Unraveling 2015

I want to start by saying that this is going to be a VERY long post. I realized last week that doing these reflective exercises on my blog is wonderful for two reasons. One, it means I do them and two: 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 2015 sheet. You can download it right here. There are some reflective questions looking back on 2014 and then some questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2015. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

First of all, did you have a word for 2014? If you did, how did your word help to guide you through the last 12 months? Can you think of any specific examples: My word for 2014 was listen. I had originally intended for it to be literal. Listening more to my kids, my husband, my friends, etc. But it ended up manifesting in unexpected ways. It ended up being all about listening to the very quiet voice inside me. Listening to the universe. I also ended up listening to a lot audio books. Not sure if it’s related to my word but I listened to considerably more audio books than ever before. This word guided me more and more once I decided it was about listening to the universe and to small whispers.

What did you embrace in 2014? I embraced trying new things. Going out of my comfort zone. Saying yes. Showing up. Taking a leap.

What did you let go of in 2014? I let go of the belief that things cannot be different. Especially in the second half of the year, I changed so much of what I spend my time on. If you’d told me this is how and where I would close the year, I would have said you were crazy.

What changed for you in 2014? My idea of belonging is evolving. I feel a lot more of a part of my community than I have before. This is a huge change for me.

What did you discover about yourself in 2014? I discovered that things aren’t always what they seem. And that what’s holding me back is me. I knew this but I experienced this so much more personally this year. I saw it. I felt it. I am beginning to get it.

What were you most grateful for in 2014? The first thought I had was Jake. I am grateful for Jake. His presence makes me feel safer to take chances. I feel like even if I fail spectacularly, I have this one person who will always be there to hold me. I think that really helps. My parents, too. They always have my back. I am so lucky and so very deeply grateful.

When did fear hold you back in 2014? Fear holds me back the most in social situations, I think. Or in idea more than reality. I know that when I show up, I am almost always there, in the middle of things, and not fearful. The showing up part is considerably harder for me. It’s where I often lean back instead of in. So the trick, for me, is to just commit to showing up without thinking about it too much. Or set myself up in situations where I know I will have to show up no matter what.

Where did you practice bravery in 2014? I did this one a lot. I changed jobs for the first time in seven years. I volunteered for several jobs in my kids’ school, one of which is co-chairing a major benefit event (which I’ve never even attended in the past.) I’ve also driven on the freeway a lot more often this year. I know these might not be brave for others but they are brave acts for me.

What surprised you in 2014? All of the above brave acts surprised me. Jake’s lovely party for my birthday surprised me. My ability to step into things and not crumble has surprised me.

Let’s think about your ACHIEVEMENTS in 2014. List three things that went really well this year — what are you most proud of?
1. Doing well in my job.
2. Organizing a lovely 40th birthday party for Jake.
3. Balancing work, home, school, friends better than I ever have.

For each achievement, consider the following: What did you do to make it happen? What supported you? What/who helped you make it happen? How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself? I’ve already talked about Jake’s support. For all of these, I feel like opportunities were presented and I just stepped into them. I did it without overthinking it. I find that if I just do (instead of think, analyze, worry, etc.) it tends to work out okay. I show up, I do what needs to be done, it gets done. And each time this happens, I get more energy to be braver the next time around. So I need to keep making it happen.

Now let’s look at your CHALLENGES. List the three things that have tested your limits and patience this year. The big or the small — whatever challenged you the most in 2014 (there may be more than three so go with whatever comes to mind first)
1. I’ve had some really tough moments at work.
2. I’ve yelled at my kids more than I’d like to admit. I am not proud of it. In fact, I am ashamed at my behavior.
3. I’ve been bad at staying in touch with people I care about. This is something I really want to rectify. Being a better friend.

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?)
Here are a few things I am trying to remember. For work: for me, life is always about more than work. It’s important to keep things in perspective and choose to always do my best but then let go of the rest. With the boys, the yelling, I am trying to learn self-compassion. Apologizing to them and then forgiving myself so I can try again the next moment. Giving myself the opportunity to do better. To do differently. For all the areas where I do poorly, I’d like to learn to forgive myself. I believe that it’s only then I can create the space to not react but to act.

Describe your favourite day, moment or occasion of 2014 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? Well, since both Jake and I turned forty this year, I think I’m going to say those were my favorite days. What was magical about both of them was that so many of our friends showed up in ways big and small to be there for us. We both felt so lucky, blessed and appreciated. So special. And I think that was a really magical moment for each of us. We also connected a lot since we took a lot of time to spend together during the week between his and my birthday.

Gentleness alert! Did anything happen in 2014 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?
If it did, I’ve managed to forget about it. I always need to be more gentle with myself. I continually fall short of where/who I want to be and then feel awful about it. I am not kind to myself in my judgement of how I measure up. Instead of doing it once a year, though, I’d like to be able to forgive myself each day (and maybe even each moment.)

So we’ve dug into our achievements and challenges, remembered our favourite moments and considered who we need to forgive. Now I invite you to close your eyes for a moment and think about 2014 as a whole. As you cast your mind back over the last 365 days, consider the gifts that 2014 offered you on your life’s journey… What stands out the most? What stands out the most in 2014 for me is change. Even though a lot of it happened in the second half of the year, I made a lot of big changes this year. I changed how I spend my time and who I spend it with. I changed my level of involvement in the kids’ school in a big way. And most drastically, of course, I changed my day-to-day job after having had the same one for over six years. Big big changes for me. The biggest gift of 2014, for me, was reminding me to be bolder and braver, which I think was its way of preparing me for 2015.

Before we finish with 2014, take a few minutes to write out anything else you need to say to the old year in the box below. You might want to say some goodbyes. I am ready to bid farewell to 2014. I am excited for 2015 even though I know it’s going to be a tough year for us in many ways. David will be applying to middle school in 2015. This means studying for exams, filling out applications, visiting schools, etc. I know it won’t be easy. It’s also going to be about learning to thrive in a new job. Which is exciting but also tough. It’s going to be about creating new routines. I feel like 2014 has been good to me and has reminded me that I can be braver. I can do differently. I can try new things. I am so very grateful to 2014. Thank you.

What’s your Word for 2015? My word is brave. Much more about this below and in a later post.

If you lived and breathed your Word every day in 2015, what would be different for you? Oh man. Everything. I would just do things. I would still maybe be afraid but I would do them anyway. I wouldn’t make up excuses around any of my “issues” I would just do whatever I feel a deep desire to do.

List some ways you are already being/experiencing this Word Volunteering in the kids’ school to run a benefit I’ve never even attended. Changing jobs. Traveling to Zurich for a week without the kids. Driving on the freeway much more often. All of these are brave acts for me.

What can you do this year to bring more of your Word into your world? I plan to keep track of one brave act I do each day. However small or big. I want to be more aware of opportunities to be brave. I want to notice when I am being brave. I want to remind myself to be brave. So I want to keep track. So I can remember. So I can recognize. So I can celebrate.

Choose four more words to support your Word this year. They could be anything from inspiring words to names of people to things you want to invest in… I’ve redone by Core Desired Feelings exercise for this year. More on this in a different post, as well. But the four words I ended up with are: serene, open, abundance, and alive. Those words will accompany brave in guiding me in 2015.

Fast-forward to December 2015. You are sitting in a cafe?, musing over the last 12 months. Where do you want to be…in your head? (work, dreams, goals) I want to feel very comfortable and confident in my new job. I want to be able to speak to things with ease, authority and efficiency. I want to be respected by my team and do a good job overall. I want to be able to speak to the areas I care about effectively. I want to be clearer about what I want from my life. Have some personal dreams and goals that really inspire me. Most of all, I want to feel a strong sense of belonging with my team.

… in your heart? (relationships, family, friends) I have spent far too many of my years worrying about belonging. Or lack thereof. I am done with that. I have come to believe we make our own belonging and I will cultivate my own. I am in a place in my life where I have a small but wonderful set of women I’ve come to really cherish. I want to make more of an effort to really cultivate our friendships. To really cultivate and own my belonging. I get to choose where I belong and I want to make the effort in these relationships in my life because they are worth so much to me. Similarly, with my husband, I want to make more of an effort. A more concerted effort. I want to kinder, gentler, more supportive. Enjoying our moments fully.

… in your physical world? (home, health, hobbies) I have plans for all these areas for 2015. For home, I want to declutter more and add some more touches of white. I’ve decided that white makes me feel like a clean slate, a breath of fresh air, and serene. For me, decluttering will be a big job so maybe what I can do is make a list and tackle one area each month or something like that. I have to think it through some more. The biggest part, to be honest, is all the scrapbooking supplies, the garage (where all the leftovers go to never be touched again) and the closet. So maybe the way I should tackle it is, small areas first and then breakdown these three big projects into small, chewable parts. As for health, I have plans for that, too. I want to make sure to really focus on my health for both nutrition and exercise this year. Eating more nutritious and whole foods. Much more vegetables. And I plan to do the 5-2 plan where I eat only 500 calories for two days of the year to see the health impacts of fasting. For exercise, I want to do something every day. Running, weights, the seven minute exercise, and walking. I want spend some time meditating and journaling; both are great for my mental well being. And then finally, for hobbies, this year I want to really work on my sketching in a big way. Like each year, I have 5 projects for the year which I will be talking about in the next few weeks in a lot of detail.

… in your soul? (beliefs, practices, self-love) I wrote a lot about some of these during my birthday post and all that still applies. I want to practice courage. I want to practice kindness. I want to practice patience. As much with myself as others. I want to feel the abundance around me. I want to be open to others’ kindness. I want to have faith in the universe. I want to feel all of my days. I want to live them to their fullest. I want to be alive each and every moment of my days.

The next two questions are about month to month breakdowns of the year. I didn’t do those because they don’t really speak to me at the moment, so I skipped them.

List 3 things about yourself that you positively love
1. My curiosity.
2. My continual striving to be a better version of myself.
3. My ability to love boundlessly.

List 3 things about yourself you feel ready to let go of
1. The continuous feeling of being less than
2. Holding myself back so I can measure up to someone else’s expectations
3. Apologizing for who I am

List 3 dreams you would like to manifest this year
Hmm, this one didn’t come to me right away. Partly because I feel like I am blessed to have so much of what I want from life. But maybe because I am not dreaming big enough. I’ll have to think about this one more.

List 3 people you feel will support you in 2015 (friends, colleagues, mentors, experts)
1. My wonderful husband
2. My mom
3. Myself (I know this seems odd and my first instinct was to write about my friend Leslie, who always supports me, and then I was going to write a bunch of friends, all of whom I know will support me so much, but then I decided what I really want is to be the kind of person who supports herself unconditionally so I decided to put myself here instead. All those friends will, too so we’ll consider them #4.)

List 3 passions/hobbies that you would like to explore more in 2015
1. Sketching for sure. I want to really dedicate some consisten time to sketching
2. Learning. I’d meant for 2014 to be a year of learning but it didn’t go as I’d hoped. Here’s to hoping 2015 does.
3. Writing. I think this year I want to spend more time writing here. More time reflecting, learning, noting, preserving. Let’s see.
I have other smaller ones too like collage, stamp carving, painting, drawing bodies, and faces, too. But I consider the above three to be more forefront on my mind.

List 3 duties or commitments you feel ready to release in 2015
There’s nothing that’s sticking out for me in this area. I’ll have to think more on this.

List 3 ways you would like to feather your nest (home) this year
Not sure what this one means. Does it mean things I want to buy for my home?

List 3 things you will aim to do each morning to start your day
1. Journal. I want to start my day with writing. Sort of like morning pages but just one page.
2. Exercise. I like to do my exercise first thing if I can. Makes me feel a strong sense of accomplishment.
3. Sketching. Like exercise, doing a sketch each morning helps me take time for myself and start my day fulfilled.

List 3 ways you will be kind to your body this year
1. Floss. I put this on my list each year. It’s so good for me. It’s so simple. And yet…
2. Hydration. I want to hydrate my skin so much better this year. I want to drink more water and put more cream. Be kinder to my largest organ.
3. Sleep. I want to continue to prioritize sleep. It’s good for my body, my mind, my mental health.

List 3 places you would like to visit in 2015 (at home or abroad)
Hmm this is another tricky one for me. I have no major desires to visit anywhere in 2015. I’m planning on going back home in June and hopefully visiting my in-laws again. I am happy to take David somewhere for his birthday if he wishes and we will likely want to go skiing. Other than those trips, there’s nothing I am dying to do.

List 3 ways you’ll connect with loved ones this year (dinners, days out, letters, calls)
1. Breakfasts/Lunch. This is something I do now but I want to do better, more regularly, and connect with some friends I’ve been meaning to for too long
2. Daytime adventures with Jake – Now that both boys are in school all day, Jake and I can meet for lunch occasionally and I want to do more of this in 2015.
3. Connecting nights – once a month, i want to dedicate a night of the week to connecting with friends who are farther. Maybe some skype sessions and some emailing. Not sure how it will play out, but I want to make the effort more organized for myself so it’s easier to stick to it.

List 3 treats you will gift your beautiful self in 2015 (big or small!)
1. Some skin care products. Basic, simple, healthy stuff.
2. Maybe, finally a new desk chair. This is a tough one as I am super picky.
3. Flowers. I want more of them this year.

Okay, let’s really rev up the positive energy — use this page to describe what 2015 looks like in your ideal world. Where are you desiring some forward-movement? What would saying YES to your life look and feel like? How do you want 2015 to FEEL? Write out everything your heart desires for this new year. Be bold.
Hmmm. the biggest forward movement I want is living each of my moments fully. Sometimes I find myself spending time doing things that I later regret wasting my time on. I want to make sure that I use my time exactly how I want to and always purposefully. With intent. This doesn’t mean it’s always productive, but it’s always purposeful. Feeling alive would mean not carrying the garbage of the past anymore. Not having assumptions about how others feel. Being more patient and serene. I want to move through the world with positive energy and faith. Assume positive outcomes. Take things as they come. This year comes with some hard work so it will be extra important and helpful for me to adopt this way of life. I want to be bold, alive, joyful, grateful. And alive. So very alive.

On your less-than-great days, how will you look after yourself this year? Make a list of everything that makes you feel better, and be sure to add to this page as you find new things you love. Not sure what to write? Start with the books, people, websites, practices, meditations, prayers, places to visit, songs, films and recipes that inspire and nurture you.

  • I will sleep. This is, by far, the most helpful thing to do when I am feeling low.
  • I will take a walk outside. Fresh air always does wonders for my perspective.
  • I will reach out. Sometimes a nice chat with a friend can bring back joy.
  • I will listen to music loudly. Really loudly.
  • I will watch a lovely movie, read a book I love
  • I will sit at my desk and play with paint.
  • I will get some work done. Sometimes that’s best thing to help me get out of my sad place.

Shuffle your favourite oracle or tarot deck then randomly draw a card for each month of 2015, noting down the results.
This is not something I would ever do normally and I was going to skip it but then I thought it might be fun. I used this site to get the cards for free on the web. I copied some of the sentences that I felt were most important to remember.
January – Peaceful Resolution – The challenges you’re inquiring about are going to come to an end. Conflict will cease and soon be replaced with harmony. Disagreements will be resolved in your favor. Allow peace to come, with grace and dignity for everyone.
February – Forgiveness – Forgiveness can work miracles. When you release the past, a weight is lifted from your shoulders, and a sense of freedom washes over you. This card can also refer to a need for self-forgiveness. It’s time to let go of any guilt you are holding on to regarding past mistakes you may have made.
March – Meditation Brings Answers – Trying to come up with an intellectual solution to your concerns hasn’t been successful. That’s because the solutions you seek can only be found by going within, through meditation or inner spiritual work.
April – No Need to Worry – Your worries and concerns regarding your question are unnecessary. The energy of fear and worry only slows the eventual manifesting of your desires. Visualize loving and happy outcomes, and keep your thoughts positive. Very soon you will wonder why you were worrying about this at all!
May – Within the Next Few Months – In the next few months, what you are asking about will occur…so keep the faith while all of the pieces of this puzzle come together and the situation resolves beautifully.
June – Recovery – This is a period of recovery and healing for you. The challenging emotions that you’ve been dealing with will fade away with time. Although it may be difficult to see now, there is a joyful future awaiting you. But for now, take all the time you need to regain your strength.
July – Helpful People – This card indicates that it’s time to expand your circle of friends. Or you may find yourself needing to do some professional networking. Make time to branch out in order to create the personal or career connections necessary to be happy and successful. This card lets you know that someone will be entering your life soon who can help make your dreams to come true.
August – Get More Information – The situation you’re asking about requires more information in order for you to make a wise decision. Ask those knowledgeable about the topic for their advice. You may need to do analytical research in order to get the data you need.
September – Opportunity – Positive growth and expansion is on the horizon for you. This opportunity may bring with it inspiration and insight, or it could be the chance you’ve been waiting for to take action on ideas you already have. Whatever your desires, your angels are about to open a door of possibilities for you. Step right through!
October – Communicate Clearly – This situation requires very precise and careful communication. Don’t assume that others involved understand what you want or need from them. In-person discussions are preferable, but if that’s not possible, make sure that your communication method is very thorough.
November – Listen to Your Intuition – Your intuition is completely reliable and accurate at this time. Listen to your own inner guidance and you can’t go wrong. Have faith in your feelings about the circumstances you’re experiencing. Your insights into other people and their true feelings or motives are perfectly accurate.
December – Success! – Congratulations! You are on the road to success. You needn’t have any reservations about your situation, as it’s going to work out beautifully! Part of living a successful life is taking care of yourself. It’s wonderful to have many things to be grateful for, but make sure you don’t wear yourself down by working too hard. Take time to enjoy peace in your life.

I really liked that the last one ended up so neatly… Throughout the year, I’ll come check and see if any of these ended up being prescient.

2015 will be the year I finally stop apologizing for who I am.

I will nourish myself with whole, healthy food. Good conversations with friends. Lots of quiet me-time.

I will make more time for connecting with people I care about deeply.

I will practice courage by doing something brave (big or small) daily.

This year I will open my heart to myself. I will be kinder, gentler, more patient. With myself and every person I come in contact with.

I will pay more attention to signs from the universe. My choice of words. Words matter.

I will learn more about schools. The process. So I can help find a good fit for David.

I will release my attachment to getting it right. I don’t even know what “right” is and I will let go of the belief that I do.

I dearly wish for 2015 to feel easy and inspiring. I want to move through this year with grace. Calmly and bravely.

This year I will say NO to self deprecation and being mean to others. Being impatient. Doing things out of guilt or obligation. Or so I can look good.

This year I will say YES to doing things that make me feel alive. Deeper friendships. Social occasions. Trying new things. Being scared and doing it anyway. Embracing all of me.

WHAT IS YOUR SECRET WISH FOR 2015? DECLARE IT HERE! My biggest wish for this year is being able to juggle all that’s on my plate gracefully and to thrive in all areas of my life. But most significantly, I wish for David to get into the school of his desires and for him to be as happy in his next school as he’s been in his current one.



As I warned, this was very, very long. If you made it this far down, I hope you’ll take the time to do your own worksheet too and if you discover anything interesting, I hope you come and share it with me. More retrospective posts and 2015 plans coming soon.

7 comments to Unraveling 2015

  • dawn

    Hello Karen! I LOVE this and need to do this too. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on these, read most of them but I’m out of time. The year I turned 40 was amazing for me and I started becoming who I wanted to be, not just a mom like all the years before. That is when I met you and I started painting because of you. Fast forward 5 years and I’m still loving my 40’s. Hoping yours will be just as good to you and Jake.

    Always love your posts like this, THANK YOU for inspiring!! You have gotten yourself in the photos more this year too, not sure if you put that down but I think it’s a BIG thing and hope you continue to next year.

  • Sue C

    Thanks Karen for your willingness to share these most personal thoughts. I am often intimidated by these kinds of questions because I feel I have no answers or I judge them as not worthy. I am going to try again to do this Unraveling worksheet. Now that I am retired I need to rethink where I am and where I am going. I would like to take a more active approach instead of letting the environment push me wherever. I wish you the best 2015 you can have!

  • Cheryl

    I always find the “Unravelling” post you do annually very inspiring. I’ve done Unravelling in the past but not last year and I don’t feel an inclination to do it this year for whatever reason.

    My word last year was “Hope” and that’s as far as I got. I did receive an abundance of it. I think that my wishy-washy attitude towards a word is because of that…nothing can surpass the Hope I received in 2014.

    I wish you and your men, big and small, the beautiful memories of Christmas and a healthy and happy new year.

  • Britta Slopianka

    I would like to say thank you for all your posts, thoughts, ideas…I really enjoy reading your emails and I feel always inspired to think about them and to use them for my own projects.

    You are amazing!

  • Cheryl M

    Karen, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to doing this myself within the next couple of days.

  • Gypsy

    I’m still reading but I just wanted to say that for me I saw ‘Feathering the nest’ as things I wanted to do to make home more comfortable… for you it sounds like decluttering is part of that. For me it’s limiting the march of toys into spaces shared by everyone- so that the 4/6 people in our home not playing with the toys can enjoy the spaces as well. And also about creating some more fun and celebration in our home that brings us ‘together’ (my word for 2015).

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