A Word for 2017: Adventure

For the past number of years I’ve been choosing a word at New Year’s to represent what I wanted to bring into my life in the 12 months ahead. In 2011 that word was space. In 2012 I chose clarity. In 2013 I chose presence. For 2014 my word was forgiveness. For 2015 I chose strength. And for 2016 I chose confidence. For 2017 my choice is a little bit different: adventure.

adventure word of the year creek

Over the course of 2016 I had a number of experiences that stretched me in new ways. I completed my student teaching practicum in a grade 6/7 class. I attended environmental education field school here in the Vancouver area, which involved two overnight retreats (one at the beginning and one at the end), a visit to the landfill, interviewing a rock (for real), mapping an urban neighbourhood, and hanging out with some of the most awesome people I have ever met. Plus a whole lot more. I graduated and earned my teaching certificate. I started substitute teaching. I started skiing again. I turned 40.

And out of all of this came a big shift in my mindset.

I have always been a naturally conservative person. I don’t mean that I am politically conservative, or socially conservative. I mean that I am personally conservative, in that I resist change and upheaval. But what I learned by hanging out around a campfire with a bunch of people I really didn’t know at all, going swimming in an ocean that was cold enough to take my breath away and coming out laughing, and learning to ski on moguls, is that new and different can be good. Very, very good, in fact. Taking a leap and embracing new experiences leads to great things.

In short, I have discovered the wonders of living adventurously. Of accepting physical discomfort in exchange for personal growth. Of waking up to a phone call at 6:00am telling me what I’m going to teach that day and where, but never really knowing what’s in store. Of seeing what the trail holds for me as I whiz down the mountain.

I was recently speaking to a friend about my tendency to want to control everything in life. I love a meticulously crafted plan. I adore knowing what will happen, and when it will happen. My friend said that the trick isn’t giving up control. It’s not trying to control the things you can’t control. And for whatever reason, that hit me like a ton of bricks, the idea of acknowledging that I can’t control everything, and sometimes I shouldn’t even try. It makes logical sense, but it feels like a leap.

It also feels tremendously freeing. Because trying to control the uncontrollable is tiring – intellectually and emotionally. Giving that up would be a whole new way of living for me. A way of living that might just facilitate adventure.

That is exactly what I want more of in my life this year. Adventure.

How about you – are you choosing a word for the year? If so, I’d love to hear what it is, and how you’re setting your intentions for 2017!

2016 Year in Photos Slideshow

2016 slideshowThis is my favourite post of the year. It’s a lot of work, but I always do it because I love it. It gives me a chance to reflect and wax nostalgic, which is why I have a blog in the first place. This post contains my annual slideshow, chronicling my family’s year in photos. It’s my ninth (!!!) such slideshow. Looking back over the others is a real walk down memory lane from 2008 to today. I remember things I’d forgotten. I laugh and – of course – I cry. If one of the benefits of having a website is creating a digital record of your family life, then this slideshow is the best example of that.

I know that a lot of people couldn’t wait for 2016 to end, but it was actually a pretty great year for me, personally. A year of completion and new beginning. I started the year one third of the way through teacher training, with my short practicum behind me and my long practicum ahead of me. During 2016 I taught a grade 6/7 class with the support and mentorship of amazing teachers. I participated in the environmental education field school in Vancouver. I turned 40. Hannah finished elementary school and started middle school. I graduated with my B.Ed. and started working as a substitute teacher. My kids started skiing. Looking back over the year’s photos I see snapshots of all that and more. Here’s the photographic evidence set to music. This year I chose one of my favourite songs, Joshua Radin’s “Beautiful Day”, which I have shared with you before.

If you’d like to take a walk down memory lane with me, here are my past slideshows:

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

I’ve shared the photos and now I’d like to turn the tables back on you. What was 2016 like for you? When you consider this year, what images will stand out in your mind? And what are you looking forward to in 2017? I’d love to hear.

Happy New Year!

A Word for 2016: Confidence

For the past number of years I’ve been choosing a word at New Year’s to represent what I wanted to bring into my life in the 12 months ahead. In 2011 that word was space. In 2012 I chose clarity. In 2013 I chose presence. For 2014 my word was forgiveness. And for 2015 I chose strength. For 2016, choosing was a struggle. In the end, though, I have settled on confidence.

confidence

Choosing a word is about setting an intention for the year. In 2015 my choice of strength was meant to help me acknowledge my own strength. Because when push comes to shove, I am a person who can weather adversity and get things done. Rather than bringing something new into my life, I wanted to focus on what I already have.

My choice of the word confidence, on the other hand, is entirely aspirational. I have long identified myself as grappling with impostor syndrome. That is, even when I am doing something, I feel like I’m pretending. Like I’m an impostor. And now that I’m back in school and about to start my long practicum as a student teacher, this is a huge thing. It’s hard not to feel like an impostor when you’re just learning, but those feelings aren’t helpful. Because you know what? We all have more to offer than we recognize. Any teacher will say this about students – about how we can be gobsmacked by insights from a seven-year-old. I want to give myself the same credit. So in 2016, as I complete my schooling and embark on a new career, I would like to find confidence.

The word confidence is also significant for another reason. Confidence can mean trusting yourself or someone else. However, it can also be about holding your tongue. Keeping your confidence means not sharing those things that should not be shared. It means using your discretion about when to speak, and when to keep silent.

In addition to finding confidence in my abilities, I would also like to find confidence in my words. I would like to choose them more thoughtfully. I would like to work on knowing when to share and when to keep my confidence. This actually cuts both ways, because while I am a talker who sometimes has no filter, I also have a hard time bringing other people into my confidence on a personal level. So I am both building closer relationships and choosing what I say more carefully.

Confidence is a tall order in so many ways, you guys. Sort of like going back to school full-time when you have kids.

2016 will be a big year for me. I am both excited and nervous, but I am choosing to embrace it no matter what it brings. With confidence.

How about you – are you choosing a word for the year? If so, I’d love to hear what it is, and how you’re setting your intentions for 2016!

2015 Year in Photos Slideshow

happy new year slideshowThis is my favourite post of the year. It’s a lot of work, but I am happy to do it because I love it. It gives me a chance to reflect and wax nostalgic, which are sort of my bread and butter. This post contains my annual slideshow, chronicling my family’s year in photos. It’s my eighth (!!!) such slideshow. Looking back over the others is a real walk down memory lane from 2008 to today. I remember things I’d forgotten. I laugh, and of course, I cry. I’m not sure if anyone else loves my slideshows, but if one of the benefits of blogging is having a record of your family life, then this slideshow is the best example of that.

2015 was another big year for me. I started the year unemployed and applying for teacher training. My car was totalled. I was accepted into the teaching program. I spent the summer with my kids. I started back at school and finished my short practicum. Looking back over the year’s photos I see snapshots of all that and more. Here’s the photographic evidence set to music. True to my hippie roots, I’ve gone with Joni Mitchell this year, from Joan Baez last year:

If you’d like to take a walk down memory lane with me, here are my past slideshows:

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014

I’ve shared the photos and now I’d like to turn the tables back on you. What was 2015 like for you? When you consider this year, what images will stand out in your mind? And what are you looking forward to in 2016? I’d love to hear.

Happy New Year!

A Word for 2015: Strength

For the past few years I’ve been choosing a word at New Year’s to represent what I wanted to bring into my life in the 12 months ahead. In 2011 that word was space. In 2012 I chose clarity. In 2013 I chose presence. And for 2014 my word was forgiveness. This year, possibly for the first time, settling on a word was easy. For 2015 I have chosen strength.

strength*Photo credit – Colleen McMahon on Flickr

Choosing a word is about setting an intention for the year. This year, rather than choose an aspirational intention, I’ve decided to go another way. In past years I’ve chosen a word that represented something I wanted to bring into my life, but thought I might be lacking. In 2015 I’m opting for something I think I already have, but may not always see. That is, I’m already strong. I think maybe we are all strong. For me, this is about acknowledging and owning my strength. This quote from Marianne Williamson speaks to what I’m getting at by choosing the word strength:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

The past couple of months have been hard for me. It has been all too easy for me to fall into a place where I feel overwhelmed by all that is happening around me. Because you know what? Sometimes life is just too much. I was having a bit of a moment one day when my husband said, “You can do this.” And you know what? I thought to myself, He’s right, I totally can. This year I want to spend less time worrying about my shortcomings, and more time facing up to the challenges in front me. Curve balls will come my way no matter what. Running from them won’t change that, so I may as well step up to bat.

Here’s to claiming our strength, wherever it lies!

How about you – are you choosing a word for the year? If so, I’d love to hear what it is, and how you’re setting your intentions for 2015!

2014 Year in Photos Slideshow

This is my favourite post of the year. It’s one that I do purely because I love it. It gives me a chance to reflect and wax nostalgic, which are sort of my bread and butter. This post contains my annual slideshow, chronicling my family’s year in photos. It’s my seventh (!!!) such slideshow. Looking back over the first six is a real walk down memory lane from 2008 to today. I remember things I’d forgotten. I laugh, and of course, I cry. I’m not sure if anyone else loves my slideshows, but if one of the benefits of blogging is having a record of your family life, then this slideshow is the best example of that.

2014 was actually a big year for me. I went back to school. I suffered through a renovation nightmare when the contractors I’d chosen went bankrupt only after they’d demolished my ensuite. I received confirmation of my decision to become a teacher. I lost my job. Looking back over the year’s photos I see snapshots of all that and more. Here’s the photographic evidence set to music. True to my hippie roots, I’ve gone with Joan Baez this time:

If you’d like to take a walk down memory lane with me, here are my past slideshows:

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013

I’ve shared the photos and now I’d like to turn the tables back on you. What was 2014 like for you? When you consider this year, what images will stand out in your mind? And what are you looking forward to in 2015? I’d love to hear.

Happy New Year!

2013 Year in Photos Slideshow

This is my favourite post of the year. It’s one that I would do, no matter what, purely because I love it. It gives me a chance to reflect and wax nostalgic, and record my life in a unique way. This post contains my annual slideshow, chronicling my family’s year in photos. It’s my sixth such slideshow, and looking back over the other ones I can immediately see how my children have grown. I remember things I’d forgotten. I laugh, and of course, I cry. I’m not sure if anyone else loves my slideshows, but if one of the big benefits of blogging is having a record of your family life, then this slideshow is the pinnacle post each year for me.

2013 was actually a really great year for me. Looking back over the year’s photos, I see evidence of how much more I can do with my kids now that they’re a little bigger. They’re not babies anymore. This makes me a little wistful, but it also means they’re more independent, and less prone to cry in public. We’ve gone a lot more places and done a lot more things this year, because my kids are getting older. Here’s the photographic evidence set to music:

If you’d like to take a walk down memory lane with me, here are my past slideshows:
2008 in Photos | 2009 in Photos | 2010 in Photos | 2011 in Photos | 2012 in Photos

I’ve spent plenty of time talking about my family and myself – and not just in this post. I’ve had a whole year to write in this space, and I’ve done it. Now I’d like to turn the tables back on you. What was 2013 like for you? When you consider this year, what images will stand out in your mind? And what are you looking forward to in 2014? I’d love to hear.

Happy New Year!

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