Before I get to this year's resolutions, I'll take a look back at the past year first.
Looking Back: 2016 Resolutions
You can see details and reasons here, but the three main resolutions I'd chosen back in January were:
- Live out my values
VolunteeringI realigned my resolutions in May, bumping volunteering off the list and replacing it with French. A little ironically, but understandably, volunteering became my largest commitment when I returned to the states in October—as there were programs in town I could immediately help with. Teaching English to adult learners is one of those programs, and it's been really fun. I love the face-to-face contact and friendships, teaching, plus the low pressure.
FrenchAs you saw in my year of books, I read seven books in French this year—six of which were from the Harry Potter series. I'm proud of it, but mostly I think it's cool because that reading felt fun. I basically stopped writing in my grammar workbook mid-May. These last two months of the year I paid for a subscription of Progress with Lawless French, which was helpful for me. In this graph you can see the difference in progress between my free account (10 quizzes/month, August - October) and a paid account (unlimited quizzes, November - December).
I was mostly working on A2 grammar stuff, and recently started on B1 near the end of the month. I'd definitely pay for another month of PwLF when I know I can access it daily and put in the time. I'm taking at least a month off in January, though.
Eventually I'd like to really master all A1-A2 topics and then work through B1 to B2, so I'm still not yet at the level I want to reach. However, I can remember clearly enough my first day in Montpellier, and how I struggled to form sentences to talk with my AirBnb host. But I was a stickler for only speaking/reading/hearing French during those first two months in Montpellier (in 2015), and that + this past year in France paid off. I've loved going to the weekly French conversation table in Madison this fall to chat freely.
CalligraphyI've made some progress, but it did not end up being the year of calligraphy, as opposed to 2015 which had definitely been "The Year of French." I won a white ink bundle giveaway from The Postman's Knock in February (which was a welcome surprise when it arrived the day before I moved from Rodez, after breaking up with Damien), and then I bought my first dip pen and nib while in London in March/April.
I was more than surprised/thrilled to see my name on an envelope on The Postman's Knock two days before my birthday. (Thanks again for the snail mail reply, Lindsey!)
|This address is neither correct (it's been modified) nor mine, so don't send me any mail here!|
I started doing #calligcasts (practicing calligraphy while listening to a podcast) in July, but have only posted 11 to date. (I have practiced outside of the documented calligcasts, but not too much more than what's recorded here.) I got my first oblique pen in October, which has been fun to use.
I have to decide yet if I'll bring a pen and ink along with me when I leave for Europe in three weeks. (I'm hoping to take just a backpack along, so we'll see.)
This ended up being a really great topic for me to focus on. Looking back, I'm sure that having my values at the front of my mind contributed to my decision to break up with Damien in March, and to leave my full-time virtual job in September. Good things are good, but I was willing to give that up and take a risk for something GREAT which more closely aligns with my values!
Live out my values
Here are the values I'd singled out back in January, and some things I did this year towards each:
- Connected - Monday night bowling in Rodez with OVS group, began a weekly English conversation exchange, played ultimate on Sundays with a Meetup group in Montpellier, led Thursday ultimate at the beach the months while Nico was in Canada, led Tuesday night Couchsurfing language meetups with Elodie/Miguel, found inspiring creatives in Waunakee.
- Creative - January 2016 creative challenge, one-day sculpting class and two-day oil painting class in Rodez, calligraphy, bought watercolors in September, #100DaysofMindMapping, coloring nights this winter, reading creative books/magazines, started writing micropoems two weeks ago.
- Helpful - Finished and published my Korean food guide, published 78 posts on this blog, seven on Medium (many re-posts from here), a handful on Oh No She Madridn't after my most recent re-visit, edited a French friend's Fulbright scholarship application, edited other French friends' essays and resumes, taught English classes with WNC and later with Hannah, talked to H.S. Spanish Club, generally try to help out when I can.
- Confident/Assured - To refresh, the reminder for this one was "less comparing, be vulnerable." In addition to all the OVS/Couchsurfing/Meetup events I hosted in Rodez/Montpellier, went to French/Spanish meetups during my 4-week stay in London, spoke my mind after Michelle Obama's DNC speech (and was pleasantly surprised with much positive feedback, only one "Stay in France" reaction), becoming more vulnerable in my writing.
- Curious - Subscribed to The Atlantic, explored some new topics via mind maps, kept "Curiosities" page in notebook, watercolors, reading about various arts/creative inspiration these past three months, quit job to pursue other curiosities, "discovered" creative rebels via Twitter.
Additional happenings in 2016
English With RebeI thought I should include somewhere that this year I began blogging some at English With Rebe. Lately it's taken a backseat to other creating/writing, and I'm not sure how much time and energy I want to put into it in 2017...
While I obviously like the mindful/positive angle on English learning, teaching English is something I kind of stumbled into while living abroad, and am simply decently good at it because of many other interests. I've always been passionate about teaching and love doing so, but years ago I dreamed of being a math or Spanish teacher. Although I could get certified some day for classroom teaching, I think there's probably something else out there that would get me truly excited—where I'd still be making an impact and helping others learn. I think I'm on a path to uncover it.
I started using the mindful meditation app Calm in April, somehow had access to Daily Calm through November—even though I wasn't a subscriber—and then bought a year-long subscription in December when I lost access to Daily Calm (which I was never supposed to even have). I really love the practice of meditating, and Calm makes it easy and refreshing. (Shout out to you, Tamara Levit!) I've been aiming for 10 minutes daily; here's what December looked like:
(The totals at the bottom are for the entire year, by the way.) I'm planning to continue this practice in 2017; perhaps the meditation time will lengthen—we'll see.
Digestive healthA very notable health change began this fall, and has continued through the winter. (If you don't want to hear any toilet talk, skip down to my 2017 resolutions now.) Do you remember how I've suffered from IBS-D basically since 2007? My diet has changed a lot since then (towards a whole foods plant-based diet), though incrementally starting in 2009.
In 2013 while in Korea I made my digestive health a major focus and started a blog Have Your Health with my then-boyfriend. (I stopped blogging there at the end of 2014 and gave up the domain, but a few weeks ago I finally migrated my HYH posts to this blog, here.) Even through all of that learning and doing, I didn't see any changes those years. The first months of 2016 gifted me with an unforgettably painful time with internal hemorrhoids. Worst.Days.Ever.
So imagine my surprise when my stool began to change—after nearly 10 years of diarrhea, among other embarrassing problems—one random day in Rodez later this summer! And it's only continued on the path since. This is so huge for me, you don't even know. Almost every day these past few months, I look in the toilet and beam with gratitude!! (I never would have thought seeing shit could make me so happy.) So I couldn't leave this part out of my review, because it's been quite a memorable change this year. (While everyone else is naming 2016 a shitty year, for me it's been quite wonderful!)
Where I'm at nowSaying that this year has been quite wonderful is a huge reflection of where I am now and who I've become this last quarter. There are always ups and downs, but right now I feel really good, inspired, and excited for what's to come. I'm getting my ideas out via paper and pen more often, many of which are turning into blog posts shared with others. I've tapped into a network of creatives who are pushing their comfort zones, and I'm thrilled to push myself too. I'm grateful and joyful to create for the sake of creating, and to be my true self as much as possible.
The election opened my eyes to activism and activists, which I'm ashamed to admit had totally been off my radar. As in, not a potential future in my mind nor on my list of role models. Duh! It seems so obvious now—being an activist would be an incredible legacy. This fall I've met several people and friends working for non-profits, which fits so closely with my values, so that is definitely a "possible future" for me now as well. I will strive to be a more active world and U.S. citizen this year.
In sum, I'm excited to continue creating, practicing mindfulness, being a minimalist, exploring curiosities, eating more whole foods, writing with vulnerability, and sharing my behind-the-scenes journey.
All of that in mind, my three focuses this year will be:
- Unplug/be outside
If you haven't heard me applaud Tara Mohr's "Playing Big" yet (see here and here), it's a book I first read this fall and am rereading now. It's a total game changer for me.
One of the chapters is about "leaps," which is a decision + action that puts you in contact with those you want to reach/influence (aka involves sharing; is not solitary). It's a simple action that can be described in a short phrase and completed within 1-2 weeks. It gets your adrenaline flowing and has a question at its center (something you can learn by doing). It gets you playing bigger now, not when you feel "ready."
I want 2017 to be my Year of Leaps! Kim Dinan wrote in November that she's going to strive for 100 rejections—because rejections would mean she's stretching herself into uncomfortable situations. It's this same mentality I'm going for with the leaps. (Because why the hell not? This life is not a dress rehearsal!)
Now that my digestion is finally "under control" (somewhat), I can and must move my attention to stretching and strengthening my core. I had a spinal fusion when I was 16 (which I'm writing a piece about, coming 2017). My hamstrings are super inflexible and I need to keep my back straight when moving.
What this means for me is that I must start a daily stretching practice. I should get back into pilates too, which I really loved when I took classes fall/winter of 2014. I've been doing a little research into a couple of specialists that teach one-on-one yoga/pilates for spinal fusion. Since I'm not tied down to anything, I could potentially travel to one of those states when I'm back from Europe this summer for some private classes to really get going. Otherwise I know more or less how to modify moves and which to avoid, so I can start immediately on my own.
Unplug, be outside
One of the reasons I quit my virtual job this fall was to spend less time in front of a computer screen each day. And one of the reasons I'm heading back to Europe in three weeks is to WWOOF—work outside on organic farms. I got outside a decent amount (?) last year, but could have been in nature much more often. It always feels good, I just need to build it in and make it more of a priority.
I know that great ideas are more likely to happen when you're walking around by yourself—not consuming other stuff. So I will do some more experimenting with unplugging this year. I totally love living Facebook-free, but I should do some 30-day challenges (month of no Twitter—as much as I love the platform, no Netflix, etc.) and see how I feel. I installed RescueTime the other day, to track how much time I spend on each site when I'm on my laptop. (My first-ever smartphone is still no problem to avoid; I use it to call, text, Whatsapp, or meditate. When I'm traveling I won't have a phone number, thus making it even easier to not use!)
Finally, here are three actions I'll be sure to continue doing this year:
- Living my values — You can expect more posts about my personal compass that I've been creating, which will lead me as I forge a path wherever I go. This compass helps me decide how to spend my time / which decisions to make, based on how closely it aligns with my values.
- Creating — Whether writing, watercolors, urban sketching, lindy hop, calligraphy, a zine, doodles or what have you, I will continue to create and explore this human gift.
- Meditating — As I wrote about above, I will continue daily meditation practice in 2017. I've always been curious about those 10-day silence retreats—maybe I'll go for it this year!
As always I'll be checking back in each month to see how I'm progressing with each resolution. I invite you to do the same with me!
Finally, I'd love to know: Do you have any resolutions or a focus for 2017?