Doing a life review every year can be a delightful and revealing process. I started doing this in 1999, during my divorce, and I would say that my New Year’s review process is the single biggest factor in my ability to overcome problems in my life. It’s the driving force behind all my accomplishments. It’s also the main reason I ever do anything fun; I tend to be driven and hyper-focused, and I have to remind myself to fit in things like “listen to more music.”
I want to share a list of highlights and neat things from my year. Then I’ll talk about my resolutions and how I did.
Saw an orca family in the wild, complete with baby orca!
Saw a mountain goat family in the wild, complete with kids, and one of them SQUEAKED!
Saw my first pine squirrel and rough-skinned newt. Birds seen for the first time include the black skimmer, black-necked stilt, cinnamon teal, Forster’s tern, little blue heron, and reddish egret.
Learned about virga and lenticular clouds.
Did two backpacking trips totaling six days and four nights. (Goal: at least one trip). Learned to hang up and securely tie a bear bag. Carried my heaviest pack ever. Building my confidence and independence in managing gear.
Went on three planned trips, to Victoria, BC, San Diego, and Las Vegas.
Started this blog and posted over 700 pages, with more than 200 original illustrations and photographs. Maintained my schedule of publishing every business day.
Surprised my parents by showing up unexpectedly at their 40th anniversary dinner, making my mom cry.
Started my coaching business.
Moved to a new house.
Met and spoke with Gretchen Rubin and Robert Reich face to face.
Completed an online course, The Science of Happiness. I highly recommend it! You can take it for free, self-paced, starting 1/5/16.
Read 163 books, 70% nonfiction, 50,074 pages (averaging 307 per book).
Listened to complete queue of 22 podcasts.
We started a new habit, Saturday Status Meeting, in which we meet for breakfast and go over our goals every week. This has been so awesome that it’s like Marriage 2.0. My husband blasted through all his goals for the year by the end of March.
I wanted to get a guitar and learn to play as a 40th birthday gift to myself. I changed my mind about this a few months into the year, because I developed a problem with tennis elbow and I was in a lot of pain. That pain is still resolving many months later. I still want to learn to play guitar, and I probably will start within the next few years, whenever I can do it without a repetitive stress injury. Disappointing.
My top financial goal was to pay off my student loan early. This did not happen. I paid $1182 toward it. What happened was that I did not publish the book I had planned. Apparently I have an emotional block about bringing in money, on top of my known issue with finishing projects. My real goal should have been to push through my monetizing block.
I had a physical goal about healing the tendonitis in my ankle and learning what kind of exercises I could do to develop my body more symmetrically. I’ve made progress here. I learned a lot about physical therapy, yoga, the foam roller, and ice massage. I learned a few simple new exercises that have been really helpful. I was able to go on two backpacking trips in the fall, putting a lot of weight on that ankle with no problems. Just as I had started running again, a couple miles a week, I got blisters under my nails (from the hiking), and now I’m working on resolving that. I made a resolution to learn more about anatomy, and I guess I should have been more specific!
I had a goal about working with my grandma on a family history project. That didn’t happen either. I am learning that making resolutions that involve another person’s participation rarely, if ever, works as planned.
I had a goal of changing my relationship with books. I have definitely succeeded with this, although it was much harder and took much longer than I thought. My lifetime romance with the public library seems to be over. The last 3-4 times I went into a bookstore, including POWELL’S BOOKS, I came out empty-handed. I’m still working on reading through my personal collection, which represents maybe 10x more stored reading time than I had thought. I’ve become more interested in my own writing than that of others.
I had a goal of reading and writing more poetry. I succeeded at this, and it was great! I read an average of a poem a day, some of which did nothing for me, some of which lit me up and took my breath away. In December, I discovered the poetry of Mary Oliver, and that alone made this resolution worthwhile. I wrote a few things of my own, mostly doggerel, and that was fun.
I had three ‘stop’ resolutions, all of which I did. The first was to stop bringing home books until I had read everything I already have. I am proud to say that we moved with one fewer bookshelf (about 6’), I have no library books checked out, and I don’t even have a library card in our new city. The second ‘stop’ goal was to stop leaving tissues in my pockets. It seems that as soon as I brought my awareness to the constant problem of shredded tissues in the dryer, I was able to change my habits. The third ‘stop’ goal was to “stop sticking my oar in on no-hope conversations.” That has been huge. Of course it’s also resulted in my spending very little time on Facebook.
I continued to maintain my new goal weight of “healthy weight for my height” according to Google, and now I’m closing in on two years as a size zero. I’ve figured out where I can buy clothes that fit. I’ve also continued to win the battle against night terrors and migraine. I DIDN’T HAVE A SINGLE MIGRAINE IN 2015! January 6 will mark TWO YEARS WITH NO NIGHT TERRORS! It has not escaped my notice that going two years with no migraines and two years with no night terrors both correlate perfectly with being at my goal weight and maintaining our decision to double (then double again) our cruciferous vegetable consumption.
We had a three-year goal horizon for getting patio furniture (after we moved to a new place, which didn’t have a specific timeframe yet). This unexpectedly came about when we rented our new house, and it’s much nicer than the modest vision I had in mind.
Overall, it was a hectic and sad year in many ways. The Grim Reaper has been hanging around and we’ve had a lot of depressing family news. For the first time, we traveled more than we wanted. We moved again, which was a good thing, but it came at a stressful time. I’ve had constant pain from one part of my body or another every day this year. Imagine being grateful that at least you still have all your toenails.
On the other hand, our lives have improved. We love our new neighborhood. Our marriage is stronger. I started this blog, and somehow I seem to have reached a point at which someone in the world is reading it, somewhere, every hour of the day and night. I started my coaching business, and with it, a new income stream. I’ve reached a level of productivity and engagement with my work that I never knew was possible. We’ve been dealing with several very unfortunate things that can’t be controlled, but we’ve managed to shape our world in ways that were in our power to control.
Tomorrow I’m posting about my New Year’s planning process. I’ll include the goals and resolutions I’ve chosen. My hope is that my idiosyncratic, sometimes silly and small-scale goals will make this kind of planning more interesting and lower-stakes for others.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.