Stories from 2020 – 01

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Living Wild – 01

Weekly Intention: This is my first week back at work in a long, long time. I’d love to say I am ready and excited to be back at work, but truthfully I am not at all. I need more time off. I am really enjoying days full of relaxation, climbing, yoga and time with my family. I’d rather stay in this place for a few more weeks. But alas, real life is coming back whether I like it or not. So my intention this week is to stay as calm and grounded as possible. To create space and expansion and cultivate calm in my moments.

This month’s intention is:  Into the Wild: 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. Ok I got this. My plan with this is to pick a small number of things. Walk 20 mins uphill as many days as possible, go climbing 2-3 times a week, do yoga. Breathe more. Do my PT.

One way I will show up this week:  I’d like to be open and listen more this week. Can I do it?

I will go into the wild: Hmmm. I’m going to mark 3-4 meetings this week that I can do as walking meetings. I will take one drive to the little lake by Palo Alto. And I will plan a hike for Jake and me this weekend.

This week, I will pay attention to: How I am feeling. Especially as I get anxious at work, I want to be tuned into how I actually am feeling so I can feel my feelings and see I can pay attention to what’s going on.

One new thing I will begin this week: I am going to do one day a week of cardio starting this week. I am not putting a time limit yet. Even if it’s just 5 minutes, it counts. Oh and I will try to see if I can move my desk to be a standing desk for some portion of the day.

One magic I will create: Hmmm… I am going to see if I can make my desk at work a bit more of a place for me to enjoy. I will bring some items to put on my desk. And maybe even buy a plant.

One thing I hope to release: I really would love to release the anxiety around being at work this week. I am going to actively work on it.

One thing I will join in on: I think I will see if I can find a hiking club nearby that I can join.

One area I will practice being open: I will practice being open at work. Listening better, being more curious, triggering less often.

I am looking forward to: Getting into some sort of routine. I am not thrilled about going back to real life but I do love routine.

This week’s challenges: Just going back to work and getting up at 6am again will be challenging.

  • Top Goals:
    • Work:  just get back into the groove of things. clean email. maybe write up nbu?
    • Personal: figure out a routine that works for me.
    • Family: make a plan with David and spend time working with Nathaniel.

I will focus on my values (love, learn, peace, service, gratitude): I will choose to learn over reacting, i will choose to love my life and make peace with what I can’t control. I will do service to my body by moving it often and well and I will keep track of all the moments of gratitude in my life.

This week, I want to remember: that life is magical and i am always learning and growing and looking forward to new possibilities.


Living Wild is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here.

2020 – Plans and Projects

I had regular goals for my blog for the last few years and that worked well for me. Here’s some of what worked well and what worked less well:

  • Art: I started the year with a bunch of painting and then moved to drawing a small sketch every single day, which resulted a new instagram account.
  • Like last year Everyday Magic and Weekly Reflection posts helped me stay connected to my goals, keep track of my intentions.
  • Stories from 2019 started out strong but around September I stopped scrapping for no real reason. Actually likely because I stopped taking photos. I have plans to go back to it all.
  • Reading – I read like mad this year. I joined netgalley and edelweiss and read 120+ books and listened to another 282 or so for a total of 402+.
  •  Moments of Gratitude: This also started out well and then fizzled out but I bought another journal for next year any way because I love it. I also ended up doing the OLW journal which I loved (alongside the OLW class itself.)

All in all, I feel pretty proud of 2019 and am looking forward to 2020. The format will be exactly the same cause it’s working for me right now.

  • Monday: Living Wild: This is the same as Everyday Magic 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 embrace the wild a bit more that week.
  • Tuesday: Stories from 2020: My plan for 2020 is to take prompts from Ali’s Story Kits and write a story for each of them. I am thinking of possibly starting another instagram account for this one, too, but I am not sure yet. And then if i scrap, great, but if not, I have the stories.
  • Wednesday: Books This Week – I will talk about the books I read this week. This year, I will continue tracking them on goodreads.
  • Thursday: Joy of Art – I am going to continue to draw with the books for as long as it continues to be fun. I am also thinking of doing some projects like I’ve done in years past. Let’s see if I can pull it off.
  • Friday: Moments of Gratitude –  This is like last year focused on gratitude, and maybe a bit of the wild. We’ll see if i can make it happen better this year.
  • Sunday: Weekly Reflection: This, too, is the same as before. These posts help me to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work so I can set proper intentions for the following week.

Like in 2019, 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 2020 has in store for me.

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 signed up for no classes this year. I’ve taken plenty in the past and still have many I haven’t done. I am keeping the Story Kit and signed up for OLW. That’s it for now.

Here’s to a wonderful 2020.  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 going wild.

Unraveling the Year Ahead – 2020

  1. First, choose a word to guide you through the next 12 months. Pick a word that makes you feel expanded. Encouraged. Inspired. There’s no right or wrong answer so go with your gut. What’s your Word for 2020? Wild.
  2. If you lived and breathed your Word every day in 2020, what would be different for you? I would be much, much stronger. I would have spent more days/moments outside than inside. I would breathe the fresh air. I would be climbing a much higher grade. I would have conquered Whitney but even more so, to make that possible, I would have built a super strong stamina, strength, and discipline. I would be tapping into the wilder parts of my personality and trying out new ways of being. I would feel inside of my body instead of out of it. I would be trying new things, favoring adventures. I would experiment with who I am, who I can be, and how I can shift my sense of self-identity.
  3. If you truly embodied your Word every day in 2020, what would you do differently? I would go outside more, I would say yes to adventures, I would make sure to work out in some way or another each day, I would breathe in the air, i would try new things, i would hike more and smile more.
  4. What one thing could you do each day to anchor your Word into your routine? 15 minutes of exercise daily no matter what
  5. How does your word make you feel? excited, a little scared, ambitious, calm, like there’s something so much bigger than I am, fresh, adventurous
  6. List some ways you are already experiencing or embodying this Word: 
    1. I am climbing weekly.
    2. I am doing more walking meetings outside.
    3. I have changed my instagram to be more full of adventures and outdoor places that inspire me 
    4. I have taken and  planned many hikes this year.
  7. What could you do this year to bring more of your Word into your world? 
    1. Definitely more journaling
    2. One walking meeting daily
    3. Meditation
    4. Hiking
    5. Going to the Water
    6. Eat the wild, cook on the weekends
    7. Watch the Stars, learn about the stars, go visit a telescope
    8. Get a massage once a month
    9. Go to a hiking retreat (talk to Laura from work.)
    10. Draw Mandalas
    11. Do more Wildlife photography
    12. Learn about trees and birds
    13. Take daily Evening or morning walks?
    14. Stretch daily
    15. Uphill walking to help build stamina
    16. Climb trees
    17. Candles with smells of the wild
    18. Essential oils with smells of the wild
    19. Practice Feeling inside my body
    20. Listen to more Tara brach
    21. Listen to More opera and musicals
    22. Learn to build a fire
    23. Cook soup from scratch
    24. Draw the wild
    25. Go Fruit picking
    26. Buy some outdoors clothes
    27. Draw in the AM
    28. Go to bed early
    29. Take more photos
    30. Write gratitudes
    31. Take a Dancing Class with Jake
    32. Weekly Dates with Jake (outside!)
    33. Take 3 REI classes
    34. Make hiking plan
    35. Tell more of our stories
    36. Make Whitney plan
    37. Work with Nathaniel
    38. Start Family Dinners
    39. Learn to ride a bike
    40. Find a walking/hiking group
    41. Try 3 new things every month
    42. Write weekly emails on how you’re being out in the wild and trying new things
  8. Choose four extra words to support your Word this year. They could be anything from inspiring words to names of people to things you want to invest in…
    1. Currently leaning towards: release, magic, join, open, begin
  9. What are you looking forward to in 2020? Getting stronger, trying new things, staying in the growth mindset. Giving myself permission to try things and to fail.
  10. What are you feeling apprehensive about? That I won’t do anything. That I’ll stay stagnant.
  11. What life lessons are you taking with you into 2020? That I get to shift my identity. That being out in the wild brings me closer to peace and contentment.
  12. What area of your life do you most want to develop in 2020? Identity, willingness to try new things, new ways of being and showing up and trying, willingness to choose to go out instead of staying in.
  13. What part of yourself do you yearn to nurture in 2020? My body and my inner voice.
  14. Fast-forward to December 2020. 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) 
      1. Clear. Learned a lot of things, found some new tools. Own the space I’m in. I’m clear on what I want and what serves me well.
    2. in your heart? (relationships, family, friends) 
      1. Feeling grateful Really honoring the people I love, spending my energy and time on them and focusing on them so they know and can feel my love too.
    3. in your soul? (beliefs, practices, self-love) 
      1. At peace. Shifted my identity. See myself in a new light. Have faith in myself.
    4. in your physical world? (home, health, hobbies)
      1. Spending time telling stories, taking photos, drawing but most importantly stronger, really honoring my body with what i do with it and how i feed it. Really stepping into and owning this space.
  15. Okay, let’s take it up a notch. Use this page to describe what 2020 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 2020 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 would be stronger, I would be spending more time outdoors than indoors, taking chances, trying new things, trying new ways of being, getting out of my comfort zone more often. Fostering new relationships and connections. Stepping into things that I am not sure of. Trying on being different than my tried/true ways. I choose brave. I choose wild. I choose the unknown. I choose adventures. I get better at climbing. I don’t let my inner dialogue squash me. I show up even when I don’t want to. Even when it sucks. Even when I am tired. I just keep showing up. And I keep making the good for me choice over the easy/short term choice. I live in the sunshine, swim the sea and drink the wild air!
  16. List 3 unhelpful beliefs about yourself you’re ready to release 
    1. I am not strong.
    2. I can’t change.
    3. I can’t get promoted.
  17. List 3 duties or commitments you feel ready to let go of in 2020 I need to clean out my calendar at work. This is my top one.
  18. List 3 skills you’d like to learn or improve in 2020
    1. Hiking and climbing and being physically stronger.
    2. Invest more in journaling, photography, drawing, and telling our stories. 
    3. Making some new connections.
  19. List 3 books you intend to read this year: as always, i know i will read many. 
  20. How could you bring more calm into your life (and head) this year? I think the combination of journaling, meditation and connecting with those i love will help. Self affirmations, wearing/eating what i love, hugging people i love will help too. 
  21. List 3 things about yourself you positively love 
    1. My energy (when i am not triggered, i am always so excited)
    2. My relentless pursuit in learning, growing, trying 
    3. My deep love for the people i love 
    4. That i am organized, reliable & dependable
  22. List 3 ways you could be kinder to your body this year 
    1. Resting more and well.
    2. Nourishing my body with the foods that help it flourish
    3. more stretching, massage, and yoga and doing my physical therapy.
  23. List 3 ways you could connect with loved ones in 2020 
    1. Weekly email with a friend is a lovely start for me. Also monthly in person meetings.
    2. Go to both book clubs more regularly.
    3. Call mom daily, nephews/sister weekly. 
    4. Make 1 new friend/connection a week.
  24. List 3 people you could extend compassion to
    1. My husband
    2. Myself. 
    3. And honestly, every single person in my life all the time. I just want to be kinder.
  25. How could you bring more love into your life this year? Then date nights, gratitude, thanking others, appreciating what I have, paying attention. Celebrating wins. Focusing on growth mindset.
  26. List 3 interests/hobbies you would like to explore more in 2020 
    1. Sketching + photography + journaling
    2. Hiking + camping + climbing.
  27. List 3 ways you could feed your imagination this year 
    1. Books! 
    2. Travel to adventures i haven’t had.
    3. Say yes to a many things I wouldn’t.
  28. List 3 ways you could bring more passion into your world this year 
    1. Just go out. 
    2. Show up all the time, regardless of how i feel.
    3. Do what’s right and not what feels easy
  29. List 3 dreams you would like to manifest this year (personal or professional) 
    1. Climbing Whitney.
    2. Getting promoted.
    3. Feeling a deep connection with my boys and my husband.
  30. How could you bring more creative energy into your life this year? 
    1. I’d like to be telling more of our stories
    2. I’d love to continue to draw and write about books
    3. I’d love to do more photography, especially if i’ll be outdoors more
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. List 3 ways you could cherish your home this year 
    1. Buy flowers
    2. Make fewer piles.
    3. Rearrange desk to serve my life as is now.
  34. List 3 ways you could connect more deeply with nature in 2020 
    1. This year is all about connecting with nature!!
  35. List 3 places in your city, town or neighbourhood you want to explore I have the same list as last year:
    1. All the hiking places near me!
    2. San Francisco, date nights, theatre. 
    3. The beach.
  36. How could you bring a sense of groundedness into your life this year?  I think the journaling and meditation will really help. I will go out into the wild. That always grounds me.
  37. 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 2020. Tip: I like to shufle 3 or 4 packs together to give the reading even greater scope. If you don’t have any decks go to www.susannahconway.com/ cards to see my favourite decks and app recommendations. I am not into Tarot Decks and I did this two years ago and found it not to be that inspiring or interesting. However, back in 2013, our January OLW assignment involved setting intentions and I really enjoyed that, so I thought maybe I can do that instead. 
    1. January: Into the Wild: 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.
    2. February: Wild at Heart:  Take new chances with your heart this month. Try new date nights. Reach out to new people. Create new connections. Strengthen your heart with exercise. 
    3. March:  Wild Air:  Go outside. Smell the spring air. The seasons are shifting again and it’s time to try new things, new  places, take new chances. Pick one thing and go big. Drink the wild air. 
    4. April: Call of the Wild: Go on adventures. Venture out into the wild. It’s calling for you. Where are you holding back?
    5. May: Quiet Wilderness: Time to rest a little bit before things get crazy again. By the end of this month, you have parties, transitions, culminations etc. Use the time to add some quiet to the days and really connect with the peace of the wild, get grounded.
    6. June: Wild World: And here’s summer. Time to go big again. Travel the wild world. Take vacations. Bring the delicious, fresh wild into your home. 
    7. July: Run Wild: Settle into the summer. Enjoy the wild. Use the energy of the sunshine and the long days.  Step into it. Honor it. Bask in it.
    8. August: Wildest Dreams: Time to get organized again, transitions are coming, big ones this time. Get organized, plan, prepare and do what you need to do. Write down all your dreams. Make plans. 
    9. September: Embrace the Wild: Time to root and surrender. This is a hard month for you. Transitions are rough. But you also turn 46. It’s magical to get to have another year. Remember the growth mindset. Let go of your preconceived ideas and embrace the wild. 
    10. October: Wildcard:  October is a long month and not a lot of time off so you need to add a bit of wild to it. Add small bits of life and random wildcards into your every day. Give this month the kick it needs to make it a notch more unpredictable.
    11. November:  Touch of the Wild: you’re making it happen. Don’t stop now. The year is almost over. What’s one area where you can still honor your wild and precious life? Give love and attention there this month. You can do this.
    12. December:  Go Wild: And finally time to rest and relax and bask in your your one wild and precious life again. You’ve come a long way. It’s time to celebrate. Honor. Be grateful. Thank 2020 for all that it gave you. Fully bask in how far you’ve come so you can bid it farewell. 
  38. 2020 will be the year I finally shift my identity around what’s possible for me.
  39. I will nourish myself with the wild air.
  40. I will make more time for being outdoors. 
  41. I will recharge my batteries by being out in the wild, connecting with people i love, resting.
  42. This year I will open my heart to possibility
  43. I will pay more attention to taking incremental steps.
  44. I will learn more about:
    1. Letting go, noticing, making peace.
    2. Hiking
    3. Serving my body’s needs 
  45. I will release my attachment to parts of my identity that don’t serve me.
  46. I wish for 2020 to feel comfortable in my skin, my body, my soul.
  47. This year I will say NO to being too scared to try. 
  48. This year I will say YES to stepping into the growth mindset.

I wholeheartedly believe that everything is possible in 2020!

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 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 2020, one year from now. You are one year older and one year wiser and you’ve lived every day of 2020 fully and completely. You have a message of encouragement about 2020. 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. I know that you showed up and tried. I know that even when you had moments of wanting to give up, you got up and tried again. I am so proud of how hard you try, how far you’ve come and how you show up again and again. Keep going, you got this!

2020 – Core Desired Feelings

As with all the previous years, I knew I wanted to pick my core desired feelings this year, too. If you want to know more about core desired feelings, please go to my post from 2016 and you can see the links there.

I did the exercise this year as I do each year but the words kept changing this year. As each time, I told myself to focus on how I want to feel this year. What are the feelings I am cultivating? If I get an offer of an opportunity, what are the questions I want to ask myself so I can make a decision around whether I say yes or no? How will I know if this action will make me feel what I want to feel?

I mentioned before that there’s a pattern to my words: I always pick something around peacefulness, something around being brave, something around being open, and then maybe a few new ones. So this year I was curious if I would break the trend.

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

  • Leap: This is about leaping into the unknown. Embracing opportunities. Taking chances. Daring greatly.
  • Soft: I didn’t want to choose kind again this year. I liked the idea of being a soft place tho. For myself, for my kids, for my friends, for my husband. A soft, safe place to land. A soft heart. A soft voice. A soft word. I love the idea of soft.
  • Release: This is 2020’s equivalent of surrender. I love the idea of releasing things. Shedding layers of unwanted. Releasing the pain. Releasing unwanted beliefs. Releasing what’s weighing me down. Releasing myself.
  • Join: I’ve always thought of myself as an “other,” as a person on the outside. There’s much to unpack here and I can tell stories but the point is, I realized a few years ago that I will continue to be on the outside and continue to not belong for as long as I see myself that way. So this year, I will become a joiner. I will join in. I will invite others, I will join when invited. I will show up.
  • Delight: I wanted to hang on to the word magic so badly this year. I loved it so much. I also loved enchant or glee but delight ended up capturing the part of magic I really loved. That delightful feeling. I love it.

So there we are. I guess we still have a trend. Release and Soft are my peaceful words, join and leap are about being brave and possibly about being open, too?

I love all of these. Most importantly, I can immediately connect with the feeling I get when I say these words. I feel full. I feel content knowing these are the words I want for myself. They feel exciting and loving.

Here’s to a delightful year of joining in, leaping forward, landing softly and releasing the rest.

2020 – Embracing the Wild

Unlike last year, my word came early to me this year. Sometime in the summer. It came and it wouldn’t let go. I kept trying to shed the word and hoping that something else would come along. I even worked on my spreadsheet from last year to see if any other word would stand out.

Here are all the words I considered:

  • Joy
  • full
  • alive
  • ease
  • open
  • adventure
  • connect
  • fresh
  • wonder
  • go!
  • lush
  • clear
  • delight
  • begin
  • open
  • fly
  • leap
  • calm
  • wander
  • expand
  • surrender
  • explore
  • create
  • soft
  • wild
  • air
  • slow

No matter what I did, wild wouldn’t let me go. The thing is, there are many words I might associate with myself but wild is never one of them. I am boring, predictable, reliable, consistent. I am not wild.

And yet the word made me think of: excited, adventure, growth, free, open, connected to something bigger, energy.

This is going into the wild. Being in nature. Drinking the wild air. Camping, hiking, climbing more. Letting nature soothe my soul. Letting water calm my fears. Surrendering to nature and also coming alive with it. Like last year’s magic, which was one of my favorite words ever, wild feels both active and passive. A little more active but I still connect to the wildnerness and being in it part as well.

Here are the three major parts of the word wild for me:

Call of the Wild: Going out into the wild more. Being near the water. Hiking, climbing, breathing fresh air more. Swimming. Going on adventures. Trying new things. Being brave. Getting stronger. This part is about being physically in the wild as much as possible this year.

Silence of the Wilderness: This is the passive part. Listening to the quiet noises of my soul. Connecting to my breath, to my calm nature. Feeling the earth, sand, water. Grounding myself in what is. Embracing the ephemeral nature of life and remembering the inconsequential nature of my daily problems.

Wildcard: This is for embracing the unpredictable nature of life. Surrendering and also leaping. Taking the days as they come. Also figuring out what a slightly wilder me looks like. What does it mean? How can I take some of my long held mis-beliefs and turn them on their head. How can I be open to what might come? How can I hold on to beginner’s mind. How can embrace the unknown?

So these are the reasons I let wild be my word (it wouldn’t let go anyway.)

I really liked the list I made last year so here are a few other aspects of wild for me:

  1. Go Out This is rule #1: You must go outside. Hike. Touch the dirt. Climb those mountains and breathe that fresh air. Take walks. Sit on the earth. Be outside.
  2. Listen to the Whispers: Wildness is inside you, listen to what your soul is yearning for. Give yourself permission to go wild. It’s ok.
  3. Leap: Take chances. Say yes to things. Go on adventures. Meet new people. Take risks. Assume yes yes yes.
  4. Create Space: Let go and go silent. 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 you. Dance. 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:
    • wild@work: be bolder, state things, have opinions, ask for things.
    • wild@travel: go on hikes, alaska, whitney, into the wild
    • wild@fitness: try 3 new classes, go out walk daily outside
    • wild@food: eat veggies + wild food, try new things.
    • wild@mental health: go to the sea, meditate
    • wild@rest: take days off, 1 day a month fully
    • wild@art: draw the wilderness
    • wild@hobbies: pick up an outside hobby
    • wild@school: learn to make fires, learn one new thing.
    • wild@friendship: make new friends, go out/host 1/month
    • wild@romance: go on dates, learn to dance
    • wild@parenting: say yes, drive the kids around, adventure
    • wild@causes: find things and go after them, join
    • wild@inner peace: release

So there we go. Here’s to a wilder 2020!

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 52

Like last year, I’m trying to put all the 2019 books here so I can start fresh next week. 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.


Love’s Executioner (3 stars): I had heard about this book in a different book and was so excited that I went off an immediately bought it with my audible account. But, as soon as I checked some of the reviews, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it after all. It looked like the author (therapist) was misogynistic, unlikeable, and judgmental. I considered putting it down before I even began.

But I am glad I didn’t.

These stories were very interesting and unique and showed me the variety of lives/conundrums/problems people have in the world and I loved how the “cases” didn’t always get resolved and even when they did, it sometimes wasn’t really due to his help. One of the lessons I took away was that things can be really not what they seem and when people come to tell you their story, it’s fully filtered through their interpretation of truth. Not the truth itself. I knew this already but there were some acute examples of this.

It was interesting to see how the therapist was thinking and how and where and when he chose to take action. How frustrated, flawed and wrong he could be. I really appreciated the vulnerability. Even if he was judgmental, most people are and they are just never willing to admit it. Maybe because I’d read the reviews, I was expecting it.

In the end it was a very interesting and unusual book and I am glad I read it. I can’t say I loved it but I learned from it.


Night of Miracles (4 stars): I just love Elizabeth Berg. Her stories are smooth balms for my soul, they make me feel better about humankind, they make me smile and feel grateful and hopeful all at once. It’s not that it’s all pink bubbles in her stories, sad things happen, people make mistakes, people can be judgmental or real. But it’s that they are all redeemable. They all mean well and come together and grow and learn and support each other. They surprise you in the most beautiful ways. It restores your faith in humanity. This week, it was exactly what I needed.


The Year of No Nonsense (3.5 stars): I have a lot of thoughts about this book. First thing I will say is that I generally try to read a book without reading the reviews. Sometimes, in the middle of the book, I’ll go and see what others wrote. In this case, I was a bit surprised at the unequivocal positive reviews. This is a good book, but in my opinion the reviews feel a bit slanted. I am pointing this out because it might be that I am reacting to this as I sit down to write mine and I am moving to the middle a bit more to course correct. So please take this with a grain of salt.

I like the premise of this book and how she focuses on your digging deeper to get to the crux of the matter instead of fixing the surface issues or the outcomes of the actual problem.

“Paradox is a very helpful tool for me, which is why I mention it here. We are not required to be black-and-white about our lives—we can be all the colors of the rainbow and every shade in between.”

One of the things I loved most about this book was how honest it was and how it didn’t make things sound simple as some of the books can.

“During my Year of No Nonsense, I learned that seeing what is and what was is a fundamental requirement for change.”

A very hard distinction at times.

“My job (as a parent) is to be a support for my children. The children are not here to fulfill my needs. They are not here to reflect my own “greatness” (or lack thereof). I am here to support them in their journey of growing up—not dictate how their journey goes.”

This resonated with me so much. I don’t usually worry about this but I do see it creeping in now and then and I love the way she put it. I am here to support them in their journey. So well put.

“But as a starting point, we might want to take Numbers like body weight and social media followers and put them in the box where they belong—a box of data points that can be charted, not a box of soul points that describe who we are.”

So much to unpack in this one, too. We anchor on numbers cause they are easy. I do a lot of rock climbing now and it has numbers and levels and I was telling my husband the other day how I wish the routes had no numbers so I couldn’t have any preconceived ideas of which routes I could and couldn’t do. Then I’d have to try each and I’d probably learn so much more. Numbers can help but they can also hinder so much.

“Stepping into beliefs, therefore, can be powerful or destructive. So when a belief has a negative or destructive power, like “you will never be a runner,” true Grit and growth happen when we question or challenge that belief.”

I’ve written and thought about this concept a lot. Identity can help or get in the way of how we move forward so much. And shifting one’s own identity can be so hard.

“The challenge is to Live each day as the best version of yourself. To make room for your own light and Purpose for your Life. To do the best you can and accept that you are doing so; to assume the Other People are doing the best they can, too—if not because it’s the right thing to do, then because at least they won’t drive you crazy.”

In the last week, I’ve been reminding myself to do this again and again and again. It totally works. It helps keep your sanity and it reminds you to focus on what you can change (your thoughts and actions) and the truth (which you never fully know so just assume the best because it’s so much more uplifting.)

So there was a lot of gold in this book, a lot of food for thought, a lot of honesty. I will say that there was also some repetition and the last 30% took me forever to get through and I was so tired of the word nonsense by then. It was too overused and I was feeling annoyed. There were a lot of ideas I’d already read before or seen but it was woven well together. I also felt like I could have used more help with guidance around getting to the root issue myself. Finding my true nonsense. Because much of the book makes the case for it (sold. i believe i need to get to the real heart of the matter before I can change things.) and then she talked about now that i know it what do i do (Except I still wasn’t sure I knew mine. Sometimes the cause and outcome can be so intertwined and I just felt lost.) I would have loved some examples of how others (along with her) peeled that onion.

As with most good books that are about working on yourself, nothing changes unless I do the work. This book was a good reminder that it’s possible and it highlighted the value of calling yourself on your own bullshit if you’d like to make positive change in your life. I will take what works for me and leave the rest. There was enough gold in here to keep me thinking, moving and focused.

With thanks to netgalley and hachette books for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.


Anyone (3 stars): Ok so as an avid reader, I know there’s a time to read a book and a time when I am just not in the right place for a book. I am going to assume that’s what happened with this one. Everyone loved this book. Even people who didn’t like Soule’s first book loved this one. I actually really liked his first book. And I didn’t hate this one at all but I didn’t love it. There was too much going on and I was having to suspend my disbelief more and more and more and at some point I just didn’t even care. It felt too over the top. Too convoluted. Too many twists on top of twists. If you’re in the right mood, I can see you totally might love this one. For me, it came at the wrong time.


When We Were Vikings (3 stars): “Everyone is a hero in their own lives,” he said. “That’s by default. But I wanted you to see that sometimes the world thinks something is not possible, but it turns out that they can be wrong. Even fancy scientists can be wrong.”

“Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists,” I said.

I dislike it when a book is compared to other books I’ve read and loved. Especially when it turns out that the comparisons aren’t accurate. This book is compared to The Silver Linings Playbook and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I think it’s like neither.

This is the story of Zelda, who has fetal alcohol syndrome and is living with her brother Gert. She’s a huge fan of Vikings and rules. The book is her quest to try to save her brother. It is a heart-warming book but it also has a lot of very serious topics and trigger warnings.

For some reason, I thought it would be a sweet, cute book. It is not.

It’s a touching book but it is serious. It has violence, it has parts that made me angry and parts that made me sad and also parts that made me hopeful. But the whole time, the hardest part was to get past the expectation that this book would be lighter than it actually was. So I want to set the expectations right in case you’re like me. This is not a light and fluffy book. It threw me off that there are a lot of quirky parts to this story and the characters come off a bit like quirky and yet the subject matter is so so serious and the topics covered are also very serious and not at all quirky. I guess this is where it tried to be like Silver Linings Playbook but I didn’t feel like it hit the mark as solidly.

It did gave me a lot to think about and I am glad I read it.

with gratitude to Gallery/Scout press and netgalley for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.


The Lost Book of Adana Moreau (4 stars): Maxwell closed his eyes and thought of nothing and everything, all at once, just as Saul had taught him, as if he were walking through a dark labyrinth, the center of which was bathed in moonlight, or, like his missing father, sailing through an endless dark blue sea toward something unknown. Then he opened his eyes and began to read.

This is one of the most unusual books I’ve read in a while. The whole time I was reading it, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. I wasn’t fully sure what was happening or where the story was going. And even after finishing the book, I am not fully sure how I feel about it. I want to make sure to mention that this is not a “plot” driven book. Not much happens in this book. Actually that’s not true. A lot happens in this book, but it’s like you get to know each character and their life story and how they get to be where they are and who they are so there is a lot happening but none of it is a single plot the story follows. The only plot is really that Saul finds Adana’s book and wants to return it to her son as his grandfather requested. That’s the actual plot. The rest is really the story of each of the characters. There are a lot of historical events and politics in this book surrounding the lives of each of the characters.

Some parts where more interesting to me than others and I loved the writing throughout but I didn’t fall in love with the book until I read how Maxwell and Saul’s grandfather meet. That section was by far my very favorite of the book.

In the end I loved my time with this unusual story.

But no matter how much we think we know, we end up knowing so little of our parents and even less of our grandparents, most lives are forgotten as soon as they’ve occurred.

with gratitude to netgalley and Hanover Square Press for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


A Good Neighborhood (4 stars): “Valerie understood that while her son did and always would hold her heart in his hands, the fact of being a parent was that her son’s heart was and must be reserved for someone else.”

There’s so much to say about this book. So much I liked and so much I didn’t like. I thought a lot about how I should rate it and what it meant to me. I read this book in one sitting, and found myself attached to most of the characters and caring deeply about where it was going even as I knew it was going to be a train wreck of a book. Even as I knew I was being manipulated as a reader. I still couldn’t put it down. The writing was beautiful and compelling and I decided it deserved a high rating just for that.

There’s a lot going on in this book. Some of it felt completely unnecessary. I felt the author went more stereotypical and villain that I would have liked for some of the characters. It oversimplified the story and didn’t do justice to the complexity of racial issues and how they are there even when the person isn’t a totally disgusting person. There were hints of that as the neighborhood reacted to everything and there were some glimpses of that but overall I think the book made things too black and white and too preachy. My biggest beef was with Brad. There was just nothing redeemable about him in the book. There were glimpses to how nice he was being to Lily but it just wasn’t enough. Also I felt like the ending felt a bit rushed and didn’t really feel true to character, especially with Julia.

I did fall in love with Valerie and Xavier though and this book broke my heart in all the ways it was meant to.

with gratitude to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review


The Murmur of Bees (4.5 stars): I loved this book from the very beginning. This beautiful story of a family that adopt the little baby, Simonopio, who is disfigured and surrounded by bees. This boy that saves the family again and again. The story of love, loss, brotherhood, sacrifice, and family. It reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whom I adore. If you like long, well-written family sagas with a historical backdrop and wonderful, memorable and well-developed characters, you will love this book.


Apeirogon (5 stars): “I will tell it until the day I die, and it will never change, but it will keep on putting a tiny crack in the wall until the day I die.”

Column McCann is an incredible writer. This book has a format that will appeal to some and put off others. It worked for me. The book is the story of two men, one Palestinian and one Israeli, who both have lost daughters. They come together to help spread peace.

“I tried to hide it from my fellow prisoners but something in me changed—or maybe it hadn’t, but something was coming from a new direction, maybe I had just found something that was there all along.”

The book travels back and forth in time, in and out of fiction and non fiction, it stops in the middle of a scene and then picks it up pages later. It repeats bits and pieces. It has not just a purpose and a story but also a rhythm.

“Sometimes it feels like we’re trying to draw water from the ocean with a spoon, but peace is a fact.”

And it breaks every little part of your heart. It shows how awful we humans can be. It shows how awful we humans are. How we treat each other. In many parts, I was reminded of the Brene Brown quote about how we try to make people “other” and “not human” so we can hate them or hurt them and how when we get to know them as fellow humans, it becomes so much harder to write them off, to harm them.

“We need to learn how to share this land, otherwise we will be sharing it in our graves.”

I had never heard of the story of Rami and Bassam. It was eye opening, heartening and of course completely heartbreaking. I do not wish this type of loss on my worst enemy and I have unbounded respect for their ability to take such profound loss and turn it into an opportunity to broker peace. To still be able to love and not let the hate take over.

“Bassam clicks his tongue and half-smiles. A familiar and hopeless gesture: they can travel together anywhere in the world, but not these few miles.”

The day to day lives of people living in the West Bank are shared in detail in this story. Once you read it, it becomes impossible to un-know it. It becomes impossible to not let it get to you.

“The only interesting thing is to live.”

Everything about this book worked for me. I was blown away by it. By all the facts. By all the back and forth. By the terrible tragedies. By the senseless deaths. By the tireless fight for peace. By the incredible writing of Colum McCann.

With gratitude to netgalley and Random House for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Observational Sketching (4 stars): I really enjoyed this observational sketching book. I liked the different styles of the different sketchers and the deep research about how each ordinary piece that they sketched is actually manufactured. The book has a simple but relatively comprehensive tutorial on how to sketch basic objects, focusing on perspective, shapes and breaking things down. It then proceeds to give examples of sketches done for each simple object from multiple perspectives.

It’s not really an instructional book and it’s not pure eye candy either. I’d say it sits somewhere in the middle. There is a lot of detail in each sketch, showing the smallest pieces of each item.

If you’re interested in sketching, especially everyday ordinary objects, you will like this one.

with gratitude to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Oona Out of Order (4.5 stars): I loved this book.

I loved the idea of the plot, I loved the way the writer executed it, I loved the characters, I loved how it came together and fell apart and came together again. I loved how you thought you knew what was coming and then you were wrong but not shocked in a way that made you angry at the author. I loved how Oona was so far from perfect and yet I felt protective of her and rooted for her.

I read this book in one sitting. It made me happy and it was the perfect book for my 400th book of the year. Now I’m going to have to go read her other book, too.

Thank you netgalley and Flatiron Books for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.


Hidden Places (4 stars): I am rating this book high most especially because it gave me a handful of places that are now in my bucket list to visit. Especially the caves in Belize, a beautiful park in Canada, a canyon in Arizona, a town in Peru, and an incredible forest in Germany.

The first few stories here were depressing and not all that interesting to me. The author gives you the history of each location and how it got to stay hidden or how it was uncovered. Most of the places have devastating histories and I was getting sad just reading it. But then she started talking about the kind of places that I was hoping to find in a book like this. Wonders of the world that are still untouched and hard to get to but then once you get there, it’s beautiful wilderness. Just reading about these places made me smile and yearn.

My biggest complaint about the book is the drawings. While they are okay and I usually love art, in this case, I found myself craving photos. I ended up looking up each of the places on the internet so I could see what they really looked like. Way more magical than the drawings. I wish the author would have chosen to couple the words with photos instead.

thank you to Quarto Publishing Group and netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Patron Saints of Nothing (4 stars): I loved this powerful YA book about Jay whose cousin in the Philippines has just died and he decides to take a trip there to figure out what happened and “see his family.” The story has the backdrop of the President Duterte’s drug war in the Philippines and is not your typical tale. This story is as layered and rich as its characters are and breaks your heart as it enrages you. Life is complicated, so are the choices we make and this book doesn’t simplify them one bit.


Separation Anxiety (3.5 stars): “Being a child’s primary focus is temporary, fleeting; I knew that the aperture was closing, that the light on me would eventually dim and I’d be replaced with friends.”

I have mixed feelings about this book. The story has a lot of absurd parts which I think was always the intention. It’s about a mom who’s wearing the family dog in a baby sling, after all. But that’s not all of it. There are more moments like this where you’re like really? what made the author pick that choice?

“All I feel is loneliness—every cell in my body and brain is empty and devoid of what’s supposed to connect me to the rest of the world—and to Gary—and I am full of a strange new grief, that of a nonjoiner who suddenly sees what they’ve been missing out on all these years: community, connection, the quiet comfort of others.”

But then there are such resonant moments. Moments where I felt like she was speaking directly to me, directly to experiences I’ve had, feelings I carry, and grief I have. I would have to take a break and be in the moment, and experience someone reflecting my truth so eloquently.

“No one cares how weird your life is, Judy. Or all the ways you think it’s failed you,” Gary says. “Your mother’s gone. No one sees the bird on your head except you.”

So many of us hang on to experiences and feelings (especially of inadequacy long after the source is gone.)

‘Loss has made you afraid of life, but you have to stay open. Porous. You have to let all the available light—all the tiny shards of joy—still flow through you.” She closes her eyes. “Who knows what beauty the rest of the way will bring.”’

I love the image of tiny shards of joy flowing through me. I love love love that image so much.

“I feel all the available light—all the life—all the tiny shards of joy and sadness and grief and love—flow through me, the chimera of the past finally giving way to the reality of the present: we are who we are; we are doing our best; it will all work out. It is a choice—to accept, to believe, to remain—and I am choosing all of it now.”

This book is full of beautiful moment. Beautiful thoughts, truths, grief and absurdity of life. I think in the end, though, I felt like it tried too hard. It was a bit too absurd. Just shy of what I would have called a really good read.

with gratitude to netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


It’s Not Always Depression (4 stars): “When we judge others for what and how much they feel, it says more about our capacity to handle the emotions of others.”

I had an exceptionally bad year in 2018. In May, I experienced a distinct shift in emotional state and fell deeper and deeper into what looked awfully like a depression. I don’t know if it was depression or not but I do know it made living my life considerably harder. It took thirteen months for the curtain to lift and for me to feel some light again.

So when I saw this book at the library, I wanted to see what I could learn. And I am glad I did. This book uses the Change Triangle and talks about the importance of feeling your feelings.

There are:
– 7 core emotions: fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, excitement, and sexual excitement
– inhibitory emotions: anxiety, shame, guilt
– defenses: all the ways in which you try not to feel emotions
– openhearted self: calm, curious, connected, compassionate, confidant, courageous, clear.

The book focuses on going through the triangle to identify which of the 7 core emotions you’re actually feeling so you can feel it and then move to openhearted self. She talks about the importance of not just noticing the core emotion, but naming it, feeling it, staying with the sensation of it, all the way to the end of it, create fantasies to counter it (or things it evokes.) so that it can help you move to the openhearted state of the authentic self.

Sounds easy but of course like all worthwhile things, it is not. And yet it’s simple.

Glad I read this one.


And there we go, a bunch of reading this week, ending my week is 402 reads for the year. Here’s to a great 2020.


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.

Unraveling – Goodbye to 2019

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 2020 sheet. You can download it right here. I split the reflective questions looking back on 2018 in and the questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2019 into two posts. This is part I, the 2020 post will show up later this week. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

Before we start unravelling 2020, let’s take a moment to look back over the last twelve months. Maybe there were lots of changes for you in 2020. 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 2019? Yes, my word was magic.
  2. If you did, how did your word help to guide you through the last 12 months? Can you think of any specific examples? I have made sure to add more magic into my life in ways big and small. Our trip to the Galapagos was magical and once in a lifetime for me.  Even more significantly, the moments we spent hiking and the culminating waterfall and swimming was likely one of the highlights of my life. I showed up and said yes to hiking Mt. Dana, to going to rock climb each week. I spent time shepherding David to high school and Nathaniel to middle school. I took over new teams at work and went from being an individual contributor to being a manager of managers with a team that’s globally spread out. I walked into 2019 still in the middle of a depression and was finally able to emerge out of it in June. I spent time each week noticing and documenting the magic in my daily life. Magic has been a fantastic word for me. It’s helped me remember to create and notice the magic of my life in all the ways big and small. 
  3. What did you embrace in 2019? I embraced my life. I created experiences I wanted to have. I showed up for people at work, I showed up for my family, and I showed up for myself. And then sometimes I didn’t. And I embraced that, too. 
  4. What did you let go of in 2019? I let go of my depression. I still have moments of sadness and moments that I spiral down but the deep, scary feeling of apathy, sadness,  and all the pressure I was feeling seems to have lifted for now. It is singlehandedly the best thing I could have let go of.
  5. What changed for you in 2019? Hmm.. both my kids started new phases in their educational lives with middle and high school. My work changed again and then again. I became a manager. I started rock climbing regularly. I took chances. I got really good at both making and seeing the magic.
  6. What did you discover about yourself in 2019? I discovered that the depression wasn’t here to be permanent and that it could in fact disappear  in one day. I discovered that even in the toughest week, I can see/find some magic. I discovered that if I want magic in my life, I can make it so. I discovered that I am always more excited about making life than I am about making work. I discovered that I can start new ideas any day of the week. I also discovered that I really love reading and just don’t want to let it go. I discovered that it’s important to take chances and to say yes.
  7. What were you most grateful for in 2019? At the top of the list is the fact that I am feeling better. I am incredibly grateful for it. Right below that is my husband again, always. For always being there for me, with me. For getting me excited about rock climbing. For his happiness being so contagious. For always being my sunshine. Grateful for my kids, for being so kind and generous and loving. I am incredibly lucky. I am grateful to my parents, to my sister, to my nephews for always reminding me that I am not alone, that they have my back and that I am so loved. Grateful for my friend Kelly who exchanged weekly emails with me about the magic we saw each week this year. It played a huge part in helping me keep my word front and center. Grateful for the people who reached out to me, who have created space for me, encouraged me and believed in me, even when (especially when) I couldn’t.
  8. When did fear hold you back in 2019? I still opted out of social interactions more often than not. Also didn’t step up in some work cases. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike or drive to the city. Most importantly, I didn’t work out as aggressively as I wished I could have.
  9. Where did you practice bravery in 2019? Stepping into my new roles have required bravery. Our trips, while fun, required bravery. The hiking, especially Dana was huge bravery. The rock climbing continues to be so. Many days just showing up to life is bravery for me.
  10. What surprised you in 2019?  How the sadness went away almost overnight. The hike in Hawaii and how deeply it made me happy. How much I’ve enjoyed the things I thought I would like to have at work but didn’t until this year. 
  11. What made you smile in 2019? My husband. My kids. My friends. Twinkle lights. That moment under the waterfall.
  12. What conclusions did you reach in 2019? That I want to design my own life. I want to choose my life and fit work into it and that I can do whatever I want. I just have to really decide and not feel obligated but feel committed and inspired. Also that my life is full of magic. So, so much magic.
  13. Let’s think about your ACCOMPLISHMENTS in 2019. List three things that went really well this year — personally or professionally, what are you most proud of? For each accomplishment, consider the following: What skills helped you make it happen? How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself? How did you celebrate or acknowledge your accomplishment? (If you didn’t, how could you next time?)
    • I stepped into being a manager of two different teams, and learning a lot of new areas.
    • I took some incredible vacations with my family and traveled to places I’ve wanted to see for many years.
    • I committed to being more active with my husband, took hikes together, went rock climbing weekly, really tried to show up.
  14. Now let’s look at your CHALLENGES. List three situations that have tested your limits and patience this year. The big or the small — whatever challenged you the most in 2019 (there may be more than three so go with whatever comes to mind first) For each challenge, consider the following: How did you deal with the challenge? Did you discover any new tools or allies that could help you again in the future? How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself? (If you’re still working through a particular challenge, what outcome would feel good to you?)
    • I really struggled with food still. I have been having a really hard time trying to move to a more healthy mindset and habit around nutrition.
    • I wanted to work on figuring out the magic of me and I haven’t spent enough time on that. Very little, in fact.
    • Last year I wrote: I think my biggest challenge is still being kind to myself. Every other challenge I have stems from that. And I don’t think much of that has changed. My inner voice, the noise in my head is not productive or positive. It continues to be my biggest challenge.
  15. Describe your favourite day, moment or occasion of 2019 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? It was definitely the day we went hiking in Hawaii. The location was obfuscated and not sure what we were getting into. The bamboo trees at the beginning, the muddy trail we got lost several times, the uphill hike that wasn’t clear if it would ever end, the tropical location, and most importantly the culminating water and getting to stand under that amazing waterfall. It was one of the best moments of my life.
  16. Gentleness alert! Did anything happen in 2019 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? All the times I didn’t show up as my best self. All the times I yelled at my kids or let my husband down or all the months I wasted continuing to be sad and anxious and worried over things that were small. All the times I didn’t achieve my own goals.  I let it all go. I forgive myself for being human in my own way.
  17. So we’ve dug into our accomplishments and challenges, remembered our favourite moments and considered who we need to forgive. Now I invite you to close your eyes for a moment and think about 2019 as a whole. As you cast your mind back over the last 365 days, consider the gifts that 2019 offered you on your life’s journey…What stands out the most? What really mattered? What stands out the most is overwhelming gratitude. What mattered most are the days with the people I love. The moments of joy, gratitude and contentment. Simple pleasures. New experiences. Here’s some of what happened in 2019:
    • I helped David with his multiple science fairs and all the journeys he took along the way. 
    • I helped Nathaniel get better at writing. I tucked him in every night I was home. 
    • I traveled to Zurich and London and Los Angeles (and maybe Boulder?) for work. 
    • I interim-managed a large, global team to help out a colleague, I leaned in hard and tried to really help the team.
    • I took over management of another team and a new area for my business unit.
    • As a family: we went to Los Angeles, San Diego, Pacific Grove, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, the Galapagos, Waikiki, Hawaii, Yosemite, Tahoe, 
    • I got to welcome the new year with my whole family for the first time since 1992. All of us together in the Bay Area.
    • We did over 20 weekly celebrations as a family.
    • We took weekly family photos for 45+ weeks.
    • I drew 250+ drawings this year.
    • I read 360+ books. More than 100 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 weekly for 6+ months.  I moved from 5.5 to 5.9 and a handful of 5.10as and even one 5.10b
    • I got my belay card
    • I wrote 52 emails to Kelly about the magic of my week.
    • I took 10+ hikes with Jake.
    • I hiked Mt. Dana (13,500 ft.) with my family.
    • I organized multiple 100+ people summits at work. And I co-led an arm of the diversity council.
    • I supported both my kids through their Tech Challenge experience.
    • I did over 100 yoga sessions.
    • My kids attended their first seder.
    • I took Nathaniel to Orlando, Floria to Harry Potter World for his 10th birthday. Just thw two of us.
    • I wrote 20 letters to my kids for each of the nights they were gone away on a school trip.
    • I survived David’s trip to Spain (for two weeks!)
    • I attended Google I/O.
    • David graduated from middle school. Nathaniel finished elementary school.
    • I went totally blonde.
    • Jake and I went on several date nights.
    • I supported Jake in several of his personal dreams around climbing.
    • I got a concussion.
    • I make hundreds of healthy lunches for Nathaniel.
    • I mentored several women in my organization.
    • I still don’t drink coffee with caffeine. (but sadly i drink soda now, i will quit again!)
    • I still pretty much go to bed 10pm and wake up 6am every week day.
    • 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 most of those down.
  18. Describe 2019 in 3 words: magical, shift, brave
  19. If the events of 2019 were made into a film or a book, what would it be called? Glimmers of Light.
  20. Before we finish with 2019, 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 

Thank you 2019. You’ve reminded me that I can make my own magic. Shown me that things are not permanent. Reminded me that I hold the reigns of my life. Showed me how much magic the world has to offer. Reminded me what matters most in my life. And reminded me to stay in the growth mindset.  I am very proud of myself and grateful for all the magic of 2019. I am excited to jump into 2020 as a more committed version of myself.

THANK YOU 2019 YOU ARE NOW COMPLETE!

Books Read in 2019

In 2019, I read 404 books.

  • My favorite read of the year was: A Woman is no Man
  • My favorite YA read of the year was: The Poet X
  • My favorite graphic novel read of the year was: Good Talk
  • My favorite non-fiction read of the year was: Invisible Women
  • My favorite SciFi read of the year was: This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • My favorite Fantasy read of the year was: Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
  • Here are all my five star rated books from this year:
    • Noble Heart: A Self-Guided Retreat on Befriending Your Obstacles
    • Everything My Mother Taught Me
    • Inward
    • Normal People
    • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
    • In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4)
    • Living Beautifully: An Inspirational Journal
    • Becoming
    • The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2)
    • Where To Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World
    • Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
    • Plainsong (Plainsong, #1)
    • A Woman Is No Man
    • An Uncommon Atlas
    • The Art of Visual Notetaking
    • The Poet X
    • The Wisdom of Anxiety
    • Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
    • Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
    • Apeirogon: A Novel
    • It’s a Numberful World: How Math Is Hiding Everywhere
    • Painting Masterclass
    • Olive, Again
    • Limitless Mind
    • The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse
    • Welcoming the Unwelcome
    • Things My Son Needs to Know About the World
    • This Song Will Save Your Life
    • There You Are
    • This Is How You Lose the Time War

And here are all my reads from 2019 in order. You can find all the reviews here and my drawings with reviews on instagram here.

  1. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
  2. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
  3. Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
  4. The Library Book
  5. The Art of the Good Life
  6. Uprooted
  7. Plainsong
  8. A Key to Treehouse Living
  9. Talking Across the Divide
  10. Bad Blood
  11. Some Assembly Required
  12. The Happiness Project
  13. Chief Joy Officer
  14. Can You Ever Forgive Me
  15. Juliet the Maniac
  16. Keep Going
  17. Every Heart a Doorway
  18. The Au Pair
  19. The Water Cure
  20. The Widows
  21. Brave, not Perfect
  22. Normal People
  23. The Dreamers
  24. O’s Little Guide to Finding Your True Purpose
  25. Down Among the Sticks and Bones
  26. If, Then
  27. Talk To Me
  28. A Dangle a Day
  29. Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
  30. white fragility
  31. Have You Seen Luis Velez?
  32. Inheritence
  33. The 4 habits of Joy-filled marriages
  34. The Editor
  35. Journey into yourself
  36. Beneath the Sugar Sky
  37. So Lucky
  38. Our Life in a Day
  39. In an Absent Dream
  40. I Owe you One
  41. recursion
  42. elsey come home
  43. the body is not an apology
  44. the shape of a life
  45. DIY Watercolor Flowers
  46. golden child
  47. lie with me
  48. here and now and then
  49. the lost man
  50. the silent patient
  51. more than words
  52. the fifteen wonders of daniel green
  53. The Plotters
  54. Freefall
  55. The Test
  56. Becoming
  57. The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom
  58. After
  59. 99 percent mine
  60. Digital Minimalism
  61. When You Read This
  62. Liquid Rules
  63. Happy Money
  64. The Organic Painter
  65. Look Closer, Draw Better
  66. Things my son needs to know about the world
  67. On the Come up
  68. The Study of Animal Languages
  69. The Valedictorian of Being Dead
  70. The unwinding of the miracle
  71. The Last Romantics
  72. Early Riser
  73. The Island of Sea Women
  74. An Anonymous Girl
  75. I Think You’re Wrong but I am Listening
  76. Visual Notetaking
  77. The Happiness Diary
  78. Where Reasons End
  79. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
  80. Territory of Light
  81. Unhoneymooners
  82. wingspan
  83. The curious charms of arthur pepper
  84. Brave Love
  85. Girl, Stop Apologizing
  86. Daisy Jones and the Six
  87. Factfulness
  88. The Cassandra
  89. The River
  90. Tangle’s Game
  91. The Secret of Clouds
  92. Be Angry
  93. Shout
  94. Being Creative: Be inspired. Unlock your originality
  95. A Woman is No Man
  96. Riots I have Known
  97. The Perfect Liar
  98. By Invitation Only
  99. The Self-Love Experiment
  100. Creative Selection
  101. American Kingpin
  102. The Urban Sketching Handbook: Working with Color
  103. The Penguin Lessons
  104. Before She Knew Him
  105. You Do you
  106. Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey
  107. When All Is Said
  108. Opposite of Always
  109. The Wildlands
  110. On Being Human
  111. Golden State
  112. If Cats Disappeared from the World
  113. The Night Tiger
  114. Rumi: Unseen Poems
  115. Brand Identity Essentials, Revised and Expanded
  116. Creative Lettering and Beyond: Timeless Calligraphy
  117. Realistic Portraits in Colored Pencil
  118. Hughie Mittman’s Fear of Lawnmowers
  119. Stretched Too Thin
  120. Outer Order, Inner Calm
  121. The Parade
  122. Lot
  123. One True Loves
  124. The Salt Path
  125. The Path Made Clear
  126. Queenie
  127. The Porpoise
  128. Understanding Numbers
  129. An Uncommon Atlas
  130. The Silver Ladies of Penny Lane
  131. Grace After Henry
  132. The Ditch
  133. How to Raise Successful People
  134. The Places That Scare You
  135. My Lovely Wife
  136. Lights All Night Long
  137. The Man in the next Bed
  138. The Other Americans
  139. Juliet’s School of Possibilities
  140. The Billion Dollar Whale
  141. The White Book
  142. Draw Like an Artist
  143. Senlin Ascends
  144. Wolfpack
  145. I Miss you When I Blink
  146. The Poet X
  147. The Dream Peddler
  148. Era of Ignition
  149. Any Ordinary Day
  150. Life is Short Don’t Wait to Dance
  151. Mostly Sunny
  152. Skin
  153. The Memory of Light
  154. Inspection
  155. Only Ever Her
  156. Utopia for Realists
  157. After I Do
  158. There’s a Word for That
  159. Feast Your Eyes
  160. The Weight of a Piano
  161. Maybe Someday
  162. Reasons the Stay Alive
  163. Have More Fun
  164. The Girl He Used to Know
  165. Fifty Things that aren’t my Fault
  166. The Honey Bus
  167. Ask Again, Yes
  168. Miracle Creek
  169. How to Be Yourself
  170. Fumbled
  171. The Mother-in-Law
  172. Walking on the Ceiling
  173. Good Talk
  174. Meet Cute
  175. The F*ck It Diet
  176. The Secret Life
  177. The Bride Test
  178. How to draw and Write with a Fountain Pen
  179. The Algebra of Happiness
  180. The Printed Letter Bookshop
  181. Anywhere, Anytime Art: Illustration
  182. It’s a Numberful World
  183. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
  184. When We Left Cuba
  185. Inward
  186. All that you Leave Behind
  187. This Song will Save your Life
  188. A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
  189. Exhalation: Stories
  190. The Unpassing
  191. Rules for visiting
  192. Everything is F*cked
  193. Noble Heart
  194. Marriage-ology
  195. The Better Sister
  196. The Invited
  197. With the Fire on High
  198. The Farm
  199. Middlegame
  200. The Wisdom of Anxiety
  201. The Sentence is Death
  202. The seven or Eight deaths of Stella Fortuna
  203. The Flatshare
  204. Stop Doing that SH*t
  205. The Scent Keeper
  206. City of Girls
  207. When We Found Home
  208. The Perfect Date
  209. Boy Meets Depression
  210. Magic for Liars
  211. Fix Her Up
  212. One Strategy
  213. This is Home
  214. The Ruin
  215. Celestial Watercolor
  216. How Not to Die Alone
  217. Own Your Everyday
  218. The Friend Zone
  219. For the Love of Books
  220. The Untethered Soul at Work
  221. The Body in Question
  222. Dawn
  223. Disappearing Earth
  224. Painting Masterclass
  225. Ever After
  226. This is How You Lose the Time War
  227. Red, White, and Royal Blue
  228. A Nearly Normal Family
  229. Tea and Cake with Demons
  230. Drawing Home
  231. Biased
  232. Olive, Again
  233. Evvie Drake Starts Over
  234. Apollo Leadership Lessons
  235. The Islanders
  236. Heads of the Colored People
  237. The Last Book Party
  238. The Huntress
  239. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
  240. The Expectations
  241. What I Wish I knew When I was 20
  242. Player’s Ball
  243. I am her Tribe
  244. The Nickel Boys
  245. State of the Union
  246. Callings
  247. The Wedding Party
  248. The Confession Club
  249. The more or less Definitive Guide to Self Care
  250. The Gifted School
  251. The Lager Queen of Minnesota
  252. The Most Fun We Ever Had
  253. The Dutch House
  254. Notes to Self
  255. Has Anyone Seen the President?
  256. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
  257. Searching for Sylvie Lee
  258. Gravity Is the Thing
  259. Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers
  260. Unfu*k Yourself Workbook
  261. Chances Are…
  262. That’s What Frenemies Are For
  263. The Book Charmer
  264. On the Corner of Love and Hate(Hopeless Romantics, #1)
  265. Never Have I Ever
  266. Pretty Guilty Women
  267. The Great Unexpected
  268. Lanny
  269. The Right Swipe(Modern Love, #1)
  270. If You Want to Make God Laugh
  271. The Ten Thousand Doors of January
  272. The Floating Feldmans
  273. Things You Save in a Fire
  274. Turbulence
  275. You’ve Been Volunteered: A Class Mom Novel
  276. We Are All Good People Here
  277. Say Say Say
  278. Because You’re Mine
  279. No Happy Endings
  280. All the Water in the World
  281. The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus into Your Life
  282. The Turn of the Key
  283. A Bend in the Stars
  284. The Testaments
  285. The End of Loneliness
  286. Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know
  287. The Miracles of the Namiya General Store
  288. Dominicana
  289. The Dearly Beloved
  290. Family of Origin
  291. Read This if You Want to be Great at Drawing People
  292. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World
  293. Inspired Artist: Draw Every Little Thing: Learn to draw more than 100 everyday items, from food to fashion
  294. The Grace Year
  295. How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems
  296. Nature Tonic: A Year in My Mindful Life
  297. A Mindful Year: 365 Ways to Find Connection and the Sacred in Everyday Life
  298. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse
  299. A Pure Heart
  300. Twice in a Blue Moon
  301. The Whisper Man
  302. Summer Frost
  303. Emergency Skin
  304. Fleishman Is in Trouble
  305. There You Are
  306. Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
  307. Nothing to See Here
  308. The Memory Police
  309. Well Met
  310. Red at the Bone
  311. Little Faith
  312. Broken Man on a Halifax Pier
  313. The Water Dancer
  314. Little Weirds
  315. The Library of Lost and Found
  316. Living Beautifully: An Inspirational Journal
  317. Royal Holiday(The Wedding Date, #4)
  318. The Art of Watercolor Lettering: A Beginner’s Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Modern Calligraphy and Lettered Art
  319. The Chain
  320. Rewilding: Meditations, Practices, and Skills for Awakening in Nature
  321. The Future of Another Timeline
  322. The Simple Wild (Wild, #1)
  323. If You Tame Me
  324. Healthy as F*ck: The Habits You Need to Get Lean, Stay Healthy, and Kick Ass at Life
  325. Don’t You Forget About Me
  326. Healthy Habits Suck: How to Get Off the Couch and Live a Healthy Life… Even If You Don’t Want To
  327. If You Were There
  328. The World That We Knew
  329. The Swallows
  330. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
  331. Lifescale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life
  332. Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)
  333. Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World
  334. A Random Act of Kindness
  335. Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home
  336. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
  337. Midnight at the Blackbird Café
  338. Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts
  339. The Weddings
  340. The Lion’s Den
  341. Can You Feel This?
  342. Everything My Mother Taught Me
  343. Zenith Man
  344. Big Dreams, Daily Joys: Get Things Done, Make Space for What Matters, Achieve Your Dreams
  345. Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations
  346. Half-truths and Semi-miracles: A Short Story
  347. Everyone’s a Critic
  348. Worry-Free Living: Let Go of Stress and Live in Peace and Happiness
  349. Universal Methods of Design Expanded and Revised: 125 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions
  350. All This Could Be Yours
  351. Love Poems for Married People
  352. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
  353. Love Lettering
  354. The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution
  355. After the End
  356. The Color of Style
  357. I Will Never See the World Again
  358. The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club, #1)
  359. Saving Francesca
  360. Once More We Saw Stars
  361. If Only I Could Tell You
  362. Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive
  363. The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae
  364. The Family Upstairs
  365. A Warning
  366. The Math of Life and Death: 7 Mathematical Principles That Shape Our Lives
  367. The Starless Sea
  368. Where To Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World
  369. Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer, #1)
  370. Verity
  371. Where the Forest Meets the Stars
  372. We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life
  373. Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home
  374. Watercolor the Easy Way: Step-By-Step Tutorials for 50 Beautiful Motifs Including Plants, Flowers, Animals & More
  375. Creative Journaling: A Guide to Over 100 Techniques and Ideas for Amazing Dot Grid, Junk, Mixed Media, and Travel Pages
  376. Whiskey & Ribbons
  377. What if There Is Nothing Wrong With You: A Practice in Reinterpretation
  378. Lost Children Archive
  379. Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators
  380. Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1)
  381. Lawn Boy
  382. Would Like to Meet
  383. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
  384. Everyone Knows You Go Home
  385. You Have Arrived at Your Destination
  386. The Dating Charade
  387. Regretting You
  388. Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy
  389. Night of Miracles (Mason, #2)
  390. Anyone
  391. The Year of No Nonsense: How a Little Less Bullsh*t Can Change Your Life
  392. When We Were Vikings
  393. A Good Neighborhood
  394. The Lost Book of Adana Moreau: A Novel
  395. The Murmur of Bees
  396. Apeirogon
  397. Observational Sketching
  398. Hidden Places
  399. Oona Out of Order
  400. Patron Saints of Nothing
  401. Seperation Anxiety
  402. It’s not Always Depression
  403. A Keeper
  404. Guests of August

I was purposefully planning to read 100 fewer books in 2019 than I did in 2018, I ended up reading 100 more. I am not going to try to guess how 2020 goes. I will just let myself be. I will try to live my life and read as much as I would like.

December Daily 2019

Like last year, I didn’t get to post my December Daily day by day this year. It just seemed much easier to work on it on my own pace and post it after I am done. So here we go.

I loved this year’s binder. 

i ended up with a very simple journal but that’s ok.

The reason why.

we started with family photos.

some ordinary day stories

rain and some inspiring mantras at the moment.

nathaniel took photos on the bus for me

lots of climbing this year!

and lots of studying david

more climbing

my very favorite saying right now

and some not so great days

some studying with nathaniel and some work meetings

the Google holiday party.

theme was The Great Gatsby this year.

more studying and journaling

love this boy

a special day with my friend Kelly.

there were some magical sun rises this year.

more of david studying and this sign at the climbing gym in the city.

david with his astronomy teacher.

finally wrapped all the presents and here are all the books i read in December 

well most of them. And first night of Chanukah.

Christmas Eve presents

my favorite face ever.

christmas eve and morning table.

and the aftermath. always love the aftermath.

and as is tradition tulips and my OLW for 2020.

And there we go, another year, another delightful December Daily. I love this project. Here’s to a magical 2020.

Weekly Reflection 2019 – 51 & 52

Magic I Saw this Week: I decided to take last week off even from writing so here we are. This week and a half has been magical mix of reading and climbing and snuggling.

Magic I Made this Week: so.much.climbing.

Magic of Me that I explored Week: some solid 2020 work.

Top Goals Review:  just rested

I celebrate: I did a 10c this week. I am proud of myself!

I am grateful for: my husband and all the climbing

This week, I exercised: i did my PT and went rock climbing twice. I threw out my back last week so i took it easier than usual. But i went 5 times the week before.

Self-care this week: all. this. time.

I showed up for: rest.

I said yes to: resting

I said no to: pushing myself when i was in pain

Core Desired Feelings Check-in:

  • Embrace:  embracing the limits of my body
  • Alive: climbing is helping me feel alive still
  • Lighter: feeling lighter slowly
  • Kinder: thinking a lot about this one
  • Surrender: surrendering to where i am now.

What I tolerated this week: hurting back and was also sick

My mood this week was: lazy.

I am proud of: all the climbing

I forgive myself for: not doing all i needed to do

Here’s what I learned this week: i am stronger than i think.

What I love right now: time off. i am still needing more.


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

Everyday Magic – 52

Weekly Intention: Since this is a super short week till it’s 2020, we’re going to keep this short. I just want to rest and enjoy what’s left of 2019. Here’s to a peaceful week.


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