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.




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


  • 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


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:


  • 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.

  • JanuaryBring 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!
  • FebruaryGot 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.
  • MarchHeartbeat - 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.
  • AprilEntangled – 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.
  • MayLaser 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 - GPSO-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.
  • AugustAt 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?
  • SeptemberTime 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?
  • OctoberBring 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!
  • NovemberPsst! 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.
  • DecemberSilver 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.



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.

Infusing Life with Energy

still having fun with the fashion-y girls. this one is so-so but I still like her more than I liked doing the portraits.

here are all the shiny bits.

the quote says:

everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. if we are frantic, life will be frantic. if we are peaceful, it will be peaceful.

I’d like to believe this is not true because I am one of those “frantic” people. Or maybe it’s not that I am frantic as much as that I am anxious or worried a lot. I don’t want the energy of the things I do to be filled with worry or rushing or stress. I want life to be peaceful. I want to go through the motions of life in a pace and energy that fills me up instead of depleting me and those around me.

The thing with this particular quote is that, deep in my heart, I believe it to be true. But I have no idea how to actually do it. Becoming peaceful instead of frantic isn’t just a switch. Some days, I can go from here to there, but not as often as I would like. I am also learning that I often feel tender now when I realize how worried I am about things and then it feels sad and not peaceful. So the way, for me, is still a little farther than I’d like but I am walking towards it and taking one step at a time.

At least I know where I’d like to end up.

Must Take the Stairs

After I did the four faces and found myself uninspired, I decided to try something slightly different. So I went back to being inspired by paperfashion. Since this is about getting back into doing something, anything, I figure whatever gets me there is what I should be doing. This makes me happier for now. Her work is always so awe inspiring to me.

and it’s super shiny too

The quote says:

There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.

This is something I seem to have figured out early in my life and I feel that, for the most part, I am very good at taking the stairs. I work hard and hard and hard. When i want something, I never assume it will be easy. Most things aren’t for me. Most things require showing up, doing the work, being tired, resting, showing up, doing the work, feeling like you’ve made no progress but knowing it takes a lot longer, being tired all over again, and resting only to repeat it all over the next day.

Getting thing done is hard. Getting things done well is even harder. And all of the steps in between here and there (where there is somewhere you want to end up, some definition of success for you) are all hard. They are showing up and hating what you’ve done (like i have for this project till today), they are adjusting things, making it different, working at it, getting frustrated, feeling lost, trying more, feeling lost, trying more, coming back, trying even more. It’s about showing up every single day and taking that next step. Having faith that it will eventually get you to the top. And trying to enjoy (or at least appreciate) the process in the meantime.

I feel that most of us are not taught this early on enough. Most of us don’t realize that people work extremely hard to be where they are. Even for those cases where it looks easy, there’s often much more under the surface that you don’t know about. Sometimes the work is physical, sometimes it’s emotional, and sometimes it’s mental. But it’s always there.

So, every time I feel like giving up or complain about why it has to be so hard, I will remember this quote and remind myself that the stairs take time to climb but I will reach the top eventually.

Becoming Wise

I like this girl more than the others. But I still realized that I am just not enjoying drawing these girls. Maybe it’s because I feel I am not good at it. Maybe it just feels bland. I am not sure but either way, I’ve decided to change course a bit so that the project makes me happier. We’ll see if it works.

The quote here says:

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

When I saw this quote, I smiled. Isn’t that the truth?

About ten years ago, I took this class and one of the most profound experiences from the class was the deep realization that I have no ability to change others so if I want my relationship with someone to change, I have to either change myself or I have to walk away from the relationship. This is not to say that the other person will never change. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t. But I am not the one who gets to control this.

All I get to do is change myself. And that’s hard enough as is. Actually, this is exactly why I used to find myself wishing for the other person to change. Because it’s so hard to change myself. Because it’s uncomfortable. Because it feels wrong. It’s easy to think that there’s nothing wrong with me and that the fault lies with the other person. Why should I have to change?

But here’s what I learned: if I want to be in a friendship with that person, then it’s on me to make the effort to create the kind of relationship I want. I don’t get to choose to be friends with her and then also want her to completely change who she is to fit my needs. The part where I have choice is whether I want her in my life. And I get to have choice around how I behave, how I feel, what I do.

And that’s about it.

These rules apply to husbands, children, parents, siblings, too. All I get to change is me.

And that’s plenty of work right there.

Not Thunder

Today’s girl was still a challenge to make. A bit better but really very, very far from where I wish I were. Alas we keep going.

As for today’s quote, it says:

Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. -rumi

Oh man.

This is something I really struggle with. And something I desperately want to be better at. I come from a family of screamers. Even though I make a resolution to not scream multiple times a day, I break it almost as often. I just can’t seem to control myself when the moment comes. Especially when David knows exactly what to say to step on every single one of my triggers. Especially when his words sting and bring me back to my childhood years.

Especially when I am back to being the vulnerable, lonely, hurt person who lives inside me.

I noticed that most of the time when I am yelling, it’s about me. It’s about how I feel. Not about the other person in any way. I feel disrespected, entitled, sad, and hurt in that order. And those feelings are uncomfortable so instead of sitting with them or swallowing them, I just scream. It allows me to discharge the discomfort.

And even though I intellectually know all this, it doesn’t bring me any closer to emotionally being able to control myself in the moment it’s happening. In that moment, I am back to my ten year old self and I just want to have a tantrum.

After it’s over, my 41-year-old self wallows in the shame of it all and apologizes and swears not to do it again.

Until the next time.

I just hope that each of these times is a practice for me to get a tiny bit better. So that eventually there will be this one magical day where I sit with the discomfort and let is wash over me instead of taking it out on those I love.

I will keep trying and wishing and hoping and trying until that moment comes.

Holding on and Letting Go

Full disclosure: not only am i not crazy about today’s girl, I actually had to correct her right eye because it was way too high and just crooked. It bothered me so much, I couldn’t help it. Even with that, I am not crazy about her. But I am keeping it. As I mentioned yesterday, it all counts. Little by little, I’ll get there. Wherever “there” is.

As for today’s quote, it says:

Life is a balance of holding on and letting go. -rumi

Nothing teaches me the truth of this better than having kids. Especially as they get older. My son has some big milestones coming up and I am constantly battling between how much I hold on and how much I let go. And I can never seem to decide what the perfect balance is. I am constantly second guessing myself. Constantly putting pressure on myself to get it “right.”

And, of course, I have no idea what “right” looks like.

I just often feel that I’ll know it when I see it. Or when I feel it. But I never feel it. I always feel like I am tipped over to one side or another. Often times, I’m holding on too tight, trying to control the situation. I was like this for myself, in my own life, too. But it’s so much harder for my kids. I want to be able to control the outcome so much more for them because I feel such a strong desire to protect them from grief and hardship. Even as I know that those are the experiences that make us grow. They are the roads we must walk on to get to appreciate our journeys. They help us become who we are. I know these tougher moments are a necessary part of life.

But it’s still hard.

I spent much of this morning trying to navigate this dichotomy. And I have no idea how to do it. Most days, I just end up being exhausted and hope that I do better the next day.