2017 – Plans and Projects

My goals for the blog in 2016 were relatively contained and that worked relatively well for me. Here’s some of what worked well:

  • Monthly art projects: I did indeed make 20 pieces of art each month. I loved all of them. Some months were really small and none of the months were really big but I loved them all.
  • Living Intentionally and Weekly Reflection posts were my favorite and even though I have some 15 weeks off in the middle of the year, I loved doing these and feel that they were the strongest contributors to my year of choosing wisely.
  • Stories from 2016 were lovely. Intermittent at times but I have 46 stories that would otherwise have never been told.
  • Today I Choose was a bust. I just didn’t have the time to do the sketches or even the journaling. This was lovely while it lasted but I couldn’t keep up.
  • Reading – well this one wasn’t a problem. Actually it sort of was in a different way but more on that in another post.
So all in all, 2016 wasn’t terrible considering the goals I had. I sketched, lettered and used a lot of watercolors. I worked on my health some but really nowhere nearly enough. I reflected and set intentions. I didn’t journal daily. I didn’t paint enough but I told some stories. I didn’t take enough photos but I read a lot. You win some, you lose some.
Areas to Improve:
  • Nutrition, exercise, self-care
  • Schedule

Reflection:

  • OLW & Core Desired Feelings – how much I am honoring them
  • Daily journaling

Things that Make me Happy:

  • art time
  • photos and telling our stories
  • reading
For 2017, I decided to keep the same structure, sort of, with more of a set focus on my core desired feelings.
  • Monday: Living Intentionally: This is the same as last year. I want to think purposefully each week and set goals, choices, projects for just that week. I try to write these on Sunday nights. These help me be more mindful. They will also help me identify ways in which I can shine.
  • Tuesday: Stories from 2017: I will give this one more try in 2017. Let’s see if I can do it. I think it will also help me take more photos from my life. It helps me feel grateful and present.
  • Wednesday: Nourish – This is something I want to make a main focus in 2017 so I want to do reflection specifically around ways I am choosing to nourish my mind, body and soul. I plan to have a specific format for this.
  • Thursday: Books This Week – I will talk about the books I read this week. Or recently. If I haven’t read anything new, I’ll talk about something else. Maybe what I want to read? 🙂
  • Friday: Weekly Reflection: This, too, is the same as 2016. These posts help me to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work so I can set proper intentions for the following week.

These are the only weekly projects I will commit to. And even these I might do more irregularly, we’ll see. These all mean something to me and I’d like to do them and I believe almost all are pretty doable. We’ll see what surprises 2017 has in store for me.

For art I’d like to do what I did last year.  20 items a month. I don’t have something in my pocket like I usually do for January so we’ll see if I can hit the ground running this year but I will do the best I can. Here are some preliminary ideas of some themes I might do.

  • Lettering
  • Collage
  • Sketching
  • Doodling/Zentangling
  • Mantras/My Word
  • Art Journaling
  • Quotes
  • Photo a Day
  • Month in the Life?
  • Watercolor Blossoms
  • Faces
  • December Daily
  • Fashion Ladies
  • Line Drawing
  • Chalk Art

All of these might happen, none of them might happen. I might repeat projects. I might do wildly different things. I commit to doing something but I reserve the right to change my mind.

Here’s to a wonderful 2017.  Here’s to doing more art. Here’s to making time to enjoy art. Here’s to learning new things. Here’s to practicing more. Here’s to reflecting. Being intentional. Creating a positive cycle. Here’s to shining inside and out.

2017 – Core Desired Feelings

 

As with all the previous years, I knew I wanted to pick my core desired feelings this year, too. If you want to know more about core desired feelings, please go to my post from last year and you can see the links there.

I struggled with the process this year because I realized that I walked into the process with some attachment. I’d already picked a few words that I wasn’t willing to give up and I don’t think that’s how this is supposed to go. Unlike how I felt in 2015, I was ready to let go of my words from this year. Maybe that’s because I focused on them a lot more this year than I ever did before, thanks to my weekly intention posts.

Even though I was feeling a weird attachment and no desire to do the exercises, I decided to give it a go anyway. I told myself that I would do it and see if anything emerged.

And of course it did. Because when I do these exercises, things always emerge.

I am learning that there’s a pattern to my words each year. I always pick something around peacefulness, something around being brave, something around being open, and then maybe a few new ones.

Here’s what I came up with this year and what they each mean to me:

  • Bold: This is my brave word for this year. I want to be bold. Take adventures. Be strong. Speak up. Take chances. Try new things. Take myself to the edges of my discomfort. Be willing to fail. Live in full color. I want to show up to my life. I want to always be pushing my boundaries. I think this lines up with shine wonderfully. Bold helps me go big. Be my bravest self.
  • Mindful: I struggled with this word a lot. This started as easy. Mostly because I so deeply wish I were easy. I wish I wasn’t one of those people who needs to have certain things go exactly how I want it. I wish I wasn’t neurotic in some of the ways I am. I wish I were easier going. But I think that’s not what core desired feelings are for. At least not for me. Then I switched this to serene but I’ve had that before and that’s not the word I feel drawn to this time. I then thought of content which is my favorite feeling. Which then led me to google what the opposite of worry is. Because really what I want to feel is not worried. So then came this pot of gold. Mindful. Here’s what the article said: “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad.” Yes. This is what I want. To be present in this moment. To pay attention to this moment. To soak in it.  I want to feel mindful. Be fully here and now.
  • Nourished: This one feels a bit like a catchall but honestly this was the one I just couldn’t put down. I want to feel nourished all over this year. Mind, body and soul. I want to feel strong in my body, I want to feel engaged in my mind, I want to feel alive in my soul. I want to feed myself healthy food both literally and figuratively. I want to walk away from everything toxic into everything nutritious.
  • Love: This one came to me as I sat to write this post. I looked at all the words I’d written as part of doing the exercise and everything seemed to have a home except for words like generous, worth it, valued, kind, giving, contributing, etc. So I wanted something that encompassed all. And love is the one that came to me. I want to feel love. Love for myself. I want to show the love I feel to the people around me more. Focus on the love. Give it. Generously. I think this, too, goes wonderfully with shine.

So there we are. Even though they still fall within the themes I seem to have each year, all of these feel new to me in their own way and I like them all. I want to feel all of them. And that’s what Core Desired Feelings is all about. Here’s to feeling bold, mindful, nourished and love in 2017.

 

2017 – My Year to Shine

As with every year, I kept an ongoing list for my possible words in 2017. I tend to start this list around February because sometimes ideas come to me early in the year and I want to track them for different reasons. Throughout the year, different words feel like winners. They feel really strong. Here’s a peek at this year’s list:

  • alive**
  • shine*
  • seek*
  • magic?
  • shift
  • begin
  • equable***
  • easy*
  • equanimity
  • release
  • adventure**
  • learn
  • magic
  • kind
  • beginner
  • create**
  • build
  • forward
  • nourish**
  • rise
  • strong**
  • wild**
  • wise

The ones with the stars were ones I kept coming back to a few times. I have a tough time choosing words for several reasons.

  1. I don’t want to pick a word for something I wish I were. Like “easy.” I feel that when I pick a word that’s likely to make me feel intimidated, I spend most of the year feeling bad about letting myself down. The word should push/encourage me but it shouldn’t be aspirational. It should be inspirational.
  2. I loved my 2015 word (brave) so much that I feel I am always trying to find a word that will be as magical as brave was for me. I am learning that I will just have to carry brave around with me forever and not worry about having such a powerful word each time.
  3. Some words are more action oriented (like brave, adventure, nourish) and some are more introspective (like easy, equable, magic) and what I want is a combination of both.

As it seems to be my trend lately, I picked my word many many months before the year started. Even though I went back and forth many times and I am still finding myself wavering at times, I’ve settled on SHINE for 2017.

This word is coming from a story I mentioned a while back. Back when I was training to be a life coach, in one of my classes, we did a visualization exercise called The Captain. During my exercise, I was sitting in the woods (peaceful, quiet woods) when this little girl (who looked like me) came over to me and gave me a box. Inside the box was light. When I opened it, it shone everywhere, it filled the forest up. She said it was my light and that she was a reminder to let my light shine and that I was here to also be the reflection for others’ light so I can show them how their light is shining, too.

I know it sounds corny. But this is what happened when I did the exercise and I haven’t stopped thinking about it even though it was quite a few years ago, now. So when I was thinking about my word, I decided this was my year to shine (and help others shine).

I was tempted to choose light for my word this year because it feels easier. And it has so much room for multiple meanings. Shine sounds selfish and like being the center of attention. I don’t like either of those things. But I reminded myself that the girl told me to shine. So I decided to stick with it and understand this word a bit better. Here’s what shine means to me:

  1. Heal: To shine means I will focus on healing the parts of me that feel broken. To see myself as whole and enough. It means I am going to work on remembering that I have this big source of light inside me and that part of me overshadows everything else. Light comes through the cracks and it takes over the dark. I will embrace me, all of me, and let my true self shine.
  2. Open: To shine means to be open and to receive and give generously. There’s no limit to my light. I will not run out. I can feel others with mine and also allow myself to bask in theirs because it’s an unlimited resource. I am open.
  3. Bold: To shine means to be brave. To show up. To be bold. There’s no more hiding in the shadows. No siting back. It’s being there. Being visible. Radiating.
  4. Reflect: A big part of shine for me is reflecting other people’s light back on to them. Reminding everyone of how they have their own amazing light inside and encouraging them to shine, too. Imagine if we all chose to shine, how amazing would it be?

So there we go. Here’s to a year of radiance. Illumination. A year full of shimmer. Sparkle. Glow.

Here’s to 2017: my year to SHINE.

Unraveling the Year Ahead – 2017

I want to start by saying that this, too, is going to be a VERY 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 II, the 2016 reflections are here. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

  1. First, choose a word to guide you through the next 12 months. Pick a word that makes you feel expanded. Encouraged. Inspired. There’s no right or wrong answer so go with your gut. What’s your Word for 2017? SHINE.

  2. If you lived and breathed your Word every day in 2017, what would be different for you? I would treat everyone with kindness and openness and I would assume the very best of them and reflect their goodness back to them. I would do the same for myself. I would shine a light into the dark spots of my soul, clean it all out, flood it with light and just let it shine. Let it all be free. I would own who I am and let my whole self shine and then create the space for others to do the same.

  3. List some ways you are already experiencing or embodying this Word I don’t think I can think of a way I am doing this right now. I need to break this word down more. Write down what shine looks like. What it feels like. What helps me shine more.

  4. What could you do this year to bring more of your Word into your world? I’ve done a lot of physical reminders. The bracelet, the lights, the lava lamp, the word. I think I need other reminders. Maybe something on my phone. Something like changing my passwords again. Something like putting a reminder on my calendar and computer keyboard. An excuse to pause every single day and reflect.

  5. Choose four extra words to support your Word this year. They could be anything from inspiring words to names of people to things you want to invest in… My four accompanying words this year are nourish, bold, mindful, and love. Much more on this in a future post.

  6. What are you looking forward to in 2017? Making peace with myself. I think one of the things I want to work on the most this year is shining light into the dark corners. Not resigning to the way things have been and that they have to stay that way. Shining light into everything and being willing to let that light wash over me. Because if I can do this, nothing else matters as much. Everything stems from this place.

  7. What are you feeling apprehensive about? I feel worried that nothing will change. I will continue to eat badly. I will continue to yell and be impatient. I will continue to allow small things to break me. I will continue to think I am not enough. I will continue to think I will never be enough. This is what I am afraid of the most.

  8. What life lessons are you taking with you into 2017? That everything changes and everything stays the same. Everything changes and everything works out. Everything changes and we adapt. So much change has happened this year. David moved to a new school and started middle school. My job moved from Zurich to Sydney and Seattle. My day to day life looks wildly different than it did last year this time. But it’s all ok. We’ve adapted. David loves his school. I love my job. Nathaniel loves second grade. And Jake is still the best person I know. Life moves forward. Things change. I am so scared of change and yet I adapt so beautifully. I just need to have more faith. I need to remember that change is not important. It’s not meaningful. What we make of the change is what matters.

  9. What area of your life do you most want to develop in 2017? I want to make peace with being me. Deep down in my soul. I want to wipe out the dark, sad feeling that I have deep deep down. One time, my coach told me that it’s as if I am trying to paint on a black canvas. I am adding colors but they don’t really show because the canvas is black. That resonates with me. It’s how I often feel. I am not sure how much of it is me not giving myself permission to be happy and how much of it is other things, but either way, I don’t believe that I need to carry it forward. I want to put it down. I believe that if I can do this, all the other areas where I would like to make progress are considerably more likely to happen.

  10. What part of yourself do you yearn to nurture in 2017? Besides what I mentioned above, there are two things I want to nurture more than others. The first is my body. I want to do a better job taking care of it. This is not to lose weight (though I definitely want that, too) but really because I am getting old and I need to do a better job establishing some routines here. I want to find a form of exercise I can stick to. I want to floss and put cream on more regularly. I want to feed myself nutritious food: eat a lot more vegetables and protein so I can feel stronger and less tired. I want to drink more water and tea and less soda and coffee. I feel like I’ve let things go more and more over time and it’s time to stop. Enough. And the same goes for journaling. I need journaling so I can feel more centered. My life is getting fuller and more complicated. This is not the time to abandon journaling. It’s the time to do it more reguarly.

  11. Fast-forward to December 2017. You’re sitting in a cafe?, musing over the last 12 months. Where do you want to be…

    1. in your head? (work, dreams, goals) I want to feel proud of the work I’ve done. Feel less scattered, more focused. Feel like I have a grip on the work in Sea and the work in Syd. I want to feel connected to my teams and my work. I want to do a better job of figuring out how to prioritize work items.

    2. in your heart? (relationships, family, friends) I want to have spent much more time showing Jake how much he means to me. I want him to feel my love, our connection, my dedication to him. I want to feel his love, too. I want to be able to see it, receive it, and believe it. I want to help my nephews who are going to be moving to the United States this year. I want to be close to my family. I want to spend time teaching my kids again. Spend time playing with them. Spend time listening to them. Spend time being with them. I want to cultivate friendships in David’s school. Find people who are kind.

    3. in your soul? (beliefs, practices, self-love) I want to erase everything I know to be true about myself and give myself the benefit of the doubt all the time. I want to assume the best of everyone, including myself. I want to assume people love me, like me, appreciate me, and respect me. That everyone has my best interest in mind. This allows me to be my best self and it makes me my most generous self.

    4. in your physical world? (home, health, hobbies) I want to be exercising daily. Eating well and cleanly. I want to be flossing, taking care of my skin, drinking water, and sleeping enough. I want to do art. I want to listen to books. I want to continue to declutter. I want to surround myself with things that bring me joy and feel light.

  12. Okay, let’s take it up a notch. Use this page to describe what 2017 looks like in your ideal world. Be speci c! What are your dreams for love this year? Work? Play? Where are you hungry for change? How do you want 2017 to FEEL? Use your answers from the previous pages to craft your ideal vision for the next 12 months. What would saying YES to your life look and feel like? Write out everything your heart desires for this new year. Be bold. Heh. Even though BOLD is one of my words this year, I honestly don’t feel like that’s what I need here. What I really want to feel next year, all day long is strong. I want to feel strong enough to shine my best self. Strong enough to believe others. Strong enough to do the work at work, take care of my kids at home, exercise and eat well, be loving to the people I love so much. Strong enough to be patient and kind. Strong enough to do this day after day after day. What I want is for my everyday to be kinder and stronger. I don’t want to do bold things. I want to be bold enough to show up day after day and do it again and again. It’s easy to do it once. It’s hard to do it seven times in a row. It’s downright incredible to just keep showing up.

  13. List 3 unhelpful beliefs about yourself you’re ready to release So here’s the deal: I had some things written down for this and then I kept coming back to them because as much as I don’t mind being open with my thoughts, evolutions, struggles, I wasn’t sure if I wanted these out there so I’ve decided on a compromise. Because I believe strongly in sharing our imperfections and being honest with the world so that the rest of us can feel less alone. I am really disappointed that we don’t grow up in an environment where open sharing isn’t encouraged. I feel like there are some structures in place for some people to share struggles openly but the rest of us just walk around thinking everyone else is more perfect than we are. I think that’s a bad thing and I don’t want to perpetuate it. At the same time while I am ok with personal, I try not to share the private here on the blog. So here’s what I will say. I have beliefs around not being enough, disappointing those i love the most and being at peace in general. When I am the weakest version of myself, these are the things that come to the surface for me and these are the beliefs I’d like to release because I don’t believe they serve me. They don’t make me want to do better, they make me feel defeated and discouraged. I’d like to release these beliefs and give myself grace for the cases where something I did wasn’t enough or cases where I did let down the people I love. I’m human and both of these things will happen. While I certainly would like to make sure they happen infrequently, what I’d like to do is release the way I punish myself and work on handling myself with compassion and grace when they do occur.

  14. List 3 duties or commitments you feel ready to let go of in 2017

    1. I don’t think I will do the recurring volunteer work at David’s school. Not sure but I don’t think so.

    2. Nothing else is coming to mind at the moment. Which is maybe good maybe bad since my life is so super full. But I feel like I do the things I feel strongly about at the moment. I think there will be some work-specific items here.

  15. List 3 skills you’d like to learn or improve in 2017

    1. I’d like to make more art. Sketching, specifically.

    2. I’d like to focus a bit more on math and computer science, so I can do more with my kids.

    3. Exercise. I would like to find something I like and improve on it.

  16. List 3 books you intend to read this year Well this question almost doesn’t make sense for me. I will read 100+ books this year.

  17. How could you bring more calm into your life (and head) this year? Oh, if only I knew. I do think that bringing more peace inward will allow me to be calmer outward. I know the journaling will help. The exercise will help. Remembering to shine and let others light reflect will also help.

  18. List 3 things about yourself you positively love

    1. My persistence and ability to get things done

    2. My fierce love and loyalty to my friends and family

    3. My love of learning anything and everything

  19. List 3 ways you could be kinder to your body this year

    1. Eating more vegetables and protein

    2. Exercising daily in some way.

    3. Drinking more water.

  20. List 3 ways you could connect with loved ones in 2017

    1. Writing regular emails to my mother in law.

    2. Weekly appointments to chat with my sister.

    3. Finding ways to see my nephews.

  21. List 3 people you could extend compassion to

    1. Myself. I need this.

    2. Jake+My kids. I spend more time with them than anyone else.

    3. The world. I want to be compassionate towards every single person I meet. I know we are all suffering in different ways. No one’s suffering is more important than someone else’s. They are all personal, deep and hard. I want to remember this. I want to be kind to everyone.

  22. How could you bring more love into your life this year? Honestly, by loving myself more. Stressing less. Assuming the best of everything. Everything. Always positive. Always hopeful. I do think this is possible for me. It’s a mindshift. And I can do it. I can see my light. I can see the light of everyone around me. How we’re all wishing to be loved, to be enough, to be valued. I can do this for myself and for everyone around me. This will bring so much more love into my life.

  23. List 3 interests/hobbies you would like to explore more in 2017

    1. I’d like to go back to taking more photos.

    2. I’d like to tell our stories. Our ordinary life stories.

    3. I’d like to do art. Paint. Draw.

  24. List 3 ways you could feed your imagination this year

    1. Go to places I haven’t been. Adventure.

    2. Try new things. New media. New materials. New clothes.

    3. Read more nonfiction. Interestingly it helps me with my imagination.

  25. List 3 ways you could bring more passion into your world this year Honestly I am not sure. I am not even sure what passion means for me. I feel like I am passionate about everything I do. So I feel like I infuse the things I do with it. I am not sure how to interpret this. (Maybe that says a lot about me?!) I can give stereotypical answers like go out on more dates with my husband etc but that’s not the way I want to think about this. I want to make sure I live all the moments of my life passionately. I don’t want to only be passionate towards my husband when we’re on a date. I want all the people in my life to feel my passion towards them, towards my work, towards learning, etc.

  26. List 3 dreams you would like to manifest this year (personal or professional)

    1. I dream of a life where I feel more ease. Enjoy the life I have while I am experiencing it.

    2. I’d love to have Nathaniel also be going to David’s school if that’s the right place for him. I trust the universe to help us figure that out.

    3. My dreams around work are all about being effective, organized and helpful. Continuing to have impact.

  27. How could you bring more creative energy into your life this year? I think to be able to bring creative energy, I need to have energy at all. For that, I need more sleep. I need to focus on working my days so they are more organized and tighter so that I use my time well. And I need to exercise. I need to eat well so I feel more awake, more energized. I have no problem being creative, I just have been making all the easier choices lately because when I am out of time, I get lazy. I need to start by nourishing my body so that I can nourish my mind and my soul. Creativity lives in my soul.

  28. List 3 ways you could bring more mindfulness to your mornings This is something I really do want to work on. The problem is that I don’t really like to wake up early. That’s not entirely true. The problem is that I often have meetings till 9pm and I don’t like to go to sleep without at least taking a little time for myself. And I also don’t like to sleep fewer than eight hours. This means that if I want to wake up at 5:30am, I need to be asleep by 9:30 so the sheer math doesn’t work out here. Either I’m going to have to be ok with getting seven hours of sleep, or I am not going to wake up earlier. I am still leaning towards the latter. However…I can still figure out how to do this better. At the moment, I don’t have a super hectic morning. I wake up, get the kids, pack lunches and make breakfast, shower and we’re pretty much out the door. We’re not rushing or yelling because honestly there isn’t too much time for that. So it’s not hectic but it’s partly because I’ve resigned to not getting anything done. I don’t want to work on changing that. I think that’s not the most fruitful space to tackle at the moment. But I do think there’s room for improvement in the rest of the morning. Most days, I get home from dropping off the kids at 8:20. My first meeting is rarely before 9am, often 9:30 or 10am. That means that I have 40 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes. I often waste this time either checking my work email or reading my RSS feeds, or some other thing I could be doing at other times of my day. Since I work late into the night, I’d like to claim this timeslot back. I’d like this to be my morning routine time. This time is 100% in my control (most of the time. There are some notable exceptions when I have to visit Nathaniel’s class or when I have to be at work right at 9am. The most notable exception at the moment is Thursday mornings when I am going to David’s school every week, so we’ll have to come up with an alternative for that day. If I can get the other four days to work I’ll be ok with that. So here’s what I’d like to do on those other mornings:

    1. Exercise. I know I hate this but I need to make it a bigger part of my life. I need to find some way to make more peace with it. Some way to make it regular and not as dreadful that I keep wishing I didn’t have to do it. I am so envious of those who love running. Or love working out.

    2. Journaling. I think this is likely the single most helpful thing I can do besides the exercise. Journaling helps me get grounded. It helps me connect with myself and see what I’m feeling. It helps me come up with solutions and it helps me feel better again. It’s a miracle cure. And it’s free.

    3. I’d add meditation or something like that here but honestly I just want to do the other two. Once I’ve mastered them, I am happy to add more.

  29. List 3 ways you could cherish your home this year

    1. One thing I want to do is a lot more of decluttering, I love it when it’s sparser and less overwhelming. The garage needs more work. The living room, too. I made a lot of progress. One more area is my wardrobe but I will put that off until I am feeling a bit more centered with my body.

    2. I also want to have more lights and flowers in the house. I know flowers are expensive but I can stick to something small and lovely and don’t need to make it grand. Something small on my table will be enough. I’d also like to go back to lighting candles. I like the idea of a subtle smell.

    3. And finally, I want to feel comfortable in my house. I want to understand our new routines and ways of living. The kids are older now, and have different patterns and I am not sure what this means about furniture and the way we have the living room organized but I’d love to think about this more.

  30. List 3 ways you could connect more deeply with nature in 2017

    1. In my heart of hearts, I’d love to be the kind of person who can go on hikes more regularly. Even once a week. But there are two problems. One is that I feel too weak to hike often. I need to work on this separately any way but in the meantime I am not sure how to get around that. The second is the scarcity I feel around time. Driving somewhere to then hike easily consumes half of our weekend day. Considering how much I do during the weekdays, I usually find myself clutching my weekend time. But the fact is I don’t actually do anything super productive with that time. So maybe there’s an interesting compromise to be had here? Not sure about this one, but I think I want to incorporate more hiking/being in the woods into my life.

    2. Water. I need more water in my life. Sitting somewhere and looking out into the ocean or any body of water surrounds me with peace. I need to find more ways to bring this into my life.

    3. Yes, it’s more time consuming but I really loved the walks I took with the kids everywhere and I miss them. I miss walking while listening to my audiobook. I’d like to walk more again. Just anywhere, everywhere so I can soak in the beauty of the trees/birds/flowers in my day to day life.

  31. List 3 places in your city, town or neighbourhood you want to explore

    1. I think I’d like to go to Marin more. We never go there and it has some wonderful beaches.

    2. Similarly, I’d like to spend more time in the city. San Francisco has some wonderful neighborhoods and we might not live here forever, I’d love to adventure out to a different part of the city every month.

    3. Ok this is not my neighborhood but I’d like to explore more of California, too. We always say we will go to Tahoe in the summer or that we will go to Death Valley, or even Yosemite. I want to do these things more. And go north of here with the kids. To see the giant trees. California is magical.

  32. How could you bring a sense of groundedness into your life this year? This is a great question because I think groundedness is good for me. It’s calming, centering and reminds me of all that’s here already instead of always worrying about what’s not. I think the easiest path I have to this is journaling. So if I really journal daily, it will be a tremendous help. Another one is possibly a bedtime ritual. Something short but grounding. Maybe five minutes of journaling then, too? Not sure, I need to think about this one.

  33. Using your favourite tarot or oracle deck, draw one card for the overall theme of the upcoming year and then a card for each month of 2017. Tip: I like to shufle 3 or 4 packs together to give the reading even greater scope. If you don’t have any decks go to www.susannahconway.com/ cards to see my favourite decks and app recommendations.

I am not into Tarot Decks and I did this last year and found it not to be that inspiring or interesting. However, back in 2013, our January OLW assignment involved setting intentions and I really enjoyed that, so I thought maybe I can do that instead.

  • January: Rise and Shine: This is where it starts. Let’s hit the ground running. Start the year with energy and determination. You are strong and you can do anything you set your mind to.

  • February: Shine from the Outside In: It might seem counter-intuitive but sometimes it helps to start with the outside. Take care of your body, your skin, your teeth. Dress in a way that makes you feel good. Show up and look the part.

  • March: Rain or Shine: March is a tough month. You often feel like giving up in March. It feels too long. But it’s not. Keep going, You’re doing great. Remember that the trick is to just show up. Keep showing up.

  • April: Shine Quietly: It’s crucial to take time to reflect. Take this month to reflect on how things are going. Is there anything you need to adjust/change/drop or pick up. It’s ok to shift things. It’s also important to acknowledge what’s working. Take the time to shine some light inward and see what’s going on.

  • May: Help others Shine: Ok now it’s others’ turn. It’s time to be the mirror to their light so it can reflect off of you. Think of ways big and small that you can help people in your life see their own light this month. Smile. Show them how amazing they are. Thank them.

  • June: Shine Through: Let yourself be seen this month. Express yourself. Be true to you. Own who you are.

  • July: Shine Boldly: This builds on June a bit but it’s time to take things up a notch. Be bold. Be brave. Be loud. Shine with all your might.

  • August: Shine from the Inside Out: Ok you did the outside in and now it’s time to reflect again. The year is half over. How are you doing? What are you keeping on the inside? Also, it’s time to let others see the real you. Don’t be afraid. Shine.

  • September: Shine Patiently:  September is a month of change. New year. Maybe new school. New routines. New season. This month always comes with changes, adjustments, and revisiting of schedules. Be patient with yourself. Be patient with others. Remember to shine. Even if it’s in small doses.

  • October: Shine On: You’re doing great. You made it through September. The year is starting its countdown and you can do this. Remember to keep going. Shine on. Don’t stop now. Just one day at a time.

  • November: Shine for You: This is your month. Take all the time you need. Shine all your light on yourself. Be kind, practice self-care. Think about the next year and what you want. Think about the rest of this year. You’ve got this.

  • December: Shine Slowly: And here it is. The end of one more year. You made it through. Tough times, joyful times. Celebrations and trials. Changes and all. You did it. Time to slow down. Time to make space for the next year. Growth comes after downtime for you. Take this time to store some energy so you can hit the ground running in 2018.

  1. 2017 will be the year I finally make peace with me. (Will writing it down make it happen, I wonder?) I so want to be done with this.

  2. I will nourish myself with vegetables, water, journaling, quiet time.

  3. I will make more time for journaling and exercise. Teaching the boys.

  4. I will recharge my batteries by sleeping. Journaling.

  5. This year I will open my heart to healing. To feeling whole again. And to seeing the good in every single person.

  6. I will pay more attention to my kids. My husband. My family. But also, my thoughts. I want to pay attention to my thoughts so that I can catch them when they are spiraling down. So that I can switch the tone when it’s negative. I believe in the power of positive thinking and I believe in being intentional.

  7. I will learn more about:

    1. My body. What works for me and what does not. How to have more energy. How to take care of my body better. How to create new habits. Both for nutrition and moving but also for my skin, my gums, and my back.

    2. My worries/stress. I find myself worried all the time. Sometimes it’s of things that make sense but many times it’s things that make no sense. I find that my personal tendency is to often assume the worst possible outcome. In just about every situation. I’d like to learn about my triggers. I’d like to teach myself how most of my worries never come true and hope that it might make me worry less over time. I also want to understand some of these triggers better because I know they are what make me yell more often than I’d like.

    3. My time. I would like to learn to organize my time in a way that suits me better. I’d like to keep track of how I use my time and what I would like to get done and find a way to connect those things. For example, I know I can create time to exercise daily, to take more photos, and to do more art. I think all of these together would take less than an hour and I’d like to find a way to make this happen. I think this is more a mentality shift and organizational skill than anything else.

  8. I will release my attachment to Well I’d like to say that I’ll release my attachment to things going my way but I think that would be a lie. I am not even sure what that means and whether I want it. (Though I feel like I should want it. Especially since it was my first instinctive response to reading the sentence.) Maybe the trick here, too, is understanding why I am attached to getting my way. What do I make that mean? Coming back to the original question, here’s the one that I really want:  I will release my attachment to the idea that something is wrong. My mind always goes to the most negative possible outcome. Always.

  9. I wish for 2017 to feel strong. I originally thought light. I want the year to feel light. Lighter. I do. I also want it to feel easy. I want to feel joyful. I want to feel bold. Brave. Kind. Patient. Full. Enough. Nourished. I want to feel so many things. But I think if I had to sum it all up, maybe the best word is strong. I want to feel strong inside out. The best, shining version of myself is already strong. So maybe I just want to feel that version of me.

  10. This year I will say NO to anything that makes me feel small.

  11. This year I will say YES to things that nourish my body, soul, and mind.

 I wholeheartedly believe that everything is possible in 2017!

As I finish these words I went back to some of my previous blog posts and I am not surprised that I mention many of these same thoughts herehere, and here. I am pretty sure these themes have been in my life in some way or another for many years. I know that they will likely still be around in 2017 and 2018 and onward. What I’d like to do this year is to make a dent. To move things forward a little bit. Every forward step I take moves me in the right direction and that’s all I can ask for.

 Close your eyes for a moment and imagine stepping into the shoes of you from December 2017, one year from now. You are one year older and one year wiser and you’ve lived every day of 2017 fully and completely. You have a message of encouragement about 2017. There’s stuff you want to share… stuff you’re eager to tell yourself. When you’re ready, open your eyes, pick up your pen, and write a letter from your future self, starting with Dear Karen: You did your best. Even when it didn’t seem like it. I know you had the best intentions. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will make it. Keep walking. I am proud of you.

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.

July 2016 – Watercolor Food – 15

Here’s piece two:

strawberries and ice cream 🙂


Watercolor Food is a Monthly Project for June 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

2016 Stories – 08 – Happy Birthday David

David’s birthday was February 8 and I know it’s the 23rd today but I didn’t want to not take the time to write about it so I figure better late than never.

Eleven.

Eleven.

Eleven.

That is two years away from “teen.” How did this even happen?

I cannot believe he’s gone from this to this.  Time goes so incredibly fast and if all goes well and we get really lucky, this little boy will be leaving home for college in seven years. When I think about that, I get both incredibly sad and also incredibly grateful. I am so profoundly happy for every single moment we get to have together.

My sweet David, if someone had pulled me aside when we had you and told me about the incredible person you will grow up to be, I would never ever have believed them. You are absolutely magical.

Your thirst for knowledge and your curiosity are unparalleled. Your love of learning extends from history to literature to quantum physics. There’s nothing you don’t like to find out about. No subject you are not thrilled with. It is always such a pleasure to watch you learn, hear you teach me and others, and to see the excitement you experience when you understand something deeply.

You love music and have your own taste. I love learning about new bands, songs, even genres from you. I love listening to you playing the guitar and the baritone. It’s a pleasure to watch you creating music, hearing you sing. You also love to read, which of course, is my very favorite thing to share with you. I love recommending books. I love reading what you’re reading. I love seeing how you love bookstores almost as much as I do and how you can’t resist wanting to buy every single book. I love how you can read an entire book in one sitting.

I also love watching you play basketball and seeing how much progress you’ve made. I love seeing you try new things. Seeing you stretch. Seeing your courage. Your ability to just do it is an inspiration to all of us.  You always do what needs to be done.

What’s most amazing about you, David, is your incredibly strong sense of self. You know who you are. You know who you are not. You know what you want and what you don’t want. I am always so inspired by you and always want to make sure I do right by you to ensure I can do anything in my power to clear the way for you to get exactly what you wish. You are not about what others think and want for you. You’ve wanted to study Quantum Physics for years already when others your age don’t even know what that is. We will see if that changes in the next six years and it very well might but what I know is that the next decision and the next step will not be a whimsical one. Because you are thoughtful, wise, smart and hard working.

There are no words for the amount of gratitude I feel to have you in my life. I’ve learned so much from you, so much from being your mom, so much from having you in my life. You have brought me moments of deep, deep joy and I will forever be grateful to you for the gift you give me every single day. I don’t know what I did to deserve a person as incredible as you in my life but I will never, ever take it for granted.

Happy Happy Birthday, my sweet David. Thank you so much for being you and thank you so much for being my son.


Stories from 2016 is a year-long project for 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

2016 – Plans and Projects

I usually spend the first few days of the year talking about and introducing each of my projects. But 2015 was a rough year for me that started with good intentions and then fizzled into lack of progress. After months and months of feeling like I didn’t want to do anything, I could see December looming in the horizon and I knew it was either time to buckle down and figure out my plan for 2016 or to not even bother making a plan.

To figure my way through this, I made three lists: areas to improve, reflection, things that make me happy. I decided these were the only things I wanted to focus on this year. Here’s what’s on each list:

Areas to Improve:

  • Sketching
  • Lettering
  • Health
  • Watercolors

Reflection:

  • Choose (choices I make)
  • Core Desired Feelings – how much I am honoring them
  • Daily journaling

Things that Make me Happy:

  • painting
  • weekly family photos
  • telling our stories
  • taking photos of our life
  • reading

I stared at my lists for a while and tried to see what projects might emerge. I knew I didn’t want to do weekly yearlong projects this year since Summer always goes awry for me and this Fall promises to be eventful with David starting at a new school. So I wanted a structure that was more flexible somehow. Though there were still a few things I wanted to be able to do weekly/daily as much as possible, ideally in a low-cost way. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Monday: OLW/Planning-> Living Intentionally: I have personal goals for 2016 but I want to make/share them more as I go along. I want to think purposefully each week and set goals, choices, projects for just that week. Maybe I can do that each Sunday night. We’ll see.
  • Tuesday: Stories -> Stories from 2016 I loved doing this project in 2015 even though I stopped halfway. For 2016, I plan to just do a photo and some journaling. I can always copy/paste into scrapbook pages later if I want to.
  • Wednesday: Reading -> A Book a Week is already set till 2017. Still reading voraciously. I love reading more than just about anything.
  • Thursday: Sketch/Reflection -> Today I Choose is a project just like Everyday Brave where I want to journal that day’s choices. How I want to choose, how I chose, how I’d like to choose next time, etc. I want to sketch as often as possible but I might also glue photos, collage, or do nothing. The goal is to get the reflection in there, the rest is bonus.
  • Friday: Family/Life Photos -> Weekly Diary will continue, I will do my best to keep up with it. On weeks we can’t take a photo, I will journal.

These are the only weekly projects I will commit to. And even these I might do more irregularly, we’ll see. These all mean something to me and I’d like to do them and I believe almost all are pretty doable.

Now. What I’d like to do for all the other items on my list is to create Monthly Projects. This has worked well for me in the past. I am not sure if it will again but I’d like to try. My goal is to do up to 20 items a month. Almost every month has 20-23 weekdays. I figure if I have 20 pieces, I am posting something almost every single work day and I have 20 pieces of art/craft each month. That’s 240 this year. Not too shabby. Not as much as I’ve produced some years, of course. But not a number to laugh at either. And even if I do only half of that, that’s pretty lovely, too. My plan is to start January with something I’ve already done and then see if I can get a bit ahead of myself. Also to keep my projects small and contained. To be kind to myself with whatever unfolds. Here are some preliminary ideas of what I plan to tackle.

  • January: Fashion Girls
  • February: Truth Cards
  • March: Life Book catchup
  • April: Collage
  • May: Daily Sketching
  • June: Handlettering
  • July: Doodling/Zentangle
  • August: Art Journaling
  • September: Today I know
  • October: Honoring my Word
  • November: words/quotes
  • December: December Daily

All of these might happen, none of them might happen. I might repeat projects. I might do wildly different things. I commit to doing something but I reserve the right to change my mind.

Here’s to a wonderful 2016. Here’s to being kinder. Here’s to doing more art. Here’s to making time to enjoy art. Here’s to learning new things. Here’s to practicing more. Here’s to creating a positive cycle.

 

2016 – Core Desired Feelings

I started the practice of picking my Core Desired Feelings thanks to Zewa, in 2014. I really liked the concept and if you’re curious I recommend you go to Danielle’s site and/or buy the book so you can do the exercises.

I usually think about my core desired feelings towards September/October but like with most things, I put this one off for months and months this year, too. I finally sat down on December 22 and decided I’d better get to it if I wanted to have ones at all. These reflective posts help me set the tone for my year and allow me to think about how I like to move forward. Intention setting is a part of how I live my life and I am not ready to stop that, yet. So I made myself sit down and start doing the process.

As I’ve come to expect, I was still quite attached to my four words from 2015 and I wasn’t sure if any new words would come my way. Each year, I feel like I’ve picked the four perfect words and I really can’t do any better. But then, each year, I’m surprised by what comes out of the exercises. So I’ve come to expect the resistance and the surprise. This year was no different.

Like last year, I did all the writing exercises furiously. I didn’t stop and think. I just wrote and wrote. And then I stepped back to see what patterns emerged so I could circle them.

This year’s words surprised me mostly because they sort of felt different and also felt kind of simple. I spent some time looking around for more “perfect” words. Ones that were more complicated, more sophisticated, more layered. Or whatever. But after a while, I just gave up and went back to my original list. It was simple and it was right. I decided to stop resisting. I also gave myself permission to change them midyear (or anytime) if I so desired. Which helped me let go of the drive to get them to be “perfect.”

So, here are my words for 2016:

  • true
  • kind
  • generous
  • strong
  • brave

I love them.

Here’s what each of them mean to me:

true: being true is about being who i am. doing things because they feel true to me. not doing things that don’t feel true to me. embracing myself just as i am. fully accepting me. when things come up and i need to make decisions, i want to check in with myself and see if it feels true to me. if i am saying yes because i truly want to do this and it feels true in my heart and in my gut. feeling true is about honoring who i am. honoring the best parts of me.

kind: being kind is who i want to be. i love being kind. i want to be kind. it’s the feeling i seek more than anything i can remember in a long time. i want to be kind to myself. i want to be kind to my kids. i want to be kind to jake. i want to be kind to my parents, my sister, my family, my friends, strangers. i want to always be the kindest i can be. it’s what i value the most in others. it’s what i want the most for myself. i feel like i am the best version of myself when i am kind.

generous: feeling generous is somewhat like kind but not fully. it’s hard for me to feel generous when i am not kind but i am not always generous when i am kind. being generous is sort of like ‘abundance’ which was one of my words last year. i want to feel like there’s plenty to go around. plenty of time, plenty of money, plenty more decisions, plenty of opportunities…and on and on. i want to be generous with my life. with myself. with everyone around me. i want to feel spacious, abundant, giving. when i am generous, it puts me on a cycle of positivity. i also believe what you put out there is what comes back to you.

strong: this word came up in so many places when i did my exercises. i want to be physically strong, emotionally strong, mentally strong. i want to feel my strength. my strong willpower. i want to feel strong at work. strong with my health. i want to be strong when tough things happen. i want to be strong when i feel anxious over nothing. i want to feel strong when i’m working on the kind voice inside me. i want to be strong when i am hard on myself for not learning/improving fast enough. i want to feel strong when i feel like giving up.

brave: even though this word didn’t come up specifically, it’s been my word for 2015 and it’s been the best word i ever chose, bar none. it’s served me so well. thanks to this word, i’ve made incredible progress in some of the most dormant areas of my life. it’s been an incredible reminder of what i am capable of. it’s been my favorite companion and i want to keep it around with me throughout 2016.

So here we are. Feelings I want to remember to come back to again and again. My core desires. What makes me live my life fully, as the best version of myself, while honoring my values.

Here’s to a year of brave strength and generous kindness while being true to myself.

2016 – The Year of Choosing Wisely

karenika.com

My word for 2016 came to me very early in 2015. I was doing one of my One Little Word exercises, maybe the one for June, where Ali asked if there are any companion words that were coming up. I wrote down my core desired feeling words for 2015 but then I wrote down that the word “choose” kept calling to me so I had to note it. And then it wouldn’t leave. I usually keep a list throughout the year to see what words call to me and what I might want to pick. Here’s the list I made for 2016:

2016

  • joy
  • now
  • verse
  • shift
  • equanimity
  • learn
  • go
  • magic
  • seek
  • core
  • rest
  • be
  • do
  • adventure
  • choice
  • step
  • yes
  • circle
  • forward
  • lucky
  • simple
  • change
  • color
  • begin
  • beginner
  • choose!!

Sure all of these speak to me in some way or another but none of them speak to me the way choose does. My hope is that just like brave propelled me forward immensely this year, I want choose to remind me of who I already am. What I already can do. How life is a result of my choices. How when things happen, I have a choice in what I make it mean. How I choose to respond. I don’t want my life to feel like it’s happening to me. I want to be aware that at any moment there are a collection of choices that are always available to me and I get to choose which one to do/say/feel. I believe this perspective change is the single biggest impact I can have on my life. It has the power to fundamentally shift my life. And I want this. I want to remember the power my choices. I want to choose to respond and not react to my life.

Here are some specific things CHOOSE is about for me:

  • I choose kindness: More about this tomorrow but it’s important. I want to be kind to me. I want to be kind to others. I want to choose kindness over winning, being right, making a point, etc. I just want to be kind. I know that when I choose kind over anything else, things always feel right to me. I sleep better. I live better.
  • I choose gratitude: My life is amazing. I am so lucky on so many levels and I know this all the way down to my bones. Some mornings, I look at my life and I am amazed at all of it. I want to remember this every day. I am blessed. I am lucky. I want to choose gratitude.
  • I choose joy: It’s easy for me to choose to be scared, to be anxious, worried, sad. I don’t want to hug these feelings. I know that joy is infectious and joy starts the circle of good. And I know that joy is a choice.
  • I choose brave: Brave has served me so well. I am so proud of all I’ve done in 2015. I want to continue to choose brave in 2016. I know it’s my best companion.
  • I choose equanimity: I want to choose to respond. I want to choose the calm. I want to choose to be level-headed. I want to stop screaming. I can do this. I know I can.
  • I choose health: I want to take care of myself. I want to make some major fundamental changes in my life. In my diet and in my body. I want this to be the year where there are shifts and not incremental changes.
  • I choose adventure: I travel for work. I want to take adventures with my family. I want to go on adventures alone. I want to go on little adventures. Big adventures. I want to define what adventure means for me.
  • I choose rest: 2016 will be a year of changes in our life. Hopefully good ones, but either way. I choose to be kind to myself through all this. I choose to rest when I need to. To give myself the space I need to make it all work for me.
  • I choose growth: I value spending time learning. Teaching my kids. I choose to prioritize this. To make the time for it. For me and for them. For us as a family.
  • I choose me: I choose to honor who I am. To be okay with being me. Scratch that. To love being me. To fully embrace myself just as I am. I deeply believe that change is only possible from a place of full acceptance. And I am so ready to come home to myself.

So here we are. Some of the many ways I hope choose will serve me this year. If it’s half as powerful as brave was, this will be a knockout year.

Here’s to choosing wisely in 2016.

Unraveling: Looking Back on 2015 and Forward to 2016

I want to start by saying that this is going to be a VERY long post. I am a big fan of doing these reflective posts. This year, I plan for this to be my looking back and looking forward post. 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. There are some reflective questions looking back on 2015 and then some questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2016. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

First of all, did you have a word for 2015? If you did, how did your word help to guide you through the last 12 months? Can you think of any specific examples: My word for 2015 was brave. This word has served me more than any other word ever has. It’s been fantastic for me. I cannot tell you how much braver it’s made me. I had specific goals for things I wanted to do and I did all of those plus more. Here are some specific examples:

  • I took a trip with just David for his tenth birthday – surprise trip to Universal Studios, Orlando
  • I co-ran the school Benefit even though I’d never even attended one in the past
  • I took a trip with just Jake for the first time since the kids were born
  • I went from never being able to drive on the freeway to driving on all of them
  • I created and foster a community at my sons’ school after wanting one for years
  • I went from knowing almost no one at the kids’ school to knowing almost everyone
  • I took four trips to Zurich and one to New York for work. I have another Zurich trip coming up.
  • Not only did I get good at my job but I have been expanding my role. I love my job.
  • I spent much of the summer studying with David to help prepare him for his test. (He did exceptionally well.)
  • I ran for and am serving as the school’s parent association president.
  • I spent the fall driving David all around the area to different schools and wrote essays helping him apply to middle school.
  • I’ve spent a lot of time with my kids, especially teaching them math but in general and committed to doing all I can.
  • I’ve gotten really good at walking daily and creating routines for my new life. I’ve made some progress here.
These are just a few of many. And there are many other things I wanted to but I didn’t do but I did so many things I never thought I would. I am really proud of my progress this year and so grateful for this word.

What did you embrace in 2015? I embraced being brave. Just doing things instead of overthinking them. Plowing through what needs to get done. Making things happen. I embraced being scared but doing it anyway.

What did you let go of in 2015? I let go of waiting for things to change. I decided I am the one in control and I get to choose what changes. And things change because I choose to make them so.

What changed for you in 2015? I am changing the way I see myself. I’ve begun to embrace who I am, just as I am while at the same time changing who I am (not because I am inadequate but because I want to change these things and I know I can so I just do.)

What did you discover about yourself in 2015? I discovered that I am so much braver than I thought. I can do hard things, I can do things I didn’t think I could. And it works out okay. I am beyond lucky and blessed and even when harder things happen, I persevere. I always do. I am so grateful.

What were you most grateful for in 2015?  Honestly, my life. I had this moment a few months ago when I was sitting at a local coffee shop, eating my croissant, drawing, reading, and having coffee. I looked at the blue California sky and could not imagine how the little Turkish girl that I was ended up here. How I got exactly what I wished for all my life. How my life is even more amazing than I ever could have imagined. I am grateful for every single moment of it.

When did fear hold you back in 2015? Fear holds me back with David and his schools and what it will mean for our life. Fear holds me back for health I think. It holds me back from taking more risks. From going places and doing things just for myself.

Where did you practice bravery in 2015? Well since this was my word, I tackled this question on top.

What surprised you in 2015? Me. I surprised myself with what I am capable of. With how quickly I could change something I’ve been unable (or unwilling) to change for years.

What made you smile in 2015? My kids of course. My friends. My amazing life.

What conclusions did you reach in 2015? I can do anything. I am strong, brave, and always changing . I can do things.

Let’s think about your ACHIEVEMENTS in 2015. List three things that went really well this year — what are you most proud of?
  1. Helping David for middle school and with math.
  2. Driving.
  3. My presence at the kids’ school.
  4. Work.

For each achievement, consider the following: What did you do to make it happen? What supported you? What/who helped you make it happen? How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself? Jake. Without his support most of this wouldn’t be possible. My decision to make time for the kids. My decision to show up and be present at the school more. My decision that driving would/could no longer get in the way. My decision to do the best I can at work. These were all driven by me. I decided I wanted them and did whatever I could to make the time to make them happen. Jake has always been there and he always supports me. I am the one who gets in my own way.

Now let’s look at your CHALLENGES. List the three things that have tested your limits and patience this year. The big or the small — whatever challenged you the most in 2015 (there may be more than three so go with whatever comes to mind first)

  1. I’ve yelled at my kids more than I’d like to admit. I am not proud of it. In fact, I am ashamed at my behavior.
  2. I really want to focus on my health. I want to fundamentally change my relationship with my body. With food. With exercise.
  3. Finding a new routine is still challenging. The second half of this year, I pretty much gave up on art and my blog.

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?) I am trying. But all of these are really hard for me. I am thinking about what this means for next year. What I want to do differently. How I can make these happen.

Describe your favourite day, moment or occasion of 2015 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? The day of the Tech Challenge 2015 which was also the day of The Benefit. It was a tough day for me. There was much driving back and forth and a lot of panic and a lot to do. But it all ended well and it was a huge success on all fronts. I am incredibly proud of that day. I felt strong, blissful, lucky and very proud.

Gentleness alert! Did anything happen in 2015 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?
I always need to be more gentle with myself. I continually fall short of where/who I want to be and then feel awful about it. I am not kind to myself in my judgement of how I measure up. Instead of doing it once a year, though, I’d like to be able to forgive myself each day (and maybe even each moment.) And I’d like to be kinder to my kids. To myself. To yell less. I always want to yell less.

So we’ve dug into our achievements 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 2015 as a whole. As you cast your mind back over the last 365 days, consider the gifts that 2015 offered you on your life’s journey… What stands out the most? 2015 was the year when I learned that there’s truly nothing I can’t do if I set my mind to it. That I can thrive both at home and at work. That I can just do the things I want to do so badly. That there is no reason to build a story around things. I can just drop the story and do what needs to be done. Also that I am loved. Much and deeply.

Describe 2015 in 3 words: brave, bold, proud

If 2015 was the title of a book or the name of a film, what would it be called? Yes, you can.

Before we finish with 2015, take a few minutes to write out anything else you need to say to the old year in the box below. You might want to say some goodbyes. I am ready to bid farewell to 2015. I am excited for 2016 even though I know it’s going to be a year of change. David will get his results and I pray they will be good so he can have choices and it will mean a new school for him and for us. New routines. More travel and who knows what else awaits us in 2016. I am so grateful for the lessons of 2015. So grateful for this word that I will carry with me forever. So grateful for all I did and learned and gave this year. Thank you for all you taught me, 2015. Thank you.

What’s your Word for 2016? My word is choose. Much more about this below and in a later post.

If you lived and breathed your Word every day in 2016, what would be different for you? Every moment would be different. I would choose how I live instead of it just happening to me. I would be deliberate about what I did and didn’t do, what I said, how I reacted (or ideally not reacted at all but responded.) I would choose joy. I would choose to let go of anxiety. I would choose to show the people I love how much I love them, including myself. I would honor my life.

List some ways you are already being/experiencing this Word I’ve gotten so much better at choosing to say yes. Cuddling with Nathaniel each night, tucking David in, helping Jake, making a difference at the school, helping more at work. I am choosing all of these each day.

What can you do this year to bring more of your Word into your world? I will think ahead of time about how I want to choose my days, I will be intentional about my choices. I will make a list of choices I want to focus on. I will then write each night about the choices I made that day, what worked, what needs shifting, what needs repeating.

Choose four more words to support your Word this year. They could be anything from inspiring words to names of people to things you want to invest in… I’ve redone by Core Desired Feelings exercise for this year. More on this in a different post, as well. But the five words I ended up with are: strong, generous, kind, true, and brave. Those words will accompany choose in guiding me in 2016.

Fast-forward to December 2016. You are sitting in a cafe?, musing over the last 12 months. Where do you want to be…in your head? (work, dreams, goals) I want to feel like I am living the life I want. I want to still be thriving at work. Close and connected with my team. I want to have some personal dreams. I want to feel confident that I am doing a good job and helping.

… in your heart? (relationships, family, friends) I want to feed my friendships by making sure I spend time with the people I love. Especially as David moves on, I want to continue to be working on these relationships. I want to spend a lot of time helping Jake. I want to continue to teach my kids but also spend time playing with them. I want to feel confident that my family knows how deep my love goes. That they can feel it in their bones.

… in your soul? (beliefs, practices, self-love)  What I want the most here this year is to come to my true self. To own who I am and really come home to it. To embrace myself fully. To forgive myself. To know that I am worthy. To feel okay in my bones. Not just okay but to feel good.

… in your physical world? (home, health, hobbies) I’ve learned to be more realistic here. I know 2016 will be busy. I don’t have huge ambitions for my home except that I want it to feel like home. I want to feel comfortable and inviting. I want it to look, smell, feel like a place we live in. For my health, I really want to focus on my health this year. I want to find a consistent way to get stronger. Much, much stronger. Eat healthier. No actually. What I want is to eat healthy and be strong. I don’t want it to be an incremental year. I want it to be fundamental changes. Shifts. Let’s see if I can make it happen. As for hobbies, I plan to take it slow here. Slow and steady.

The next two questions are about month to month breakdowns of the year. I didn’t do those because they don’t really speak to me at the moment, so I skipped them.

List 3 unhelpful beliefs about yourself you’re ready to release 

  1. That I am unworthy or don’t deserve things.
  2. That I am unloved.
  3. That I don’t belong.
  4. That I am different.

List 3 ways you can bring more ease to your week-day routine 

  1. Go to bed early.
  2. Immediately shower when I wake up.
  3. Eat well so I can feel more energized.

List 3 duties or commitments you feel ready to let go of in 2016: Honestly nothing is coming to my mind at the moment.

List 3 books you want to read this year: Lol. I have 4,000+ in my list.

How could you bring more calm into your life (and head) this year? Oh man. My hope is that the word choose will help guide me here. I really would like to choose to be calm. To take a breath. To remember what matters most. To remember that I want kindness over anything else.

List 3 things about yourself that you positively love 

  1. My ability to just get what’s needed done.
  2. My continual striving to be a better version of myself.
  3. My ability to love boundlessly.

List 3 ways you will be kind to your body this year

  1. I will put cream on my skin
  2. I will floss each night
  3. I will get a lot of sleep.
  4. I will feed it good food.
  5. I will strengthen my muscles slowly but consistently.

List 3 ways you’ll connect with loved ones in 2016 

  1. I will make time to talk to my mom daily
  2. I will create lunch/breakfast dates with friends
  3. I will show up

List 3 people you could write a letter of thanks to

  1. My mom and dad
  2. Jake and the boys
  3. Haven and other wonderful moms from my kids’ school

How could you bring more love into your life this year? Honestly, there’s so much love around me. I can just pay attention. I can say thank you often and look at people in the eye. I can spend time with the people I love and remember how lucky I am. And, of course, I can love myself more.

List 3 passions/hobbies that you would like to explore more in 2016

  1. I would like to make the time to sketch still, I really am in awe of people who can do this
  2. Journaling. This cleanses my soul.
  3. Learning. Always learning more, growing more.

List 3 ways you can feed your imagination this year 

  1. Reading. I love reading and it feeds my imagination the most.
  2. Maybe some creative sketching…
  3. Dreaming. Wishing.

List 3 ways you could bring more laughter into your world this year 

  1. More time with Nathaniel and David
  2. Adventures with Jake
  3. Spending time with good friends

List 3 dreams you would like to manifest this year (personal or professional) 

  1. Finally feeling great in my skin
  2. Being stronger, thinner, fitter
  3. A great school for my son

How could you bring more creative energy into your life this year? I plan to do this by making time to do something every single day. No more piling into the weekends. Just something small and doable daily.

List 3 ways you can cherish your home this year 

  1. Spend time cuddling with a book in bed
  2. Organize some of the corners where things pile up the most
  3. Buy more flowers

List 3 ways you can connect more deeply with nature in 2016 

  1. Go hiking
  2. Take photos like I used to
  3. Take daily walks whenever the weather is not rainy

List 3 places in your city, town or neighbourhood you want to explore 

  1. The new pastry shop in Menlo Park
  2. San Francisco – more and more of it
  3. Muir Woods – my peaceful place

List 3 countries you plan to visit (soon or one day) 

  1. Switzerland, of course
  2. Turkey, hopefully
  3. no other international plans at the moment

How could you bring a sense of groundedness into your life this year? This should come with coming home to myself and with being calm and kind. Those three will culminate in a lot more groundedness.

Okay, let’s really rev up the positive energy — use this page to describe what 2016 looks like in your ideal world. What are your dreams for love this year? Where are you desiring some forward- movement? What do you wish for your health? Your family? Your bank account? How do you want 2016 to FEEL? What would saying YES to your life look and feel like? Write out everything your heart desires for this new year. Be bold. 

Hmmm. the biggest forward movement I want is choosing each of my moments intentionally. Being more patient and serene. Remembering that love is more important, kindness is more important than all the stuff I yell about. I want to move through the world with positive energy and faith. Assume positive outcomes. Take things as they come. I want to remember that things will be okay no matter what. This year will bring about change. I want to welcome that with open arms. Look forward to it. Embrace it. I want to embrace myself. I want to see the magic that is my life. Saying YES to my life would look like being brave again. Choosing well. Choosing true to myself. Working on being stronger. Stopping the stories and moving forward in areas I want to.

Shuffle your favourite oracle or tarot deck then randomly draw a card for each month of 2016, noting down the results.

This is not something I would ever do normally and I was going to skip it but then I thought it might be fun. I used this site to get the cards for free on the web. I copied parts of the answers.

  • January – Bring It! – Wow! You are brave and fearless these days. Even if it doesn’t feel that way, you are being called to take off your armor and leap. Today is the day to call fear out as the wimpy impostor that it is. It’s time to go for it!
  • February – Got Your Back – You can spit in the face of fear, flip off those who bar the door, shake your fist to any who dare say no. Because you, sweet thing, are Divinely protected by the Dude most high. Always and forever. Amen.
  • March – Heartbeat – Your heart is as wide open as a dance club on a Saturday night. Remember that old expression your parents used: “I love you to the moon and back”? That’s how you feel about everyone. Enjoy this blissful state of love, sweet love. More is coming, too.
  • April – Entangled – You would probably call what’s about to happen synchronicity. Or maybe even coincidence. Au contraire! The Big Truth is, you are already connected to everything and everyone. Quantum physics has its own name for it: entanglement. The reason it appears that all ducks are lining up on your behalf right now is because you’re finally paying attention. Let the games begin.
  • May – Laser Beam – Bring your attention back to center, back to your intention. You’ve been wavering a bit, but all it takes to achieve your desires is a little bit of concentration. Focus on what you want, then focus again for extra laser-like precision and clarity. Relish the sweet feeling of zeroing in on that finish line.
  • June – The Dude Abides – It’s your lucky day, in your lucky life. The Dude is patiently waiting for you to come on home. Let him do the heavy lifting for a change. No matter what crazy mess you’ve gotten yourself into, the Dude is here with everything you could ever need. The Dude’s got your back, rock star!
  • July – GPS – O-M-G. Your intuition is being a real show¬off these days. It’s so ready to help navigate your life—and, quite frankly, it’s getting a tad bit impatient. It just can’t understand why, when it knows the fun, easy route, you insist on doing everything without its help. There’s no need to be lost, ever—especially now that you’re about to stumble onto a gold mine.
  • August – At Your Service – I hope it’s comforting to know there is a big universal butler who is working behind the scenes, taking care of all the details, making sure every little thing is turning out exactly as planned. This butler is as loyal as Fido, as deter­mined as Diana “Never, ever give up” Nyad, as trustworthy as your own beating heart. So can you let him carry the tray?
  • September – Time To Fly – It may seem like a gamble, but here’s a little intel from the Universe. That leap into the unknown you’ve been waffling over? Not only is the safety net already in place, but there’s a posse of angels waiting with champagne and chocolate and Egyptian-cotton sheets. Hmm . . . ready?
  • October – Bring It! – Wow! You are brave and fearless these days. Even if it doesn’t feel that way, you are being called to take off your armor and leap. Today is the day to call fear out as the wimpy impostor that it is. It’s time to go for it!
  • November – Psst! Ahem! Hey, You! – We’d like to interrupt this oracle deck with a very important announcement: There is nothing to fear. Every single thing that looks ominous is but an illusion. It has no power. Zip, nada, zilch. It’s time to look your fears straight in the eye and call them out as the insignificant posers they really are.
  • December – Silver Lining – It only looks like disruption. In reality, everything is fine. Everything, in fact, is beyond fine. Underneath appearances is a silver, gold, and platinum lining. Enjoy!
    I really liked that the last one ended up so neatly… Throughout the year, I’ll come check and see if any of these ended up being prescient.

2016 will be the year I finally fully embrace me.

I will nourish myself with food that energizes me.

I will make more time for refueling.

I will recharge my batteries by sleeping, journaling, reading.

This year I will open my heart to kindness. I will be kinder.

I will pay more attention to my reactions. my anxiety. my triggers. My choice of words. I will choose to respond and not react.

I will learn more about what makes me the best version of myself and how i can channel it.

I will release my attachment to judging myself. not measuring up. the fact that something is wrong. nothing is wrong. i am so lucky.

I wish for 2016 to feel calm and joyful. I wish to be present and grateful and intentional.

This year I will say NO to self deprecation and unkindness.

This year I will say YES to me. stronger me. truer me. kinder me. more generous me. the intentional me. all of me.

WHAT IS YOUR SECRET WISH FOR 2016? DECLARE IT HERE! My biggest wish for this year is to be stronger. To finally make peace with myself, my soul, my body, all of me.

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY BELIEVE THAT EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE IN 2016!

Indeed.

As I warned, this was very, very long. If you made it this far down, I hope you’ll take the time to do your own worksheet too and if you discover anything interesting, I hope you come and share it with me. More retrospective posts and 2016 plans coming soon.

Lack of Progress

If you’ve read here with any regularity over the last few years, you must be able to tell that things are not as “usual” here lately. While I’ve had bumps and blimps, I don’t think I’ve gone this long without updates in a long, long while. I keep thinking about the site. I keep thinking about my yearly projects that have been collecting dust since June. I keep thinking about the fact that 2016 is coming and how I haven’t made any plans. How I can’t tell if there’s a project I want to do because I don’t really trust myself to be able to commit to getting it done. I don’t feel inspired. But in fairness, that hasn’t stopped me before. I am one of those people who doesn’t wait for inspiration. I just sit and do it. But I haven’t been doing anything. So I can’t be sure that if I commit to things for 2016, I will actually do anything.

So that’s some of what’s on my mind. And it’s going around and around in my mind.

There’ve been some things I’ve done in the last five months:

  • I did 31 More Things in October
  • I’ve done some art pieces, a few of which I posted here and some I haven’t posted
  • I’ve done each of my monthly OLW assignments
  • I have a project from last January that I never posted
  • I created a class I love for Brave Girls University
  • I finished all my December Daily foundation pages
  • I’ve read a ton of books

But I haven’t done my Life Book assignments, I am so very far behind. I haven’t watched my class videos for that class or the December Stories class with Ali. Or some of the wonderful Brave Girls classes I’ve taken. I haven’t processed any of the photos I’ve taken back in June. I haven’t even been taking that many photos. Or at all. And the list goes on and on. And all of this is weighing on me.

This year has been a lot about work. I’ve traveled to Zurich 4 times since last December and I will be going again in January. I’ve been to NY twice. I know these sound nice, but often these trips involve a lot of jetlag and 14-19 hour work days. And there’s jetlag when I get back. And there’s all the other work and life stuff that didn’t happen when I was there so has to be made up when I am back. I’ve also been trying hard to walk 1 hour a day which of course takes time. (Though I’ve been eating badly lately which really doesn’t make this walking as effective as it could be.) I’ve been going to sleep really early since most of my days start at 4:45am. And, of course, the biggie has been working with David for all of his middle school applications which involved a bunch of studying over the summer, a lot of visits to schools, spending time working at nearby cafes while David shadows, writing essays, reading David’s essays. Rinse and repeat a lot. It’s been a busy summer+winter.

But, still. I firmly believe that “I have no time” is not only an excuse but it’s just untrue. I have plenty of time. I know because I spend some of my time playing CandyCrush and some of my time watching TV and some of my time just sitting there because I am so tired. And while some of this might possibly be necessary, I am confident that if I ate well and spent some of my “free” time doing art, I would be considerably more energized and fulfilled. And it wouldn’t take anything away from work, family time, or middle school. On the contrary, it would give me back some of the energy all these things are taking away.

And yet.

Starting is hard. Starting after a long pause is really hard. Starting after a long pause when you’re feeling guilty, and sad, and frustrated with yourself for letting things lapse this long is even harder.

And yet.

I want to break the cycle. I want to start making art again. I want to start updating here again. Writing my thoughts. Documenting my life. Creating things. These things feed my soul. I need them now more than ever. So as we close the year, I have been trying to make a plan for how I can structure my projects for 2016 to accommodate my currently demanding life. The fact is life is going to get harder in the short term. My job is getting more demanding. David will be starting a new school in 2016 which will likely require major changes in our schedules. Not to mention the support and help he will need. Nathaniel will be in second grade and will require support and attention and help, too. Things are going to be harder and tougher for a while.

But I still want to be back in the cycle of creating. I want to find ways to make this possible for myself. So I’m thinking. Does this mean monthly projects and not yearly? Does it mean simpler, more portable projects? Does it mean smaller projects that take only 15-20 minutes a day? What are the projects that give me the most reward? Which ones am I more likely to abandon? How can I balance my wishes around learning new things that are tough for me (sketching and lettering) and doing things that might be easier and more fun in the short term?

So I’m thinking.

I would love some ideas if you have any. I promised myself that I will come up with some ideas and projects for 2016. December has the joy of December Daily so I know I will be creating daily. I want to make sure that once I am on that wagon, I continue the momentum into the new year.

Here’s to hoping.