2016: Light

2016: Light

One of my favourite things to do each year is to choose a word or a theme to guide me for the next 12 months. I got this idea from Elise Blaha Cripe, via Ali Edwards’ One Little Word project, and I’ve been doing it for three years now. My words so far have been reach in 2013, abundance in 2014, and grace in 2015. Seeing them all together makes me so happy, because any word I take on as a personal theme becomes really special to me. Abundance has probably been my most powerful word thus far – it really guided me through a year that was at times tumultuous and challenging. I also did a great job of keeping it at the front of my mind and reflecting on it often, two things I hope to do this year with my new word.

My word for 2016 is light. Even the word itself feels so evocative and uplifting, and it also makes me feel hopeful. To me, it seems to have that same quality that abundance did, in that it offers a very quick guide to switching to a more positive mindset and handling the less-than-ideal aspects of life. I also love that it has so many uses – it’s both a noun and a verb, not to mention a wonderful physical thing.

There are a few different ways I want to use light this year:

  • Be light: Be kinder to others and to myself. Take myself, and especially my temporary emotions, less seriously. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Be a light: Bring the positivity to the party, or the conversation, or the interaction. Share my knowledge and joy. Spread good ideas and wisdom.
  • Shine light: Focus my attention on all the good, positive, lovely things in my life. Thank and truly appreciate others.
  • Light up: Get really excited about things. Plan adventures, and look forward to them. Engage in interesting conversations, follow through on my passions, say yes to things that are exciting.
  • Feel the light: Literally get outside into the sunshine more often. Bring more light into our home in the form of lamps and warm lightbulbs, as well as a bit of light in the form of life: plants, music, animals. Remember to celebrate my small wins, appreciate when I am appreciated, and notice what’s great.

This year, I’ll also be taking Ali Edwards’ One Little Word workshop class for 2016. I’m hoping it will help me keep my word present in my everyday life and in turn make it more meaningful and helpful for me.

Lots of love and light to you and yours as we head into the new year!

You can see my words from previous years here: reach, abundance, and grace.

If you’d like a high-resolution copy of the wallpaper above, you can download it right here.

2016 Goals & Intentions

Goals for 2016 >> Life In Limbo

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time to reflect and hit the reset button. Time to take a good look at what could have gone better and make plans to develop new habits. Time to reset priorities and think about how I can better use my time and money. Time to set goals and make intentions for how I want to live over the next 12 months. I love to set goals at any time of year, but January 1st always feels so fresh and open to me.

This year, unlike last, I know where I’ll be for at least the first 5 months of the year: living in Quito, Ecuador. Having that stability makes it a lot easier to set goals, so I’m feeling inspired for 2016.

We recorded a podcast episode for Guinea Pigging Green about our goals and intentions for 2016 here, if you prefer podcasts to blog posts. You can also see my goals for 2015 here – I was able to complete most of them!

Goals

Daily:

To me, my daily goals are my favourites. When I set them, I ask: by this time next year, what daily habits would I like to have incorporated into my life? It almost feels too easy to frame it that way, but working on something every single day pretty quickly turns it into a habit, or something I do at least most of the time. Last year that was exercising, meditating, flossing, and keeping a gratitude journal. I’m happy to say that all of those are now habits that I do the majority of my days. Last year I started using Elise Joy’s Daily Goal Trackers and I highly recommend them. Seeing your overall progress on a daily habit is so motivational.

This year, I plan to keep up all of my 2015 habits and add some more. My daily goals for 2016 are:

Plan my day

Wake up by 7AM

Do something intentionally creative


Monthly:

Set monthly goals: As in, each month, make a to-do list of things that I either need or want to do that month or that season. Sometimes setting goals for the year doesn’t work out because life changes so much month-by-month. This practice of setting goals for each coming month has really been effective for me in the past.

Buy one thing that sparks joy: I’m an underbuyer, which means I can go for a long time not spending money on little things that could actually improve my life and make me happier. Like a real measuring cup, or socks without holes in the toes, or a pen that writes smoothly (all things I have avoided buying in the past). I plan to keep a list of what happiness-inducing item I’ve intentionally bought each month.

Donate to charity: I donate every month to the Pencils of Promise Passport program, but I’d like to make a supplemental donation too.

Write about my word for 2016: Similar to these reflections on my 2013 word abundance, I want to write a post each month about my 2016 word.


2016:

Read 75 books: My favourite goal of the year, by far. I’ll also be trying to match what I read to the PopSugar 2016 reading challenge that a reader sent me, like I did last year. It’s kind of fun to challenge yourself to read things that you wouldn’t normally, which is fun. I made a fill-in-the-blanks chart for the challenge if you want to play along too! You can find a copy of it here. As always, you can follow my progress on GoodReads.

Travel to one new place a month: This doesn’t necessarily mean get on a plane for a few hours and stay in a hotel, it can be somewhere local enough that we’re home for dinner! But I know how easy it is for me to let a couple months go by without planning anything fun, and it’s so nice to have things to look forward to.

Intentions

  • Be more intentional with my relationships
  • Observe my monkey mind
  • Err on the side of connection
  • Be light with myself and others
  • Cultivate community
  • Trust my intuition
  • Create beautiful rituals
  • Resist the resistance

As I write this, it’s December 31st, 2015, and I’m in an airport waiting for my flight back to Ecuador after two wonderful weeks spent at home with my family. I’m excited to go back, to settle in, to make friends, to tackle goals, and to be a better version of myself in 2016. Wish me luck!

Happy New Year, friends. Thanks for reading.

2015 In Review

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I love to take some time at the end of the year to reflect on and appreciate all the wonderful things I was lucky enough to experience in just one 12-month period. I think it’s easy to go through your daily life feeling like not much is changing, or that you’re somehow not doing enough on an everyday basis, but I find that when you look back and take the long view, it’s easier to acknowledge how much you’ve grown and accomplished and created.

In years past I’ve usually just done a short recap of the year here on the blog, but this year, I thought it would be fun to write the highlights of each month.

January:

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I rang in the New Year on a beach on Boracay Island in the Philippines, with a delicious custom vegetarian 4-course dinner prepared by a local chef, followed by champagne with our toes in the sand, loads of fireworks, and dancing. It was raining a little, but we had a great time. Heading home to (beautiful) Busan after that was a bit of a drag, but exciting because I only had a couple short months left in Korea before my travels. I also got laser eye surgery in late January, which is probably the best investment I’ve ever made.

February + March:

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

The next two months were a whirlwind of activity in which most of my spare time was spent visiting my favourite places and restaurants in Busan, saying goodbye to friends, packing up my apartment, getting vaccinations and submitting visa paperwork. I also spent a fair number of nights after work watching Gilmore Girls, researching travel destinations and going out for amazing Korean food.

April:

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I left Busan on March 31st, and kicked the month off with a bang by heading straight to Laos. I had almost two weeks in the country by myself, and it was wonderful. I spent my birthday swimming solo underneath a crystal-clear waterfall, watched a lot of sunsets, had (several) drinks at the best riverside bar, made a few friends, and settled back into the travelling lifestyle.

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

Midway through April, I flew to Chiang Mai to meet up with two of my good friends from Korea, and to pick my sister up from the airport! We celebrated a very wet and wild Songkran together, went to visit a beautiful elephant sanctuary, travelled up to Pai to rent scooters and explore waterfalls, headed to Bangkok for a couple days of temple-hopping and then took a night bus down to Koh Tao. Once on the island, my sister and I watched every sunset, had lots of Leo beers, ate a lot of delicious food, played gin rummy, and slept in a little cabin only steps from the beach. In the daytime I also took my Open Water Diver scuba diving course!

May:

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I spent most of May in Vietnam with my friend Katie. We went from North to South, spending our time in Ha Long Bay in a teeny tiny fishing village; playing guitar, singing, and drinking beer bowls in a little bar on a little boat in Hoi An; going canyoning in Da Lat; and having drinks in fancy rooftop bars in Saigon. It was such a incredibly good time.

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

Then we went back to Thailand and headed down to the lesser-known Thai islands of Koh Chang and finally, Koh Mak (aka Paradise). It was such a gorgeous way to finish off my two months in South East Asia.

June:

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

This was a special time of the year for me, because I started my yoga teacher training in northern India. I got to learn a ton of amazing new ideas from my teachers and friends, feel inspired, and challenge myself in every way: physically, emotionally, and mentally. I also met my boyfriend the very first day of our training, and instantly connected with him.

July:

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

We spent June and July practicing hard every day: 4+ hours of physical practice, 2 hours of lectures, and at least another couple hours for homework and self-practice. Any time we had left over we spent exploring our little town of Ram Jhula, trying out nearby restaurants, and of course falling in love. In late July, I flew home to Canada and he stayed on to do his 300-hour teacher training.

August:

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I had such a lovely time being home – finally, after a year and a half!! – with my family and friends. What stands out to me the most were the simple moments with them: the dinners, the campfires, playing bocce ball, reading outside on a deck chair, going for hikes, and playing with the cat. There were also several wonderful weekends spent with my wonderful friends downtown Toronto. I have the best friends, who take me to great places and give me couch to sleep on and welcome me – always – with open arms.

September:

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

One fun thing I did in September was fly down to NYC to visit my friend Katie. She was living in Brooklyn at the time, and we spent a week laughing our heads off and eating a ton of delicious food. On the days she had to work, I spent my time puttering around Manhattan, exploring Central Park, looking at pretty houses, window shopping, and having my first New York bagel (verdict: insanely good). On the weekend we hit up Smorgasburg, a food truck festival held every weekend in Williamsburg during the summer, and headed out to Long Island to stay with her family, go hiking by the water, (quickly) drive through the abandoned psychiatric institute and eat awesome pizza.

On the second-to-last day of September, I moved to Quito, Ecuador, to see about a boy.

October:

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

More specifically, I moved to Quito to be with my boyfriend. We moved into a sunny apartment together in the Northern part of the city and started our relationship for real. It’s definitely at times been an adjustment for me to go from Single Girl Living Alone and Travelling The World Independently to Girl Living With a Boy in a Foreign Country in just a matter of months, but overall it’s been wonderful.

Highlights of October were when we launched yoga in the park, made Canadian Thanksgiving, and did a 10 day juice detox.

November:

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

After the initial rush of getting to know the city and being tourists, we tried to settle into some routines, baked a lot of bread, went to see a really fun South American soccer game, and visited a lake in the crater of a volcano. I also learned a lot of Spanish, got to know Paulo’s family, and walked in the park every day.

December:

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

The first half of the month included early Christmas parties and one drawn-out (but ultimately successful!) visa application. On the 15th, we came back together to visit my family at home in Canada for the holidays! We’re still here at the time of this writing and it’s been such a lovely trip so far.

I feel so blessed to have so much love and adventure in my life and am manifesting more of the same for 2016.

Goals & Intentions

1. Read 75 books: ?

I achieved my very favourite goal of the year! I made it by the skin of my teeth, and by reading a few short books in the last few weeks. For me, the point of reading books is to learn new ideas, and since sometimes short books can be the most powerful and chock-full of ideas, for me they count. I think audio books are great for the same reason.

I know 75 seems like a ton of books to read – so much so, I’ve caught myself sometimes sharing the number sheepishly or quietly, like I’m embarrassed. But the truth is? It’s not that many books. It’s a little under one and a half books every seven days. And if I prioritize reading, I personally really can achieve that without much fuss. Reading is one of the great loves of my life, and it makes me a better person, so this goal merely reminds me to prioritize something I love to do.

2. Learn to speak Spanish conversationally: ?

This goal almost takes my breath away. In my blog post where I set these goals, I wrote: “I’m hoping to find someone to practice speaking with (or even just write poorly-written letters to!) so that I can improve even more.” I then proceeded to do nothing about finding someone to speak Spanish with, until I arrived in Rishikesh, India, and met a quiet man with an awesome smile who was born and raised in Ecuador. I now live with that man in Quito, and we speak Spanish (more or less conversationally!) every single day.

When I first arrived in Ecuador at the end of September, my conversations with his non-English-speaking parents mainly consisted of “hola” and “gracias”. Today, I’m proud to say that I can carry on conversations with all his family members by myself with little to no help. When I set this goal last year it was a little random and I had no idea if I’d really accomplish it, but now it’s so special and I’m so grateful.

3. Meditate daily: 228/365 = 62% = ?

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

Sixty percent to me means that I didn’t fail at this goal – I did it for more than half of the year! That is a huge accomplishment, because I’m sure my numbers for the year before were more like 10% of the time, if that. The best part is, in the past couple of months I’ve really felt my practice start to become a habit. I’m resenting it less, enjoying it more, and I really feel like I’m getting more out of it. Not only that, but I truly notice the days that I skip my meditation.

I’m currently doing 10 minutes per day in the morning, and I usually do a simple counting meditation where I count my breaths up to ten, and then start again at one.

4. Keep a gratitude journal: 365/365 = 100% = ?

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

Every single day this year, I wrote down at least ten things I was grateful for. Every single day. Sometimes I didn’t get a chance to write in my journal the same day – in fact, I usually do it first thing in the morning for the day before – but I always took the time to reflect on the day in question and remember all the good things about it.

This practice hasn’t seemed to change my life in huge, monumental ways, but I still feel like it’s increasing my positivity and starting or ending my days with the right perspective. I think the next step for this practice for me is to read a random page from a month or two back after I’ve finished writing for the given day. Reflecting on the good things in my life in a more overarching way will probably bring more life and joy to this habit. I have no plans to stop gratitude journaling!

5. Move: 290/365 = 80% = ?

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I’ll gladly take an 81% – until writing this post, I hadn’t ever counted up my days missed on my goal trackers for any of my goals, so seeing the concrete numbers is so exciting and in a way, such a relief. What I love most about tracking daily goals is taking the long view and reviewing the year as a whole. Each day that I’m not able to check off at the time feels crummy, but when I look back over my efforts for the year, it feels awesome. “Move” to me meant intentionally moving, something like going for a walk or doing a yoga practice that fell outside of my normal day-to-day activities. There were days that I walked around a shopping mall but couldn’t in good faith give myself a check mark because it wasn’t a) a lot of movement, really, and b) intentional.

It’s totally great to see that the vast majority of my days, I intentionally moved.

6. Floss daily (bonus goal!): 138/138 = 100%

2015 In Review >> Life In Limbo

This goal wasn’t on my list at the start of the new year, but I added it in August after reading Better Than Before and figuring out that I’m a Questioner. Since I figured out how best to implement this goal for me (lots of compelling reasons, a good handle on the right technique to use, and a set time of day) I haven’t missed a single day. And honestly, flossing has been one of my favourite habits of this year. (#nerd)

My Word of the Year: Grace

I found that grace didn’t resonate with me as much as my 2014 word abundance did. I was less certain of how to embody it and I didn’t get as many cosmic reminders about it, but it was still a powerful word. It showed up in the names of the women I donated to on Kiva, on book covers, as the last unit in an online course, in dozens of podcast episodes, and of course in my mind whenever I tried to be the very best version of myself I could be.

As I looked back on the year, I realized that one thing that was missing was reflection on my word. When abundance was my word, I wrote a couple blog posts (see them here and here) about the ways abundance had influenced me and come up in my life. Remembering to notice and record my word was proportional to how much I got out of it. I’ll be keeping this idea in mind for 2016’s word.

***

It feels good to be wrapping up one year and looking ahead to the next. Every new year seems so full of possibility and hope, and it’s always nice to have a fresh start. I’m so excited to start making progress on new goals.

If you’re curious, you can see more of my year-end reviews here:

20142013 | 2012 | 2011

2015 Goals & Intentions

Goals for 2015 >> Life In Limbo

I love setting goals, but setting them for the full year has held less charm for me this time around. Over the last couple of years I’ve started setting goals monthly (see some of them here and here) and that’s worked really well in my life. I just find a month to be a much more manageable chunk of time to work with and be productive within. So this year I’m setting more general goals and intentions, with a plan to set more goals by the month as things shift and change over the course of the year. I’ll also be doing a 25 before 25 list for my birthday (see 24’s list here). You can see my goals for 2014 here – I actually “accomplished” all of them!

Goals

1. Read 75 books: My reading goal has always been my most beloved and important goal over the years. Whatever I do in my life, I want to keep learning and growing and understanding new ideas and perspectives and for me, reading is the best way to do that. Plus, it’s so fun! This year a blog reader sent me this awesome reading challenge designed to encourage you to read a wider variety of books. I made a fill-in-the-blanks chart if you want to take part in the challenge yourself – there are 53 book prompts in the challenge. Last year I managed to read 75 books despite working full time most of the year and the pace never seemed too overwhelming, so I’m trying again this year! You can see what I read here.

2. Learn to speak Spanish conversationally: I’ve been learning Spanish on and off since high school but have never really mastered it. I speak French fluently, and the languages are so close that I figure I don’t really have an excuse not to learn Spanish! I’ve been using Memrise to learn vocabulary words and the Duolingo app as well. I’m hoping to find someone to practice speaking with (or even just write poorly-written letters to!) so that I can improve even more.

3. Meditate daily: I have really tried to incorporate meditation into my daily life these last several months and I’m starting to really love the practice. I’m hoping to continue and am aiming for at least 10 minutes of meditating every day.

4. Keep a gratitude journal: After reading The Happiness Advantage, I finally decided to put this common piece of advice into practice. I bought a little notebook and have been taking time each day to fill in a page with all the things that made me happy that day. Sometimes the things are silly and sometimes they’re serious but looking back on the filled-up pages makes me feel really happy, and always shifts my perspective to positivity and appreciation.

5. Move: I bought a Fitbit earlier this year and have been using it to track my daily steps. In 2015 my goal is to take at least 10,000 steps a day. This won’t completely take the place of other forms of exercise, but 10K is more than I take in the normal course of my day, so this goal definitely makes me move more than I would otherwise.

I am using these daily goal trackers from Make29 to keep track of these three daily goals for the year. You can see mine here.

Intentions

  • Travel more
  • Worry less
  • Keep in touch better with loved ones
  • Embrace the arbitrariness of life and live with more whimsy and “why not?”.
  • Be helpful in every way, every day
  • Listen to my gut

***

You can hear more about my goals and intentions for the year on last week’s podcast. More goal-setting posts: 20112012, and 2014.

What are your goals or intentions for 2015?