. I am still working on this one, but I feel good about it so far. I haven’t celebrated this one yet. Though I did get two spot bonuses so I will use that money to do something fun. And I did make a point to celebrate being in Sydney the first time I took the trip (and even the second time, albeit briefly.)

    3. I changed my kids’ diet. My kids are very picky eaters and until this year, they are sandwiches for lunch and bagels and vegetables for dinner. Now they eat spinach and fruit and chicken, cheese and sandwiches for lunch. And broccoli, salad and fruit for dinner. They went from eating prepackaged oatmeal for breakfast to eating yogurt and fruit (and granola for Nathaniel.) It’s not perfect and they still eat more bread and less protein than I’d like but it’s been a huge change. I am proud of it. My persistence and hard work made it happen. I feel so much better about it now and my kids are easier to take out. This one is a gift to me so I don’t need extra celebrations.

  14. Now let’s look at your CHALLENGES. List three situations that have tested your limits and patience this year. The big or the small — whatever challenged you the most in 2016 (there may be more than three so go with whatever comes to mind first) For each challenge, consider the following: How did you deal with the challenge? Did you discover any new tools or allies that could help you again in the future? How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself? (If you’re still working through a particular challenge, what outcome would feel good to you?)

    1. The biggest challenge by far has been health. I’ve had a hard time sticking to any healthy diet. I wobbled a lot. I started the year with no coffee and no soda and I am finishing it with a lot of both. And I am not eating barely any vegetables or even protein. I went from exercising daily and taking 10K steps to hardly any at all. I was putting lotion on my skin daily and not so much anymore. I can go on and on. Consistently focusing on health in general has been a total challenge this year. I didn’t deal well with it. This one always feels hard and I drop it. I learned that I consider it a sacrifice. I want to eat badly because it’s easy or tasty. When tired or worn out, this is the first thing I drop.It would feel good to me if I made this a major priority. If I cared enough about myself to not drop this anymore.

    2. Another challenge, especially in the second half of the year has been figuring out a schedule with my new changes. With the evening hours and daytime hours and volunteering and driving the kids to school/shuttle. I haven’t found something that feels solid yet. My life feels a bit out of balance. I need two things here. One is to make a bit more time for myself. For exercise+art+journaling. 20 mins of each would go a long way. The second thing is to organize my time better. Make specific lists for the pockets of time I have so I feel like I am using them well. So I do use them well.

    3. The third challenge is a never ending one. My patience, my kindness, showing up my best self, especially around the kids. Not yelling. Being generous. These things I crave and wish for every day but I fail at often. I will keep trying here. I will never give up.

  15. Describe your favourite day, moment or occasion of 2016 in words and pictures. What did it taste like? Smell like? Sound like? Who was (or wasn’t) there? Where were you? What were you doing? What was awesome about it? And most importantly, how did you feel? There were many good days in this year. But the one that comes to me in this moment is walking from Bronte beach to Bondi beach in Sydney in the summer (their winter) and listening to my audiobook as I did it. I loved seeing the breathtaking beaches. I loved being alone. I loved listening to my book and seeing as much or as little of everything I wanted.

  16. Gentleness alert! Did anything happen in 2016 that needs to be forgiven? Maybe it was something someone did or said to you. Maybe it was something you did or said to someone else — or to yourself? Maybe you feel you let yourself down in some way. Here’s the thing — we are all beautifully fallible human beings doing the best that we can with the tools that we have, so where can you give the gift of forgiveness to yourself or to another? Oh the health issue through and through. I am really sad about my body. Not just the weight but how tired I feel. How worn out I am. How weak, etc. I am forgiving myself. I know I can make this better for myself. I know I have what it takes.

  1. So we’ve dug into our accomplishments and challenges, remembered our favourite moments and considered who we need to forgive. Now I invite you to close your eyes for a moment and think about 2016 as a whole. As you cast your mind back over the last 365 days, consider the gifts that 2016 offered you on your life’s journey… What stands out the most? 2016 was full of gifts for me, full of brave work, kindness and hard work. Here are some things I did:

    1. I helped David get into middle school.

    2. I was the president of David and Nathaniel’s school’s parent association.

    3. I transitioned my project from Zurich to Sydney and picked up five other teams in Seattle the process.

    4. I did a lot of travel in 2016. Much of it was for work. I went to Zurich in January and April. I went to Sydney in July and October. I went to Seattle in July and September and I went to an offsite at Yosemite in May. I also traveled for fun to Istanbul in June and Boston in August and Canada in December. Looks like February, March and November were the only months when I didn’t travel.

    5. I mentored several women in my organization.

    6. I hit the ground running in David’s school and volunteered with the Book Fair as well as signing up for a regular volunteer slot in 3-4th grade Lit Club which pretty much takes up all of my Thursday mornings each week.

    7. I was really into the election this year and watched countless hours of CNN as well as teaching my kids about the primaries, electoral college and debates.

    8. Before I dropped it on the floor, I did run daily, I did 7min exercise for months and I walked 10K for many days in a row.

    9. I helped write and edit over 40 college essays for my sister’s two boys. One already got into his first choice and the other will soon!

    10. I already mentioned this one above, too, but I helped change the way my kids eat.

    11. I was the journal advisor for the Tech challenge for David’s team.

    12. I also volunteered in both kids’ classrooms and took them back and forth from school every day. I made lunches, breakfasts, and dinners.

    13. I did a Udacity math class with each kid.

    14. I took ten online classes.

    15. I read over 126 books.

    16. I made over 240 pieces of art this year. (20 a month.)

  1. Describe 2016 in 3 words: change, busy, proud

  2. If the events of 2016 were made into a film or a book, what would it be called? This is Life.

  3. Before we finish with 2016, take a few minutes to write out anything else you need to say to the old year in the box below. You might like to say some final goodbyes and thank yous… This year, more than ever, I saw how my life and work are integrated in crazy ways. How I work at odd hours and how I am not working during traditional hours. I am eternally grateful for being home with my kids and being able to volunteer at their schools. For being able to go to book clubs in the middle of the day. For being able to travel for work to beautiful places. For having a job that challenges and really fulfills me. For my kind and understanding and patient and loving husband. For my loving parents who are incredibly generous and always there for me. For my sister who is so loving and inspiring. For my nephews who are finally moving to America. For books. For puzzles and TV and audio books. For music. I am just so grateful for all I have. For this crazy life that is full to the brim. May it always be so layered and rich and fulfilling. I am thankful with all my soul.

Thank you 2016, you are now complete.

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