2018 Goals & Intentions

We’re two weeks into 2018, and so far the year is off to a great start, wouldn’t you say? Despite the crazy, bone-chilling weather here in Toronto, life in 2018 has been pretty wonderful so far. I always love how a new calendar year feels like a blank page and an opportunity to invite in new ideas, routines or intentions for the next 12 months. It’s also interesting to see what seems to naturally fall away as the calendar page flips over.

2018 Goals & Intentions >> Life In Limbo

I’ve written recently about how I haven’t been feeling moved lately to set many long-term goals. When I looked ahead to 2018, nothing stood out to me as an outcome I felt that I desperately needed to make happen or an achievement I wanted to create. This is a pretty foreign feeling, given how many years I spent setting buckets of goals for myself as carrots on sticks to keep me moving forward. That being said, I had no trouble coming up with intentions for how I want to spend more of my time, energy and money this year.

Goals

Read 75 books

The goal that will never go away! Having a reading goal each year is really just a way to keep me on task with making time for a hobby that I love and find so deeply fulfilling…but which I can easily be distracted from by the numerous glowing screens in my life. Having a concrete number to aim for helps me take time for reading, which is also one of the best ways I get into flow. I track my progress on Goodreads, so you can always see what I’m reading here!

Choose a monthly theme

I’m actually crazy-excited about this ‘goal’, which represents a great mix of being intentional but also going with the flow of my life. I’ll choose a theme right before the new month starts, based on what I’m feeling like I want to devote more energy, money and time to for the following month. Depending on the theme, I’ll set some sub-goals for myself just for that month, in an attempt to jumpstart my progress in areas that need a little more love or attention. At the end of the month, I’ll give myself permission to re-evaluate, stop whatever’s not working, and hold onto whatever I really loved from that month’s theme.

January’s theme has been Body, and it has been SO MUCH FUN to give my body some love in all kinds of different ways: new forms of exercise, getting a massage, daily dance parties, trying new recipes, buying myself bubble bath, etc. I can already tell how much joy this monthly themed goal-setting practice will bring me.

Keep a daily logbook

I stole this idea from Austin Kleon, who has kept a daily logbook for 10 years! It’s also kind of a riff on my Grandma’s journaling practice: she’s written a couple quick lines each day about what happened that day in a basic agenda for years. She can look up events and happenings going back to when my mom was a kid, just by looking the day up in her calendar. I am so inspired by this idea, so I am starting this year following Austin’s format outlined here – complete with my own crappy doodles to accompany each bullet point! I’ve only done it for 13 days so far but it’s already so lovely to flip back and notice little details I have ALREADY forgotten. What I’m reading, eating, buying, seeing, talking about: these are things I like to remember.

Meditate every morning

I’m very proud to say that this morning was my 127th consecutive day of meditating – by far the longest streak I’ve ever had. I’m also happy to report that I’m currently consistently doing 15 minutes a day, which feels like a huge achievement after years of barely being able to sit through 5. This practice is not easy for me, and it never feels particularly rewarding in the moment, but it’s helpful in about a million ways that don’t always seem obvious at first. I’m hopeful I’ll keep it up every day for 2018, even if some days I can only squeeze in a couple of minutes.

Intentions

Spend more time with my family: In 2017 we implemented a monthly famjam, which has been so wonderful. In 2018, I’m hoping to set up a weekly time to visit with my Grandma, who doesn’t live very far away from me. I’d also just like more puppy cuddles, time away from the city, walks with my mom, and dinners with my sisters.

Have a digital detox monthly: It’s so incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating for me to go off the grid, but it’s something I don’t do nearly often enough. Here’s to a monthly digital detox, for at minimum 24 hours!

Devote more time & love to cooking: For the past couple years, my at-home cooking has been relatively rushed, thrown-together, not-that-thought-out, and not-that-healthy. I want to change this! I am setting the intention to give more good vibes to my kitchen, try new things, and give myself permission to spend time making food for myself.

Make my home my happy place: It already kind of is, but there are lots of things I could do to make my home even cozier, even more me, and even more welcoming. For me this intention also means hosting people in my space more often, which always makes it feel more like a home to me.


A simple list that makes my heart happy. A lot of peace, a lot of quiet, a lot of fun, a lot of love: what more could I ask for? I know that along the way I’ll encounter amazing opportunities and probably check some things off my bucket list, but for now I’m going to let it flow instead of forcing it. Things happen when they’re meant to happen. My job is to keep showing up, keep learning, keep growing and playing and finding my center.

How about you? What do you want more of in 2018?

2018: Flow

This is my sixth time choosing a word to guide my year, and it has become one of my favourite practices for setting intentions and practicing mindfulness. Having a one-word theme really helps me make decisions, choose what to focus on, and find new ways to stretch myself in areas that might need more love or attention.

I first heard of the idea of choosing a yearly word from Elise Cripe and Ali Edwards, but it’s been fun to see how this practice has caught on more widely over the years – so much so that this year at work my boss encouraged the management team to choose a word and share it! I love hearing what my friends’ words are too, it’s such a nice way to connect with them, send them little reminders when I think of it, or help them make progress with their intentions. Choosing a word is such a fun thing to do, but it becomes more meaningful the more it’s practiced.

2018: Flow >> Life In Limbo

My word for 2018 is flow. Flowy flow flow. Like all my favourite words, this one has multiple meanings and ways I hope to apply it to my life over the next 12 months. Here are some of my favourites:

Go with the flow: Similar to last year’s “embrace the situation” intention, I want (need) to continue practicing intentional letting go of my desire to control situations or outcomes, especially when I have strong opinions on how things should play out. On the rare occasions that I am successful at this and remember to mentally release the vice grip on my desired outcome, my experience (and that of the people around me, no doubt!) is infinitely better. I feel calmer. I remember that there’s no “playbook” for how life is supposed to go. I figuratively and literally sit back in my chair a bit and remember that things will usually unfold the way they’re meant to unfold. I am not the tour guide. I am not responsible for everybody else having an optimal experience, no matter how much it feels that way sometimes.

Follow the flow: This year I also what to pay attention to what is flowing into my life easily and without much fuss, versus what seems like climbing a mountain to accomplish. As much as I can, I want to drop the things that aren’t flowing and turn towards what seems easy and light and fun in each moment. I love Jess Lively’s description of life being like a river that has a strong current. We can either let our boats be caught in the flow of the river, or we can turn around and try to paddle upstream. I often catch myself trying to force something to work when it’s clearly not working, instead of revisiting it later. Most of the time when I come back to a problem or a task, either it’s already resolved itself, I’m in a better frame of mind to handle it, or I’ve encountered new information I needed to make it work. This also means having less judgment of myself for not working “hard enough” some days or “too hard” on others. Following the flow means listening to my intuition’s messages about what comes next, without resistance. In 2018: less forcing it, more flow.

Choose flow activities: One of my book clubs recently read the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, so I got a more in-depth look at the phenomenon of psychological flow. Flow is described as the experience of losing track of time while doing something challenging but also enriching, and the author believes it’s our most enjoyable human experience. A comparison is made between flow activities which bring true enjoyment, and non-flow activities, which bring pleasure (at a kind of neurological level), but don’t help you develop skills, strengthen your sense of self, or make you feel very connected to the world. As much as possible this year, I want to choose flow activities, which for me are reading, writing, knitting, having meaningful conversations, playing instruments, dancing, and taking photos.

2018: Flow >> Life In Limbo

Embody more flow: There are so many definitions of flow that I love, but am not sure yet how to apply to my life for 2018. One is “to hang loosely in an easy and graceful manner.”Another is a scientific term that means “to deform continuously under stress without cracking or melting.” Another is “to abound, to be available in copious quantities”. Another is “to rise and advance, as the tide.” Another is “to proceed or be produced smoothly, continuously, and effortlessly.” All of these make my heart so happy and I can think of ways they can apply to my attitude, my beliefs, my work process, my emotions, my soul. The intention here is to remember all of these beautiful definitions of flow and bring them into my world as much as I can.

Spend more time with things that flow: You guessed it, more time near – and in – the water in 2018! As I write this, Toronto is hitting record-breaking low temperatures, so the idea of being in the water is just about the last thing on my mind. But I’m such a water baby and I know how happy it makes me to go swimming, or even just watch the waves come in down by the lake. I love hot tubs and have been meaning to go to Scandinave, and how cool would it be to try a float tank this year? So fun.

I’m beyond excited for 2018. Last year was better than I ever could have imagined it to be, and I know that this year will have so much magic and abundance and light in store for me too. And flow: lots and lots of flow. Happy 2018!

PS. I would love love love to hear what your word for the year is in the comments below.

You can read more about my words from the last few years below:

2013: Reach | 2014: Abundance | 2015: Grace | 2016: Light | 2017: Embrace

2017 In Review

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

It’s a pretty special thing to reflect on a whole year in one sitting. It shows you just how fast 12 months can go by, but also reminds you of just how much can happen in a year. Doing these reviews always makes me emotional because the more I look at my calendar and remember the beautiful things I got to experience, the only things I can think to say are: “thank you”, and “how did I get so lucky?” Thank you. How did I get so lucky?

I said last year that doing year end reviews is a great reminder that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and I feel like that’s particularly true of 2017. I didn’t go many places in the world this year, so when I first sat down to do this review I wondered if I’d have anything to say about certain months. And I was right, not every month had major highlights or achievements to report, but as I looked back over my calendar and my 1SE video, I realized that I had so many beautiful, quiet, meaningful moments both my myself and with my loved ones. So, no. I didn’t travel very much in 2017 or hit any huge milestones (car/house/husband). Instead, I built a life, and that is a very large accomplishment indeed. Here are my own personal highlights from the year:

January

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

In January I went to my first Tuesdays Together meetup. I was by myself and really nervous, and the only reason I went is because it was near my sister’s apartment, so I could go see her if I needed to bail. It ended up being the very best thing I did all year: as a result I met some very dear friends and kindred spirits, have become a part of Toronto’s creative community, and feel more at home in this city. All because of one little meetup!

February

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I attended my first Creative Mornings event, had fun coworking dates with my friends, went home to visit the puppy, and saw a bunch of live music. Actually, 2017 was kind of the year of live music, and February was where that all kicked off. I also had my last two filming days with the Red Tent Sisters, on an unseasonably warm week near the end of the month. It was so much fun to shoot some great content and have a picnic with them on the deck.

March

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

There was so much fun stuff in March, but my favourite part was helping my friend Sonja cater Sarah Slean‘s album launch party for Metaphysics. It was a dream to hear her play live with a grand piano and a string quartet from only a few feet away – and of course the food and atmosphere were incredible. Another fun highlight was seeing the Book of Mormon with my friends Laura and Mike!

April

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I somehow got to be a part of Nurture in April, which basically cracked my whole life wide open. I met so many amazing women who I am lucky enough to now call my friends (!), helped make a lot of delicious food, got some sunshine and peace and clarity, and made an important decision that changed the rest of my year in a really positive way. There’s no other word for it besides magic. It was magic.

Oh – in April I also started taking care of Pablo the cat, who was also a very welcome addition to my life for the rest of the year! Oh – AND it was my birthday, which was a ton of fun and so special to have all my favourite people around me.

May

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

We had a birthday party for my grandma, I had my first ever tarot reading, I went to see Ira Glass perform live, I wore sandals for the first time all year, I had my friend Adrienne staying with me for a few fun days, I helped out at two live events for one of my clients, I played outside in the backyard with my mom’s dog, I wore spring jackets. I love May.

June


The best part of June was my Dad’s wedding to my stepmom, Took. It was such a special day and – even though I didn’t think I would – I cried throughout the entire ceremony. I made a video of the day and it’s one of my favourite things I’ve ever created because it captures so much of the love and joy of that day.

Other highlights: lots of days lounging in parks, lots of live music, lots of family time.

July

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I went to New York City for two weeks! This was my third summer visiting my friend Katie and my favourite visit yet. We went to the Jersey Shore, hit up the jimjilbang (indistinguishable from the ones we went to in Korea), found new rooftop patio bars, ate the best-ever fish tacos, went to street festivals, read books and toured the city. My heart feels so happy in New York and with my friends who I don’t get to see very often. Such a wonderful time.

August

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

Long lazy summer days, blue skies, time outside, campfires, windows open, butterflies. I deep cleaned my apartment and finally set up my home office, walked all day at Caribana, read on my front steps, went to a solar eclipse viewing party, saw my favourite Creative Mornings talk of the year, saw Shakespeare in the Park, and did a lot of journaling. Sonja and I also went to see John Mayer (her birthday gift to me) outside at the Budweiser stage after a day at the CNE – the absolute perfect end to summer.

September

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

There were a lot of fun events this month! I went to see Lady Gaga, and then the girls from My Favourite Murder with my friend Emily. I went to see an amazing documentary about The Avett Brothers with Sonja. I attended my first-ever Roncesvalles Polish Festival (the event of the year in this neighbourhood). I went up to the cottage with Laura and Mike for the third year in a row. I also volunteered at the hilarious but interesting Archangel Summit, where I got to hear Simon Sinek, Danielle Laporte, Shefali Tsabary, and others speak.

October

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

Nurture launched Harvest Table Dinners and we held the first one on October 1st! It was such a fun event with so many friendly faces and delicious food, and such a surreal way to celebrate my one-year anniversary of living in Toronto. Little did I know on that first night in 2016 that one year later I’d be having an amazing meal with the beautiful souls that I’d gotten to know.

In October I also had the very last patio drinks of the season, and went to my first family pumpkin carving day (I’d missed the last few years of this tradition!).

November

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

Katie came to visit for the first time since I officially moved to Toronto! It was so much fun to have her in my home and my neighbourhood, show her some of my favourite spots, introduce her to my Toronto friends, and tour (a lot of) Toronto’s historical houses. We also had kickass eggplant sandwiches, which warrant a mention here. In November we also had a sushi extravaganza with the whole family for my mom’s birthday, which was so much fun.

December

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

A beautiful month full of book clubs, dinners, kitty cuddles, work projects, twinkle lights, parties, crafts, candles, and family time. I helped my friend Brittney on a fun (but strenuous) interior design job which added some variety to my days. I got to go to some fun holiday parties wearing fun holiday sparkles. And I got to spend Christmas with my family and our dogs. What could be better than that?


Firsts of 2017

My friend Laura introduced this idea to me last year and I think it’s such a fun way to sum up some of the smaller aspects of the year that might not have otherwise made the highlight reel. Here are a few of my favourites:

  • First Tuesdays Together meetup
  • First Creative Mornings event
  • First time trying caponata, first time trying labneh, first time trying fennel
  • First time getting a promotion!
  • First time trying Ethiopian food
  • First tarot reading
  • First blind internet date
  • First time discontinuing work with clients I didn’t like
  • First time having friends stay at my apartment in Toronto
  • First time seeing a feminist comedy show
  • First book signing (with Jen Sincero!)
  • First time watching a solar eclipse
  • First time seeing a movie at my neighbourhood theatre
  • First time having a cat!
  • First time seeing Caribana
  • First time doing NaBloPoMo

 

2017 By the Numbers

  • 75 books read
  • 89 blog posts written
  • 107 Instagram posts
  • 257 days of morning meditation

 

Goals & Intentions

It’s nice to revisit my goals & intentions post from last year and realize that I still resonate with so much of what I wrote. I hadn’t even really remembered what I wrote, but (since writing things down is magic), it turned out that unplugging often, embracing the moment, and celebrating the everyday were very much my themes this year.

1. Read 75 books ✓ 

“How much happier I would have been to know that reading was itself a passion. Nobody treated it that way, and it didn’t occur to me to think otherwise.” -Pamela Paul, My Life With Bob

2017 In Review >> Life In Limbo

This is still my favourite goal, habit and practice all rolled into one. 2017 was the year that I really deepened my relationship with reading, partly thanks to reading My Life With Bob, and since I realized that reading is a form of flow and meditation. You can see everything I read in 2017 here.

2. Film 1 Second Everyday ✓

Yay! I’m so happy to say that 2017 was the first year that I made a complete year of 1SE. There were definitely days I missed, but I just went back in and added a clip of something that was likely to have been happening that day. Such a simple project, but it really gives such a cool recap of the full year. This year flew, but it’s cool to see a tiny slice of every single day, even (especially) the ones that I might not remember otherwise.

My Word of the Year: Embrace

Like most years that I choose a word, I could have been more intentional about embrace in 2017. That said, unlike some years, this word actually stayed with me the whole year, mostly in the back of my mind and sometimes on Instagram. I revisited my intention-setting post for this word and I do think there are ways that I embodied the word embrace throughout the year. I really embraced the people around me this year: I spent more time with family, I made lots of new friends, and I became part of more than one community here in Toronto. I also think I embraced my everyday pretty well – documenting 1SE helped, as did trying out NaBloPoMo this year. I also embraced my apartment and worked to make it a home by decorating, rearranging, styling, cozy-fying and inviting friends over. All in all, it was a great word and it served me well! I’m excited to choose a new theme for 2018.


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

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

 

On Setting Goals

I’ve always been a person who set a lot of goals. Birthday list goals, financial goals, reading goals, travel goals. I would set goals at the end of each year for the coming year, and on my birthday, and each month, and most weeks. I’ve tried a lot of approaches to goal setting, including The Desire Map method, the Day Zero project, and creating lots of bucket lists. I have goal tracker sheets taped to my wall as we speak, to track my daily meditation, reading, and exercise habits.

On Setting Goals >> Life In Limbo

But just as I’m starting to be more mindful of what I’m measuring, I’m also starting to be more mindful of my goal-setting process and whether it’s serving me.

Over the past few years, my process around setting yearly goals has shifted considerably. When I was living abroad, I usually didn’t know on January 1st where I’d be living or what I’d be doing for work for the next 12 consecutive months, so the idea of setting goals made a lot less sense. In my yearly goal-setting, I started to shift instead toward setting intentions for the year and creating daily habits.

I continued to make birthday lists of things I wanted to try or do before my next birthday, but those began to feel stale too. I realized that as I was creating the lists, I was actively searching for things that sounded sort of interesting, or that I thought might be fun. Some things on the list would be exciting no-brainers, but others, much less so. By the time my birthday rolled around, I would never have done everything on the list (and would feel bad about that), but it was usually because as the year passed, I never felt motivated to do the things that felt kind of arbitrary. This year, despite my deep love of repeating traditions every year, I didn’t create a birthday list.

A couple months ago, I sat down to create a list of things I thought would be fun or interesting to have achieved or accomplished within the next five years. But just like the birthday lists, it didn’t really resonate with me: everything felt kind of arbitrary, forced, like what I “should” be working towards or creating for myself. Nothing was pulling me towards those particular outcomes – or I should say, nothing within myself – except lots of external voices and ideas.

I was chatting about these ideas with my friend Bridget tonight, and she wondered if maybe this shift was because this year I’ve really established the habit of a daily meditation practice. I’ve never thought of it before, but I think she might be on to something there. It’s true that this year, I definitely feel more present in my daily life, more grateful, and more connected to my community and family than ever before. The idea of setting goals to get me to “somewhere better” doesn’t resonate with me as strongly, because I’m pretty happy with where I am right now. I feel engaged and motivated every day, but I don’t feel that constant urge to strive, reach, or leap. I feel that I’m growing and learning all the time, but am happy with where I am and with what I’m moving towards at the pace that feels tailor-made for me.

I also feel like this year has sharpened my intuition, which is now quicker than ever at helping me find things, people, and experiences that I feel aligned with and connected to. This means that I’m spending a lot more time being in the right place at the right time, and moving away from anything that doesn’t serve me. But listening to my intuition is a moment-by-moment process, so the idea of setting goals now when I can’t know yet how I’ll feel a month or a week or a day from now isn’t feeling as appealing to me.

And the last thing is: I don’t want to block myself from experiencing abundance and flow. Life unfolds in magical and mysterious ways, and I’ve found that trusting that process can bring about better things than I could ever have forced to happen on my own, had I been moving blindly towards an arbitrary goal. One year ago, I never could have predicted where I’d be now, the friends I’d have, or the work situation that I’m currently in. I could never have predicted how amazing my life would be today. Had I set a bunch of random goals and efforted my way to them, who knows if I’d have ended up at such a great place! Trusting that unfolding is not always easy, but more and more it feels like the way to more expansion and joy.

Who knows? I might change my mind about goal-setting yet again a few months from now, but for now, I’m consciously taking a break from it. How do you feel about goal-setting? How do you set goals in a way that works for you? Tell me!