2021 – Plans and Projects

I had regular goals for my blog for the last few years and that worked well for me until last October when I just gave everything up. At this point, I am not yet sure how I feel about 2021 and the blog so I don’t want to prematurely commit to things. But here are a few things I might like to try:

  • Art: I really enjoyed drawing for my book instagram account last year and might want to pick that back up, not sure what other art plans I have
  • Reflection: Monday and Sunday reflection posts helped me stay connected to my goals, keep track of my intentions, I will see if I can bring those back.
  • Storytelling: Stories from 2020 started out strong but like last year, I quit. This year, I did post short passages on my personal instagram account and I am thinking of continuing that for 2021 possibly. If so, that would be a bit of our storytelling. I also will continue to have Ali’s kits and use those to tell our stories.
  • Reading – I read like a lot this year. I continued to read netgalley books as well as audiobooks from the library and audible. I plan to continue this next year. I will continue tracking them on goodreads.

Until October, 2020 was going ok but I haven’t missed blogging so I am not sure if I will do any or all of these but we will see. All of these might happen, none of them might happen. I might repeat projects. I might do wildly different things. I am giving myself grace while trying to keep myself motivated.

Here’s to a wonderful 2021.  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 saying yes.

UNRAVELING THE YEAR AHEAD – 2021

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 2021 sheet. You can download it right here. I split the reflective questions looking back on 2020 in and the questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2021 into two posts. This is part II. 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 intuition. What’s your Word for 2021? YES.
  2. If you truly embodied your Word every day in 2021, what would you do differently? I would welcome life with all that it has to give me. This year will come with a lot of unknowns and instead of feeling like a victim, I want to welcome all of life’s surprises and ups and downs. I want to lean into life, honor it, cherish it, suck that marrow.
  3. What one thing could you do each day to anchor your Word into your routine? I could have a mantra and also do a 5-minute meditation before I get out of bed.
  4. How does your Word make you feel? Excited and full of energy. Ready to conquer the day. Full of optimism and joy.
  5. Do you want any extra words to support your Word for 2021? Brainstorm here. Think about what you need in the different areas of your life: home… work… relationships.. Health… self-care… What would support your Word? I’ve been thinking about this and the words on my list so far are: lighter, kinder, braver, wilder, delighted and enough, content, spacious, connected. I will pick some subset of these.
  6. What are you looking forward to in 2021? I am looking forward to the vaccine, to being able to travel and go on adventures again, to taking David on college tours, to seeing my family, to hugging my friends, to the next steps at work, to slowly getting to feel normal life again.
  7. What are you feeling apprehensive about? That much of this might not come, that we will spend another year at home, that one of my family members might get sick, that there’s still so much unknown.
  8. What life lessons are you taking with you into 2021? That life is short and can turn on a dime. That we don’t get to choose what happens but we do get to choose how we react to it, how we receive it and what we do as a result. 
  9. What area of your life do you most want to develop in 2021? My attitude and my outlook. I want to fundamentally change how I see life and how I approach life. 
  10. What part of your self do you yearn to nurture in 2021? My body. I want to keep exercising and getting stronger. I also want to nurture my soul and be kinder to myself all the time.
  11. Fast-forward to December 2021. You’re sitting in a café, musing over the last 12 months. Where do you want to be… 
    1. in your head? (work, dreams, goals)  At a job I love and where I feel secure, challenged and appreciated. I want to feel full, clear and fully content. I want to fully own who I am and have a job that honors that.
    2. in your heart? (relationships, family, friends)  I want to be kind and generous and full of abundance in my relationships. I want to feel expansive and patient.
    3. in your soul? (beliefs, practices, self-love)  I want to be happy, optimistic, grateful and full of joy. I want to say YES to everything life has to offer me and see the magic that my life is and continues to be..
    4. in your physical world? (home, health, hobbies) I want to be strong and dedicated and fully step into my abilities, my strength and honor my health.
  1. Okay, let’s take it up a notch. Use this page to describe what 2021 looks like in your ideal world. Be specific! What are your dreams for love this year? Work? Play? Where are you hungry for change? How do you want 2021 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. I want this year to be full of joy. I want to be optimistic about how things turn out and what things mean. But not a silly optimism, instead a deeply seeded belief that there’s so much goodness in the world and that things will be okay. I want to support my husband in his incredible ventures. I want to support my kids in who they are and all they will become. I want to fully step into my own self with all the promise and possibility that it opens up. I want to be kind and supportive and generous to everyone, including myself. Yes would look like waking up full of energy and going to bed full of gratitude. Living every single moment of every single day.
  2. Now let’s give those dreams and plans some shape. Use the grid to start plotting the details of 2021. Use words and pictures, dates and anniversaries. Include actual events and made-up dreams, too. Be playful. Doodle your heart out. 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: Yes to Baby Steps: Start small. Make a plan for the steps you want to take and give yourself a lot of grace. Take a handful of steps. You got this.
  • February: Yes to the Unknown:  Be open to new things this month. Listen more, watch others. Be willing to take some steps into the unknown and assume the best. Be brave. 
  • March:  Yes You Can:  This is usually your hardest month. No break, still too cold. It feels hard to make it through this month but you can. Yes you can. Keep going. 
  • April: The Quiet Yes: Be still. Listen to the whispers of your soul. See what your heart is telling you. Listen to the conversations in your head. Hear yourself.
  • May: Yes Just Yes: Time to be bold. Jump in. Dare to go all in and see what happens. What happens if you say yes?!
  • June: Yes to Light: Breathe in the fresh air. Summer is here. Smell the water. Go outside. Sit in the sunshine. One more school year is over. Celebrate your life. 
  • July: Yes to adventures: Create some adventure. Go places. Do things. Hug your people. Take chances.
  • August: Yes to Life: Time to get organized again, transitions are coming. Eleventh and Seventh grades.  Get organized, plan, prepare and do what you need to do. Write down all your dreams. Make plans. 
  • September: Yes to Possibilities: Time to root and surrender. This is a hard month for you. Transitions are rough. But you also turn 47. It’s magical to get to have another year. Remember the growth mindset. Let go of your preconceived ideas and embrace the possibilities. 
  • October: Yes to Connection:  Reach out to others. Connect with your people. Make new connections. Say yes to more things. 
  • November:  Yes to Rest: It’s ok if you need to start slowing down. Give yourself grace. Year is almost over. Can you do one more thing, take one more step in the direction of your dreams? What do you still want to say yes to?
  • December:  Yes to Celebration:  You’ve come a long way. It’s time to celebrate. Honor. Be grateful. Thank 2021 for all that it gave you. Fully bask in how far you’ve come so you can bid it farewell. Celebrate all your yeses.
  1. List 3 unhelpful beliefs about yourself you’re ready to release 
    1. That I am not strong.
    2. That I am not beautiful.
    3. That I am not worthy of belonging.
  2. List 3 duties or commitments you feel ready to let go of in 2021 
    1. I am not going to do the weekly album this year.
    2. Letting go of the need to blog daily
    3. Moving from weekly photos to monthly.
  3. List 3 skills you’d like to learn or improve in 2021
    1. Stitching maybe
    2. Drawing always
    3. Coding maybe
  4. List 3 books you intend to read this year: as always, i know i will read many. 
  5. How could you bring more calm into your life (and head) this year? More journaling and meditation, sitting by the fire, flowers, candles, nature always bring me calm. And take baths!
  6. List 3 things about yourself you positively love 
    1. My empathy and kindness
    2. That i am always trying to be a better version of myself.
    3. My deep and endless love for my people.
  7. List 3 ways you could be kinder to your body this year 
    1. Take care of my teeth and gums.
    2. Exercise and hydrate.
    3. Put cream on my skin.
    4. Rest!
  8. List 3 ways you could connect with loved ones in 2021 
    1. Call mom and Yona on a schedule, more regularly.
    2. Make a weekly date with Leslie and Monthly date with Jess
    3. Dial into the zooms every time.
  9. List 3 people you could extend compassion to
    1. My husband and kids.
    2. Myself.
    3. Every single person I come in contact with can always use more compassion, cause can’t we all?
  10. How could you bring more love into your life this year? I could look for the good, spend time celebrating, practice self-love, hug and touch more, and date nights!
  11. List 3 interests/hobbies you would like to explore more in 2021 
    1. Sketching + photography + journaling + stitching
    2. Hiking + camping + climbing + meditation + biking
    3. Not sure yet.
  12. List 3 ways you could feed your imagination this year 
    1. Reading
    2. Leaning in and saying yes.
    3. Travel + adventure
  13. List 3 ways you could bring more passion into your world this year 
    1. Saying yes to adventures and new things
    2. Yes to date nights and time together
    3. Making things happen. 
  14. List 3 dreams you would like to manifest this year (personal or professional) 
    1. Alaska!
    2. Maybe Climbing Whitney
    3. Feeling settled at work.
  15. How could you bring more creative energy into your life this year? 
    1. Maybe a december daily like book for the year, I have to think more on this.
    2. More drawing and reading combos.
    3. Maybe cooking more.
  16. List 3 ways you could bring more mindfulness to your mornings 
    1. Exercise + meditation + calling mom in the mornings. 
    2. Journaling for 15 minutes (to set intentions)
    3. Sketching/Art for 15-20 minutes.
    4. Being outside more, stretching.
  17. List 3 ways you could bring more mindfulness to your evenings (I added this because I want to do both mornings and evenings.) 
    1. Stretching, removing make up and flossing in the evenings. 
    2. Journaling for 15 minutes (releasing and gratitude)
    3. Reading + disconnecting. 
    4. Taking an evening walk.
    5. Taking a bath.
  18. List 3 ways you could cherish your home this year 
    1. Buy flowers
    2. Cozy blankets
    3. Light candles.
  19. List 3 ways you could connect more deeply with nature in 2021 
    1. Camp and hike. And climb in nature.
    2. Sink my feet into the sand and into the ocean.
    3. Climb trees.
  20. List 3 places in your city, town or neighbourhood you want to explore
    1. All the beaches.
    2. San Fran.
    3. More socal this year. 
  21. How could you bring a sense of groundedness into your life this year?  
    1. Regular yoga + meditation + journaling
    2. Doing more stretching
    3. Being out in nature, taking walks.
  22. 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 2021. I don’t like to do this so as well as the monthly above, I will list a bunch of things I can do this year.
  • Yes to calm: journaling, meditation, candles, sitting outside, music, tara brach
  • Yes to the outdoors: Hiking, Climbing, swimming, waterfalls, sand, ocean
  • Yes to healthy living: Cook more, eat more veggies, more water, walking, sleep
  • Yes to routine: morning and evening routines
  • Yes to being active: stretching, strength, yoga, peloton. climbing
  • Yes to new adventures: travel, climbing trees, 
  • Yes to art: draw, paint, photography, 
  • Yes to stories: week in the life, story albums, december daily, OLW
  • Yes to romance: dancing with Jake, date nights, 
  • Yes to family: family dinners, project with N, project with D, vacation
  • Yes to connection: emails/calls with friends, write letters, call mom, call yona
  • Yes to optimism: write what went right, celebrate, donate, thank yous, send gifts
  • Yes to learning new things: podcasts, new classes, nonfiction books
  • Yes to joy: dance, listen to music, celebrations
  • Yes to adventure: book vacations, try new things.
  1. 2021 will be the year I finally become an optimist!
  2. I will nourish myself with fresh, unprocessed food, a positive attitude, good friends.
  3. I will make more time for myself and the people I love. 
  4. I will recharge my batteries by resting, exercising, and sleeping more.
  5. This year I will open my heart to possibility.
  6. I will pay more attention to the good.
  7. I will learn more about leaning in, saying yes, leaping.
  8. I will release my attachment to my stories and my past and my anxiety/worry.
  9. I wish for 2021 to feel magical.
  10. This year I will say NO to worry, stress, negativity, things that drain me.
  11. This year I will say YES to LIFE with all of its gifts.
  12. What is your secret wish for 2021? Declare it here! My secret wish is that this year I fundamentally change the way I see life. That I pay attention to the good, internalize it and really see it. That I stay optimistic and step fully into my life.

I wholeheartedly believe that everything is possible in 2021!

As always, I mention many of these same thoughts from last year and here, here, 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 2021 and 2022 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 2021, one year from now. You are one year older and one year wiser and you’ve lived every day of 2021 fully and completely. You have a message of encouragement about 2021. 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: I am so proud of you. Keep going, you got this!

2021 – Year of Yes

Up until a few weeks ago, I was determined that my 2021 word was going to be Light. I wanted it to be light. After the year that 2020 has been, I really thought a year of looking for the light, seeing the light, making light, etc. would be the exact right thing for me.

While choosing Light felt calming it just didn’t seem to have the boldness of the last few years’ words. I wanted something both quiet and bold. Sort of how magic was in 2019. I was craving both and light just didn’t feel enough.

So I went on a search. Here are all the words I considered:

  • surrender
  • release
  • cozy
  • rest
  • grow
  • leap
  • light
  • heal
  • open
  • change
  • ease
  • celebrate
  • alive
  • begin
  • create
  • nourish
  • construct
  • build
  • whole
  • calm
  • grounded
  • yes
  • here
  • now
  • see
  • play
  • connect
  • expand
  • abundance
  • breathe
  • design
  • flow
  • gather
  • quiet
  • pause
  • slow
  • perspective
  • tend
  • wait

After thinking about it all for a while, the word YES jumped off the page for me. That feeling of the fully owned Yes is what I was seeking for 2021. Stepping into my life. So I decided YES was exactly what I wanted this year.

Yes comes with daring, it’s a Heck YES or it’s a no. It comes with the quiet yes too, the saying yes to life, yes to what is, and it comes with possibility. Yes to being open, yes to optimism. Yes to whatever may come. I want to choose my life instead of feeling like things are happening to me.

The Daring Yes: This is about trying new things, taking chances, saying yes to things that feel scary. Yes to adventure. Yes to the unexpected. This is about venturing into discomfort and stretching that zone of comfort bit by bit.

The Quiet Yes: This is the passive part. Listening to the quiet noises of my soul. Connecting to my breath and checking in with my quiet yeses. The whispers of my soul. What is sitting there, waiting to be stirred?

Yes to Life: This is for embracing the unpredictable nature of life. Saying yes to things that happen. Being deeply optimistic about how things will turn out and then embracing what is when things reveal themselves. Feeling like I own my life and drive my own life. Yes yes yes.

I really liked the lists I’ve made in the years past year so here are a few other aspects of yes for me (some new, some repeats.):

  1. Say YES This is rule #1: Say yes to things, don’t do what feels easy. do what feels daring. when you are asked something say YES first.
  2. Say no: Saying yes also requires saying no. You must say no to inertia. Say no to things that don’t light you up. Say no to things that weigh you down. Say no to things that crush your soul. No more.
  3. Assume the Best: This year, I will be an optimist! I will assume the best. I will assume things will work out. I will assume we will fix it. We can overcome. Because assuming the worst hasn’t really been working out. I will still work hard, and try hard but i will also be an optimist!
  4. Be Generous: Make room for others. Expand. Tell them why they are amazing. Praise. Donate. Be generous. Nothing is ever too much trouble and there’s always time.
  5. Embrace Joy: Let all the available light flow through youDance. Live in the sunshine. Reflect the light of others. Choose the light again and again and again.
  6. Surrender and Release: Let go and let it be. Choose peace. Choose what is. Let it all go. Remember what matters most.
  7. Stronger: You have what it takes. You are getting stronger every single day and I am so proud of you. Just keep at it. Give yourself grace and keep going. Try a tiny bit harder. 
  8. Yes You Can: You are amazing. You have proven again and again that you can do anything you set your mind to. So have faith in yourself. Work hard. Work smart. Do it for you. Do what you decide you want to. Keep at it. You can do it. Yes you can.
  • And then here are some notes I took as I was picking this word:
    • Yes to calm: journaling, meditation, candles, sitting outside, music, tara brach
  • And then here are some notes I took as I was picking this word:
    • Yes to calm: journaling, meditation, candles, sitting outside, music, tara brach
    • Yes to the outdoors: Hiking, Climbing, swimming, waterfalls, sand, ocean
    • Yes to healthy living: Cook more, eat more veggies, more water, walking, sleep
    • Yes to routine: morning and evening routinesDo more photography
    • Yes to being active: stretching, strength, yoga, peloton. climbing
    • Yes to new adventures: travel, climbing trees, lead belaying 
    • Yes to art: draw, paint, photography, write
    • Yes to stories: week in the life, story albums, december daily, OLW, reading, podcasts
    • Yes to romance: dancing with Jake, date nights, fun projects
    • Yes to family: family dinners, project with N, project with D, vacation
    • Yes to connection: emails/calls with friends, write letters, call mom, call yona
    • Yes to optimism: write what went right, celebrate, donate, thank yous, send gifts
    • Yes to learning new things: podcasts, new classes, nonfiction books
    • Yes to joy: dance, listen to music, celebrations
    • Yes to adventure: book vacations, try new things.

So there we go. Here’s to a 2021 – Year of YES!

UNRAVELING – GOODBYE TO 2020

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 2021 sheet. You can download it right here. I split the reflective questions looking back on 2020 in and the questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2021 into two posts. This is part I, part II comes next week. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

Before we start unravelling 2021, let’s take a moment to look back over the last twelve months. Maybe there were lots of changes for you in 2021. 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 2020? Yes, my word was WILD.
  2. If you did, how did your word help to guide you through the last 12 months? Can you think of any specific examples? Well my goal was to go hiking a lot more and be out in the wilderness more and we did start the year well as we went to Joshua Tree and New Jack City and climbed in the wild. But then the world locked down and wild took on a new meaning altogether. Despite all that happened this year, I was still able to go climbing outdoors a lot of times. We took a trip to Tahoe and a trip to Angel’s Camp. We were in the wild. I also spent a lot of time journaling this year and embracing the silence of the wilderness by grounding myself. And finally I definitely leaned into “embracing the unpredictable nature of life” even if this is not exactly what I had in mind. I learned a lot about how I can embrace the unknown. And as it turns out, this will be a theme for 2021, too. 
  3. What did you embrace in 2020? Unpredictability. Uncertainty. Grief that’s mine and my family’s. Leaning into the new normal. Having all of us at home. I embraced so so much this year, because really I had no choice. I also embraced climbing and running and biking and doing a lot of exercise this year. I’m proud of myself. 
  4. What did you let go of in 2020? So very much. All of our routine. Seeing friends. Going places. Hugging people. 2020 was all about letting go.
  5. What changed for you in 2020? Personally I’ve adjusted and readjusted all year. Learning what the new normal looked like each time. Learning how to hold each of my family members as they went through their own journey of 2020 and going through my own journey. My climbing got so much better. My exercise in general improved. Everything else went up and down throughout the year. 
  6. What did you discover about yourself in 2020? I discovered that I miss people, I miss going to work, and as much as I like being at home, I was definitely taking granted the freedom that comes with being able to go out as much as I want. 
  7. What were you most grateful for in 2020? Being healthy. The fact that we are all healthy and so are my parents and my sister and her family and my husband’s family. Not something I will ever take for granted.
  8. When did fear hold you back in 2020? Well certainly the fear about the pandemic limited a lot of what I did and of course held me back. Most acutely we didn’t see any friends all year except for 2-3 times total. We didn’t go shopping at a grocery store except 5 times all year. We didn’t go into any restaurant, store, or anything indoor. I can go on and on. I felt scared most of 2020.  
  9. Where did you practice courage in 2020? A lot of emotional courage in 2020. Dealing with all that was going on, going for the promotion, speaking my mind, speaking up, advocating for my kids, and for people at work. I had to practice bravery often.
  10. Aside from the pandemic, what surprised you in 2020? My promotion, of course. I was hoping hoping hoping but didn’t think it would really happen. And all the changes at work came out of nowhere too. 
  11. What was the best day in 2020? What happened? Likely new jack city was up there. 
  12. What was the most difficult day in 2020? What happened? The accident. That was most definitely the worst day of this year. A bunch of other tough moments too.
  13. We all live in different parts of the world but the pandemic has been a shared global experience — some lives have been more affected than others, of course, but overall just about everyone has felt the effects of this crisis. Think back to the start, before the lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders — how did you view the coronavirus situation? Did it feel threatening or like something that wouldn’t affect your life? Did you stock up on food? Were you glued to the news? Write down everything you can remember about how you felt, reacted and behaved at the start of the crisis. I have to say that I really didn’t understand what was going on. I was traveling for work at the end of February, in Houston, and I remember watching the news and thinking that the situation was getting bad but never really internalized it. Never really thought it would change our life so fundamentally. I remember the week we left work, I thought i’d be back in a week or two. I remember when I was upset that the kids’ school didn’t close schools yet. I remember buying toilet paper on refresh refresh refresh. Going to TJs and having Jake super mad about how close I got to others. Canceling things one week at a time. Our trip to Vegas, our hopes for summer plans, celebrating birthdays in the pandemic. Ordering with instacart and doing take out for the first time. First time someone came into our house for repair. The fridge dying. Watching news nonstop. Jake watching the numbers climb up. So much of this year was one week, one month at a time. 
  14. We’re not completely out of the woods yet, but we ARE getting through this. How are you currently feeling? Whether it’s December 2020 or you’re writing this sometime in 2021 (hi future traveler!) — how do you feel? What do you need more of? Less of? I am feeling tired and worn out. I feel okay but I am ready for some rejuvenation. Some oxygen. Some source of joy and wonder. I am ready to hug my friends. I am ready for some routine. I am ready to go back to work. Having the kids go to school. I am ready for what normalcy felt like. But alas, I am not optimistic it’s coming soon. I don’t feel all that optimistic yet. There’s no vaccine for the kids. There’s no clarity on when things are coming. I want to be optimistic but I am too tired.
  15. Write down everything that’s HELPED during this year. Consider: new routines, self-imposed boundaries and restrictions (eg only looking at the news once a day), connections with others (who? When? How?), online community, new things you tried (recipes? Fitness apps?), what have you read? Have you been able to work from home, and if so, what’s helped you do that? Homeschool?! Here are some things that helped:
    • The fact that I worked from home before.
    • That big boy is introverted.
    • That hubby had an office to go to.
    • Our backyard and California weather.
    • Weekly chats with Kelly.
    • Zooms with friends for dinner. 
    • Book club zooms.
    • Zooms with highschool friends.
    • The peloton and regular exercise.
    • Climbing outdoors.
    • Puzzles, drawing, journaling. 
    • Touchless grocery delivery and video appointments by doctor.
    • A job that I can do remotely. 
    • Having kids who are older and can take care of themselves.
    • Books, always books.
  1. How have you taken care of yourself physically? I exercised quite a bit this year. I did a lot of climbing all year. I did the couch to 5K during the summer and then have been riding the peloton and doing the classes for months now. I’ve also tried to take care of my skin, my teeth and my hair.
  2. How have you taken care of yourself mentally? I’ve done less well here, took a few classes and did a few puzzles but I thirst for more here. I need to think about this for 2021. 
  3. How have you taken care of yourself emotionally? For a while, I journaled quite a bit. And it was helping a lot. I took time for myself. I did drawing. But then I sort of gave all of it up. I miss it.
  4. What have you missed this year? Friends. Eating out. Seeing my parents and my sister and my nephews. Traveling. Going on adventures. I even missed going to work.
  5. What haven’t you missed? I haven’t missed drop-off and pick-up. I haven’t missed parties. Traffic. That’s about it. 
  6. What new ways of being and doing have you discovered? For a while we were cooking a lot and taking lots of walks. I liked those and they were very peaceful. The zooms and connecting through video while far away has definitely been a blessing.
  7. What will you never forget? The surreal way this whole year passed. The way it feels like we’re on a mission to the Moon or Mars and living in our own bubble.
  8. What have you let go of? All that this year could have been. My wishes and desires for the wilderness. The loss I feel not having seen my family. I am working on letting all that go and being grateful that we hopefully will have more time.
  9. What feels more important than ever to you? Seeing people and hugging people and going on adventures.
  10. What now feels unimportant? Checking off items on my todo list for the sake of it. 
  11. What are you ready to begin? I’m not sure yet. I still feel pretty out of sorts. 2021 doesn’t feel so different so far and I am uncertain what’s to come. I guess what I’m ready to begin is being more okay with the uncertainty. 
  12. How has this year changed your priorities? In the grand scheme, I don’t think it’s changed many of my priorities. I still want to work hard, love my people, do more good than bad, and be the kindest person i can be. 
  13. How has this year changed your home life? Well we’re all at home now all the time. Our house is constantly a mess. None of us have any privacy. But we’re warm, safe and sound.
  14. How has this year changed your relationships? I have gotten closer with some friends, didn’t miss others, just postponed much of everything this year. Closer with my kids and husband, for which I am grateful.
  15. How has this year changed your work life? I like all of us being remote, even as I miss the random work conversations or impromptu late nights. I miss my office mates. I miss the old organizational structure we had. I miss a lot but I am also okay.
  16. What have you been most grateful for during this experience? Big things, little things, the profound and the everyday, what are you grateful for? 
    • All of us have been healthy this whole time.
    • Being able to work from home.
    • The kids being able to attend school from home.
    • Jake having his own space to go to.
    • Being able to climb outdoors.
    • Having a way to exercise indoors.
    • The amazing CA weather.
    • Having a family that I love.
    • The internet, connectivity, and ability to do all this which would never have been possible 20 years ago. 
  17. Gentleness alert! Did anything happen in 2020 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 forgive and let go of all the tough moments of 2020. I don’t want to remember any of them. I give myself grace for the times when I messed up and hurt anyone. I give myself grace for the times I fell short.
  18. I now invite you to close your eyes for a moment and think about 2020 as a whole. As you cast your mind back over the year, consider the gifts that 2020 offered you on your life’s journey… What stands out the most? What really mattered? Togetherness and health. I am grateful.
    • I helped David with getting his club off the ground. 
    • I helped Nathaniel with his science fair and with getting better at writing and much of his homework. 
    • I traveled to Houston and Palm Springs, Joshua Tree and New Jack City.
    • I managed a small but very distributed team and took over management of another employee.
    • We took weekly/monthly family photos all year.
    • I drew regularly until around October.
    • I read 270+ books. More than 77 from netgalley, on ebook.
    • I told 30+ stories from our lives. 
    • I used both the weekly journal and the OLW journal to document our lives.
    • I worked out at work and rock climbed all year both indoor and outdoor.  I moved from 5.9 to 5.10b,c and even a d.
    • I lead belayed Jake many times.
    • I did weekly calls with Kelly.
    • I took several hikes with Jake.
    • I got promoted to Director.
    • And I sponsored an arm of the diversity council at work.
    • I did over 100 peloton bike rides. And over 50 meditations.
    • David finished 9th grade and started 10th from home. Nathaniel finished 5th and started 6th from home, too.
    • I am still blonde.
    • Jake and I went on several date nights, watched a lot lot lot of TV and movies, ate a lot of zucchini and hotdogs and took lots of walks.
    • I supported Jake in several of his personal dreams around climbing.
    • I mentored several women in my organization.
    • I took several online classes but only really stuck with OLW.
    • I supported my friends and a few others who were going through a tough time this year.
    • I supported several Life Coaching clients this year. Though I’ve wound them down.
  19. Describe 2020 in 3 words: wild, unexpected, unsettling.
  20. If the events of 2020 were made into a film or a book, what would it be called? Meh I think there are already too many pandemic movies. I don’t want to see this year made into anything.
  21. Before we finish with 2020, 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 goodbyes and thank yous…Thank you Dear 2020, thank you for keeping us safe and healthy. Thank you for all the prosperity and luck we’ve had this year. I am acutely aware that it wasn’t the case for everyone. I’ve learned a lot this year and I don’t plan to take any of it for granted. Thank you for your lessons, now it’s time to say goodbye. I am calling you complete.

THANK YOU 2020 YOU ARE NOW COMPLETE!

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 22

This was a so-so reading week, for me. Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


Fumbled (3 stars): I liked Alexa Martin’s previous book Intercepted and I was looking forward to this one. I will say that part of the reason this doesn’t end up in my “loved” bucket is because of what I read before. Sometimes I am in the mood for a book that’s light and sweet and other times I like deep, thoughtful books. I had just finished a few wonderful literary books, so next to those, this seems light and fluffy. Which isn’t bad in of itself, I am all for light and fluffy, I love all books, but I just wanted more here. I wanted a tiny bit more depth. I enjoyed the characters and I enjoyed the plot that flowed smoothly and easily. Once I started the book it kept me occupied and happy for a long while. But it won’t stick with me for long. Which is also just fine sometimes. If you like a light, sweet read, this will make you happy.


Walking on the Ceiling (3.5 stars):  “Stories have their own logic. For one thing, a story can only be told once it has an ending. For another, it builds, and then unravels. Each element of a story is essential; its time will come and it will ultimately mean something. In this way, stories are accountable, because they can look you in the eye.”

This strange, little novel was a quick read and yet had some thoughtful moments and gems. If you like plot-driven stories, you will be disappointed as this is more of a moment in time and it goes back and forth in time and in between Paris and Istanbul but nothing much happens. It’s not a character study either. You don’t get to know the characters (even the main character) as much and deeply as I like to (it is such a short novel after all.) It’s just a slice, a moment. 

But there are still many moments of beauty in the book and solid writing that makes you stop and think. Since I grew up in Istanbul, there were a lot of moments of reminiscence for me as well. I look forward to more of her novels, hopefully longer and meatier ones next time.


Good Talk (4 stars): What a gem. 

I had not heard of this book. I have no idea how I ended up deciding to read it. When I originally started the audiobook, I had no idea it was a graphic novel and thought I should not listen but read since it’s so visual. But then the audio book is so incredibly fantastic that I could not stop listening. Now I am going to go buy the book so I can also read it visually. This book is not just Mira’s story but it’s about immigration, about our fractured society, about what it means to raise a kid in a mixed family and when there are conflicting values and choices and the gray areas. It’s sad and funny and heartfelt and really beautiful. It is a thought-provoking story that will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended both in audio and print!


Meet Cute (3 stars): I really enjoyed this quick and sweet book. I knew from the cover that this would be a light and breezy book and it turned out to be that way for the most part. A fast-moving, simple plot, a few tidbit mysteries here and there that were pretty predictable and not a huge amount of deep character development. But it was sweet and light and enjoyable. If you like light romance stories, you will enjoy this one.


The F*ck it Diet (3 stars): It’s hard to tell if this book came at the right time or if I picked it up because I am finally at a place where I want to listen to its message. Possibly the latter because while I really appreciated its message, there wasn’t much new here for me. The first part of the book can really be summarized in one word: eat. Eat what you want, when you want, as much as you want. If you’ve been dieting on and off forever, you’ve been starving yourself and your body needs food. you need to train it to get out of the starvation mode. And then the other parts are just to help you get there. Despite being more repetitive than necessary at places, there are some very useful exercises here and I will do them as many times as it takes for me to get the message and internalize it. Because until I am ready to define my worth by something outside of my body, none of these messages will matter. If you’re at the beginning of your journey, this book might help more. If you’re not ready for it yet, it will annoy you. If you’re like me, and somewhere in the middle, it will reinforce your thoughts but not really do the hard work for you. Because only you can.


The Secret Life (3 stars): This book was very short and yet powerful. I didn’t know anything about Maimonides or his philosophies. But I love much of what’s in here idea-wise. It’s just that they presented in a dry way that doesn’t help you really internalize it in a more visceral way. I’m still glad I read it and will be thinking about the book for some time.


The Bride Test (5 stars): Helen Hoang can write. There’s something magical in the way she weaves her characters. They resonate with me deeply and I can connect to them. I had liked The Kiss Quotient enough to worry about the second book and whether it would be as good. And I think in some ways this was even better. These characters have more depth, more emotion, more conflict and are represent what it means to be human more honestly. I loved even the secondary characters. 

I don’t know why but the audio version does not include the author’s note, I wish they would rectify that since it adds so much depth and perspective to both the author and this story. I can’t wait for more of Hoang’s books.


And there we go, an good week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Weekly Reflection 2019 – 18

Magic I Saw this Week: This week passed so quickly for me that I can’t remember most of it. My manager said some very kind words this week and he’s trying really hard for me to appreciate how appreciated I am. Working on it. David’s attitude and approach to life is magical to watch. Photos from Nathaniel’s camp were magical. And Jake is the biggest provider of magic in my life always.

Magic I Made this Week: I haven’t done much this week I’m afraid. Still hoping to do one more vacation in the summer but booked nothing this week.

Magic of Me that I explored Week: not much here this week either. But I did sign up for a class which will help with this.

Top Goals Review:  

  • Work: did one more turn of crank on PM summit plan, did IO follow up, did not do one round on site, did perf.
  • Personal: did daily drawing, did not journal, and intermittently did yoga, sleept so so, halfway back to routine, have had no gluten. did not make exercise plan or food diary.
  • Family:  did not do much more broadcom and did not figure out summer #2, did not book final camps. celebrated nathaniel. prepped david for spain. prepped Nathaniel for camping. Prepped David for Cal Science Fair. hugged family a lot.

I celebrate: Nathaniel’s wonderful class trip and David’s incredible journey to Spain.

I am grateful for: a positive perf this season.

This week, I exercised: 2 days of body pump and 3 days of yoga this week.

Self-care this week: not a lot this week.

I showed up for: david’s class as i am working on their year-end slide show.

I said yes to: working longer days.

I said no to: doing any work at home.

Core Desired Feelings Check-in:

  • Embrace: i am embracing Spring and the both crazy and quiet month May will be hopefully.
  • Alive: There is both so much work, change, and celebration coming in May.
  • Lighter: a bit lighter on the other side of perf.
  • Kinder: i would like to spend some time understanding what kind looks like.
  • Surrender: i surrender to all that is going on. it’s going to be okay.

What I tolerated this week: just a lot of readjustment. nights that were not as sound as I would have liked.

My mood this week was: tired.

I am proud of: my children.

I forgive myself for: who i am.

Here’s what I learned this week: maybe I need to soften and stop overthinking. not sure I can do this.

What I love right now: I love that I will hopefully be home all of May.


Weekly Reflection is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Everyday Magic – 17

Weekly Intention: This week will be a bit broken up. Nathaniel and I are going to Orlando to celebrate his tenth birthday. When David turned ten, I surprised him with a trip to Harry Potter Land so as soon as he was old enough to understand what that means, Nathaniel’s been counting the days down to his tenth birthday and it’s finally here. He and I will be there until Wednesday and then I have work on Thursday and Friday. So here’s my intention for this week: I will be super present with Nathaniel, I will celebrate him and make sure this trip is special for him. I will then come home and be present at work. I look forward to both my vacation and my work.

This month’s intention is: Making Magic: Go on adventures. Take trips with your family, make small and big bits of magic in your life. So I booked one vacation for summer, woot! and booked 3 weeks of camps, too! I have one more vacation on my list. Then 2-3 more camps. I might then be done with summer, magically. As for April, we’re making Magic for Nathaniel this week.

One way I will show up this week:  I am going to work hard to make Nathaniel as happy as I can.

One magic I will make this week: Harry Potter land here we come!

This week, I will pay attention to: Nathaniel. My little boy is turning double digits!

This week, I will be kinder to: Nathaniel and also maybe take some time for myself if i can.

This week, I will focus on pleasing: Nathaniel. It’s his week.

One new thing I will learn this week: Hmm maybe how to draw a little better?

I am looking forward to: 1-1 time with the little boy.

This week’s challenges: I am keeping an open mind. Thursday and Wednesday will be long days and two all-day travels but still I am hoping nothing will be particularly challenging.

Top Goals: 

  • Work: initial PM summit plan, IO follow up, offsite next steps.
  • Personal: daily drawing, journal, and yoga, sleep. Make some new exercise plan. Make food diary, too.
  • Family:  broadcom, figure out summer #2, book final camps. celebrate nathaniel. prep david for spain. prep Nathaniel for camping. Prep David for Cal Science Fair.

I will focus on my values:

  • Love: Love this magical life I am given and worked so hard to make.
  • Learn: learn to really pay attention and be grateful.
  • Peace: peace with all that’s going on.
  • Service: my kids who have a lot going on in the next few weeks.
  • Gratitude: for being so healthy so much of the time.

This week, I want to remember: that i am so lucky to be so loved and so appreciated.


Everyday Magic is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Weekly Reflection 2019 – 16

Magic I Saw this Week: This week was full of magic. Most of all the magic of nature and laughter and togetherness. We went away on a short vacation and it was wonderful.

Magic I Made this Week: I took time off, read a lot, played some games, took a vacation with my family, went to seder dinner at my cousin’s, hiked some and rested a lot.

Magic of Me that I explored Week: Well can we count the art and yoga. Though I was pretty sick last week so I skipped 4 days of yoga. but I drew every day. I am trying pretty hard.

Top Goals Review:  

  • Work: I’ve been doing the occasional email checking, pretty quiet thankfully.
    Personal: i’ve done daily drawing, a little journaling, not enough yoga. i’ve slept a bunch and as a bonus, i did a bunch of scrapbooking too.
    Family:  making progress on broadcom, booked vacation #1, booked three camps, rested, hugged my kids a lot. hugged my husband a lot, too.
  • figure out summer, book camps. rest, hug kids, hug kids some more.

I celebrate: booking our summer vacation (hopefully.)

I am grateful for: a little time away together as a family.

This week, I exercised: i did yoga for two days, this was likely the lowest week as I was sick last weekend and then only did yoga one of the nights we were away. we did go hiking for three days, though.

Self-care this week: took a lovely bath this week. took vacation. read and drew and just tried to be kind to myself.

I showed up for: our family.

I said yes to: unplugging from work and being present.

I said no to: doing work that could wait.

Core Desired Feelings Check-in:

  • Embrace: i am embracing how i feel and trying to honor who i am.
  • Alive: vacation always makes me feel more alive.
  • Lighter: i feel lighter now that some of the summer things are booked.
  • Kinder: trying super hard to be kind.
  • Surrender: surrendering to where i am and how i feel.

What I tolerated this week: i was pretty sick all weekend and my schedule really got disrupted but i am dealing with it. i will be okay.

My mood this week was: sick, joyful and numb at different times.

I am proud of: getting some of our summer work done.

I forgive myself for: how i feel. how i’m showing up. who i am.

Here’s what I learned this week: I am learning to speak up for myself and be heard.

What I love right now: I love that we have some time off and spending time together.


Weekly Reflection is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Everyday Magic – 13

Weekly Intention: This week is a bit more intense at work unless things change last minute. I have long, full days and I still have to do some of the work I didn’t do last week. I have to go to the kids’ school once, too but not at night thankfully. I also know there’s rain forecasted. My intention this week is to take it slow and listen with openness. Listen for the learnings. Don’t make stories, especially ones that don’t serve me.

This month’s intention is: Personal Magic:  Time to slow down again and be intentional. This month think about yourself, what you have to offer to the world, what makes you, you. What’s unique and personal. Show up as your best self. This month is not about improving but owning. From February, on my plate still is: spring break, Nathaniel’s birthday trip, and summer vacation. Ok being that this is the last week of March, I feel it’s time to bring this home. Some journaling is called for here.

One way I will show up this week:  I will try my best to be efficient this week.

One magic I will make this week: i am going to see a colleague at work whom i haven’t seen in a long time.

This week, I will pay attention to: my positive stories.

This week, I will be kinder to: my children.

This week, I will focus on pleasing: the kids, they both have the tech challenge this weekend.

One new thing I will learn this week: more about me per my march goal.

I am looking forward to: getting a few longer term things done.

This week’s challenges: i might potentially have jury duty on Friday, I really hope it won’t be the case.

Top Goals: 

  • Work: write two of the docs, keep up with email, finish last perf.
  • Personal: daily drawing, journal, yoga, and take time for me.
  • Family:  tech challenge, science fair + registration, math with N, cook dinner, work with D. Lots of time with love of my life.

I will focus on my values:

  • Love: love for my kids who are struggling.
  • Learn: about me.
  • Peace: peace with having a bit more of a schedule this week
  • Service: my boys.
  • Gratitude: gratitude for how things are.

This week, I want to remember: that life is not a destination, that there’s no one direct path to get on, that there are ups, downs, goods and bads. And to really focus on the magic of it all.


Everyday Magic is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Joy of Art – 09

joy is around you.

This was the Lifebook class for week three or four, I can’t remember. I enjoyed making it and its 3-D nature. those are meant to be ranunculus 🙂

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Joy of Art is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Everyday Magic – 03

Weekly Intention:  This week will be a bit more hectic than last week was but hopefully not a lot. My intention this week is still to go slow. Be home as often as possible, journal, be grounded, listen and try to pay attention.

This month’s intention is: Seeing the Magic: Pay attention to your life. Make note of all the magic around you. See the people who love, cherish, and honor you. Thank people, show them that you see them. Still going strong on the letters. Maybe I can add one new thing this week.

One way I will show up this week:  I will try to be kinder this week. Listen with the intent to help everyone I meet with.

One magic I will make this week: I didn’t get to do art at night during the week last week so I am going to see if it can be this week’s magic. 

This week, I will pay attention to: how to handle myself better in the evenings when I am tired and worn out.

This week, I will be kinder to: people at work. let’s see if it makes a difference in how i feel.

This week, I will focus on pleasing: nathaniel. let’s see if i can focus on him.

One new thing I will learn this week: i didn’t pick an online class last week :/ this week i will figure out what math to teach Nathaniel. 

I am looking forward to:  getting my hair done. 

This week’s challenges: getting all the routines decided and set at work.

Top Goals: 

  • Work: review 2019 plans, get meetings on calendar.
  • Personal: keep up with journaling + art + yoga, pushups, gym.
  • Family: start physics with david. find math with nathaniel. cook for Jake. family photos and celebrations.

I will focus on my values:

  • Love:  stay grounded, show my love more. say kind words. celebrate others. show them why they are awesome.
  • Learn: go back to doing art again. just for you.
  • Peace: peace with moving slower than I would like to.
  • Service: service to work this week, getting things going.
  • Gratitude: gratitude for my mom’s checkup results being well. 

This week, I want to remember:  that how I spend my days is how I spend my life.


Everyday Magic is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

2019 – Plans and Projects

I had regular goals for my blog in 2018 and that worked well for me. Here’s some of what worked well and what worked less well:

  • Art projects: I didn’t have any specific art goals for 2018 and thought I would do whatever I could. That didn’t work well. I ended up doing very little art in 2018 so for 2019 I decided to make specific goals and see if I can do better.
  • Stronger Than Before and Weekly Reflection posts were my favorite and helped me stay connected to my goals, keep track of my intentions.
  • Stories from 2018 was a great way to ensure I celebrated many moments from this year. I love going back to these and re-visiting my year, and I love that I even did a bit of scrapping with these. I didn’t end up doing 52 of these but I am okay with that.
  • Reading – I read like mad this year. Mostly audiobooks and I loved it.
  •  Moments from This week: even though this also became less ambitious than my original goals, I’ve loved making this book. I love seeing it and having it.
So all in all, 2018 was less solid than 2017, partly because my work is a lot more in the office now so I have less time than I used to. I am working on adjusting this for 2019 so I am going to make much more ambitious goals for 2019 and we’ll see if I can rise to them. I still put this year in the win category!
For 2019, I decided to keep the same structure, mostly:
  • Monday: Everyday Magic: This is the same as Living Intentionally posts I’ve been doing. 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 see, make and appreciate my magic. [Making Magic, Magic of Me]
  • Tuesday: Stories from 2019: My plan for 2019 is to mix these with lightweight scrapping this year and see if that’s good or bad, we’ll see. [Seeing the Magic]
  • Wednesday:Books This Week – I will talk about the books I read this week. This year, I’m also entertaining the idea of keeping track of them in goodreads. We’ll see if I can keep that up. [Making Magic]
  • Thursday: Joy of Art – I am really hoping to do more art in 2019. This is the day of the week I plan to share those. It might be sketching, Life Book assignment or anything else I decide. Let’s hope I can make it happen. [Making Magic]
  • Friday: Moments of Gratitude –  This is going to be the same as Moments from This week but very much gratitude focused. We’ll see if i can make it happen. [Seeing the Magic]
  • Sunday: Weekly Reflection: This, too, is the same as 2018. These posts help me to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work so I can set proper intentions for the following week. [Seeing the Magic, Magic of Me]

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 2019 has in store for me. I will also attempt to do some personal thought posts since I love those but I don’t want to commit to it regularly.

All of these might happen, none of them might happen. I might repeat projects. I might do wildly different things. I am giving myself grace while trying to keep myself motivated.

I’ve also signed up for a few classes to start the year:

  1. Thought Threads Stephanie never disappoints.
  2. create.2019 Karen’s classes are always thought provoking and worthwhile.
  3. Life Book 2019  Easiest way to bring back art for 2019.
  4. Perspective class by Olga this class was free.
  5. One Little Word 2019 – have taken this class for years. love it.
  6. I’m also subscribed to Ali’s Story Kit which I use for my simple scrapping.
  7. And finally, I am taking Alisa Burke’s yearlong art journaling class, too. I’m going to do more art this year if it kills me 🙂

Here are a few I signed up for in 2018 that I either didn’t finish or start 🙂 so I might tackle those.

  1. Manifesting – I have done most of it but I haven’t done the Mondo Beyondo list so that’s on my 2019 list as well.
  2. Draw and See – I have done none of it.

Here’s to a wonderful 2019.  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 seeing, making and appreciating my magic.