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 2022 sheet. You can download it right here. I split the reflective questions looking back on 2021 in and the questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2022 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 2022, let’s take a moment to look back over the last twelve months.  How has this year been for you? Pick up your pen and let’s do some digging. 

  1. First of all, did you have a word for 2021? Yes
  2. If you did, how did your word help to guide you through the last 12 months? Can you think of  any specific examples? It reminded me to try to be open and say yes. It reminded me to be aware of all that I said yes to. Yes was a really open and welcoming word. It was an optimistic word by default.
  3. What did you embrace in 2021? I embraced spaciousness and ease. I embraced not picking up what’s not mine to carry and releasing and also holding things lightly. 
  4. What felt uncomfortable in 2021? So much for such a long time. Work and home both had some serious challenges in 2021. Not to mention the world and covid. There was a lot this year and a lot of uncertainty still remains on all sides.
  5. What changed for you in 2021? Around the summer I read this book that gave me a major aha moment with the quote “Thank you for everything. I have no complaints whatsoever.” and that was the beginning of the major shift in my worldview. Even before that, restorative yoga was helping expand the time between the stimulus and response but that quote was the major shift. Whatever calm and space came over me then, I’ve been able to hold on to it so far.
  6. What did you discover about yourself in 2021? I discovered that I am stronger than I think both physically and emotionally. I am proud of myself.
  7. What new dreams did you uncover in 2021? My biggest dream has always been to be able to live with peace and ease and I think this is the year I’ve come closest to it. 
  8. When did fear hold you back in 2021? So many times. Both at home and at work, I didn’t make big changes because I am constantly afraid of the potential repercussions. I think fear holds me back much more than I would like to admit.
  9. Where did you practice courage in 2021? So many times. Especially at home but also at work. I showed up to my life again and again despite being deeply scared and despite so much unknown. I just continued to show up. I am proud of myself.
  10. What surprised you in 2021?  Many things surprised me both at work and at home this year but the most surprising part was this major shift in my ability to move through the world in a different way. My ability to not trigger has been profoundly life changing so far. 
  11. What was the best day in 2021? What happened? There is no one day that i can think of. There was a lot of magic this year. We got to take some trips in California. We got vaccinated and then boosted. I spent a lot of time outside in the sunshine. I did a bunch of art, a bunch of exercise and a bunch of climbing. I loved my people hard. I did the best I could.
  12. What was the most difficult day in 2021? What happened? There were many, many hard days in 2021. So much unknown and unpredictability. My work changed a lot, my manager left, we each had some low low points at home, and there continued to be so much restriction in our lives. One of my toughest days was when I spent hours and hours sobbing after a terrible meeting with my new manager at work. I couldn’t stop spiraling down and I can still feel the pain when I think of it now.

Pandemic Reflections: Year 2 

  1. I don’t think anyone thought the pandemic would have magically resolved by the end of 2021.  Things have been shifting and changing, but the majority of us are still living with restrictions.  BUT! We’ve made it this far! If you’re anything like me you’ve likely been reflecting on what  matters and what doesn’t. How has the pandemic impacted your life thus far? I think for me alone, the pandemic would be okay. I don’t love it but I can manage. Because not seeing people or not going places or doing things isn’t majorly life restricting to me. I miss my family. I miss some things but I can manage. The hardest part has been how others I love feel and what it’s done to them.
  2. What have you learned about yourself during this entire experience?  I’ve learned that I am strong. To be honest, since this isn’t as much a strain for me as it would be to someone extraverted, I think it’s not fair to assess how I’ve been through it. I’ve learned to balance my priorities and what comes easy to me with understanding and openness to what might be easy/challenging to someone else so maybe I learned even more about empathy. 
  3. Write down everything that’s helped you get through the year. Consider: new routines,  boundaries, connections with others, online community, new things you tried, things you read,  places you visited, new perspectives. I’ve done so much this year, here are some things that helped:
    1. Sitting outside as much as possible, finally bought that swing too, we’ll see if that helps in 2022.
    2. Did a bunch of art.
    3. Did a lot of exercise.
    4. Did a lot of climbing.
    5. Did a lot of yoga, stretching, meditation
    6. Did a lot of reading.
    7. Tried to connect with a few friends – could have done more here.
    8. Got us all vaccinated and 3 out of 4 of us boosted.
    9. Gave myself grace again and again.
  4. Note: With these next three questions there is absolutely no judgement here, so try to answer  honestly so you can identify any areas that need tending to! How have you taken care of yourself physically? I have exercised 18K minutes on the peloton and went climbing 2x week almost every week this year. I feel good about the exercise I did this year.
  5. How have you taken care of yourself mentally? I have done restorative yoga (and now meditation) regularly, too. I also have a coach and a therapist. They have both been essential.
  6. How have you taken care of yourself emotionally? Same as above. 
  7. What have you missed this year? Seeing my close friends. Seeing my parents and sister and nephews. Traveling. Not having to wear a mask when I climb. The feeling of normalcy.
  8. What haven’t you missed? Commuting to work. Too many activities or social interactions.
  9. What new ways of seeing the world have you discovered?  I have become more spacious and calmer and more able to see/sit with others’ pain without getting triggered by it.
  10. What will you never forget? This feeling of ease, I deeply hope it is here to stay. 
  11. What have you let go of? Working hard to let go of anything that’s not mine to carry.
  12. What feels more important than ever to you? Feeling my feelings, getting help, showing the people I love how much I love them.
  13. What now feels unimportant? Small, fleeting moments of frustration. Things that won’t matter five years from now.
  14. What are you ready to begin? Living with this ease and openness. With the confidence that I have my own back. May I hold on to it. 
  15. How has this year impacted your priorities? I focused a lot on my physical and mental wellbeing.
  16. How has this year impacted your home life? Our house is a mess. I’ve made peace that it likely won’t get better for a while.
  17. How has this year impacted your relationships? I’ve tried to be consistent with the few close friends I have. To check up on them and make sure they know I am here.
  18. How has this year impacted your work life? There’s no transition from work to life and that’s been hard. But it’s also been wonderful to get to be home all day and integrate life into moments of space where I can.

The Gratitudes 

  1. What have you been most grateful for this year? Big things, little things, the profound and the  everyday, what are you grateful for?
    1. Grateful that none of us got sick.
    2. Grateful that we are all still together and hanging on to each other.
    3. Grateful David’s ACTs are done.
    4. Grateful that Nathaniel found some wonderful new friends.
    5. Grateful for so very much this year.
  2. Gentleness alert! Did anything happen in 2021 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?  This was a tough year. So much struggle for me and people I love. I struggled a lot with work and with being able to handle and process all the change this year. I also struggled watching the people I love struggle. It was a tough year and I give myself endless grace for making it through and coming out as strong as I feel at the moment. 

The Gifts of 2021

  1. I now invite you to close your eyes for a moment and think about 2021 as a whole. As you cast  your mind back over the year, consider the gifts that 2021 offered you on your life’s journey…  What stands out the most? What really mattered?
    1. The exercise and yoga/meditation really changed my life.
    2. I helped David with his ACTs.
    3. We took several vacations all over California, including New Jack City.
    4. I continued to manage my team and inherited another small team.
    5. I did a lot of art.
    6. I went climbing with Jake every week. 
    7. I read 200+ books
    8. I reflected daily on insta for my word.
    9. I documented our lives, did OLW and WIL.
    10. I got lead certified. 
    11. I got our whole family vaccinated and 3 of us got boosted too.
    12. I continued to sponsor DEI at work.
    13. David and Nathainel transitioned to 11, and 7th grades now both fully at school.
    14. I stuck by my people and worked hard at loving them.
    15. I transitioned to a new manager at work.
  2. Describe 2021 in 3 words: challenging, grateful, release.
  3. If the events of 2021 were made into a film or a book, what would it be called? This is where it begins.
  4. Before we finish with 2021, take a few minutes to write out anything else you need to say to  the old year in the space below. You might like to say some final goodbyes and thank yous…Dear Karen, I am really proud of all the work you’ve done this year. I am proud of how you stuck with it. Got the help you needed. Took care of yourself. Stood by your people. Learned to let go and to not even pick up.  You are so strong. Remember this feeling of ease, it’s how you’re meant to feel.


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