Unraveling: Looking Back on 2015 and Forward to 2016

I want to start by saying that this is going to be a VERY long post. I am a big fan of doing these reflective posts. This year, I plan for this to be my looking back and looking forward post. 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. There are some reflective questions looking back on 2015 and then some questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2016. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

First of all, did you have a word for 2015? 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 2015 was brave. This word has served me more than any other word ever has. It’s been fantastic for me. I cannot tell you how much braver it’s made me. I had specific goals for things I wanted to do and I did all of those plus more. Here are some specific examples:

  • I took a trip with just David for his tenth birthday – surprise trip to Universal Studios, Orlando
  • I co-ran the school Benefit even though I’d never even attended one in the past
  • I took a trip with just Jake for the first time since the kids were born
  • I went from never being able to drive on the freeway to driving on all of them
  • I created and foster a community at my sons’ school after wanting one for years
  • I went from knowing almost no one at the kids’ school to knowing almost everyone
  • I took four trips to Zurich and one to New York for work. I have another Zurich trip coming up.
  • Not only did I get good at my job but I have been expanding my role. I love my job.
  • I spent much of the summer studying with David to help prepare him for his test. (He did exceptionally well.)
  • I ran for and am serving as the school’s parent association president.
  • I spent the fall driving David all around the area to different schools and wrote essays helping him apply to middle school.
  • I’ve spent a lot of time with my kids, especially teaching them math but in general and committed to doing all I can.
  • I’ve gotten really good at walking daily and creating routines for my new life. I’ve made some progress here.
These are just a few of many. And there are many other things I wanted to but I didn’t do but I did so many things I never thought I would. I am really proud of my progress this year and so grateful for this word.

What did you embrace in 2015? I embraced being brave. Just doing things instead of overthinking them. Plowing through what needs to get done. Making things happen. I embraced being scared but doing it anyway.

What did you let go of in 2015? I let go of waiting for things to change. I decided I am the one in control and I get to choose what changes. And things change because I choose to make them so.

What changed for you in 2015? I am changing the way I see myself. I’ve begun to embrace who I am, just as I am while at the same time changing who I am (not because I am inadequate but because I want to change these things and I know I can so I just do.)

What did you discover about yourself in 2015? I discovered that I am so much braver than I thought. I can do hard things, I can do things I didn’t think I could. And it works out okay. I am beyond lucky and blessed and even when harder things happen, I persevere. I always do. I am so grateful.

What were you most grateful for in 2015?  Honestly, my life. I had this moment a few months ago when I was sitting at a local coffee shop, eating my croissant, drawing, reading, and having coffee. I looked at the blue California sky and could not imagine how the little Turkish girl that I was ended up here. How I got exactly what I wished for all my life. How my life is even more amazing than I ever could have imagined. I am grateful for every single moment of it.

When did fear hold you back in 2015? Fear holds me back with David and his schools and what it will mean for our life. Fear holds me back for health I think. It holds me back from taking more risks. From going places and doing things just for myself.

Where did you practice bravery in 2015? Well since this was my word, I tackled this question on top.

What surprised you in 2015? Me. I surprised myself with what I am capable of. With how quickly I could change something I’ve been unable (or unwilling) to change for years.

What made you smile in 2015? My kids of course. My friends. My amazing life.

What conclusions did you reach in 2015? I can do anything. I am strong, brave, and always changing . I can do things.

Let’s think about your ACHIEVEMENTS in 2015. List three things that went really well this year — what are you most proud of?
  1. Helping David for middle school and with math.
  2. Driving.
  3. My presence at the kids’ school.
  4. Work.

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? Jake. Without his support most of this wouldn’t be possible. My decision to make time for the kids. My decision to show up and be present at the school more. My decision that driving would/could no longer get in the way. My decision to do the best I can at work. These were all driven by me. I decided I wanted them and did whatever I could to make the time to make them happen. Jake has always been there and he always supports me. I am the one who gets in my own way.

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 2015 (there may be more than three so go with whatever comes to mind first)

  1. 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.
  2. I really want to focus on my health. I want to fundamentally change my relationship with my body. With food. With exercise.
  3. Finding a new routine is still challenging. The second half of this year, I pretty much gave up on art and my blog.

For each challenge, consider the following: How did you deal with the challenge? Did you discover any new tools or allies that could help you again in the future? How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself? (If you’re still working through a particular challenge, what outcome would feel good to you?) I am trying. But all of these are really hard for me. I am thinking about what this means for next year. What I want to do differently. How I can make these happen.

Describe your favourite day, moment or occasion of 2015 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? The day of the Tech Challenge 2015 which was also the day of The Benefit. It was a tough day for me. There was much driving back and forth and a lot of panic and a lot to do. But it all ended well and it was a huge success on all fronts. I am incredibly proud of that day. I felt strong, blissful, lucky and very proud.

Gentleness alert! Did anything happen in 2015 that needs to be forgiven? Maybe it was something someone did or said to you. Maybe it was something you did or said to someone else — or to yourself? Maybe you feel you let yourself down in some way. Here’s the thing — we are all beautifully fallible human beings doing the best that we can with the tools that we have, so where can you give the gift of forgiveness to yourself or to another?
I 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.) And I’d like to be kinder to my kids. To myself. To yell less. I always want to yell less.

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 2015 as a whole. As you cast your mind back over the last 365 days, consider the gifts that 2015 offered you on your life’s journey… What stands out the most? 2015 was the year when I learned that there’s truly nothing I can’t do if I set my mind to it. That I can thrive both at home and at work. That I can just do the things I want to do so badly. That there is no reason to build a story around things. I can just drop the story and do what needs to be done. Also that I am loved. Much and deeply.

Describe 2015 in 3 words: brave, bold, proud

If 2015 was the title of a book or the name of a film, what would it be called? Yes, you can.

Before we finish with 2015, 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 2015. I am excited for 2016 even though I know it’s going to be a year of change. David will get his results and I pray they will be good so he can have choices and it will mean a new school for him and for us. New routines. More travel and who knows what else awaits us in 2016. I am so grateful for the lessons of 2015. So grateful for this word that I will carry with me forever. So grateful for all I did and learned and gave this year. Thank you for all you taught me, 2015. Thank you.

What’s your Word for 2016? My word is choose. Much more about this below and in a later post.

If you lived and breathed your Word every day in 2016, what would be different for you? Every moment would be different. I would choose how I live instead of it just happening to me. I would be deliberate about what I did and didn’t do, what I said, how I reacted (or ideally not reacted at all but responded.) I would choose joy. I would choose to let go of anxiety. I would choose to show the people I love how much I love them, including myself. I would honor my life.

List some ways you are already being/experiencing this Word I’ve gotten so much better at choosing to say yes. Cuddling with Nathaniel each night, tucking David in, helping Jake, making a difference at the school, helping more at work. I am choosing all of these each day.

What can you do this year to bring more of your Word into your world? I will think ahead of time about how I want to choose my days, I will be intentional about my choices. I will make a list of choices I want to focus on. I will then write each night about the choices I made that day, what worked, what needs shifting, what needs repeating.

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 five words I ended up with are: strong, generous, kind, true, and brave. Those words will accompany choose in guiding me in 2016.

Fast-forward to December 2016. 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 like I am living the life I want. I want to still be thriving at work. Close and connected with my team. I want to have some personal dreams. I want to feel confident that I am doing a good job and helping.

… in your heart? (relationships, family, friends) I want to feed my friendships by making sure I spend time with the people I love. Especially as David moves on, I want to continue to be working on these relationships. I want to spend a lot of time helping Jake. I want to continue to teach my kids but also spend time playing with them. I want to feel confident that my family knows how deep my love goes. That they can feel it in their bones.

… in your soul? (beliefs, practices, self-love)  What I want the most here this year is to come to my true self. To own who I am and really come home to it. To embrace myself fully. To forgive myself. To know that I am worthy. To feel okay in my bones. Not just okay but to feel good.

… in your physical world? (home, health, hobbies) I’ve learned to be more realistic here. I know 2016 will be busy. I don’t have huge ambitions for my home except that I want it to feel like home. I want to feel comfortable and inviting. I want it to look, smell, feel like a place we live in. For my health, I really want to focus on my health this year. I want to find a consistent way to get stronger. Much, much stronger. Eat healthier. No actually. What I want is to eat healthy and be strong. I don’t want it to be an incremental year. I want it to be fundamental changes. Shifts. Let’s see if I can make it happen. As for hobbies, I plan to take it slow here. Slow and steady.

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 unhelpful beliefs about yourself you’re ready to release 

  1. That I am unworthy or don’t deserve things.
  2. That I am unloved.
  3. That I don’t belong.
  4. That I am different.

List 3 ways you can bring more ease to your week-day routine 

  1. Go to bed early.
  2. Immediately shower when I wake up.
  3. Eat well so I can feel more energized.

List 3 duties or commitments you feel ready to let go of in 2016: Honestly nothing is coming to my mind at the moment.

List 3 books you want to read this year: Lol. I have 4,000+ in my list.

How could you bring more calm into your life (and head) this year? Oh man. My hope is that the word choose will help guide me here. I really would like to choose to be calm. To take a breath. To remember what matters most. To remember that I want kindness over anything else.

List 3 things about yourself that you positively love 

  1. My ability to just get what’s needed done.
  2. My continual striving to be a better version of myself.
  3. My ability to love boundlessly.

List 3 ways you will be kind to your body this year

  1. I will put cream on my skin
  2. I will floss each night
  3. I will get a lot of sleep.
  4. I will feed it good food.
  5. I will strengthen my muscles slowly but consistently.

List 3 ways you’ll connect with loved ones in 2016 

  1. I will make time to talk to my mom daily
  2. I will create lunch/breakfast dates with friends
  3. I will show up

List 3 people you could write a letter of thanks to

  1. My mom and dad
  2. Jake and the boys
  3. Haven and other wonderful moms from my kids’ school

How could you bring more love into your life this year? Honestly, there’s so much love around me. I can just pay attention. I can say thank you often and look at people in the eye. I can spend time with the people I love and remember how lucky I am. And, of course, I can love myself more.

List 3 passions/hobbies that you would like to explore more in 2016

  1. I would like to make the time to sketch still, I really am in awe of people who can do this
  2. Journaling. This cleanses my soul.
  3. Learning. Always learning more, growing more.

List 3 ways you can feed your imagination this year 

  1. Reading. I love reading and it feeds my imagination the most.
  2. Maybe some creative sketching…
  3. Dreaming. Wishing.

List 3 ways you could bring more laughter into your world this year 

  1. More time with Nathaniel and David
  2. Adventures with Jake
  3. Spending time with good friends

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

  1. Finally feeling great in my skin
  2. Being stronger, thinner, fitter
  3. A great school for my son

How could you bring more creative energy into your life this year? I plan to do this by making time to do something every single day. No more piling into the weekends. Just something small and doable daily.

List 3 ways you can cherish your home this year 

  1. Spend time cuddling with a book in bed
  2. Organize some of the corners where things pile up the most
  3. Buy more flowers

List 3 ways you can connect more deeply with nature in 2016 

  1. Go hiking
  2. Take photos like I used to
  3. Take daily walks whenever the weather is not rainy

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

  1. The new pastry shop in Menlo Park
  2. San Francisco – more and more of it
  3. Muir Woods – my peaceful place

List 3 countries you plan to visit (soon or one day) 

  1. Switzerland, of course
  2. Turkey, hopefully
  3. no other international plans at the moment

How could you bring a sense of groundedness into your life this year? This should come with coming home to myself and with being calm and kind. Those three will culminate in a lot more groundedness.

Okay, let’s really rev up the positive energy — use this page to describe what 2016 looks like in your ideal world. What are your dreams for love this year? Where are you desiring some forward- movement? What do you wish for your health? Your family? Your bank account? How do you want 2016 to FEEL? What would saying YES to your life look and feel like? Write out everything your heart desires for this new year. Be bold. 

Hmmm. the biggest forward movement I want is choosing each of my moments intentionally. Being more patient and serene. Remembering that love is more important, kindness is more important than all the stuff I yell about. I want to move through the world with positive energy and faith. Assume positive outcomes. Take things as they come. I want to remember that things will be okay no matter what. This year will bring about change. I want to welcome that with open arms. Look forward to it. Embrace it. I want to embrace myself. I want to see the magic that is my life. Saying YES to my life would look like being brave again. Choosing well. Choosing true to myself. Working on being stronger. Stopping the stories and moving forward in areas I want to.

Shuffle your favourite oracle or tarot deck then randomly draw a card for each month of 2016, 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 parts of the answers.

  • January – Bring It! – Wow! You are brave and fearless these days. Even if it doesn’t feel that way, you are being called to take off your armor and leap. Today is the day to call fear out as the wimpy impostor that it is. It’s time to go for it!
  • February – Got Your Back – You can spit in the face of fear, flip off those who bar the door, shake your fist to any who dare say no. Because you, sweet thing, are Divinely protected by the Dude most high. Always and forever. Amen.
  • March – Heartbeat – Your heart is as wide open as a dance club on a Saturday night. Remember that old expression your parents used: “I love you to the moon and back”? That’s how you feel about everyone. Enjoy this blissful state of love, sweet love. More is coming, too.
  • April – Entangled – You would probably call what’s about to happen synchronicity. Or maybe even coincidence. Au contraire! The Big Truth is, you are already connected to everything and everyone. Quantum physics has its own name for it: entanglement. The reason it appears that all ducks are lining up on your behalf right now is because you’re finally paying attention. Let the games begin.
  • May – Laser Beam – Bring your attention back to center, back to your intention. You’ve been wavering a bit, but all it takes to achieve your desires is a little bit of concentration. Focus on what you want, then focus again for extra laser-like precision and clarity. Relish the sweet feeling of zeroing in on that finish line.
  • June – The Dude Abides – It’s your lucky day, in your lucky life. The Dude is patiently waiting for you to come on home. Let him do the heavy lifting for a change. No matter what crazy mess you’ve gotten yourself into, the Dude is here with everything you could ever need. The Dude’s got your back, rock star!
  • July – GPS – O-M-G. Your intuition is being a real show¬off these days. It’s so ready to help navigate your life—and, quite frankly, it’s getting a tad bit impatient. It just can’t understand why, when it knows the fun, easy route, you insist on doing everything without its help. There’s no need to be lost, ever—especially now that you’re about to stumble onto a gold mine.
  • August – At Your Service – I hope it’s comforting to know there is a big universal butler who is working behind the scenes, taking care of all the details, making sure every little thing is turning out exactly as planned. This butler is as loyal as Fido, as deter­mined as Diana “Never, ever give up” Nyad, as trustworthy as your own beating heart. So can you let him carry the tray?
  • September – Time To Fly – It may seem like a gamble, but here’s a little intel from the Universe. That leap into the unknown you’ve been waffling over? Not only is the safety net already in place, but there’s a posse of angels waiting with champagne and chocolate and Egyptian-cotton sheets. Hmm . . . ready?
  • October – Bring It! – Wow! You are brave and fearless these days. Even if it doesn’t feel that way, you are being called to take off your armor and leap. Today is the day to call fear out as the wimpy impostor that it is. It’s time to go for it!
  • November – Psst! Ahem! Hey, You! – We’d like to interrupt this oracle deck with a very important announcement: There is nothing to fear. Every single thing that looks ominous is but an illusion. It has no power. Zip, nada, zilch. It’s time to look your fears straight in the eye and call them out as the insignificant posers they really are.
  • December – Silver Lining – It only looks like disruption. In reality, everything is fine. Everything, in fact, is beyond fine. Underneath appearances is a silver, gold, and platinum lining. Enjoy!
    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.

2016 will be the year I finally fully embrace me.

I will nourish myself with food that energizes me.

I will make more time for refueling.

I will recharge my batteries by sleeping, journaling, reading.

This year I will open my heart to kindness. I will be kinder.

I will pay more attention to my reactions. my anxiety. my triggers. My choice of words. I will choose to respond and not react.

I will learn more about what makes me the best version of myself and how i can channel it.

I will release my attachment to judging myself. not measuring up. the fact that something is wrong. nothing is wrong. i am so lucky.

I wish for 2016 to feel calm and joyful. I wish to be present and grateful and intentional.

This year I will say NO to self deprecation and unkindness.

This year I will say YES to me. stronger me. truer me. kinder me. more generous me. the intentional me. all of me.

WHAT IS YOUR SECRET WISH FOR 2016? DECLARE IT HERE! My biggest wish for this year is to be stronger. To finally make peace with myself, my soul, my body, all of me.



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 2016 plans coming soon.

2 comments to Unraveling: Looking Back on 2015 and Forward to 2016

  • Cheryl

    I’ve been doing this with you for FIVE years now. Can you believe it? My word this year is “nurture”. I’m hoping that by nurturing myself and my soul, I will be better able to accept what has happened.

    I can see you doing very well with the word “choose”.

  • I love your reflective posts. This is great, and I plan on doing the worksheet.

    thank you,

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