Stories from 2020 – 12

Prompt: Move – 02 | Tell a story of the last time you were really moved by a comment, movie, song, etc.

My husband has been obsessed with rock climbing for the last two years. He spends hours and hours and hours of his week climbing. During this time, he watched tons of movies about climbing and for reasons that aren’t clear to me, I refused to watch them with him.

Finally, a few months ago, I decided I was going to get on board and start watching some of these movies. 

He started with “Dawn Wall” which he said was his favorite of all of them. In the beginning of the movie, I was thinking that I would not end up liking this movie and it was just a favor to my husband. But within 30 minutes I was not only captivated by the climber’s crazy life but also by his determination. As I got more and more involved in his story, what ended up moving me the most was his determination to share this journey with his climbing partner and his unwillingness to leave him behind. It made me cheer both of them on with all my heart.

“Dawn Wall” was my favorite movie of 2019. I loved every minute of it. I am so glad I finally gave up my stubbornness and was open to sharing this amazing movie with my husband


This year I am planning to do something different than last year. Around last September, I stopped taking a lot of daily photos which then meant I also stopped scrapbooking. I have several of the Story Kit’s piled up. So I decided to switch gears a bit and see if I can use Ali’s prompts to tell my stories. I might (or might not) also turn them into scrapbook pages. In the meantime, I will just enjoy telling my stories.

Stories from 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. The prompts are from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise. I have started an instagram account for these, we’ll see if I keep it up.

Stories from 2020 – 10

Prompt: Listen – 04 | Use “Funny how a melody sounds like a memory.” to tell the story of a specific song that brings back memories for you.

When my husband and I first started dating back in college, I spent a lot of time in his dorm room, hanging out with him and his college roommate, Jason. At the time, they were really into Quentin Tarantino and while I hated the movies, I loved the soundtrack. At some point, we started listening to “Son of a Preacher man” and couldn’t stop.

We put the song on repeat and basically never turned it off. We would lower the volume and just keep it going in the background the whole time. When one of us entered the room, we would yell “Oh it’s my favorite song, turn it up!!” and we would increase the volume and sing it together. 

This kept going for the better part of many, many months. I never got sick of it.

Even now, when I hear the song, it makes me smile and brings back all of the memories of that time of my life. The best memories.


This year I am planning to do something different than last year. Around last September, I stopped taking a lot of daily photos which then meant I also stopped scrapbooking. I have several of the Story Kit’s piled up. So I decided to switch gears a bit and see if I can use Ali’s prompts to tell my stories. I might (or might not) also turn them into scrapbook pages. In the meantime, I will just enjoy telling my stories.

Stories from 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. The prompts are from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise. I have started an instagram account for these, we’ll see if I keep it up.

Stories from 2020 – 09

Prompt: Light – 06 | Who is your sunshine?

I am not a naturally happy person. I work hard, I am reliable, I am kind, I am thoughtful, but I am not always happy. My default state of being is pensive, sad, and often worried. I spend a lot of my time hustling for worthiness and trying to earn the space I take up in the world.  This is likely why I feel very drawn to people who can lighten my mood and quiet down my thoughts. At the very top of this list is my amazing husband. 

My husband and I met and started dating back in 1994. He was always so happy and light and joyful. It didn’t matter how hard a day was, he would go to sleep and wake up like tigger: full of hope and joy and excitement. 

Even now, twenty-five years later, he is still the light that fills up my life. He walks into the room and I feel like the sun is shining on me. Of course, he has his tough days too and he’s not always tigger-like but the joy my husband exudes is enough to fill both of us up most days than not. 

I often tell him that he doesn’t even have to do anything, he just needs to be around me and I feel filled up with sunshine. I feel optimistic and grateful and happy. His presence alone is enough for me.

I am so grateful that I found him.


This year I am planning to do something different than last year. Around last September, I stopped taking a lot of daily photos which then meant I also stopped scrapbooking. I have several of the Story Kit’s piled up. So I decided to switch gears a bit and see if I can use Ali’s prompts to tell my stories. I might (or might not) also turn them into scrapbook pages. In the meantime, I will just enjoy telling my stories.

Stories from 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. The prompts are from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise. I have started an instagram account for these, we’ll see if I keep it up.

Stories from 2020 – 08

Prompt: Learn – 02 | What are the big lessons you’ve learned so far in your life? So much wisdom comes from each of us sharing what we’ve learned up to this point in our lives.

I went to a leadership class a few weeks ago, for work. I am grateful to work at a place where I get the privilege of taking a week off work to focus on my career and have my company pay for and support me. I am even luckier to work at a place where there are so many smart, interesting, and kind women who support each other. 

As I sat there grappling with what I wanted out of my career for the next few years, I realized that I was unable to answer this question because, for me, my career is never the part that matters most. I love working and I’ve been incredibly blessed to work at places that were full of smart, interesting people I could learn from and do work that I found interesting. And yet, what fills me up is how I do my life. When I lean into the parts of my life that fulfill me the most, I am at my happiest. 

So for me to do work well, I have to first do life well. I have to be clear about what my life goals are and then figure out how work fits into that. This is an important lesson for me because in moments of my life where I have been unclear about this, I’ve always been unhappy and chosen to opt out of my career. 

It’s time to sit down and design a life I want. Align on what matters to me and how I can make it happen. And then see how and where my career fits into that picture.


This year I am planning to do something different than last year. Around last September, I stopped taking a lot of daily photos which then meant I also stopped scrapbooking. I have several of the Story Kit’s piled up. So I decided to switch gears a bit and see if I can use Ali’s prompts to tell my stories. I might (or might not) also turn them into scrapbook pages. In the meantime, I will just enjoy telling my stories.

Stories from 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. The prompts are from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise. I have started an instagram account for these, we’ll see if I keep it up.

Stories from 2020 – 07

Prompt: Journey – 05 | Trust the journey.

I am not a fan of unpredictability. I don’t like the unknown and maybe because of this, I spend so much time designing my life, being intentional, and focusing on the things that matter to me. 

All this intentionality can make it seem like I get to control how my life turns out. And of course, there are parts I definitely did get to choose. I always work hard and give my all to the things I do. I am picky about where I work, who I spend time with and what I do with my time in general. I think a lot before I say yes (or no) to things. 

But. 

There’s also so much of my life I don’t get to control. Especially as my life expands out to include the people I love, to my parents, my husband, my kids, there’s no way I can (or should) control how all of it turns out. There is so much that’s in fact out of my ability to control. And it’s so much easier to live life when I learn to lean into it instead of trying to bend it to my will.

When I find myself fighting what is, trying to speed up how things go, change the people I love, it only serves to make me frustrated and defeated. Whereas when I think about life as the journey and not as a particular destination, I get to participate in it. I get to be present and focus less on the outcome and more on the path itself.

Those moments when I can focus on the journey are always the best moments, the moments when I am living my life to the fullest. The moments when I am feeling my feelings. The moments when I am looking around in awe and drinking all the magic of life in. When I trust the journey, I am here in the now. 

Present to the magic of it all.


This year I am planning to do something different than last year. Around last September, I stopped taking a lot of daily photos which then meant I also stopped scrapbooking. I have several of the Story Kit’s piled up. So I decided to switch gears a bit and see if I can use Ali’s prompts to tell my stories. I might (or might not) also turn them into scrapbook pages. In the meantime, I will just enjoy telling my stories.

Stories from 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. The prompts are from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise. I have started an instagram account for these, we’ll see if I keep it up.

Stories from 2020 – 06

Prompt: Habit – 02 | Are there new habits you hope to adopt in your everyday life?

As we approach a new year, I always find myself hoping to adopt practices I want to cultivate. There are a handful of items that make my list each year: drawing/painting more, journaling more, moving more, mediating more, sleeping more, eating better. These handful of items are at the crux of who I strive to be so there is always some goal around each of them on my list. 

But if I could pick only one item for 2020, it would be getting fitter. I really would like to be able to go on big, adventurous hikes with my husband in 2020 and to be able to do that, I am going to have to get much fitter. I am going to have to build up my stamina, my muscles, my heart, and my endurance. I don’t have a history of focusing on these so it’s going to be that much harder for me to build the habit of showing up and keeping at it even when I want to give up. It will be hard and painful. 

But I want to do it. I want it so badly that I can taste it. So I am going to have to come up with a way. So that I can really live the days of my life. To give each day my all and to drink the wild air as often as I possibly can.


This year I am planning to do something different than last year. Around last September, I stopped taking a lot of daily photos which then meant I also stopped scrapbooking. I have several of the Story Kit’s piled up. So I decided to switch gears a bit and see if I can use Ali’s prompts to tell my stories. I might (or might not) also turn them into scrapbook pages. In the meantime, I will just enjoy telling my stories.

Stories from 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. The prompts are from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise. I have started an instagram account for these, we’ll see if I keep it up.

Stories from 2020 – 05

Prompt: Gratitude – 04 | There’s something good in everyday

my beautiful friend Kelly

I entered 2019 in the middle of a major depression. I had spent the last six months extremely sad and unable to see any light as I looked down the road of my life. It took me three months to come up with a word for the year and I ended up having to create a spreadsheet with all the options until I found the one that spoke to me: magic.

I picked magic because I knew I had to get intentional around both adding more magic to my everyday life and also about seeing the magic that was already there. I had stopped seeing anything good about my life, let alone magical. I needed to make a concerted effort. 

Throughout 2019, I exchanged weekly emails with my friend Kelly, listing all the magical things from that week. In June 2019, I finally started to feel better again. I could breathe again, I could imagine possibilities again, and I started seeing the magic of everyday again. 

I don’t know how much the weekly practice contributed to my healing but I know that it was the most tangible way to remember that there is indeed something good in everyday. That every single day I get is a gift and is magic and I am so very grateful to get to have one more.

And so grateful to finally feel better.


This year I am planning to do something different than last year. Around last September, I stopped taking a lot of daily photos which then meant I also stopped scrapbooking. I have several of the Story Kit’s piled up. So I decided to switch gears a bit and see if I can use Ali’s prompts to tell my stories. I might (or might not) also turn them into scrapbook pages. In the meantime, I will just enjoy telling my stories.

Stories from 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. The prompts are from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise. I have started an instagram account for these, we’ll see if I keep it up.

Stories from 2020 – 04

Prompt: Family – 07 | Start making a collection of favorite family stories.

When I was around three or four, my sister was lying on my parents’ bed and reading the paper. I was so jealous that she could read and I couldn’t, so I asked her if she’d be willing to teach me. 

I’m originally from Istanbul, Turkey and when it comes to reading, Turkish is a relatively easy language because it’s transliterated. Each letter has only one possible pronunciation and once you’ve learned your letters, the words are just about putting the letter sounds together.

Lying in that bed together on that day, my sister taught me how to read. At the time, she could never have known the size of the gift she gave me. Reading has been my favorite way to spend my time for the last forty years. I’ve read thousands of books in my life so far and I think about that moment all the time. About how she could just as easily have said no. About how it is one of my favorite memories with her.

I will forever be grateful to my sister for that gift.


This year I am planning to do something different than last year. Around last September, I stopped taking a lot of daily photos which then meant I also stopped scrapbooking. I have several of the Story Kit’s piled up. So I decided to switch gears a bit and see if I can use Ali’s prompts to tell my stories. I might (or might not) also turn them into scrapbook pages. In the meantime, I will just enjoy telling my stories.

Stories from 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. The prompts are from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise. I have started an instagram account for these, we’ll see if I keep it up.

Stories from 2020 – 03

Prompt: Design – 02 | What have you been doing recently to design a life you love?

I spend a lot of time thinking about what matters to me and designing the life I want for myself. I pick a word of the year, make daily, weekly, monthly goals for myself so that I can continually work towards building the life I want. This time of year is always when I take a moment to look back and reflect on the year I’ve had. On what worked and what didn’t work as well. I make a point to write down all the things that happened so that I can see how much happens in one year and how much I’ve already done. It’s important for me to get to see it because it’s easy for me to write off all the positive efforts I put into areas of my life and only notice where I am still falling short.

After I bid farewell to the last year, I spend a lot of time dreaming, wishing, designing the life I want for the following year. At this moment, I am spending my time thinking about what I want 2020 to look like. I use my One Little Word to have the overarching goal for the year. Next year, my word will be: WILD. It’s a reminder to go out into the wild more often. To hike, to camp, to be near the water. To learn, grow, take risks. I then choose my core desired feelings. Four or five words that reflect how I want to feel throughout 2020. When opportunities come up, I think about how they will make me feel and see if it’s one of those five. If so, I say yes. If not, I turn it down. This helps me spend more time feeling the way I want to feel. 

Once I have those down, I then design projects for myself so I can push and encourage myself. So I can in fact live my word and my feelings every single day. I have projects around drawing (like @karenikareads), reading, telling stories, going on hikes, movement, journaling and reflection, etc. This helps me take time each week to remember how I am spending my moments and see if I can help align them to the way I want to live.

I spend a lot of time designing the life I want. I still manage to struggle all the time but I know that being intentional helps me get closer to the life I want then ever.


This year I am planning to do something different than last year. Around last September, I stopped taking a lot of daily photos which then meant I also stopped scrapbooking. I have several of the Story Kit’s piled up. So I decided to switch gears a bit and see if I can use Ali’s prompts to tell my stories. I might (or might not) also turn them into scrapbook pages. In the meantime, I will just enjoy telling my stories.

Stories from 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. The prompts are from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise. I have started an instagram account for these, we’ll see if I keep it up.

Stories from 2020 – 02

This year I am planning to do something different than last year. Around last September, I stopped taking a lot of daily photos which then meant I also stopped scrapbooking. I have several of the Story Kit’s piled up. So I decided to switch gears a bit and see if I can use Ali’s prompts to tell my stories. I might (or might not) also turn them into scrapbook pages. In the meantime, I will just enjoy telling my stories.

Prompt: Breathe – 01 | Think about the last time you experienced something that took your breath away. Tell that story.

During the summer of 2019, we took a family trip to Oahu, Hawaii. It was my first time on any Hawaii island and while I loved the beautiful beaches and the blue sea, I was disappointed by how crowded Waikiki was and how large and impersonal our hotel felt. I had hoped to have a quiet vacation, sitting by the pool and reading my book but it didn’t look like that was going to be possible. 

The week we spent there was still magical, full of beautiful beaches, delicious sandwiches, lots of reading time and family time. But the best part came at the very end. 

On our last day there, we looked for one final adventure together. I had read about a hard-to-find hike in this hidden forest near the highway. We decided we had nothing to lose so we went in search of this path. 

It was a bit confusing, but we managed to find it and started walking down the bamboo forest that turned into a lushly covered pathway. We got lost a handful of times as we walked up the hill, through the muddy terrain. We thought of giving up but the few people we saw on the way told us to keep going.

So we did. 

And it was the best decision ever. At the end of the long path, we came upon an amazing waterfall and a small lake. We were soaking wet from sweat and even though the water was freezing, I couldn’t wait to jump in. We walked up to the waterfall and stood under it as the water fell all over us. It was one of the most magical moments of my life and even now thinking about it takes my breath away. 

It reminded me of what a gift nature is and how water heals everything for me.


Stories from 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. The prompts are from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise. I have started an instagram account for these, we’ll see if I keep it up.

Stories from 2020 – 01

This year I am planning to do something different than last year. Around last September, I stopped taking a lot of daily photos which then meant I also stopped scrapbooking. I have several of the Story Kit’s piled up. So I decided to switch gears a bit and see if I can use Ali’s prompts to tell my stories. I might (or might not) also turn them into scrapbook pages. In the meantime, I will just enjoy telling my stories.

Prompt: Joy – 03 | What do you do to create joy when you aren’t feeling it?

This was an easy one for me. There are many things that bring me joy: twinkle lights, candles, crackle of fires, hugging my kids, snuggling with my husband, being out in nature, going on vacation especially where I get to see unusual animals.

But water holds a magical place in my heart. When I am near the water and can hear the sound of the waves and see the endless blue, it brings me both joy and peace simultaneously. No matter how anxious or down I might feel, the sound and sight of water is like a wash of joy.

I am very lucky to have always lived near water. When I was a teenager in Istanbul, my then boyfriend and I would always go to this one spot near the water and city lights the night before any big exam so I could calm down and help center myself. I then lived in Pittsburgh, New York, San Diego and the Bay Area, all with their own bodies of water. (I also lived in London and Tokyo briefly, both of which are also near water.) Even now, years later, when I feel overwhelmed, I still seek the water.

During the dark months winter, I often seek out YouTube videos of waves or beach fires so I can hear the ocean, seagulls, and the crackle of a fire. While it’s not the real thing, it still brings me joy almost instantly.


Stories from 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. The prompts are from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise. I have started an instagram account for these, we’ll see if I keep it up.