2011 – Looking Back

Well, it’s almost the end of 2011. Another year gone. I remember thinking at the end of 2010 that it had been a great year for me and that I couldn’t possibly do better in 2011. But I was ok with that. 2010 was great and it gave me the support I needed to tackle some newer, more ambitious goals for the following year. If I didn’t do as well, well that was okay, too. It didn’t have to get better.

But it did.

It got so much better. I feel like 2011 was significantly better than 2010 (which is saying a lot considering how I felt about 2010), in just about every way. And I am deeply, deeply grateful.


Like last year, I want to start by reviewing my projects (the title of each section links to the original post I made in December 2010 about the project I was undertaking):

Daily Diary:
I wanted to do a random photo, daily family photos, 3 gratitudes for me and 3 for david each day. I did this daily all the way up to a few months ago when I switched to posting weekly. The change was very conscious with the intention of creating the space for myself so that I could post more of the “thoughts” posts I used to do in the past. When I look back on the years of my blog, these “thoughts” posts are some of my favorites and I wanted to get back to capturing them more. Having the daily posts made it harder for me to do that. The weekly setup is working well for me and I plan to continue it in 2012.

A Book a Week:
As usual, this wasn’t a big problem. I love reading and do it as often as I can. With two book clubs, I have a lot of external motivation to read literary and interesting books. I have spent a lot of time reading Young Adult novels this week as there seem to be many good ones and I’ve given up reading anything that I consider unnecessarily sad. I am not sure how much longer this Young Adult novel kick will continue but I am ok with it so far. Whatever gives me joy is the motto I’m sticking to. I’m not reading so others can approve. I am reading for me. As it turned out I’ve actually read over 70 books in 2011.

Weekly Art Journal:
Well this has been a success if I say so. I had no idea how this project was going to go. I’d been scared of and interested in Art Journaling for so so long. I had no reason to believe this year was going to work any better than the past, but it did. It did! I’ve made over 200 art journal pages this year. I’ve art journaled consistently since February. I’ve created things I hated and things I loved and everything in between. I’ve taken many classes and experienced with so many mediums. And I’ve found my voice. At least one kind. I’m still playing with this but I feel so much better. I feel like this year has been a tangible step forward in art journaling for me.

Six Portraits a Week -> Daily Sketching:
Well this project morphed. It started with me wanting to learn how to draw faces, which I tried. I took classes, I practiced and I had mixed results. And then I got bored. I secretly wanted to learn to sketch so I changed this project to sketching. Which I did regularly since April. I’ve created over 250 sketches this year. I’ve used graphite, colored pencils, pastels, acrylic, and watercolors. I’ve drawn realistic, whimsical, landscape, portraits, and everything in between. I’ve created a practice. I still have a very long way to go here but I love love love sketching and I am deeply grateful to have picked it up. This is the area I hope to make a lot of headway in next year.

A Book a Week with David:
David and I read 52 books this year. Here’s our list. I am deeply grateful for this project. We read so many incredible books. We laughed. We shared so many moments. He loved so many of them and he is an avid reader on his own, too. For me, it’s some of the most precious moments David and I shared this year.

Healthy for Life:
Another huge success. I lost more than 20% of my body weight this year. I went from being on the top the normal weight range to the very bottom. I went down about 6-8 dress sizes. I started eating almost exclusively whole foods. And, most significantly, I exercised every single day this year. Every day. I am amazed to even write that sentence. I have never ever exercised for more than a week or two in my whole life. This was a huge change in my life. I am deeply grateful for it and very conscious of the effort it will take to keep it up. I’m fully committed to being healthier now and I will not destroy all the hard-work I’ve done in this space. Hands-down the biggest personal accomplishment I’ve achieved in a long, long time.

Us Right Now:
The biggest goal of this project was to make sure I was in more photos with my family. I wanted photos with me in them. And now I have hundreds of them. This project brought all of us so much joy despite the bickering and even yelling during the shoots. We tickled and laughed and made jokes. I love looking at these photos. I love their ordinariness. I love their imperfection. Most of all, I love that I am in them!! I cannot recommend this project enough to everyone.

That’s it for the projects I’d selected for 2011. I did relatively well with all of them and I am happy with how they turned out. I’ve printed all the cards and put them in their albums, too. All set to say good-bye to some and welcome new ones. A sign of a project that really works for me is that I choose to continue doing it. Like I did last year for the gratitude project. I carried the gratitude practice from 2010 to 2011 and will do so to 2012. I am carrying over almost every single project from this year to 2012. This, to me, is a sign that I chose well and have received a lot of joy from doing these projects. Let’s see how they turn out for 2012.

Goals for Each Priority

I had some other goals for 2011, too. Here’s a quick summary on some that are not mentioned and how I think they turned out:

  1. Start a family night where we all play games or watch movies. This worked out good for the most part. We did it almost regularly and I loved each of them. We will continue this for 2012.
  2. Take a class with Nathaniel We never did this one. Well, I tried one class but barely went which is rare for me. I disliked it quite a bit. We set a special mommy-and-me project for 2012 so I hope that will work well.
  3. Schedule minimum bimonthly date nights with Jake We did quite a few of these. Most of them were to the movies. I’d like more variety for 2012.
  4. Exercise & Food goals I had some goals around running a 10k, which I never did. I decided this is not a goal for me. I don’t really care to race. I just want to exercise. I also wanted to do more strength exercises which I still want to do. I need to focus on this one more. I did ok on vegetables and protein but could do significantly better. But I did finally manage to quit the coffee and graham crackers. (though in the last month, I’ve been drinking one latte a day but I plan to quit that before 2012.)
  5. Monthly photo excursion I totally did not do this one. I am not sure why honestly. Most of the non-family photos I took this year were of flowers. I like flowers okay but they are not my favorite subject. They were just the most convenient one. I’m going to have to think about this one a bit more and see what I want for 2012.
  6. Write weekly extended photo articles on my blog I’ll be honest. This is not something I want to do. I sometimes go through these phases where I think of things I “should” do on my blog to get more readers or links, whatever. But then I remember that this blog is mine. It’s my fun, my personal space and for me. It’s not really to make money or draw interest by doing something that feels painful to me. And, so I don’t plan to do this unless I can find a way that makes it fun for me.
  7. Figure out for once an all if I want an etsy shop and what will go in it Another controversial area for me. Something I felt like I should do but not something I want to do. So, unless some amazing idea comes to me when I am not looking for it, this one is shelved permanently.
  8. Scrapbooking After the tangible progress in 2010, I felt like 2011 was a quieter year for me and scrapping. I still scrapped quite a bit between all the assignments I had and goals I made for myself. But I certainly didn’t do it as much as last year and I haven’t been feeling the motivation to do so as much. But when I do sit to scrap, I find that it still gives me all the joy it’s always given me. I don’t know how this will evolve in 2012. I am leaving it be for now. I will be scrapping a lot in a different way for the savor project and i will have design team assignments. I am guessing those will keep me busy for a while until I sort out where I want the scrapbooking to go.
  9. Writing This is an area where I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped in 2011. I did start writing more thought-oriented posts and I loved doing those and I did my newsletters which also made me happy. Most significantly, I started journaling again and it’s had an incredible impact on my happiness. However, I didn’t write a new class, downloadable, or a novel. I don’t want to do any of these things. I think that if I don’t feel ultra-motivated to do it, I shouldn’t do it. Time is precious and I don’t want to waste mine.
  10. Learning I took a lot more classes than I’d intended. I loved most of them. I didn’t write an ipad app. I didn’t code much at all. I also didn’t make the stop-motion movie. I still hope to do that one. I have some audacious learning goals for 2012. I am scared of them. But that’s the idea.
  11. Community In the end, I did okay on this one. Not excellent but better than I was. I made some new friends. We had many guests over. This area is challenging for me and I hope to grow more in 2012.

My word for 2011 was Free. I wanted to let go of the past and feel free to do anything I want for my future. I wanted to be lighter by letting go of the load I’ve been carrying around all these years and be free to do, be, feel anything.

Of all the words I’ve had so far, this one seems to have had the most impact on me. I truly feel freer than I’ve been. I’ve spent a lot of time and work on letting go. This area will always be something I need to work at but I’ve made leaps and bounds of progress here. More than I’ve made in 20 years. And I’ve made some huge leaps in moving forward too. Sketching, art journaling, trying new things. These are major leaps for me. Not telling myself that I can’t. Or that I have no talent.

Most significantly, I feel like I’ve become a lot more aware this year. I notice things I do. The ways in which I am not kind to myself. The actions I take as a result of some past history. I’ve been able to course-correct so much more often. I’ve been able to come up with coping strategies. I’ve been able to fix things, let go of things, and embrace things.

And the greatest gift of this year has been an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Somewhere along the line I realized how incredibly lucky I am. How much I have in my life. And since that moment I’ve been feeling a deep sense of gratitude. I can’t even put it into words properly. It’s not just words. It’s a very powerful feeling that washes over me several times a day now. It often stops me in my tracks. It’s fragile and tender and truly wonderful. It allows me to let go of everything because the sensation of gratitude is so wide and so deep. It’s easily been the best gift of this year. I hope to hang on to it for the rest of my life.

And there we go. Another year gone.

Here’s to an even better 2012. May I savor every moment of it.

9 comments to 2011 – Looking Back

  • Kim

    Love your word for the year. Lots of things I would like to be free to do and free of. I also totally love what you said about it being your blog. I get trapped in the same cycle of wondering how to get more followers. Why do I want that again?? Thanks for the reminder to be myself and write about what I want to on my own blog. 🙂

  • Helen Rosen

    Hi Karen,

    I don’t usually comment on blogs, but I have subscribed to yours for almost a year, and I just wanted to let you know that you are very inspirational in a lot of ways. Looking forward to reading about your projects and thoughts in 2012. Happy new year!

  • dawn

    I loved reading this Karen, you did so many amazing things this year. Love the way you share your thoughts on everything with us. Your blog is perfect just the way it is. Thank you for always being so inspiring thru your words and photos and art, you always make me happy when I’m here. Keep it up for 2012!!

    p.s. hoping to start your Time class this week, December was just too busy and I want to really focus on the lessons.


  • Cheryl

    I’ve been a follower for – ever! It is your blog to decide what you want to present. I have always loved these longer philosophical posts of yours as they make me think. This year, I loved all the inspiration you provided. It sent me off exploring my own talents…quite hidden under layers of junk. I still prefer the posts similar to today…thought provoking, entertaining. I feel like we’ve just had a latte together…love and warmth and good times.

    I wish you a year to “savor”, a year of health, peace and happiness.

  • Very reflective. You inspire us to live with awareness, gratitude, discipline and belief in ourselves. When you mention “overwhelming feeling of gratitude”, I’m curious to know how is that like. I’m usually grateful for food on the table, good health and financial stability. But “overwhelming feeling of gratitude”? You’ve piqued my interest.

    I came across your blog from BigPicture and what you’re doing with your blog now is fantastic. Just the way that you reflect on your life and ensuring that you’re living the most out of it is enough. Thank you for sharing, encouraging and inspiring us through your blog.

  • Betsey

    I am so impressed by your dedication to your 2011 goals. I recently found your blog and have enjoyed your art and your photos. Your writings are eerily similar to my own thoughts and feelings, so thank you for expressing them so well. I look forward to your posts in 2012!

  • […] to reflect on the last six months. Review my goals from January and see how I am doing. Sort of like I did here. I am thinking I might use this download I found at Susannah’s site. Even though it was meant […]

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