At the end of each year, I carve out some time to sit down and reflect on the previous year. I usually do this with a big group of women, working through a set of questions, writing it all by hand, reflecting and thinking about what went well and what went, well, shitty. Ha.

This year, I’ve taken a bit of a different approach. The idea is still the same, minus the big group of women. Plus, I’m posting my entire year in review on my blog. I think this will be an awesome way to keep a record for years to come. Yes, it’s kind of vulnerable doing it this way. It scares me a bit to answer these questions while being totally open (and potentially allowing the whole world to see). But I’m committed to giving it a try.

To do this, I’m working through a planning workbook by Lisa Jacobs. It’s called Your Best Year 2017. So far, I’m totally digging it. (Lisa also includes much of the review part of the workbook on her blog as a seven day series to encourage you to do the same. If you’re interested, I totally recommend you visit Lisa’s blog!)

Without further ado, let’s get this thing moving! (oh, and please note…these can get long. I’ll try to break them up into digestible chunks. But consider yourself warned. 😉 )

(With each of these posts, I plan to include a photo that I feel is representative of my year and share a little about why. I chose this picture for several reasons. First, it’s Charlotte, and that little girl sort of changed my year…and my whole life. She brings me so much joy. But also it’s a photo taken on an adventure (very indicative of the year), in the desert. This particular spot is at the Wave, a bucket list hike I’ve tried to get permits for, for FIVE years. I finally got them this year! Bucket list item…checked. The desert is harsh, seriously harsh, yet if you look, you can find some of the most beautiful places in the world. And that’s a bit what my year felt like…harsh but beautiful.)

The first section is: Process. Before planning for the coming year, I like to process what happened in the previous year. It’s a good way to keep myself from aimlessly repeating the same goals…year…after year…after year. So here goes…

Process (part 1)

  1. What was time very well spent this year? I spent a lot of time making art – painting, collaging, learning new techniques. I loved every moment of it. It’s taken me a lot to get to this point, but I finally feel like I’m developing my own style. I say that in a very “tentative” way because I feel like I have so far to go and so much still to learn. But it feels really, really good to have focused on creativity this year and actually spent time being creative. I also spent time building a relationship that means a ton to me, and I’m proud of myself for being honest about what I want and taking the chances to get it. (So far so good. Fingers crossed for 2017!) I spent a lot of time outside, especially after I got Charlotte (my little brittany dog). I hiked and explored outside of Las Vegas in places I hadn’t yet visited. I loved every minute of it. Having Charlotte as my adventure companion and spending time with her was some of my best time spent. In addition, I continued to hike alone quite a lot. I enjoy hiking with others, but I learned to embrace that part of me that wants to go at my own pace, take pictures, and savor the moment. I embraced that part of me that enjoys being alone. I continued to grow in my yoga practice. I practiced about five times a week all year (with a few exceptions for being sick and traveling, etc.). But my yoga practice grew. It moved from a practice based on learning postures to a practice based on showing up and listening to my body, and it felt (and still feels) really, really good. I chose to go home on time this school year, pretty much every day. I chose to honor my need to follow my other passions and put my other priorities ahead of the priorities of my job. And you know what? My teaching hasn’t changed. I haven’t sacrificed productivity at work. Actually, I’ve just learned to be more productive in a shorter time period. It has been well worth it — and time well spent, not at work. Coming home to work on art, walk Charlotte, and sometimes spend time hiking (when the sun stayed out later) was the best choice I could have made. It makes my days feel longer, and I appreciate myself for sticking to my decision. I took several photo walks – not for any reason in particular, just for fun. I took cheer pictures for my niece, which I really enjoyed. I watched the Life Cube burn downtown and offered my own hopes and dreams to the universe. I traveled. I visited some places I’d seen before and many places I’d never been. Here’s a list (at least as far as memory allows): Bowl of Fire at Lake Mead (well, at least I attempted to find it, and instead discovered some pretty cool washes in the area), Red Rock Canyon (lots of different spots, but Pine Creek in particular), Death Valley (I saw the super bloom!), Boston and Salem in Massachusetts, Sao Miguel in the Azores (an island chain in Portugal), Barcelona and Santa Pau in Spain, New Orleans, Memphis, random spots in Arkansas and Mississippi, Navajo Lake, Escalante, Cathedral Gorge, Gorges State Park in North Carolina (and also Asheville), The Wave in Arizona (we stayed in Kanab, Utah), Colorado River, Wetlands Nature Preserve (one of my favorite local spots this year!), a few spots in the Mt. Charleston area, Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge (must go back and explore more!), Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona Hot Springs, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Rogers Spring, and Valley of Fire.
  2. What was money very well spent this year? All the money I spent on art supplies was exceptionally well spent. Money spent on art classes was well spent also. I haven’t finished every class yet, but I have finished a lot, and the classes taught me so much and have helped me to develop my own style. I was afraid taking classes from others might do the opposite, stop me from being able to develop my own style because I was following theirs, but that hasn’t been the case at all. Instead, I’ve learned new techniques that I can now incorporate into my style. Choosing to attend the art retreat in North Carolina was a big expense, and I worried about it, but I’m so glad I did it. It was a beautiful experience. I learned that I love to travel with a purpose, and I really enjoy painting with other artists. I was inspired by everyone’s art and tried some new techniques. That trip (and the work that developed from it) inspired a series I hope to paint in 2017. It was well worth the expense! All of my travel expenses were well worth it. And the money for Charlotte…her adoption fees and vet visits have all been well worth the expense. She’s my little heart and soul. I love her.
  3. What are your favorite memories of 2016? 2016 was a difficult year. There are some memories that are so happy and also some memories that are so sad. There was total joy and complete confusion. It was a year of opposites, a year of extremes. For this question though, I’ll focus on the good. I loved visiting Salem, Massachusetts, especially the Salem Witch Trials tour. I loved the time I spent creating in my little art room, sitting at my art table, the TV playing in the background. I loved getting to know Charlotte, hiking with her and taking her on walks. I loved watching her explore, everything so new and exciting. I loved snuggling with her and waking up with her nearby. I loved driving through Mississippi and Louisiana to get to New Orleans and spending that weekend with Jake. I loved all my weekends in Memphis, actually. The first time I arrived there and walked into the apartment – the greeting Juni gave me. I was worried she would forget me, but instead she was so excited to see me. I loved getting back from Memphis over Thanksgiving, going to pick up Charlotte. She was so excited, she jumped right over the coffee table at Sam and Daniel’s house when she saw me. I love her little noises that sound like talking, like she’s trying to tell me about her day. I love that Christy was so understanding with me on our summer trip to Portugal and Spain. The wildflowers in the Azores were magical. Dancing in a field of hydrangeas, singing Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling. Headstanding on the people mover in the Barcelona airport. Hiking the wave with Jake, Juniper, and Charlotte (except that small incident in which we nearly lost Charlotte!). Watching the Life Cube burn — after painting on it and adding my own wishes to the pile. Seeing the super bloom in Death Valley. Participating in Creative Jam — heading to Valley of Fire at the butt crack of dawn to get the photos, not being able to do what I intended, and having a blast anyhow. When Jake gave me a birthday gift and remembered my birthday even though we had just met days after my birthday. That first conversation on the phone with Jake. I felt so optimistic because we had a great conversation, and that’s so rare these days. Staying in the little cabin in Escalante with Charlotte and hiking to Lower Calf Creek Falls. The art retreat in Asheville. Hiking in Asheville. There are so many good memories. Too many to list, actually. That’s a good feeling. In a year that had it’s share of rough patches, that’s a really good feeling.
  4. What did you accomplish or complete this year? I developed a habit of making art on a regular basis. Initially, I planned to make art every day, but I quickly realized that wasn’t realistic with my schedule, and my mind wasn’t in it every day. But I made a habit of making art about three times a week, and that was perfect. It’s a part of my schedule now, always. And I love that. I’ve started to develop a true style. I’m almost ready to open my Etsy shop. My yoga practice grew, as I’d hoped. I stopped focusing on specific poses and arm balances and started focusing on my body and what it needed at any given moment. I opened a new savings account, completely separate from my other accounts, and I’m so glad I did that. It’s become even more of a lifeline than I thought it would be. I chose my time wisely and left work on time nearly every day (as the 2016-2017 school year started).
  5. Did you make any progress on long-term goals? See number 4. Most of those are related to long-term goals I’ve been working on. My biggest goal is in building my art business. It’s been slow. But I’ve made progress, and I’m happy with where I’m at. I may have wanted to move too fast last year. I thought I could skip some important steps. But I ended up doing things right (like working to develop a style), and I believe I’m on the right path.
  6. What felt successful this year, as a whole? My theme for 2016 was Create. That theme was centered on exactly what it sounds like – creating art. I did that. I feel very successful in cultivating an art habit, and I feel good about the body of work I created this year. I also worked to create joy in various parts of my life. I focused on building a relationship with a man that I care deeply about. I hiked and got outside more than I have in a long time. I adopted Charlotte and she created so much joy in my life.
  7. Did you overcome any obstacles or mental blocks this year? I’ve been working to feel comfortable calling myself an artist. I’ve been successful in some ways, and I’ve found it difficult in others. I definitely have a mental block surrounding my ability to one day support myself as an artist. Some moments, I feel so incredibly confident. Others, I feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I’m still working though. I’m still pushing forward. And I think this is a good sign of overcoming fear…or likely, feeling the fear and moving forward anyway. And I think that’s an accomplishment.
  8. What did you learn about yourself after all that happened in 2016? I’m resilient. I’m strong-willed. I know what I want. And although I am afraid to go after it, that won’t stop me. I have a lot of clarity about where I want to be and what I need to do to get there. I have a lot of confidence in my ability. I have a lot of love in my heart, and I’m not afraid to show it. I can be a bit quick to anger at times, a bit quick to push people out. I would like to work on that. I could use a little practice being patient and staying in the present moment. I worry too much sometimes. I need to meditate more. My yoga practice is a lifeline. My art practice is a lifeline. In the end, I’m quite content with my life. I need to remember that.
  9. Who nurtured or supported you most this year? Charlotte. It sounds funny, but honestly my little dog has been a lifeline this year. She’s just what I needed. She snuggles and loves beyond compare. I can talk to her. I get outside and exercise more because of her. I explore more because of her. She’s a little brittany with a big heart, and she makes me complete, and I love that. In the people world, Christy has also been amazing. She supported me through some hard times this year and was incredibly understanding in ways I think would have been hard for me. She’s been a true friend. I love her for that. Jake has been really supportive of my plans (even when I’ve nearly had breakdowns, assuming he wouldn’t be supportive). It’s been really beautiful having him by my side this year. He was also particularly supportive after the election. I had so many emotions running through my mind, and he never judged them. Rather, he simply told me to let it all out. So many friends have been supportive of my artwork. Sam has been amazing, always listening to my plans and ideas and never once suggesting it would be impossible or hard. Eliza has written me emails telling me I need to start selling my art. Several people have encouraged me. All in all, I have a lot of really wonderful people surrounding me.
  10. Who did you enjoy nurturing and supporting? Charlotte. In the way that she loves and supports me, I love and support her right back. Obviously, her needs are hugely different from mine. But I just love being her mama. She brings me joy, and I can only hope I bring lots of joy to her little life. I may have rescued her, but I’m pretty sure she rescued me even more. I also really loved supporting Jake this year. It’s a beautiful thing to be there for another person, and I really did work to be there for him. I’ve fallen short at times. But I do hope my support has been meaningful and helpful. I enjoy supporting my friend, Jen, an artist friend of mine. I have no idea at this point how long we’ve known each other, and honestly, I’m not even sure how we met, but we’ve been great friends, and I love having her in my life. She is supportive of my dreams, and I do my best to be totally supportive in all of hers.

Oh wow! That was a total brain dump. If you’re still with me, well, I’m seriously impressed with your stamina! Haha. But honestly, this review is mostly for me, so I understand if you skipped right here to the end. And if it inspired you in any way to perhaps do your own review, that’s awesome too.

Thanks for following my journey.