2017 - My Year to Shine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to 2017: my year to SHINE.

Unraveling the Year Ahead - 2017

I want to start by saying that this, too, is going to be a VERY long post. These reflective posts are how I make sure to live my life intentionally. They matter to me and I love being able to look back on them in future years. I know that this might not be interesting to many (if not any) of you, so please feel free to skip it. If some of you find it interesting, all the better.

This particular exercise is following Susannah Conway’s Unraveling 2016 sheet. You can download it right here. I split the reflective questions looking back on 2016 in and the questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2017 into two posts. This is part II, the 2016 reflections are here. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  18. List 3 things about yourself you positively love

    1. My persistence and ability to get things done

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

    3. My love of learning anything and everything

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

    1. Eating more vegetables and protein

    2. Exercising daily in some way.

    3. Drinking more water.

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

    1. Writing regular emails to my mother in law.

    2. Weekly appointments to chat with my sister.

    3. Finding ways to see my nephews.

  21. List 3 people you could extend compassion to

    1. Myself. I need this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  7. I will learn more about:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 I wholeheartedly believe that everything is possible in 2017!

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

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

Unraveling - Goodbye to 2016

I want to start by saying that this is going to be a long post. These reflective posts are how I make sure to live my life intentionally. They matter to me and I love being able to look back on them in future years. I know that this might not be interesting to many (if not any) of you, so please feel free to skip it. If some of you find it interesting, all the better.

This particular exercise is following Susannah Conway’s Unraveling 2016 sheet. You can download it right here. I split the reflective questions looking back on 2016 in and the questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2017 into two posts. This is part I, the 2017 post will show up here later this week. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

Before we start unravelling 2017, let’s take a moment to look back over the last twelve months. Maybe there were lots of changes for you in 2016. Maybe it’s been a year of growing or nesting or exploring or letting go. Whatever’s happened this year it’s got you to this point, right now. Exactly where you’re meant to be. Pick up your pen and let’s do some digging.

  1. First of all, did you have a word for 2016? Yes, my word was choose.

  2. If you did, how did your word help to guide you through the last 12 months? Can you think of any specific examples? I wanted to live more intentionally and choose my actions instead of feeling like things were happening to me. I feel like what helped me the most has been writing the weekly intention posts. They helped me see the choices I was making weekly. I want to live all of my life intentionally.

  3. What did you embrace in 2016? I think more than anything else, 2016 was a test in embracing change. David moved to a new school which meant major changes in schedule/routine. My work moved from Zurich to Sydney and Seattle, which also meant big changes in routine/schedule. These were not sad changes but they were big changes. I learned to embrace change and go with it.

  4. What did you let go of in 2016? I let go of controlling my destiny so closely. I learned to step into life and work with it. I let go of the idea that it can only work one way.

  5. What changed for you in 2016? Heh. So many things. My work and David’s school are the biggest changes by far, though.

  6. What did you discover about yourself in 2016? That I am strong. I can make it work. I was very afraid of both of these changes. And yet. I made them work. I am making them work. I can do so much more than I thought. Also, I discovered that I like traveling for work. I like both the quiet time and the intensity of work that comes with the travel. I also like how my boys all get to have some time just the three of them.

  7. What were you most grateful for in 2016? I am always most grateful for my family. My kids, my husband, my parents, my sister and her family. This year I am also extremely grateful for my parents’ generosity. I don’t know what I did to deserve all this kindness but I am deeply grateful for it.

  8. When did fear hold you back in 2016? Hmmm. I was scared a lot but I try not to let fear hold me back. At least not in any big way.

  9. Where did you practice bravery in 2016? Many times. At the kids’ schools. At work with all the changes. At every single social event I go to and every single business trip I go to. I practice bravery almost every single day.

  10. What surprised you in 2016? Well, besides my work moving from Europe to the southern hemisphere? I think that one takes the cake.

  11. What made you smile in 2016? My kids. My husband. David getting into the school of his dreams and their creation winning an award at the Tech Challenge. Seeing David play the guitar on stage. Nathaniel’s joy in doing math. Tucking Nathaniel in every night. Hugging Jake. Every single time.

  12. What conclusions did you reach in 2016? That I can make anything work. That I find ways to adjust. That I love my job. Love what I do and the people I do it with. That I love reading and listening to books. That I need to work harder on eating well and finding some exercise I like to do. That I need to be kinder to myself. That I am loved. That I am incredibly lucky.

  13. Let’s think about your ACCOMPLISHMENTS in 2016. List three things that went really well this year — personally or professionally, what are you most proud of? For each accomplishment, consider the following: What skills helped you make it happen? How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself? How did you celebrate or acknowledge your accomplishment? (If you didn’t, how could you next time?)

    1. I helped my son get into the school of his dreams. I wrote my essays, helped him write his essays, drove him to each shadow, sat with him, worked with him, and I showed up. My consistency, organizational skills, hard work, and persistence helped make it happen. I learned that I am tough and can do what needs to be done and I also learned that sometimes I need to take time to sit with myself and release what I need so I can make room for my kids to be who they want to be. We celebrated a bunch of times but for this one, we took David out of class and accepted in person and then went out to celebrate as a family.

    2. I transitioned my project from Zurich to Sydney and took on five new teams. This was a lot of work. My willingness to make it work, hard work, and openness made it happen. I learned that I can learn new things. I can make different schedules work and I can do this. I am still working on this one, but I feel good about it so far. I haven’t celebrated this one yet. Though I did get two spot bonuses so I will use that money to do something fun. And I did make a point to celebrate being in Sydney the first time I took the trip (and even the second time, albeit briefly.)

    3. I changed my kids’ diet. My kids are very picky eaters and until this year, they are sandwiches for lunch and bagels and vegetables for dinner. Now they eat spinach and fruit and chicken, cheese and sandwiches for lunch. And broccoli, salad and fruit for dinner. They went from eating prepackaged oatmeal for breakfast to eating yogurt and fruit (and granola for Nathaniel.) It’s not perfect and they still eat more bread and less protein than I’d like but it’s been a huge change. I am proud of it. My persistence and hard work made it happen. I feel so much better about it now and my kids are easier to take out. This one is a gift to me so I don’t need extra celebrations.

  14. Now let’s look at your CHALLENGES. List three situations that have tested your limits and patience this year. The big or the small — whatever challenged you the most in 2016 (there may be more than three so go with whatever comes to mind first) For each challenge, consider the following: How did you deal with the challenge? Did you discover any new tools or allies that could help you again in the future? How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself? (If you’re still working through a particular challenge, what outcome would feel good to you?)

    1. The biggest challenge by far has been health. I’ve had a hard time sticking to any healthy diet. I wobbled a lot. I started the year with no coffee and no soda and I am finishing it with a lot of both. And I am not eating barely any vegetables or even protein. I went from exercising daily and taking 10K steps to hardly any at all. I was putting lotion on my skin daily and not so much anymore. I can go on and on. Consistently focusing on health in general has been a total challenge this year. I didn’t deal well with it. This one always feels hard and I drop it. I learned that I consider it a sacrifice. I want to eat badly because it’s easy or tasty. When tired or worn out, this is the first thing I drop.It would feel good to me if I made this a major priority. If I cared enough about myself to not drop this anymore.

    2. Another challenge, especially in the second half of the year has been figuring out a schedule with my new changes. With the evening hours and daytime hours and volunteering and driving the kids to school/shuttle. I haven’t found something that feels solid yet. My life feels a bit out of balance. I need two things here. One is to make a bit more time for myself. For exercise+art+journaling. 20 mins of each would go a long way. The second thing is to organize my time better. Make specific lists for the pockets of time I have so I feel like I am using them well. So I do use them well.

    3. The third challenge is a never ending one. My patience, my kindness, showing up my best self, especially around the kids. Not yelling. Being generous. These things I crave and wish for every day but I fail at often. I will keep trying here. I will never give up.

  15. Describe your favourite day, moment or occasion of 2016 in words and pictures. What did it taste like? Smell like? Sound like? Who was (or wasn’t) there? Where were you? What were you doing? What was awesome about it? And most importantly, how did you feel? There were many good days in this year. But the one that comes to me in this moment is walking from Bronte beach to Bondi beach in Sydney in the summer (their winter) and listening to my audiobook as I did it. I loved seeing the breathtaking beaches. I loved being alone. I loved listening to my book and seeing as much or as little of everything I wanted.

  16. Gentleness alert! Did anything happen in 2016 that needs to be forgiven? Maybe it was something someone did or said to you. Maybe it was something you did or said to someone else — or to yourself? Maybe you feel you let yourself down in some way. Here’s the thing — we are all beautifully fallible human beings doing the best that we can with the tools that we have, so where can you give the gift of forgiveness to yourself or to another? Oh the health issue through and through. I am really sad about my body. Not just the weight but how tired I feel. How worn out I am. How weak, etc. I am forgiving myself. I know I can make this better for myself. I know I have what it takes.

  1. So we’ve dug into our accomplishments and challenges, remembered our favourite moments and considered who we need to forgive. Now I invite you to close your eyes for a moment and think about 2016 as a whole. As you cast your mind back over the last 365 days, consider the gifts that 2016 offered you on your life’s journey… What stands out the most? 2016 was full of gifts for me, full of brave work, kindness and hard work. Here are some things I did:

    1. I helped David get into middle school.

    2. I was the president of David and Nathaniel’s school’s parent association.

    3. I transitioned my project from Zurich to Sydney and picked up five other teams in Seattle the process.

    4. I did a lot of travel in 2016. Much of it was for work. I went to Zurich in January and April. I went to Sydney in July and October. I went to Seattle in July and September and I went to an offsite at Yosemite in May. I also traveled for fun to Istanbul in June and Boston in August and Canada in December. Looks like February, March and November were the only months when I didn’t travel.

    5. I mentored several women in my organization.

    6. I hit the ground running in David’s school and volunteered with the Book Fair as well as signing up for a regular volunteer slot in 3-4th grade Lit Club which pretty much takes up all of my Thursday mornings each week.

    7. I was really into the election this year and watched countless hours of CNN as well as teaching my kids about the primaries, electoral college and debates.

    8. Before I dropped it on the floor, I did run daily, I did 7min exercise for months and I walked 10K for many days in a row.

    9. I helped write and edit over 40 college essays for my sister’s two boys. One already got into his first choice and the other will soon!

    10. I already mentioned this one above, too, but I helped change the way my kids eat.

    11. I was the journal advisor for the Tech challenge for David’s team.

    12. I also volunteered in both kids’ classrooms and took them back and forth from school every day. I made lunches, breakfasts, and dinners.

    13. I did a Udacity math class with each kid.

    14. I took ten online classes.

    15. I read over 126 books.

    16. I made over 240 pieces of art this year. (20 a month.)

  1. Describe 2016 in 3 words: change, busy, proud

  2. If the events of 2016 were made into a film or a book, what would it be called? This is Life.

  3. Before we finish with 2016, take a few minutes to write out anything else you need to say to the old year in the box below. You might like to say some final goodbyes and thank yous… This year, more than ever, I saw how my life and work are integrated in crazy ways. How I work at odd hours and how I am not working during traditional hours. I am eternally grateful for being home with my kids and being able to volunteer at their schools. For being able to go to book clubs in the middle of the day. For being able to travel for work to beautiful places. For having a job that challenges and really fulfills me. For my kind and understanding and patient and loving husband. For my loving parents who are incredibly generous and always there for me. For my sister who is so loving and inspiring. For my nephews who are finally moving to America. For books. For puzzles and TV and audio books. For music. I am just so grateful for all I have. For this crazy life that is full to the brim. May it always be so layered and rich and fulfilling. I am thankful with all my soul.

Thank you 2016, you are now complete.

December Daily 2016 – Day Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four and Twenty-Five

And we are at the end of one more December Daily. Here are the final pages:

Day 23 is about our family photos:

Day 24 is about Christmas Eve presents and then I added a 4×4 to be able to put a few more photos.

Hanukkah candles, setting the table, the kids opening their presents.

And then Christmas morning photos:

And the last page is my traditional tulips with my OLW for the following year.

Here’s to a happy, merry 2017!

2016 in Art

One of my goals for 2016 was to make 20 pieces of art each month. I had some ideas of what I wanted to do but I also knew that they would likely change as the year progressed. I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull off making 20 pieces of art each month. But I did! This post will be image heavy as it will show all of them. (Almost all.)

For January I made Fashion Girls:

For February, I made Choice Cards

For March, I drew ladies from the back:

For April, I made some Lettering Wisdom:

For May, I wrote all about what choosing means to me:

For June, I drew some Evening Looks

For July, I drew some watercolor food:

For August, I wrote some Daily Mantras:

For September, I made Index Card Photos:

For October, I made Truth Cards:

For November, I did some Today Journaling:

And December, of course, was December Daily.

The best part is: I enjoyed every one of these projects a lot!

Not too shabby for a super-busy year. Here’s to hoping for more art in 2017!

Books I Read in 2016

In 2016, I read 138 books. As it turned out, I haven’t written about any of these because I read more than 52 books a year and a book a week posts fall behind. So I am still posting 2015 reads even though 2016 is over. I find this annoying. I also have a hard time remembering all the details of the book this long after I’ve read it. So for 2017, I’ve decided to change things up. I will be posting the books as I read them. That might mean that one week I have 3 books to post about and the next week, I have none. It shall be so.
Here’s the list of books I’ve read in 2016 so far. (A few more days left and I am sure I’ll read a few more, I’ll come and update the list.) These will not appear on the blog on their own. If you have questions about them, ask in the comments and I will reply! :)
In the year 2016, I became a huge proponent of audio books. I listen while I drive, while I do art, while I play candy crush. I listen all the time now and I listen at 2x speed, which is a bit slower than the speed at which I read.
My favorite read of the year was: The Nix.
My favorite YA read of the year was: The Sun is Also a Star
My favorite non-fiction read of the year was: Truth and Beauty
  1. The Crossroads Of Should And Must
  2. Unbecoming
  3. Bel Canto
  4. The Dog Stars
  5. Fortune Smiles
  6. My Name Is Lucy Barton
  7. When It Happens To You
  8. All The Birds In The Sky
  9. The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend
  10. Your Heart Is A Muscle The Size Of A Fist
  11. When Breath Becomes Air
  12. The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly
  13. A Man Called Ove
  14. Be Frank With Me
  15. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty
  16. The Immortals
  17. Symptoms Of Being Human
  18. The Expatriate
  19. Everything Everything
  20. Emmy And Oliver
  21. Love Minus Eighty
  22. The Dream Thieves, Raven King, Blue Lily, Lily Blue
  23. Shelter
  24. Divorce Papers
  25. Sleeping Giants
  26. Free To Fall
  27. The Noise Of Time
  28. First Time She Drowned
  29. Better Than Before
  30. The Year We Turned Forty
  31. The Forgetting Time
  32. One In A Million Boy
  33. The Girl In The Red Coat
  34. The Good House
  35. Most Wanted
  36. This One Summer
  37. Imagine Me Gone
  38. The Nest
  39. Where They Found Her
  40. Wink Poppy Midnight
  41. Union Atlantic
  42. Brave Enough
  43. The Life We Bury
  44. Happier At Home
  45. Eligible
  46. A Thousand Pieces Of You
  47. What I Know For Sure
  48. Stitches
  49. The Past
  50. Fellside
  51. The Life We Bury
  52. Some Luck
  53. The Flicker Men
  54. Vinegar Girl
  55. Objects Of My Affection
  56. Consettation Of Vital Phenomena
  57. Lily And The Octopus
  58. Gratitude – Oliver Sachs
  59. Catch 22
  60. Truly Madly Guilty
  61. The Girls
  62. Dark Matter
  63. Before The Fall
  64. Revised Fundamentals Of Caregiving
  65. Winners Curse Series X3
  66. Truth And Beauty
  67. Present Over Perfect
  68. Unfurl
  69. The Great American Whatever
  70. This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage
  71. An Object Of Beauty
  72. The Bean Trees
  73. Three Prescriptions For Happiness
  74. Textbook – Krouse
  75. Commonwealth
  76. Love Warrior
  77. Between Breaths
  78. The Sympathizer
  79. Blue Nights
  80. Deep Work
  81. Twelve Steps Of A Compassionate Life
  82. Sons And Daughters Of Ease And Plenty
  83. Finding Your Own North Star
  84. Underground Airlines
  85. Another Brooklyn
  86. Modern Lovers
  87. Siracusa
  88. Hoot
  89. Loving My Actual Life
  90. Bad Feminist
  91. A Darker Shade Of Magic
  92. Nutshell
  93. Creative Schools
  94. Japanese Lover
  95. Monday Nights In 1980
  96. Razor Girl – Abandoned
  97. How To Party With An Infant
  98. The Mothers
  99. The Wonder
  100. The Sun Is Also A Star
  101. How To Be A Person In The World
  102. The Versions Of Us
  103. The Underground Railroad
  104. Hatchet
  105. My Year With Eleanor
  106. The Year Of The Runaways
  107. The Course Of Love
  108. Home Going
  109. On Living (kerry Egan)
  110. Today Will Be Different
  111. Hagseed
  112. Buffering
  113. The Spy
  114. Crosstalk
  115. Leave Me
  116. Hungry Heart
  117. Dash And Lily’s Book Of Dares
  118. Salt To The Sea
  119. This Is Your Life Harriet Chance!
  120. Crown’s Fate
  121. Behold The Dreamers
  122. Talking As Fast As I Can
  123. Hillbilly Elegy
  124. The Chemist
  125. The Undoing Project
  126. Why We Get Fat
  127. Infinite Home
  128. The Association of Small Bombs
  129. Swing Time
  130. Holding up the Universe
  131. Unworthy
  132. Books for Living
  133. Joy on Demand
  134. Illuminae
  135. The Vegetarian
  136. Rich and Pretty
  137. Infomocracy
  138. The Regional Office is Under Attack! ( I finished this one on New Year’s Day)

Here’s to another year of reading!

Weekly Reflection – 51

And here we are. I know I didn’t post last week, I was in Edmonton, Canada, and I didn’t take my computer with me so I didn’t get to post. And next week I will be posting all about my plans for 2017, so there will be enough reflection posts to last a lifetime. All of this is to say that this will be the final Weekly Reflection for 2017. I will be continuing these next year since they were so helpful in making sure I am intentional with my time and reflective about life week to week. This helps me see all I do, it helps me see who I am and the choices I make day in and day out. It also allows me to pause and enjoy my life while I live it. Gratitude in real-time.

  • Three Choices I made this week:
    • One: I chose to slow down this week. I read, I made puzzles, I rested.
    • Two: I chose to travel with my family even though I really dislike traveling during the holidays.
    • Three: I chose to finally sit and make plans for 2017. I feel good about where I am now.
  • I read/learned: Between travel and the quiet week at home, I have read a lot of books. Since I last posted, I’ve finished This is your Life Harriet Chance!, the sequel to my friend’s book, Behold the Dreamers, Talking as Fast as I can, Hillbilly Elegy, The Chemist, The Undoing Project, Why We Get Fat, Infinite Home, The Association of Small Bombs, and I am now reading Swing Time. I’ve also watched a new series on Netflix called The OA this week. I have mixed feelings about it.
  • I celebrate:  Christmas. I love this time of year.
  • I am grateful for:  my home. downtime. family.
  • I focused on my health by: i’ve been working on the food. not a lot but slowly.
  • I made art:  still working away at december daily. i wanted to make art for January but I am not really feeling inspired.
  • I let go of: everything this week. I’m trying to let go more and more so i can really relax.
  • Core Desire Check-in:
    • Kind: I’ve been kind to the kids this week. I’ve been trying to as we are all home.
    • Strong: I was strong with persisting that I wanted to make 2017 plans. I finally pulled it together.
    • True: I was true to myself and didn’t over commit for the next year. Though I am still on the fence about my art plans.
    • Generous: I was generous Jake since we’ve been back so he can have the time to finish off some work.
    • Brave: I was brave to not check any work mail this week. I don’t even want to know what will welcome me when this vacation is over.

Happy 2016 everyone. Here’s to an amazing 2017 for all of us!


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

December Daily 2016 – Day Twenty-Two

Today is honoring one of those really ordinary days where we do nothing super significant. David is on his computer, working away. Nathaniel is watching Pokemon and I am working on my year-end blog posts. Love days like this.

December Daily 2016 – Day Twenty-One

I always like to have a page that honors my word of the year. This is that page.

There’s a little flap.

under which I wrote the journaling.

I love having my word in there.

December Daily 2016 – Days Nineteen and Twenty

I really liked my pages for 19 and 20 and I knew I wanted to print lots of photos from our trip to Edmonton. So for the 19th, I put some of our boarding passes. and journaled a tiny bit about the flights we took there and back.

On the back, I journaled all about our trip and then added a photo I love.

And then I just printed photos from the trip and added them as 6by8 photos for the next few pages.

No one photo is amazing but together they tell the stories from our three days and I love that.

And it love that i will back on this and remember how wonderful this little getaway was even though we didn’t get to see the aurora.

So here we go. Onward to day 21.

December Daily 2016 – Day Eighteen

And it’s pointless to record media if I will not also record some of my favorite reads from 2016.

I’ve read 119 books so far this year. I am so grateful for books.

December Daily 2016 – Day Seventeen

This year, I wanted to make a point to record some of the TV and movies we watched and loved. I like looking back on these over the years.

a few of our favorites.