Saturday, 31 December 2016

Top 10 Things I Learned in 2016

1. You will find what you are looking for.
You will find drama, anger, revenge, misery, joy, hope, and love if you seek it out.  I’ve learned that people are amazingly intuitive; they sense what you are looking for when you show up somewhere, and they deliver it. 

Last year for me—2015—was full of setbacks, anger, and sadness.  All I wanted was for it to go away and to find some joy.  I even wrote a “finding joy in 2015” blog post and followed my list of activities from that closely. Then, I walked by a church almost exactly a year ago and the word on the window said, “hope.”  It resonated.  I thought to myself, “2015 was about finding joy.  2016 needs to be filled with hope.”   And it’s what I set about looking for this past year.  I am going into 2017 with so much hope for a good future, surrounded by an amazing community of family and friends.
2. Don’t let solid friendships slide for too long.
I’ve learned that there is a point where you can’t expect the friendship plant to keep blooming with zero maintenance and care.  In 2015, there were days when I couldn’t eat, sleep, and was a total blob of energy. When I needed my friends the most, they showed up for me, literally banging on my door to make sure I was ok, and I dropped in on them just needing company and support.  It was a year of taking, for sure. And carrying into this year, I banked on some friendships longer than I should have.  Maybe I didn’t take advantage of these relationships but I certainly let things slide and chose to spend time on other commitments.  Hmm! What happened to my marriage started to happen to my friendships this year.  That’s not acceptable to me.  I can be stubborn and justify where I spend my energy and time, but slowly it will catch up to me.  I am sorry to everyone who has always been patient and loyal to me; I want and need to give back to you as I would not be where I am without you.  Next year will be about continuing to go back to my friendship roots, and be “faithful” so to speak to my dearest friends.

3. “The love of my life,” is a really misleading phrase. That implies there can and should only be one.
 For some, maybe this is the truth.  For me, I learned I can love and trust after my marriage ends. It is not a feeling of, “this will have to do.”  Of course it is different, but I wouldn’t want it to be the same experience all over again.  I’ve had some real hangups over what’s the right thing to do going forward—what does marriage really mean?  How soon do you give it a go again?  I don’t have the answers to that for myself yet, but I do know that it’s a blessing to actually get a second chance. 

4. Don’t be proud of being able to do it all (alone).  Being stubborn and refusing help is not a sign of strength.
Why did I refuse help to paint my new house this year? Or an offer to grocery shop for me when I started to work in Vancouver half the time? I can’t do it alone.  And yet I do really want people to wonder, “how does she do it all?” and I’m not sure why I want that?  I’m no different than everyone else, with 24 hours in a day to get it all done.  I really fell apart this summer trying to do it all.  I sat in my house one morning at 3am after painting the whole thing over 2 nights by myself.  I was so determined to make this new house my own that I lost myself in it.  Time to make realistic to-do lists, and let others step in.  My name does not have to be on everything, I don’t have to do Pinterest-worthy birthday parties for my kids, and I don’t have to run 5 half marathons next year. Maybe I’d yell at my kids less if I made time to just hang out with them. And I’d eat healthier food if I wasn’t running around doing other stupid stuff that I committed to.  It’s like we all know what we need to do to achieve balance, but we can’t bring ourselves to do it.  The only thing I can think of doing is acknowledging it publicly here, and committing to making changes.  Hold me accountable on this one, please!

5. Love your neighbour.  Literally, the annoying people who live next door. Or, at least, try to get along and you will go farther than battling it out.
Ahhhh, my neighbours.  I had the most amazing neighbours when we first moved to the island and I had no idea how bad it can be.  Long story short, my neighbours have parked their boat and allow all their family members to park communally in my driveway which crosses over their property since the summer. After repeated attempts to explain how that is not legal, and lots of going back and forth, I have decided that I just need to let it go.  It’s less about the legal and more about the relationship.  I need them on my side especially if I am gone half the time working in another city.  I realized if I just smile and pretend everything is fine, my neighbour has no problem with me parking on his property.  His renters even scurry out of their unit to move their vehicles if they see me approaching.  It is becoming kind of hilarious. If I get into a yelling match with him he comes marching down to my house trying to save face for his family and tenants and suddenly there are vehicles and trucks and this boat blocking my way.  I see this whole situation as a metaphor for a life lesson I need to learn: being right does not get me farther in life. 

6. Be a parent and a friend to your kids—they need both.
I’ve learned that not every moment with my boys needs to be a learning moment for them. I don’t need to come from a place of advice all the time.  Yes I am the adult who makes the decisions.  But I did learn this year that laughing hysterically with my kids or recognizing they need my attention, not discipline, goes far.

7. There’s no such thing as achieving life balance.
Why are we all trying to achieve balance? As soon as we think we’ve got it, stuff changes.  As soon as I thought this year that I’d finally let go of things I needed to and started up the important things, everything changed again.  There were new work projects, my car broke down, I injured myself and it took me off my marathon training and exercise regime, my budget was off again because I needed a new water heater, etc. etc.   And this is totally normal! I find it disheartening to pursue something that was never meant to be achieved.  Instead of focusing on achieving balance, which I think is not possible, I am going to be more aware of all the demands on my time and my energy.  And from there, make choices in the moment – less locking in to planning and more flexibility.

8. Look back just to see how far you’ve come.
This quote resonated with me a lot this year.  The feeling of making progress is so motivational.  I started a journal about 18 months ago.  Everything in my life now is different than what I described in those earliest entries.  I read it, not to rehash old feelings, but just to recognize that I am changing fairly dramatically.

9. Do things with intention.  If you don’t create it on purpose, something else will be created in its place.  And we might not like what that looks like. 
(Thanks, B, for this quote.) My coach’s words to me over 2 years ago are still with me.  I have tried this year to think, “to what end am I doing this?” in everything I do.  Am I working in a job that will get me closer to my career goals?  Am I parenting in a way that will help my kids reach their goals and be successful?  Am I saving money for the things I want?  And if not, then what do I need to do to fix that?  I made some big changes this past year – I moved houses and I changed jobs.  I love the part of the quote that reminds me that if I don’t fix these things, something will happen regardless.  I might as well take control of my actions and make my life the way I want it, as much as that is possible.

10. You can go through life’s changes kicking or screaming, or with grace. 
I loved these words (thank you, Ara) when I read them earlier this year.  I can resist or accept change, but either way, it’s happening. I would like to make the inevitable as enjoyable of an experience as possible.


I wish each of you a fulfilling 2017, wherever that takes you.  xo



  1. Everything you do makes you a better person than you were before. Regardless of the good or bad, you keep moving forward.. Sometimes in small steps.. Sometimes by leaps and bounds. Keep on keeping it chi!
    Bring on 2017.. I know you are ready.

  2. Everything you do makes you a better person than you were before. Regardless of the good or bad, you keep moving forward.. Sometimes in small steps.. Sometimes by leaps and bounds. Keep on keeping it chi!
    Bring on 2017.. I know you are ready.