2022 – Plans and Projects

I had regular goals for my blog for the last few years and that worked well for me until 2020 when I just gave everything up. At this point, I am not yet sure how I feel about 2022 and the blog so I don’t want to prematurely commit to things. But here are a few things that are top of mind for me

  • Daily Joys: Posting daily on my instragram really helped me keep my word front and central this year. I am currently contemplating continuing that. We’ll see if I do.
  • Art: I really miss art. I will find a way to bring it back to my life and here.
  • Reflection: Monday and Sunday reflection posts helped me stay connected to my goals, keep track of my intentions, I will see if I can bring those back.
  • Nourish: Last year I did 100 days of radical wellness and it really really worked for me. I am thinking of doing a version of that again this year, bringing together all my goals around food, exercise, skincare, mental health, etc, it’s a really good focus for me.
  • Reading – I read a lot this year. I continued to read netgalley/edelweiss ARC books as well as audiobooks from the library and audible. I plan to continue this next year. I will continue tracking them on goodreads.

Like last year, I bailed around October which seems to be when I get tired and just don’t feel up to it anymore. So like last year, I give myself the caveat that all of these might happen, none of them might happen. I might repeat projects. I might do wildly different things. I am giving myself grace while trying to keep myself motivated.

Here’s to a wonderful 2022.  Here’s to doing more art. Here’s to making time to enjoy art. Here’s to learning new things. Here’s to practicing more. Here’s to reflecting. Being intentional. Nourishing Creating a positive cycle. Here’s to embracing joy.

UNRAVELING THE YEAR AHEAD – 2022

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 II. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

Unravelling The Year Ahead 

It’s now most definitely time to look forward! I love how a new year holds so much possibility.  It’s a do-over, a blank slate, a new page to be filled with whatever we want. There’ll always be  the responsibilities and routines of our everyday, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep doing things in the same old way. Whether you wish to bring in big changes or do a bit of fine-tuning,  it’s all to play for in 2022.  

  1. First, choose a word to guide you through the next 12 months. Pick a word that makes you feel  expanded. Encouraged. Inspired. There’s no right or wrong answer so go with your intuition. What’s your Word for 2022? My word is JOY.
  2. If you truly embodied your Word every day in 2022, what would you do differently? I focus on things that have the feeling of deep joy. Where I feel my soul dancing inside my body.
  3. What one thing could you do each day to anchor your Word into your routine? I think I might continue to document on insta.
  4. How does your Word make you feel? Deep contentment 
  5. Do you want any extra words to support your Word for 2022? Brainstorm here. Think about what  you need in the different areas of your life: home… work… relationships.. Health… self-care…  What would support your Word? Yes I want to hold on to ease, release, space, possibility and equanimity. Those are the ones I am thinking of at the moment.
  6. What are you looking forward to in 2022? Seeing my parents. Getting to visit colleges with David.
  7. What are you feeling apprehensive about? The possibility of COVID still raging. Work situation getting worse. Me not being able to hold on to the ease.
  8. What life lessons are you taking with you into 2022? Is this mine to carry? Can I hold this lightly? Can I let this go? I have my own back. Give people an opportunity to delight and not disappoint. The ground beneath me is not going anywhere. Thank you for everything, I have no complaints whatsoever.
  9. What area of your life do you most want to develop in 2022? Assuming i hold on to hwat i have, prolly art and nutrition are what i want to focus on the most.
  10. What part of yourself do you yearn to nurture in 2022? The part of me that’s unraveling right now. The ease and the peace.
  11. Fast-forward to December 2022. You’re sitting in a café, musing over the last 12 months.  Where do you want to be… … in your head? (work, dreams, goals) I want to be really thriving and loving my job. I want to feel a sense of belonging and clear ownership and value.
  12. … in your heart? (relationships, family, friends) i want everyone at home to feel good and healthy and happy. I want to see my family again and i would love to have 1-2 new close friends.
  13. … in your soul? (beliefs, practices, self-love) i want to continue feeling this ease and feeling of having my own back. I would love to keep this spaciousness.
  14. … in your physical world? (home, health, hobbies) i would love to have done some major progress in art and my ability and ease with drawing and painting. I would also love to have made a major shift in nutrition.

Everything is Possible 

  1. Okay, let’s take it up a notch. Use this page to describe what 2022 looks like in your ideal  world. Be specific! What are your dreams for love this year? Work? Play? Where are you hungry  for change? How do you want 2022 to FEEL? Use your answers from the previous pages to craft  your ideal vision for the next 12 months. What would saying YES to your life look and feel like? Write out everything your heart desires for this new year. Be bold.
    1. It would mean that I wake up and do my exercise and then my meditation, I continue to do cardio, strength and restorative work. 
    2. It would mean I tell my kids and husband how much i love them everyday and see the joy of our life together.
    3. It would mean I find value in the work I do and feel a strong sense of belonging and contribution at work.
    4. It would mean that I eat what feeds my body, take care of my skin, and do what feeds my brain and soul. 
    5. It would mean that I prioritize sleep.
    6. It would mean I spend time doing art. 
    7. IT would mean I see my friends in person.
    8. It would mean I look for and see and create daily joy in my life.
  2. Now let’s give those dreams and plans some shape. Use the grid to start plotting the details of 2022. Use words and pictures, dates and anniversaries. Include actual events and made-up dreams, too. Be playful. Doodle your heart out. Back in 2013, our January OLW assignment involved setting intentions and I really enjoyed that, so I thought maybe I can do that instead. 
  • January:  Small Joys : Start small. Make a plan for the steps you want to take and give yourself a lot of grace. Take a handful of steps. You got this.
  • February:  List the Joys:  See what’s bringing you joy this month. Make lists. Pay attention. See if you can find patterns. 
  • March:  Choose Joy:  This is usually your hardest month. No break, still too cold. It feels hard to make it through this month but you can. Choose joy. Look at your list from February.  Keep going. 
  • April: Joyful Leap: Time to go on adventures. See some colleges. Have deep conversations. See possibilities.
  • May: Deep Joys: Take some time. Be still. Listen to the whispers of your soul. Hug your people. Dig deep and see what brings you deep joy.
  • June:  Practice Joy: Breathe in the fresh air. Summer is here. Smell the water. Go outside. Sit in the sunshine. One more school year is over. Celebrate your life. 
  • July: Invite Joy: Create some adventure. Go places. Do things. Hug your people. Take chances.
  • August: Big Joys: Time to get organized again, transitions are coming. twelfth and eight grades. These are big big milestones. Hug your kids.  Get organized, plan, prepare and do what you need to do. Write down all your dreams. Make plans. 
  • September: Joyful Surrender: Time to root and surrender. This is a hard month for you. Transitions are rough. But you also turn 48. It’s magical to get to have another year. Remember the growth mindset. Let go of your preconceived ideas and embrace the possibilities. Choose to celebrate. Surrender to joy.
  • October: Seek Joy:  Find new joys. Reach out to others. Make new connections. Say yes to more things. Find some classes. Pickup a new hobby. Take a new step.
  • November:  Joy in Rest: It’s ok if you need to start slowing down. Give yourself grace. Year is almost over. Can you do one more thing, take one more step in the direction of your dreams? What do you still want this year? What didn’t you get to yet?
  • December:  Joyful Celebration:  You’ve come a long way. It’s time to celebrate. Honor. Be grateful. Thank 2022 for all that it gave you. Fully bask in how far you’ve come so you can bid it farewell. Celebrate all your joys.

Air

  1. List 3 unhelpful beliefs about yourself you’re ready to release 
    1. I am not worthy
    2. I am not strong
    3. I am ugly.
  2. List 3 duties or commitments you feel ready to let go of in 2022 
    1. Things that are not mine to do at work.
    2. Going places I don’t want to go.
    3. Saying yes to things that don’t bring me joy.
  3. List 3 skills you’d like to learn or improve in 2022 
    1. Art. Drawing and painting.
    2. Beautiful writing, lettering.
    3. Meditation.
  4. List 3 books you intend to read this year: I will read hundreds.
  5. How could you bring more calm into your life (and head) this year? I will continue to meditate. I will make a list of what matters most each day and do those 3 things first.

Water

  1. List 3 things about yourself you positively love 
    1. I am dependable.
    2. I get things done.
    3. I am kind.
  2. List 3 ways you could be kinder to your body this year 
    1. I can eat more nutritious food.
    2. I can put moisturizing cream on more regularly. 
    3. I can floss more regularly. 
  3. List 3 ways you could connect with loved ones in 2022 
    1. I can go back to a weekly phone call with K.
    2. I can make a weekly coffee date with L.
    3. I can call one friend a week.
  4. List 3 people you could extend compassion to 
    1. Jake
    2. Myself + the kids.
    3. Maybe C at work?
  5. How could you bring more love into your life this year? This year I can choose one person each day that I really want to prioritize and do something for. This will help me to purposely lean on showing them how much i love them.

Fire

  1. List 3 interests/hobbies you would like to explore more in 2022 
    1. art
    2. lettering
    3. Online classes
  2. List 3 ways you could feed your imagination this year 
    1. Watch more documentaries?
    2. Listen to music more often
    3. Go on artist’s dates
  3. List 3 ways you could bring more passion into your world this year 
    1. Do art
    2. Volunteer for causes that matter to me
    3. Love my people
  4. List 3 dreams you would like to manifest this year (personal or professional) 
    1. Get really good at painting/drawing
    2. Find peace with nutrition
    3. Really fully settle into my job
  5. How could you bring more creative energy into your life this year? Doing some sort of regular practice is what works the very best.

Earth

  1. List 3 ways you could bring more mindfulness to your mornings 
    1. Exercise + meditation
    2. Skin cream 
    3. Some art or journaling
  2. List 3 ways you could bring more mindfulness to your evenings (I added this because I want to do both mornings and evenings.) 
    1. Diffuser for a few minutes + foot cream
    2. Floss
    3. Write joys (insta)
  3. List 3 ways you could cherish your home this year
    1. Clean up the garage
    2. Let things be what they are
    3. Enjoy the backyard.
  4. List 3 ways you could connect more deeply with nature in 2022 
    1. Go on hiking/climbing trips
    2. Toes in sand/water
    3. Sit outside as much as possible.
  5. List 3 places in your city, town or neighbourhood you want to explore 
    1. The city more 
    2. California colleges
    3. Maybe get to go to the kids’ school again.
  6. How could you bring a sense of groundedness into your life this year? Continue to meditate and do restorative yoga. Journal. Stay present. Regularly release, hold lightly and don’t pickup what’s not yours to carry.
  7. Using your favourite tarot or oracle deck, draw one card for the overall theme of the upcoming year and then a card for each month of 2022. I don’t like to do this so as well as the monthly above, I will list a bunch of things I can do this year.
    1. Joy of calm: journaling, meditation, candles, sitting outside, music, restorative yoga. stretching.
    2. Joy of the outdoors: Hiking, Climbing, water, sand, adventures. 
    3. Joy of healthy living: food that serves my body, exercise, more water, walking, sleep, floss, skincare.
    4. Joy of routine: morning and evening routines. Intentionally planning my day.
    5. Joy of being active: stretching, strength, yoga, biking, climbing
    6. Joy of art: draw, paint, photography, hand lettering, writing.
    7. Joy of storytelling: week in the life, story albums, december daily, OLW
    8. Joy of family: visiting colleges, vacation, shared adventures
    9. Joy of connection: emails/calls with friends, weekly dates
    10. Seeing Joy: write what went right, celebrate, make joy lists, joy list, gratitudes
    11. Joy of learning new things: podcasts, new classes, nonfiction books
    12. Practicing Joy: dance, sing, listen to music, celebrations, try new things, pay attention.

The Wrap-Up 

  • 2022 will be the year I finally settle into the ease.
  • I will nourish myself with food that helps my body and soul.
  • I will make more time for art, people i love, exercise.   
  • I will recharge my batteries by resting and doing yoga.
  • This year I will open my heart to possibilities.
  • I will pay more attention to how my body feels. What i am picking up.
  • I will learn more about how to draw. 
  • I will release my attachment to outcomes, knowing what’s coming, anything that’s not mine. 
  • I wish for 2022 to feel easeful and joyful.
  • This year I will say NO to things that are not mine. 
  • This year I will say YES to experiencing more joy and to being here now.
  • What is your secret wish for 2022? Declare it here! That I continue to live in this space of ease and really lean into joy and possibility.

I wholeheartedly believe that everything is possible in 2022!

As always, I mention many of these same thoughts from last year and here, here, and here. I am pretty sure these themes have been in my life in some way or another for many years. I know that they will likely still be around in 2022 and 2022 and onward. What I’d like to do this year is to make a dent. To move things forward a little bit. Every forward step I take moves me in the right direction and that’s all I can ask for.

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine stepping into the shoes of you from December 2022, one year from now. You are one year older and one year wiser and you’ve lived every day of 2022 fully and completely. You have a message of encouragement about 2022. There’s stuff you want to share… stuff you’re eager to tell yourself. When you’re ready, open your eyes, pick up your pen, and write a letter from your future self, starting with Dear Karen: I am so proud of you. Keep going, you got this!

2022 – Core Desired Feelings

As with all the previous years, I knew I wanted to pick my core desired feelings this year, too. If you want to know more about core desired feelings, please go to my post from 2016 and you can see the links there.

This is the first year in a long time that I knew what I wanted going into the year and I didn’t actually do the exercise. 2021 was a very hard year for me that ended up being an extremely transformative year around a lot of inner work. I had some really really tough moments this year both personally and professionally. I think it ended up being hard enough that I finally had to do what I needed to do to get help and do my own work.

I had a major, random breakthrough in the middle of summer as I was reading a book by Tara Brach with this quote:

Thank you for everything. I have no complaints whatsoever.

I think I was already on the path but that quote is the point I viscerally remember everything changing. I added this quote to my calendar for a daily reminder (it’s still there.) I found a therapist, I extended my coaching at work, I started doing more restorative yoga. I visualized releasing things again and again. As I lay on the ground doing the yoga, I imagined balloons coming out of my body and into the sky with my worries on them. It worked every time.

I added some major questions to ask myself:

  • is this mine to carry?
  • can i hold this lightly?

There was an OLW class around affirmations, I set a bunch and here are the few that really stuck with me:

  • I have all the time I need.
  • I am exactly where in supposed to be.
  • I choose joy.

I added meditation to my routine. The first time I had a long session, I had this profound realization that brought tears to my eyes:

  • I have my own back.
  • The ground beneath me is not going anywhere.

These might seem simple to you but they are things I wanted to believe since I was born but never managed to and now I was finding myself connecting with them viscerally.

And then during a recent conversation with my coach, I realized that lowering my expectations, or in fact not having any was very liberating and it gave the people in my life an opportunity to delight me and not disappoint me. And it allowed me to live my life in a non-transactional way. Opportunities for delight is how I want my life to feel.

So walking into this year, I knew exactly what I wanted to hold on to. What core desired feelings I had. I chose: ease, release, space, equanimity and possibility.

I mentioned before that there’s a pattern to my words: I always pick something around peacefulness, something around being brave, something around being kind, something around being open, and then maybe a few new ones. So even in this year, I didn’t really break the trend except maybe with brave but possibility can cover that. And my word this year Joy feels brave to me.

Here’s what I came up with this year and what they each mean to me:

  • Ease: This is the peaceful word of this year. I have been feeling full of ease towards the end of this year as a combination of not picking up what’s not mine to carry and holding things lightly and doing a lot of work to release. I want to continue to feel this ease. I want to feel light and move through the world with ease.
  • Release: This might be like ease but mostly it’s a prerequisite for me. Surrender and release are really words I’ve kept close this year and they have been profound for my healing. I would like to keep them close.
  • Equanimity: This is my word around kindness this year. Equanimity means mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. Emotional stability. I think this will result in unwavering kindness.
  • Space: This is the enough/spacious word of this year. I have space to do what i want, to be what i want, i am loved, everything is enough as is. I have my own back. The universe has my back too. All is well. There is enough time and space for all I want.
  • Possibility: And this is for hope. For taking chances. For wild and magic. For being open to what can be. For being brave with my life. For taking chances. For joy.

So there we are. I guess we still have a trend. Ease and Release are my peaceful words, space is about being open, possibility is about being brave and equanimity is about being kind.

I love all of these. Most importantly, I can immediately connect with the feeling I get when I say these words. I feel full. I feel content knowing these are the words I want for myself. They feel exciting and loving.

Here’s to a joyful year of releasing, feeling ease and space and approaching the world with equanimity and possibility.

2022 – Year of Joy

It all started with a doormat.

Well, in actuality, it started with a birthday present that was cute but one that I would never use. My sweet husband bought me a t-shirt and when we went back to the store to return it, I couldn’t find anything at all that I liked. Just as I was about to give up and return the item, my eyes fell on this doormat. It was the last one left and I grabbed it.

The next morning, I walked out to drive my son to the school bus and my heart lifted when I saw the doormat.

I felt Joy.

That was back in September and the doormat is still outside and I have felt that joy every single time I leave the house. I feel it right now, looking at the picture above.

I know it’s weird, I can’t explain it either but I have bought at least seventeen other rainbow items since. Containers, baskets, little lights, hanging hearts, bracelets, I bought them all. They all give me endless joy.

As soon as I felt that uplift in my soul, I knew I had to pick joy for my word for 2022. But I also felt a huge resistance, I couldn’t explain it.

So I went on a search. Here are all the words I considered:

  • delight
  • yellow
  • light
  • laugh
  • spark
  • build
  • cheer
  • play
  • grow
  • celebrate
  • Awake
  • Alive
  • open
  • shift
  • possibility
  • joy
  • restore

I also had words that were close to my heart this year that felt more comfortable to choose. Words like ease, release, space. Each of these seemed more plausible than joy. There was just something off about Joy, it felt too much. Too audacious.

I spent days looking up synonyms. I talked about it with both my coach and my therapist. I was really curious as to why I was both resisting it and also reluctant to let it go. I’d never had this type of a reaction to a word before. I felt like it was mocking me.

As I tried on different words, I’d close my eyes and capture the feeling that I had when I stepped out to the doormat and the only word that kept feeling right was “joy” nothing else would do.

There’s this quote I’d seen before on pinterest that I loved:

“I wish to live a life that causes my soul to dance inside my body”

This is exactly how I felt when I stepped out on that doormat (yes, I know, a doormat?!) I felt my soul lift with joy.

So after weeks of trying to find alternatives, and even googling why I was resisting it, I decided this was going to be my year of Joy. A part of me is deeply resisting it but a bigger part of me is unwilling to let it go. So I will consider this the year to be curious about it.

I looked up a lot of different things about this word and here are some things I’ve found that really resonate with me:

Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience, but are very different. Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts and events.

And here’s something that really explains how I felt with the doormat (and continue to feel)

Joy is much simpler and more immediate. Psychologists define joy as an intense momentary experience of positive emotion. It can be measured through direct physical expression. So the feeling of smiling, laughter, and wanting to jump up and down. We get that feeling when something gives us a spark of joy. So in sum, to make it simple, happiness is something that we measure over time. Joy is about feeling good in the moment, and it’s really about these small and simple moments.

I was reading a book by a therapist a few weeks ago and I highlighted this passage that really resonated with me and reminded me what might be possible with this word if I can choose to hold it close:

Our attention is like a spotlight. We have control of that spotlight, but we cannot control the actors who come on stage. We cannot control how long they spend there, what they say, or when they leave. What we get to do is focus that spotlight on one or two of them at a time. If we settle our focus on the anxious thoughts that tell stories of worst-case scenarios and images of you not coping, they get the chance to feed back to the brain that all is not well. When you shift the spotlight of your attention to other thoughts on the stage that offer a different story, they will have their influence on your bodily reaction too. While you are focusing on them, the other thoughts may not leave the stage. They may stick around, waiting for the spotlight again. But without it, they have less power over your emotional state.

So maybe it’s time to put the spotlight on Joy for 2022.

And I love that just like my words from the last few years, it has the potential to be quiet and loud, passive and active.

  • Creating Joy: This is about actively taking action to have more joy in my life. Like the rainbows. Like going on adventures. Like putting on loud music and singing. Like sitting outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Going after what I know gives me joy.
  • Seeing the Joy: This is the passive version. The one that’s about the spotlight. Noticing it. Looking for it. Making sure to shine the spotlight on it.
  • Choosing Joy: This is about choosing the joyful option. Changing my perspective. It’s both active and passive since I am actively changing my perspective but not changing the situation.
  • Inviting Joy: This is quietly active. Gently inviting joy into my life. Taking small steps. Practicing gratitude.
  • Practicing Joy: This is like inviting, too, but it’s more about taking action. Doing small things. Getting more and more familiar with the feeling of joy inside my body.
  • Curious Joy: And maybe this is the most interesting one. This is my year to be more and more curious about what brings me joy. I haven’t always been a joyous person. At least it’s not how I see myself. But maybe 2022 will change that. The goal here is paying attention and finding things that give me joy and doing them.

I really liked the lists I’ve made in the years past year so here are a few other aspects of joy for me (some new, some repeats.):

  1. Shine the spotlight on joy: Settle your focus on joy. Spend your attention and time there as much as you can. Assume the joyous perspective. Choose the light every single time.
  2. Is this mine to carry? Ask yourself this each time before you pick something up. Don’t get on the rollercoaster. If it’s not mine, I will not pick it up. I can love my people and I can offer to help, but I will not pickup what’s not mine to carry.
  3. Surrender and Release: Let things go. Now you know you can. Visualize the balloons. Let them all go. They are not serving you.
  4. Can I hold this lightly? This is a recent question that’s really starting to serve me. Just like remembering what not to carry, I am trying to get clear what I can hold lightly. Does this really, deeply matter to me? Does it need to be held so tightly?
  5. I have my own back. I have what I need. I am grateful to the people who love me and share my life and I am grateful for all I have and at the same time, when I remember that I have my own back, I feel stronger and more solid in the world.
  6. Reset your expectations: Try to set expectations as low as possible. People don’t owe you anything. It’s wonderful when it happens but it’s not expected. Life is not transactional. Give people an opportunity to delight and not disappoint you.
  7. The ground beneath me is not going anywhere: Things are solid. The ground is not moving. Especially when I choose not to get on the roller coaster.
  8. Be Generous: Make room for others. Expand. Tell them why they are amazing. Praise. Donate. Be generous. Nothing is ever too much trouble and there’s always time.
  9. Stronger: You have what it takes. You are getting stronger every single day and I am so proud of you. Just keep at it. Give yourself grace and keep going. Try a tiny bit harder. 
  10. Yes You Can: You are amazing. You have proven again and again that you can do anything you set your mind to. So have faith in yourself. Work hard. Work smart. Do it for you. Do what you decide you want to. Keep at it. You can do it. Yes you can.

I started making a list of things that I know bring me joy. Here’s what’s on there so far: (I’ll try to keep this list growing throughout 2022)

  • Playing loud music
  • Talking all day with a friend
  • First sip of coffee
  • Dipping my toes in the sea/water
  • Watching planes land
  • Laughing
  • Helping someone else
  • Seeing the people I love get their wishes
  • Playing games with Nathaniel
  • Warm shower after a workout
  • Delicious food
  • Company and deep conversations
  • An excellent book
  • A good friend
  • Conquering a hard climb
  • Color
  • Fresh air
  • Art
  • Purpose, reflection
  • Rainbows
  • Christmas
  • Twinkle Lights
  • Journaling
  • Sunshine
  • Learning something new
  • Hugging my people tightly
  • A funny movie
  • A perfectly ripe banana
  • Watermelon
  • Hearing the people I love laugh (hearing anyone laugh)

So there we go. Here’s to a 2022 full of JOY.

UNRAVELING – GOODBYE TO 2021

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.

THANK YOU 2021 YOU ARE NOW COMPLETE!

2021 – Plans and Projects

I had regular goals for my blog for the last few years and that worked well for me until last October when I just gave everything up. At this point, I am not yet sure how I feel about 2021 and the blog so I don’t want to prematurely commit to things. But here are a few things I might like to try:

  • Art: I really enjoyed drawing for my book instagram account last year and might want to pick that back up, not sure what other art plans I have
  • Reflection: Monday and Sunday reflection posts helped me stay connected to my goals, keep track of my intentions, I will see if I can bring those back.
  • Storytelling: Stories from 2020 started out strong but like last year, I quit. This year, I did post short passages on my personal instagram account and I am thinking of continuing that for 2021 possibly. If so, that would be a bit of our storytelling. I also will continue to have Ali’s kits and use those to tell our stories.
  • Reading – I read like a lot this year. I continued to read netgalley books as well as audiobooks from the library and audible. I plan to continue this next year. I will continue tracking them on goodreads.

Until October, 2020 was going ok but I haven’t missed blogging so I am not sure if I will do any or all of these but we will see. All of these might happen, none of them might happen. I might repeat projects. I might do wildly different things. I am giving myself grace while trying to keep myself motivated.

Here’s to a wonderful 2021.  Here’s to doing more art. Here’s to making time to enjoy art. Here’s to learning new things. Here’s to practicing more. Here’s to reflecting. Being intentional. Creating a positive cycle. Here’s to saying yes.

UNRAVELING THE YEAR AHEAD – 2021

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 II. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

  1. First, choose a word to guide you through the next 12 months. Pick a word that makes you feel expanded. Encouraged. Inspired. There’s no right or wrong answer so go with your intuition. What’s your Word for 2021? YES.
  2. If you truly embodied your Word every day in 2021, what would you do differently? I would welcome life with all that it has to give me. This year will come with a lot of unknowns and instead of feeling like a victim, I want to welcome all of life’s surprises and ups and downs. I want to lean into life, honor it, cherish it, suck that marrow.
  3. What one thing could you do each day to anchor your Word into your routine? I could have a mantra and also do a 5-minute meditation before I get out of bed.
  4. How does your Word make you feel? Excited and full of energy. Ready to conquer the day. Full of optimism and joy.
  5. Do you want any extra words to support your Word for 2021? Brainstorm here. Think about what you need in the different areas of your life: home… work… relationships.. Health… self-care… What would support your Word? I’ve been thinking about this and the words on my list so far are: lighter, kinder, braver, wilder, delighted and enough, content, spacious, connected. I will pick some subset of these.
  6. What are you looking forward to in 2021? I am looking forward to the vaccine, to being able to travel and go on adventures again, to taking David on college tours, to seeing my family, to hugging my friends, to the next steps at work, to slowly getting to feel normal life again.
  7. What are you feeling apprehensive about? That much of this might not come, that we will spend another year at home, that one of my family members might get sick, that there’s still so much unknown.
  8. What life lessons are you taking with you into 2021? That life is short and can turn on a dime. That we don’t get to choose what happens but we do get to choose how we react to it, how we receive it and what we do as a result. 
  9. What area of your life do you most want to develop in 2021? My attitude and my outlook. I want to fundamentally change how I see life and how I approach life. 
  10. What part of your self do you yearn to nurture in 2021? My body. I want to keep exercising and getting stronger. I also want to nurture my soul and be kinder to myself all the time.
  11. Fast-forward to December 2021. You’re sitting in a café, musing over the last 12 months. Where do you want to be… 
    1. in your head? (work, dreams, goals)  At a job I love and where I feel secure, challenged and appreciated. I want to feel full, clear and fully content. I want to fully own who I am and have a job that honors that.
    2. in your heart? (relationships, family, friends)  I want to be kind and generous and full of abundance in my relationships. I want to feel expansive and patient.
    3. in your soul? (beliefs, practices, self-love)  I want to be happy, optimistic, grateful and full of joy. I want to say YES to everything life has to offer me and see the magic that my life is and continues to be..
    4. in your physical world? (home, health, hobbies) I want to be strong and dedicated and fully step into my abilities, my strength and honor my health.
  1. Okay, let’s take it up a notch. Use this page to describe what 2021 looks like in your ideal world. Be specific! What are your dreams for love this year? Work? Play? Where are you hungry for change? How do you want 2021 to FEEL? Use your answers from the previous pages to craft your ideal vision for the next 12 months. What would saying YES to your life look and feel like? Write out everything your heart desires for this new year. Be bold. I want this year to be full of joy. I want to be optimistic about how things turn out and what things mean. But not a silly optimism, instead a deeply seeded belief that there’s so much goodness in the world and that things will be okay. I want to support my husband in his incredible ventures. I want to support my kids in who they are and all they will become. I want to fully step into my own self with all the promise and possibility that it opens up. I want to be kind and supportive and generous to everyone, including myself. Yes would look like waking up full of energy and going to bed full of gratitude. Living every single moment of every single day.
  2. Now let’s give those dreams and plans some shape. Use the grid to start plotting the details of 2021. Use words and pictures, dates and anniversaries. Include actual events and made-up dreams, too. Be playful. Doodle your heart out. Back in 2013, our January OLW assignment involved setting intentions and I really enjoyed that, so I thought maybe I can do that instead. 
  • January: Yes to Baby Steps: Start small. Make a plan for the steps you want to take and give yourself a lot of grace. Take a handful of steps. You got this.
  • February: Yes to the Unknown:  Be open to new things this month. Listen more, watch others. Be willing to take some steps into the unknown and assume the best. Be brave. 
  • March:  Yes You Can:  This is usually your hardest month. No break, still too cold. It feels hard to make it through this month but you can. Yes you can. Keep going. 
  • April: The Quiet Yes: Be still. Listen to the whispers of your soul. See what your heart is telling you. Listen to the conversations in your head. Hear yourself.
  • May: Yes Just Yes: Time to be bold. Jump in. Dare to go all in and see what happens. What happens if you say yes?!
  • June: Yes to Light: Breathe in the fresh air. Summer is here. Smell the water. Go outside. Sit in the sunshine. One more school year is over. Celebrate your life. 
  • July: Yes to adventures: Create some adventure. Go places. Do things. Hug your people. Take chances.
  • August: Yes to Life: Time to get organized again, transitions are coming. Eleventh and Seventh grades.  Get organized, plan, prepare and do what you need to do. Write down all your dreams. Make plans. 
  • September: Yes to Possibilities: Time to root and surrender. This is a hard month for you. Transitions are rough. But you also turn 47. It’s magical to get to have another year. Remember the growth mindset. Let go of your preconceived ideas and embrace the possibilities. 
  • October: Yes to Connection:  Reach out to others. Connect with your people. Make new connections. Say yes to more things. 
  • November:  Yes to Rest: It’s ok if you need to start slowing down. Give yourself grace. Year is almost over. Can you do one more thing, take one more step in the direction of your dreams? What do you still want to say yes to?
  • December:  Yes to Celebration:  You’ve come a long way. It’s time to celebrate. Honor. Be grateful. Thank 2021 for all that it gave you. Fully bask in how far you’ve come so you can bid it farewell. Celebrate all your yeses.
  1. List 3 unhelpful beliefs about yourself you’re ready to release 
    1. That I am not strong.
    2. That I am not beautiful.
    3. That I am not worthy of belonging.
  2. List 3 duties or commitments you feel ready to let go of in 2021 
    1. I am not going to do the weekly album this year.
    2. Letting go of the need to blog daily
    3. Moving from weekly photos to monthly.
  3. List 3 skills you’d like to learn or improve in 2021
    1. Stitching maybe
    2. Drawing always
    3. Coding maybe
  4. List 3 books you intend to read this year: as always, i know i will read many. 
  5. How could you bring more calm into your life (and head) this year? More journaling and meditation, sitting by the fire, flowers, candles, nature always bring me calm. And take baths!
  6. List 3 things about yourself you positively love 
    1. My empathy and kindness
    2. That i am always trying to be a better version of myself.
    3. My deep and endless love for my people.
  7. List 3 ways you could be kinder to your body this year 
    1. Take care of my teeth and gums.
    2. Exercise and hydrate.
    3. Put cream on my skin.
    4. Rest!
  8. List 3 ways you could connect with loved ones in 2021 
    1. Call mom and Yona on a schedule, more regularly.
    2. Make a weekly date with Leslie and Monthly date with Jess
    3. Dial into the zooms every time.
  9. List 3 people you could extend compassion to
    1. My husband and kids.
    2. Myself.
    3. Every single person I come in contact with can always use more compassion, cause can’t we all?
  10. How could you bring more love into your life this year? I could look for the good, spend time celebrating, practice self-love, hug and touch more, and date nights!
  11. List 3 interests/hobbies you would like to explore more in 2021 
    1. Sketching + photography + journaling + stitching
    2. Hiking + camping + climbing + meditation + biking
    3. Not sure yet.
  12. List 3 ways you could feed your imagination this year 
    1. Reading
    2. Leaning in and saying yes.
    3. Travel + adventure
  13. List 3 ways you could bring more passion into your world this year 
    1. Saying yes to adventures and new things
    2. Yes to date nights and time together
    3. Making things happen. 
  14. List 3 dreams you would like to manifest this year (personal or professional) 
    1. Alaska!
    2. Maybe Climbing Whitney
    3. Feeling settled at work.
  15. How could you bring more creative energy into your life this year? 
    1. Maybe a december daily like book for the year, I have to think more on this.
    2. More drawing and reading combos.
    3. Maybe cooking more.
  16. List 3 ways you could bring more mindfulness to your mornings 
    1. Exercise + meditation + calling mom in the mornings. 
    2. Journaling for 15 minutes (to set intentions)
    3. Sketching/Art for 15-20 minutes.
    4. Being outside more, stretching.
  17. List 3 ways you could bring more mindfulness to your evenings (I added this because I want to do both mornings and evenings.) 
    1. Stretching, removing make up and flossing in the evenings. 
    2. Journaling for 15 minutes (releasing and gratitude)
    3. Reading + disconnecting. 
    4. Taking an evening walk.
    5. Taking a bath.
  18. List 3 ways you could cherish your home this year 
    1. Buy flowers
    2. Cozy blankets
    3. Light candles.
  19. List 3 ways you could connect more deeply with nature in 2021 
    1. Camp and hike. And climb in nature.
    2. Sink my feet into the sand and into the ocean.
    3. Climb trees.
  20. List 3 places in your city, town or neighbourhood you want to explore
    1. All the beaches.
    2. San Fran.
    3. More socal this year. 
  21. How could you bring a sense of groundedness into your life this year?  
    1. Regular yoga + meditation + journaling
    2. Doing more stretching
    3. Being out in nature, taking walks.
  22. Using your favourite tarot or oracle deck, draw one card for the overall theme of the upcoming year and then a card for each month of 2021. I don’t like to do this so as well as the monthly above, I will list a bunch of things I can do this year.
  • Yes to calm: journaling, meditation, candles, sitting outside, music, tara brach
  • Yes to the outdoors: Hiking, Climbing, swimming, waterfalls, sand, ocean
  • Yes to healthy living: Cook more, eat more veggies, more water, walking, sleep
  • Yes to routine: morning and evening routines
  • Yes to being active: stretching, strength, yoga, peloton. climbing
  • Yes to new adventures: travel, climbing trees, 
  • Yes to art: draw, paint, photography, 
  • Yes to stories: week in the life, story albums, december daily, OLW
  • Yes to romance: dancing with Jake, date nights, 
  • Yes to family: family dinners, project with N, project with D, vacation
  • Yes to connection: emails/calls with friends, write letters, call mom, call yona
  • Yes to optimism: write what went right, celebrate, donate, thank yous, send gifts
  • Yes to learning new things: podcasts, new classes, nonfiction books
  • Yes to joy: dance, listen to music, celebrations
  • Yes to adventure: book vacations, try new things.
  1. 2021 will be the year I finally become an optimist!
  2. I will nourish myself with fresh, unprocessed food, a positive attitude, good friends.
  3. I will make more time for myself and the people I love. 
  4. I will recharge my batteries by resting, exercising, and sleeping more.
  5. This year I will open my heart to possibility.
  6. I will pay more attention to the good.
  7. I will learn more about leaning in, saying yes, leaping.
  8. I will release my attachment to my stories and my past and my anxiety/worry.
  9. I wish for 2021 to feel magical.
  10. This year I will say NO to worry, stress, negativity, things that drain me.
  11. This year I will say YES to LIFE with all of its gifts.
  12. What is your secret wish for 2021? Declare it here! My secret wish is that this year I fundamentally change the way I see life. That I pay attention to the good, internalize it and really see it. That I stay optimistic and step fully into my life.

I wholeheartedly believe that everything is possible in 2021!

As always, I mention many of these same thoughts from last year and here, here, and here. I am pretty sure these themes have been in my life in some way or another for many years. I know that they will likely still be around in 2021 and 2022 and onward. What I’d like to do this year is to make a dent. To move things forward a little bit. Every forward step I take moves me in the right direction and that’s all I can ask for.


Close your eyes for a moment and imagine stepping into the shoes of you from December 2021, one year from now. You are one year older and one year wiser and you’ve lived every day of 2021 fully and completely. You have a message of encouragement about 2021. There’s stuff you want to share… stuff you’re eager to tell yourself. When you’re ready, open your eyes, pick up your pen, and write a letter from your future self, starting with Dear Karen: I am so proud of you. Keep going, you got this!

2021 – Year of Yes

Up until a few weeks ago, I was determined that my 2021 word was going to be Light. I wanted it to be light. After the year that 2020 has been, I really thought a year of looking for the light, seeing the light, making light, etc. would be the exact right thing for me.

While choosing Light felt calming it just didn’t seem to have the boldness of the last few years’ words. I wanted something both quiet and bold. Sort of how magic was in 2019. I was craving both and light just didn’t feel enough.

So I went on a search. Here are all the words I considered:

  • surrender
  • release
  • cozy
  • rest
  • grow
  • leap
  • light
  • heal
  • open
  • change
  • ease
  • celebrate
  • alive
  • begin
  • create
  • nourish
  • construct
  • build
  • whole
  • calm
  • grounded
  • yes
  • here
  • now
  • see
  • play
  • connect
  • expand
  • abundance
  • breathe
  • design
  • flow
  • gather
  • quiet
  • pause
  • slow
  • perspective
  • tend
  • wait

After thinking about it all for a while, the word YES jumped off the page for me. That feeling of the fully owned Yes is what I was seeking for 2021. Stepping into my life. So I decided YES was exactly what I wanted this year.

Yes comes with daring, it’s a Heck YES or it’s a no. It comes with the quiet yes too, the saying yes to life, yes to what is, and it comes with possibility. Yes to being open, yes to optimism. Yes to whatever may come. I want to choose my life instead of feeling like things are happening to me.

The Daring Yes: This is about trying new things, taking chances, saying yes to things that feel scary. Yes to adventure. Yes to the unexpected. This is about venturing into discomfort and stretching that zone of comfort bit by bit.

The Quiet Yes: This is the passive part. Listening to the quiet noises of my soul. Connecting to my breath and checking in with my quiet yeses. The whispers of my soul. What is sitting there, waiting to be stirred?

Yes to Life: This is for embracing the unpredictable nature of life. Saying yes to things that happen. Being deeply optimistic about how things will turn out and then embracing what is when things reveal themselves. Feeling like I own my life and drive my own life. Yes yes yes.

I really liked the lists I’ve made in the years past year so here are a few other aspects of yes for me (some new, some repeats.):

  1. Say YES This is rule #1: Say yes to things, don’t do what feels easy. do what feels daring. when you are asked something say YES first.
  2. Say no: Saying yes also requires saying no. You must say no to inertia. Say no to things that don’t light you up. Say no to things that weigh you down. Say no to things that crush your soul. No more.
  3. Assume the Best: This year, I will be an optimist! I will assume the best. I will assume things will work out. I will assume we will fix it. We can overcome. Because assuming the worst hasn’t really been working out. I will still work hard, and try hard but i will also be an optimist!
  4. Be Generous: Make room for others. Expand. Tell them why they are amazing. Praise. Donate. Be generous. Nothing is ever too much trouble and there’s always time.
  5. Embrace Joy: Let all the available light flow through youDance. Live in the sunshine. Reflect the light of others. Choose the light again and again and again.
  6. Surrender and Release: Let go and let it be. Choose peace. Choose what is. Let it all go. Remember what matters most.
  7. Stronger: You have what it takes. You are getting stronger every single day and I am so proud of you. Just keep at it. Give yourself grace and keep going. Try a tiny bit harder. 
  8. Yes You Can: You are amazing. You have proven again and again that you can do anything you set your mind to. So have faith in yourself. Work hard. Work smart. Do it for you. Do what you decide you want to. Keep at it. You can do it. Yes you can.
  • And then here are some notes I took as I was picking this word:
    • Yes to calm: journaling, meditation, candles, sitting outside, music, tara brach
  • And then here are some notes I took as I was picking this word:
    • Yes to calm: journaling, meditation, candles, sitting outside, music, tara brach
    • Yes to the outdoors: Hiking, Climbing, swimming, waterfalls, sand, ocean
    • Yes to healthy living: Cook more, eat more veggies, more water, walking, sleep
    • Yes to routine: morning and evening routinesDo more photography
    • Yes to being active: stretching, strength, yoga, peloton. climbing
    • Yes to new adventures: travel, climbing trees, lead belaying 
    • Yes to art: draw, paint, photography, write
    • Yes to stories: week in the life, story albums, december daily, OLW, reading, podcasts
    • Yes to romance: dancing with Jake, date nights, fun projects
    • Yes to family: family dinners, project with N, project with D, vacation
    • Yes to connection: emails/calls with friends, write letters, call mom, call yona
    • Yes to optimism: write what went right, celebrate, donate, thank yous, send gifts
    • Yes to learning new things: podcasts, new classes, nonfiction books
    • Yes to joy: dance, listen to music, celebrations
    • Yes to adventure: book vacations, try new things.

So there we go. Here’s to a 2021 – Year of YES!

UNRAVELING – GOODBYE TO 2020

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.

THANK YOU 2020 YOU ARE NOW COMPLETE!

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 22

This was a so-so reading week, for me. Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


Fumbled (3 stars): I liked Alexa Martin’s previous book Intercepted and I was looking forward to this one. I will say that part of the reason this doesn’t end up in my “loved” bucket is because of what I read before. Sometimes I am in the mood for a book that’s light and sweet and other times I like deep, thoughtful books. I had just finished a few wonderful literary books, so next to those, this seems light and fluffy. Which isn’t bad in of itself, I am all for light and fluffy, I love all books, but I just wanted more here. I wanted a tiny bit more depth. I enjoyed the characters and I enjoyed the plot that flowed smoothly and easily. Once I started the book it kept me occupied and happy for a long while. But it won’t stick with me for long. Which is also just fine sometimes. If you like a light, sweet read, this will make you happy.


Walking on the Ceiling (3.5 stars):  “Stories have their own logic. For one thing, a story can only be told once it has an ending. For another, it builds, and then unravels. Each element of a story is essential; its time will come and it will ultimately mean something. In this way, stories are accountable, because they can look you in the eye.”

This strange, little novel was a quick read and yet had some thoughtful moments and gems. If you like plot-driven stories, you will be disappointed as this is more of a moment in time and it goes back and forth in time and in between Paris and Istanbul but nothing much happens. It’s not a character study either. You don’t get to know the characters (even the main character) as much and deeply as I like to (it is such a short novel after all.) It’s just a slice, a moment. 

But there are still many moments of beauty in the book and solid writing that makes you stop and think. Since I grew up in Istanbul, there were a lot of moments of reminiscence for me as well. I look forward to more of her novels, hopefully longer and meatier ones next time.


Good Talk (4 stars): What a gem. 

I had not heard of this book. I have no idea how I ended up deciding to read it. When I originally started the audiobook, I had no idea it was a graphic novel and thought I should not listen but read since it’s so visual. But then the audio book is so incredibly fantastic that I could not stop listening. Now I am going to go buy the book so I can also read it visually. This book is not just Mira’s story but it’s about immigration, about our fractured society, about what it means to raise a kid in a mixed family and when there are conflicting values and choices and the gray areas. It’s sad and funny and heartfelt and really beautiful. It is a thought-provoking story that will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended both in audio and print!


Meet Cute (3 stars): I really enjoyed this quick and sweet book. I knew from the cover that this would be a light and breezy book and it turned out to be that way for the most part. A fast-moving, simple plot, a few tidbit mysteries here and there that were pretty predictable and not a huge amount of deep character development. But it was sweet and light and enjoyable. If you like light romance stories, you will enjoy this one.


The F*ck it Diet (3 stars): It’s hard to tell if this book came at the right time or if I picked it up because I am finally at a place where I want to listen to its message. Possibly the latter because while I really appreciated its message, there wasn’t much new here for me. The first part of the book can really be summarized in one word: eat. Eat what you want, when you want, as much as you want. If you’ve been dieting on and off forever, you’ve been starving yourself and your body needs food. you need to train it to get out of the starvation mode. And then the other parts are just to help you get there. Despite being more repetitive than necessary at places, there are some very useful exercises here and I will do them as many times as it takes for me to get the message and internalize it. Because until I am ready to define my worth by something outside of my body, none of these messages will matter. If you’re at the beginning of your journey, this book might help more. If you’re not ready for it yet, it will annoy you. If you’re like me, and somewhere in the middle, it will reinforce your thoughts but not really do the hard work for you. Because only you can.


The Secret Life (3 stars): This book was very short and yet powerful. I didn’t know anything about Maimonides or his philosophies. But I love much of what’s in here idea-wise. It’s just that they presented in a dry way that doesn’t help you really internalize it in a more visceral way. I’m still glad I read it and will be thinking about the book for some time.


The Bride Test (5 stars): Helen Hoang can write. There’s something magical in the way she weaves her characters. They resonate with me deeply and I can connect to them. I had liked The Kiss Quotient enough to worry about the second book and whether it would be as good. And I think in some ways this was even better. These characters have more depth, more emotion, more conflict and are represent what it means to be human more honestly. I loved even the secondary characters. 

I don’t know why but the audio version does not include the author’s note, I wish they would rectify that since it adds so much depth and perspective to both the author and this story. I can’t wait for more of Hoang’s books.


And there we go, an good week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Weekly Reflection 2019 – 18

Magic I Saw this Week: This week passed so quickly for me that I can’t remember most of it. My manager said some very kind words this week and he’s trying really hard for me to appreciate how appreciated I am. Working on it. David’s attitude and approach to life is magical to watch. Photos from Nathaniel’s camp were magical. And Jake is the biggest provider of magic in my life always.

Magic I Made this Week: I haven’t done much this week I’m afraid. Still hoping to do one more vacation in the summer but booked nothing this week.

Magic of Me that I explored Week: not much here this week either. But I did sign up for a class which will help with this.

Top Goals Review:  

  • Work: did one more turn of crank on PM summit plan, did IO follow up, did not do one round on site, did perf.
  • Personal: did daily drawing, did not journal, and intermittently did yoga, sleept so so, halfway back to routine, have had no gluten. did not make exercise plan or food diary.
  • Family:  did not do much more broadcom and did not figure out summer #2, did not book final camps. celebrated nathaniel. prepped david for spain. prepped Nathaniel for camping. Prepped David for Cal Science Fair. hugged family a lot.

I celebrate: Nathaniel’s wonderful class trip and David’s incredible journey to Spain.

I am grateful for: a positive perf this season.

This week, I exercised: 2 days of body pump and 3 days of yoga this week.

Self-care this week: not a lot this week.

I showed up for: david’s class as i am working on their year-end slide show.

I said yes to: working longer days.

I said no to: doing any work at home.

Core Desired Feelings Check-in:

  • Embrace: i am embracing Spring and the both crazy and quiet month May will be hopefully.
  • Alive: There is both so much work, change, and celebration coming in May.
  • Lighter: a bit lighter on the other side of perf.
  • Kinder: i would like to spend some time understanding what kind looks like.
  • Surrender: i surrender to all that is going on. it’s going to be okay.

What I tolerated this week: just a lot of readjustment. nights that were not as sound as I would have liked.

My mood this week was: tired.

I am proud of: my children.

I forgive myself for: who i am.

Here’s what I learned this week: maybe I need to soften and stop overthinking. not sure I can do this.

What I love right now: I love that I will hopefully be home all of May.


Weekly Reflection is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Everyday Magic – 17

Weekly Intention: This week will be a bit broken up. Nathaniel and I are going to Orlando to celebrate his tenth birthday. When David turned ten, I surprised him with a trip to Harry Potter Land so as soon as he was old enough to understand what that means, Nathaniel’s been counting the days down to his tenth birthday and it’s finally here. He and I will be there until Wednesday and then I have work on Thursday and Friday. So here’s my intention for this week: I will be super present with Nathaniel, I will celebrate him and make sure this trip is special for him. I will then come home and be present at work. I look forward to both my vacation and my work.

This month’s intention is: Making Magic: Go on adventures. Take trips with your family, make small and big bits of magic in your life. So I booked one vacation for summer, woot! and booked 3 weeks of camps, too! I have one more vacation on my list. Then 2-3 more camps. I might then be done with summer, magically. As for April, we’re making Magic for Nathaniel this week.

One way I will show up this week:  I am going to work hard to make Nathaniel as happy as I can.

One magic I will make this week: Harry Potter land here we come!

This week, I will pay attention to: Nathaniel. My little boy is turning double digits!

This week, I will be kinder to: Nathaniel and also maybe take some time for myself if i can.

This week, I will focus on pleasing: Nathaniel. It’s his week.

One new thing I will learn this week: Hmm maybe how to draw a little better?

I am looking forward to: 1-1 time with the little boy.

This week’s challenges: I am keeping an open mind. Thursday and Wednesday will be long days and two all-day travels but still I am hoping nothing will be particularly challenging.

Top Goals: 

  • Work: initial PM summit plan, IO follow up, offsite next steps.
  • Personal: daily drawing, journal, and yoga, sleep. Make some new exercise plan. Make food diary, too.
  • Family:  broadcom, figure out summer #2, book final camps. celebrate nathaniel. prep david for spain. prep Nathaniel for camping. Prep David for Cal Science Fair.

I will focus on my values:

  • Love: Love this magical life I am given and worked so hard to make.
  • Learn: learn to really pay attention and be grateful.
  • Peace: peace with all that’s going on.
  • Service: my kids who have a lot going on in the next few weeks.
  • Gratitude: for being so healthy so much of the time.

This week, I want to remember: that i am so lucky to be so loved and so appreciated.


Everyday Magic is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.