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 2021 sheet. You can download it right here. I split the reflective questions looking back on 2020 in and the questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2021 into two posts. This is part I, part II comes next week. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

Before we start unravelling 2021, let’s take a moment to look back over the last twelve months. Maybe there were lots of changes for you in 2021. 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 2020? Yes, my word was WILD.
  2. If you did, how did your word help to guide you through the last 12 months? Can you think of any specific examples? Well my goal was to go hiking a lot more and be out in the wilderness more and we did start the year well as we went to Joshua Tree and New Jack City and climbed in the wild. But then the world locked down and wild took on a new meaning altogether. Despite all that happened this year, I was still able to go climbing outdoors a lot of times. We took a trip to Tahoe and a trip to Angel’s Camp. We were in the wild. I also spent a lot of time journaling this year and embracing the silence of the wilderness by grounding myself. And finally I definitely leaned into “embracing the unpredictable nature of life” even if this is not exactly what I had in mind. I learned a lot about how I can embrace the unknown. And as it turns out, this will be a theme for 2021, too. 
  3. What did you embrace in 2020? Unpredictability. Uncertainty. Grief that’s mine and my family’s. Leaning into the new normal. Having all of us at home. I embraced so so much this year, because really I had no choice. I also embraced climbing and running and biking and doing a lot of exercise this year. I’m proud of myself. 
  4. What did you let go of in 2020? So very much. All of our routine. Seeing friends. Going places. Hugging people. 2020 was all about letting go.
  5. What changed for you in 2020? Personally I’ve adjusted and readjusted all year. Learning what the new normal looked like each time. Learning how to hold each of my family members as they went through their own journey of 2020 and going through my own journey. My climbing got so much better. My exercise in general improved. Everything else went up and down throughout the year. 
  6. What did you discover about yourself in 2020? I discovered that I miss people, I miss going to work, and as much as I like being at home, I was definitely taking granted the freedom that comes with being able to go out as much as I want. 
  7. What were you most grateful for in 2020? Being healthy. The fact that we are all healthy and so are my parents and my sister and her family and my husband’s family. Not something I will ever take for granted.
  8. When did fear hold you back in 2020? Well certainly the fear about the pandemic limited a lot of what I did and of course held me back. Most acutely we didn’t see any friends all year except for 2-3 times total. We didn’t go shopping at a grocery store except 5 times all year. We didn’t go into any restaurant, store, or anything indoor. I can go on and on. I felt scared most of 2020.  
  9. Where did you practice courage in 2020? A lot of emotional courage in 2020. Dealing with all that was going on, going for the promotion, speaking my mind, speaking up, advocating for my kids, and for people at work. I had to practice bravery often.
  10. Aside from the pandemic, what surprised you in 2020? My promotion, of course. I was hoping hoping hoping but didn’t think it would really happen. And all the changes at work came out of nowhere too. 
  11. What was the best day in 2020? What happened? Likely new jack city was up there. 
  12. What was the most difficult day in 2020? What happened? The accident. That was most definitely the worst day of this year. A bunch of other tough moments too.
  13. We all live in different parts of the world but the pandemic has been a shared global experience — some lives have been more affected than others, of course, but overall just about everyone has felt the effects of this crisis. Think back to the start, before the lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders — how did you view the coronavirus situation? Did it feel threatening or like something that wouldn’t affect your life? Did you stock up on food? Were you glued to the news? Write down everything you can remember about how you felt, reacted and behaved at the start of the crisis. I have to say that I really didn’t understand what was going on. I was traveling for work at the end of February, in Houston, and I remember watching the news and thinking that the situation was getting bad but never really internalized it. Never really thought it would change our life so fundamentally. I remember the week we left work, I thought i’d be back in a week or two. I remember when I was upset that the kids’ school didn’t close schools yet. I remember buying toilet paper on refresh refresh refresh. Going to TJs and having Jake super mad about how close I got to others. Canceling things one week at a time. Our trip to Vegas, our hopes for summer plans, celebrating birthdays in the pandemic. Ordering with instacart and doing take out for the first time. First time someone came into our house for repair. The fridge dying. Watching news nonstop. Jake watching the numbers climb up. So much of this year was one week, one month at a time. 
  14. We’re not completely out of the woods yet, but we ARE getting through this. How are you currently feeling? Whether it’s December 2020 or you’re writing this sometime in 2021 (hi future traveler!) — how do you feel? What do you need more of? Less of? I am feeling tired and worn out. I feel okay but I am ready for some rejuvenation. Some oxygen. Some source of joy and wonder. I am ready to hug my friends. I am ready for some routine. I am ready to go back to work. Having the kids go to school. I am ready for what normalcy felt like. But alas, I am not optimistic it’s coming soon. I don’t feel all that optimistic yet. There’s no vaccine for the kids. There’s no clarity on when things are coming. I want to be optimistic but I am too tired.
  15. Write down everything that’s HELPED during this year. Consider: new routines, self-imposed boundaries and restrictions (eg only looking at the news once a day), connections with others (who? When? How?), online community, new things you tried (recipes? Fitness apps?), what have you read? Have you been able to work from home, and if so, what’s helped you do that? Homeschool?! Here are some things that helped:
    • The fact that I worked from home before.
    • That big boy is introverted.
    • That hubby had an office to go to.
    • Our backyard and California weather.
    • Weekly chats with Kelly.
    • Zooms with friends for dinner. 
    • Book club zooms.
    • Zooms with highschool friends.
    • The peloton and regular exercise.
    • Climbing outdoors.
    • Puzzles, drawing, journaling. 
    • Touchless grocery delivery and video appointments by doctor.
    • A job that I can do remotely. 
    • Having kids who are older and can take care of themselves.
    • Books, always books.
  1. How have you taken care of yourself physically? I exercised quite a bit this year. I did a lot of climbing all year. I did the couch to 5K during the summer and then have been riding the peloton and doing the classes for months now. I’ve also tried to take care of my skin, my teeth and my hair.
  2. How have you taken care of yourself mentally? I’ve done less well here, took a few classes and did a few puzzles but I thirst for more here. I need to think about this for 2021. 
  3. How have you taken care of yourself emotionally? For a while, I journaled quite a bit. And it was helping a lot. I took time for myself. I did drawing. But then I sort of gave all of it up. I miss it.
  4. What have you missed this year? Friends. Eating out. Seeing my parents and my sister and my nephews. Traveling. Going on adventures. I even missed going to work.
  5. What haven’t you missed? I haven’t missed drop-off and pick-up. I haven’t missed parties. Traffic. That’s about it. 
  6. What new ways of being and doing have you discovered? For a while we were cooking a lot and taking lots of walks. I liked those and they were very peaceful. The zooms and connecting through video while far away has definitely been a blessing.
  7. What will you never forget? The surreal way this whole year passed. The way it feels like we’re on a mission to the Moon or Mars and living in our own bubble.
  8. What have you let go of? All that this year could have been. My wishes and desires for the wilderness. The loss I feel not having seen my family. I am working on letting all that go and being grateful that we hopefully will have more time.
  9. What feels more important than ever to you? Seeing people and hugging people and going on adventures.
  10. What now feels unimportant? Checking off items on my todo list for the sake of it. 
  11. What are you ready to begin? I’m not sure yet. I still feel pretty out of sorts. 2021 doesn’t feel so different so far and I am uncertain what’s to come. I guess what I’m ready to begin is being more okay with the uncertainty. 
  12. How has this year changed your priorities? In the grand scheme, I don’t think it’s changed many of my priorities. I still want to work hard, love my people, do more good than bad, and be the kindest person i can be. 
  13. How has this year changed your home life? Well we’re all at home now all the time. Our house is constantly a mess. None of us have any privacy. But we’re warm, safe and sound.
  14. How has this year changed your relationships? I have gotten closer with some friends, didn’t miss others, just postponed much of everything this year. Closer with my kids and husband, for which I am grateful.
  15. How has this year changed your work life? I like all of us being remote, even as I miss the random work conversations or impromptu late nights. I miss my office mates. I miss the old organizational structure we had. I miss a lot but I am also okay.
  16. What have you been most grateful for during this experience? Big things, little things, the profound and the everyday, what are you grateful for? 
    • All of us have been healthy this whole time.
    • Being able to work from home.
    • The kids being able to attend school from home.
    • Jake having his own space to go to.
    • Being able to climb outdoors.
    • Having a way to exercise indoors.
    • The amazing CA weather.
    • Having a family that I love.
    • The internet, connectivity, and ability to do all this which would never have been possible 20 years ago. 
  17. Gentleness alert! Did anything happen in 2020 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 forgive and let go of all the tough moments of 2020. I don’t want to remember any of them. I give myself grace for the times when I messed up and hurt anyone. I give myself grace for the times I fell short.
  18. I now invite you to close your eyes for a moment and think about 2020 as a whole. As you cast your mind back over the year, consider the gifts that 2020 offered you on your life’s journey… What stands out the most? What really mattered? Togetherness and health. I am grateful.
    • I helped David with getting his club off the ground. 
    • I helped Nathaniel with his science fair and with getting better at writing and much of his homework. 
    • I traveled to Houston and Palm Springs, Joshua Tree and New Jack City.
    • I managed a small but very distributed team and took over management of another employee.
    • We took weekly/monthly family photos all year.
    • I drew regularly until around October.
    • I read 270+ books. More than 77 from netgalley, on ebook.
    • I told 30+ stories from our lives. 
    • I used both the weekly journal and the OLW journal to document our lives.
    • I worked out at work and rock climbed all year both indoor and outdoor.  I moved from 5.9 to 5.10b,c and even a d.
    • I lead belayed Jake many times.
    • I did weekly calls with Kelly.
    • I took several hikes with Jake.
    • I got promoted to Director.
    • And I sponsored an arm of the diversity council at work.
    • I did over 100 peloton bike rides. And over 50 meditations.
    • David finished 9th grade and started 10th from home. Nathaniel finished 5th and started 6th from home, too.
    • I am still blonde.
    • Jake and I went on several date nights, watched a lot lot lot of TV and movies, ate a lot of zucchini and hotdogs and took lots of walks.
    • I supported Jake in several of his personal dreams around climbing.
    • I mentored several women in my organization.
    • I took several online classes but only really stuck with OLW.
    • I supported my friends and a few others who were going through a tough time this year.
    • I supported several Life Coaching clients this year. Though I’ve wound them down.
  19. Describe 2020 in 3 words: wild, unexpected, unsettling.
  20. If the events of 2020 were made into a film or a book, what would it be called? Meh I think there are already too many pandemic movies. I don’t want to see this year made into anything.
  21. Before we finish with 2020, take a few minutes to write out anything else you need to say to the old year in the box below. You might like to say some goodbyes and thank yous…Thank you Dear 2020, thank you for keeping us safe and healthy. Thank you for all the prosperity and luck we’ve had this year. I am acutely aware that it wasn’t the case for everyone. I’ve learned a lot this year and I don’t plan to take any of it for granted. Thank you for your lessons, now it’s time to say goodbye. I am calling you complete.


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