Tuesday, May 03, 2016

2015: My year in review

Skiing at Lake Louise with my mom: Best. Fun. Ever.
It's April, in case you haven't noticed.

Not the usual time for someone to review their year. Well, guess what? I was busy. Or focussed on other things. Or both, really.

So as I was doing some "brain work" (see below), I decided it was time to put together a wrap-up. Giving myself some credit and celebrating my achievements. Because that's really important for me as an achiever to see, written down, that I actually did stuff.

It's also a chance to set some intentions for next year. So I know what to prioritize.

  • Professional development: Sometimes I get all the joy of the stress caused by taking on new challenges, but not the benefit of accomplishment. I rarely stop to recognize that I did some pretty cool shit. Things I've never done before, or did better than ever before. This year, our team put on our best events yet, including a media event, something I've never done before, which drew an Ontario Minister, as well as a series of webinars -- also a first. We put out a report about the socioeconomic impact of our organization. I starred in and produced award-winning videos. I rode a mechanical bull (obviously). And all of our materials keep getting better and I realize it's slowly getting more comfortable for me to be in the position I am, doing the things I do.
  • Travel - I was all set to go to a conference in San Francisco last June and that was going to be great all on its own. Then my husband's friend announced he was getting married a week later in Malibu. So that meant it was time for a road trip down the California coast, V1 (v2 to be reported-on - theoretically - in upcoming post). We did our usual jaunts to St. Maarten (including a scuba excursion!), and to Alberta for the family ski trip (including my husband and dad). We did some smaller trips to places I've never been before, like Jay Peak in Vermont for our couple Christmas present, Kentuky for a wedding, and Gatineau for our fifth wedding anniversary. I also revisited spots like my friend's Sarah's cottage, Detroit to visit my inlaw family, and Ottawa twice for conferences, one including a bike excursion around their amazing trail system (and including doughnuts).
  • Health - Since health is so multifaceted and important for so many other interrelated pieces of my life, I started from the premise that I had to prioritize what was a priority. Me. What did that mean? Cooking more or more healthfully, since we found out we have slightly elevated cholesterol. I did some biking in Niagara-on-the-Lake for my 40th birthday as well as earlier in the year and with my girlfriends in September. Since that wasn't challenging enough, I biked from Whitby to Toronto. I got lost quite a bit, so it took me a lot longer than it should have, but I loved it all the same. So I didn't do the overnight trip I was planning on (which got rained out) but still pretty good. I've continued doing Yin yoga fairly regularly as well as trying out new yoga styles and discovering it's possible for me. Finally, my vocal chord procedure this past year in May was easier and it seems like the virus is slowing down.
  • Fun - I did a lot of fun things this year. My mom and I hit Nuit Blanche on our bikes. I went to the theatre to see Kinky Boots, saw some Shakespeare in the park with friends, the Shaw Festival with my husband, and I checked out a bawdy circus with another friend. I visited the Cabbagetown Festival and Riverdale Art Walk briefly, danced all night at friends' wedding, and did all sorts of activities at Open StreetsTO. I cheered on the underdog at a Pan Am volleyball game and then stuck around to enjoy some performance art in the games village as well as a Colin James concert. I had my brother's family over for sleepover, and my parents came over a few times and I visited them too. I made a new friend and met up for morning coffee chats, I went hiking in a park I'd never been to in Halton, I went skating many times. Part of the fun has been restarting some work on my house through some small projects - weather treating our teak patio set, cutting a tree branch out of the front tree, installing a door knocker, and conducting a big basement clean-up including shelf installation.
  • Personal Development/Brain Work - As I set out to do, I've put a greater focus on my relationship and about what I need, while also working on my ability to listen. Someday, I'll be ready to take on a little less, be a little less controlling, a little more complimentary, and love myself the way I am a whole lot more. I'm proud that my finances are in order and it's not something I've ever felt confident enough to say, but I just thought I should give myself a pat on the back for the good choices I've made. I've been trying to remember that I can spend my money in a way that makes my life better by alleviating stress -- it's a work in progress.


Here's what I'm putting out to the Universe for myself.

  • Health: Continuing on my quest to keep my body in line with my happiness goals, I'm continuing with yoga. On top of that, I've already started to explore more styles by investing in an online platform, allowing me tro try out yoga at home with low barrier. Except time. But now I can also just do it when I have an extra 20 mins instead of feeling like it's such an investment every time. And my health. More veggies. Less cholesterol. Maybe making sweet things that use healthy ingredients that I want more of in my diet. Just to try it out. Whatever it is, I want to continue with the cooking we've been doing because it's important for my relationship and fun buckets.
  • Fun: Again, variety is key. But so is creativity. So I'm going to keep with these home creativity projects. And I'm going to write more. Perhaps with less purpose. Except with the purpose of writing. Because I love it. Maybe that will mean something more, or maybe it will just be an outlet and part of my "brain work". This post is part of this intention. It doesn't matter if anyone reads it but me -- and writing it should be "fun" and not a chore. I will also keep in mind that spending money to have fun is a good way to use my money. That's what it's there for. For example, I finally bought The Happiness Project book at Indigo.  I'd been waiting for it to show up at my library. But I was in the bookstore, saw it, read a few paragraphs and suddenly I just bought it. A small splurge (for me, at least -- I don't buy books).
  • Travel - California (aforementioned V2 trip was taken in January and the blog is coming - see above writing intention).  Plus, more skiing, including a trip in February to Mont Tremblant, where I've never been before, and our family trip to Alberta (done in March!). I just got back from a short trip to Niagara, which was awesome - but I'll bet I go again!  Still to come are New Orleans in June, Edmonton in June an an overnight weekend bike trip planned in September. Nothing crazy, but I'm excited.
  • Personal development/brain work - I need to let go of some stress. If "fun" or some other goal is stressing me out, I need to examine whether I can just let it go, or if I need to reprioritize. I am thinking a lot about how distraction helps me take things less seriously. Hence the above "fun" bucket (among other reasons). I am on a journey of growth and I think that includes being lighter. Cutting myself more slack. Finding the humour in situations. Reacting with laughter even if I don't feel like it. Remembering that I'm doing the best I can. That nothing bad will happen if everything isn't perfect. That I'm enough just the way I am. All of that lightens the load. And when I'm better, my relationship is better. And I'm super committed to that.
  • Professional development - I've got a new boss and could be getting yet another one this year. The entire senior team is new and we're learning how to work together.  That is both an opportunity and a challenge. I already have more and different responsibilities (for another sister organization, plus real company and department strategy). So back to that intention of letting the stress go... and all that brain work, really. It's what's going to get me where I want to go. I've already taken a course on branding and product management. I might take some more to help me feel more confident because things are really happening. But I know that focussing on our department strategic goals will be the big winner for me in many facets of my life. Eyes on the prize, Cathy.
It looks like I've picked my priority buckets well, as they remain the same.

Maybe I'll just post more often about how these are plugging ahead. Kind of like how a performance plan should be (at least a good one): regular check-ins to make sure you're on track and to celebrate the wins.

The Happiness Project was part of what inspired me to write this blog. It's taken some time, but I'm glad I did it. It started with a question about whether or not I felt like I was "drifting". I figure that if I'm still feeling crap after checking in on my intentions next year, it's a sign that something is wrong.

Onwards to a more intentional year!

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