2016 In Review

2016 >> Life In Limbo

Doing a year-end review always brings me so much joy and reminds me of that old saying: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I have a tendency to feel like I’m not “doing enough” as the weeks and months go by, but taking the time to look back over the year as a whole always reminds me of how lucky I am and how much I’ve experienced. This year was a big one for me, and it’s pretty surreal to remember all that’s happened in the past 12 months. Here are my highlights from each month of 2016:

January

2016 >> Life In Limbo

My boyfriend (at the time) and I took a trip to the coast of Ecuador, to a place called Canoa Beach. We spent a few days enjoying the heat, the food, and the sheer novelty of being on a beach mid-January! Throw in some outdoor yoga classes, stunning sunsets, and beers with my toes in the sand and I was a pretty happy camper. I also tried paragliding for the first time, and despite a rough crash landing with the instructor, it was a lot of fun. Canoa, like so much of the coast, was unfortunately affected when the earthquake hit in April, so it turned out to be extra special to be able to visit when we did.

February

2016 >> Life In Limbo

The highlight of February was my friend Katie coming to visit me in Quito! We spent a week running around the city, exploring the old town, heading up El Panecillo, soaking in the baths (and hanging out with the llamas) at Papallacta, watching movies on my couch, and eating as much awesome food as we could manage. We also went to a local soccer game, checked out the drive-in movie theatre, risked our lives climbing the tower at the basilica, and took the TelefériQo up to the top of Pichincha for amazing views of the city. It was so great to show her around and to get to know Quito a bit more myself.

March

2016 >> Life In Limbo

I spent most of March getting more involved in life in Quito. I joined a book club full of awesome people, found cute coffee shops near my apartment, started teaching private yoga classes, went to a few trivia pub nights with new friends, started volunteering for a local organization, and helped run yoga in the park every Saturday. I also went to another live South American soccer game! What an experience that was, especially since it was a FIFA 2020 qualifying game, and Ecuador won.

At the very end of March and the beginning of April, I went on a press trip to the Amazon rainforest and stayed at Sacha Lodge. The experience had me pinching myself the entire time – I saw monkeys and caiman, climbed up to the top of a 600 year old tree, walked a 40m high sky canopy, went on a night walk through the jungle (very loud, very amazing), and stayed in my own private cabin complete with a hammock on the porch and a lullaby of frogs outside. It was incredible. You can read more about the adventure here.

April

2016 >> Life In Limbo

After kicking off my birthday month with a trip to the jungle, I went on to have a fabulous time back in Quito. On my birthday, my boyfriend’s family surprised me with a four-piece mariachi band that marched into the living room and played for hours while we all danced. I cried, because it was so hilarious and thoughtful – and even though I no longer live in Ecuador, the people I met there will always hold a very special place in my heart.

In April I also started an intermediate Spanish course at the local university, which was a ton of fun. My professor was a real character, a born-and-bred Quiteña with tons of personality, and it was so great to start to get a better grasp of the language.

May


This was a busy month! I finished up my Spanish course and wrote my final exams. I picked up a couple new freelance jobs. We went to a beautiful wedding and danced the night away. Toward the end of the month, I flew home for the summer, and a couple days later, we had a big beautiful party in my mom’s backyard for my Grandma’s 88th birthday!

June

2016 >> Life In Limbo

This was my first time home (besides 2 weeks at Christmas) in a very long time, so June was spent reconnecting with as many friends and family members as possible. My sisters and I took my dad out for a lovely Father’s Day dinner on the waterfront. I started sewing my very first quilt! I went to see the Making a Murderer Conversation on Justice with my friends (#fangirl #TeamStrang). On a whim, Katie booked a trip to Toronto (we are in the best LDR ever) and we spent the week exploring yet another city together: we had beers on the waterfront, saw a Jays game (which was inadvertently a Korea reunion), went for hikes, ate great food, had a campfire, and really kicked off summer.

July


My favourite month of 2016! July was packed full of things I love. One weekend, I was invited up to my friend Mike’s cottage with Laura and a group of friends, and we spent the whole time eating delicious vegan food, playing board games, stand-up paddle boarding and swimming. Another highlight was a day spent filming videos and doing photoshoots with the Red Tent Sisters at a beautiful home in Toronto.

Best of all, in July I took my now-annual (!) trip to New York City to hang out with Katie and Nancy Sue! We spent the whole time eating amazing food (special shoutouts to Benny Tudinos and Goa Taco: you have my heart now and forever), hit up The Strand and Nature Republic as much as possible, rode bikes through Central Park, played Pokemon Go in taxis, went to a Gaelic football game (and a Gaelic football afterparty), toured The Tenement Museum and did a hundred other amazing things together. Katie & I also went to Vermont with her family for gorgeous, highly strenuous hikes, gin & tonics, outdoor showers and star-gazing. Then we topped it all off with a Rob Thomas and Counting Crows concert, for the win.

August

2016 >> Life In Limbo

Without a doubt, the best part of August was bringing home Bodhi, my mom’s Golden Retriever puppy. He is the best, and really helped to make 2016 so special for our family.

August was also important for another reason: I ended my long-term relationship with my boyfriend and simultaneously decided to move to Toronto.

September

2016 >> Life In Limbo

The first words that come to mind are: busy and messy. There was a sudden death in our family, which meant a very emotional time and a bittersweet memorial service.

All at the same time, things very quickly fell into place with my new living situation, so I spent most of the month running around getting things out of storage and buying new kitchen stuff. Also, my friend Adrienne came to Toronto and we had a sleepover to celebrate our first time seeing each other in more than 2 years.

October

2016 >> Life In Limbo

Yay! I moved into my first Toronto apartment and instantly fell in love with my new neighbourhood. I hung things on walls, put things on shelves and settled into my space. I celebrated my move to Toronto by spending lots of time with my friends and exploring: tons of walks on the Sunnyside boardwalk, friend dates at adorable coffee shops, a walk down Leslie Street Spit, lots of time meandering through High Park, and leaf peeping. I also did some dogsitting with hearts in my eyes.

November

2016 >> Life In Limbo

November was a bit bumpy as I worked on finding my rhythm and building my new life. I read a lot of great library books, suffered after the election results, watched the Gilmore Girls revival, started knitting a sweater, and kept up my weekly coffee dates with Laura. My sisters and I went home to celebrate my mom’s birthday with tons of sushi and cuddles with the puppy. November was also when I had my most profitable freelance month ever!

December

2016 >> Life In Limbo

I always love December for the lead-up to the holidays, but it was even more fun this year because I was finally close to home! My whole family visited my apartment at different times, which helped to make it feel even more like home. I went to my friend Laura’s yoga jam class where her brother Ian played acoustic guitar the whole time…it was amazing. Other super-fun events included an aromatherapy workshop, hanging out my high school friends for the first time in 3 years, having a surprise lunch with my mom and Grandma, and of course, every moment of the holidays.


And so here we are, at the end of another year. When I look back like this, I feel grateful. I feel blessed. I feel excited about what hidden, wonderful opportunities 2017 might hold that I don’t know about yet.

One Second Everyday

This was my first year doing the one second everyday project and I’m so happy I did it! I definitely missed more than a few days – basically all of August, in fact – but it really doesn’t matter. Having this little record of what each day looked like is so special to me. It is also so interesting to see just how much my life has changed over the past 12 months.

Firsts of 2016

My friend Laura inspired me to think about the “firsts” I experienced this year (you can see her list here), so here are some of mine:

  • First time I sewed a quilt
  • First time I knitted a sweater
  • First time in the Amazon jungle
  • First time living in Toronto
  • First Toronto Public Library Card
  • First photo shoot for a brand
  • First time seeing a Santa Semana Easter parade
  • First time on a beach in January
  • First time paragliding
  • First time in Vermont
  • First visit to New Jersey
  • First time at Marie’s Crisis (but it won’t be the last)
  • First time visiting Wishing Well sanctuary
  • First time trying a matcha latte
  • First time my grandparents have seen an apartment of mine

 

2016 By the Numbers

  • 8 flights taken
  • 75 books read
  • 68 blog posts written
  • 2 articles published
  • 4 compensated photoshoots

 

Goals & Intentions

1. Read 75 books: ✓

I had a great year of reading! Not only did I hit my goal, I also did pretty well on this reading challenge: see my entries for the different categories here.

2. Travel to one new place a month: 8/12 ✓

  • January: Canoa, Ecuador
  • February: Historic centre of Quito
  • March: Amazon jungle (near Coca, Ecuador)
  • April: Condor Machay waterfall (near Sangolqui, Ecuador)
  • July: New Jersey and Vermont
  • August: Windsor, Ontario
  • September: Wishing Well animal sanctuary
  • October: Roncesvalles Village, Toronto

3. Write about my word for 2016 monthly: 5/12

4. Buy one thing to spark joy each month: ✓

5. Donate to charity once a month: ✓

I donate monthly to Pencils of Promise through their Passport program. I also began giving to the Ian Anderson House, a local hospice, made some one-off donations to UNHCR, and supported both my sisters’ fundraising efforts for runs they were each doing.

6. Daily goals:

  • Plan my day: I’d say this happened this year about 75% of the time. I also realized that I’m ready to drop this as a ‘goal’, because I do it when I need to and soften it when I don’t.
  • Wake up by 7AM: I didn’t count, but I’d say this only happened about 25% of the time. I’m more of an 8AM kind of gal, even if I wish I were more of a morning person.
  • Do something creative: This wasn’t really specific enough! I am creative every day, but not always “for fun” – often it’s for work, which I usually find fun anyways. I’d give this one a score of 80%.

 

My Word of the Year: Light

This was easily my favourite word out of all of the words I’ve chosen over the years. I kept up an Instagram hashtag all year to collect the photos that made me feel happy, were inspired by something positive, or that helped me find perspective during a weird or sad time. My word was catchy enough that it stayed in mind as the months went by, and broad enough that it popped up for me in so many different ways and at different times. Although this was an amazing year, it contained quite a bit of dark (as most years do). I was grateful to have this word as a reminder when things got hard.


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

201520142013 | 2012 | 2011

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

2014

2014 201402 201401 201405 201412 201415 201409 201417 201413 201418 201416 201419 201408 201406 201420Since I was away on vacation for the last week of the year, I’m a little behind on my usual year-end blog posts. But I still wanted to take some time to appreciate the wonderful, beautiful year I’ve had and give it its due. It’s been a great year: full of new adventures, life lessons and friends both old and new. I’ve been proud of myself, frustrated, embarrassed, awed, excited, stretched, pushed, angry, loved, thrilled and almost every single other emotion in between. In 2014 I tried hard to live the way I want to live and be the person I want to be. I hope I continue to do the same in 2015.

In 2014 I:

It was a great year. I’m so blessed and so lucky to have so much to look forward to in 2015.

More year-end reviews: 2013 | 2012 | 2011

2013

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2013 was a big year. Very big. When I was scrolling through my photos from the year, I kept being amazed by how very much I was lucky enough to experience this year. There were so many decisions and laughs and tears and adventures and books and feelings to be had this year. I sometimes feel confused and a little lost but I know I am blessed and I am very, very grateful. 

The Highlights:

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DSC_0009DSC_0090 DSC_0047Here’s to 2014. As always, I hope that it will be as big and as beautiful as the last.