It’s easy to look back at 2016 and see some events that make the year seem bad. It’s unfortunately also easy to look ahead to 2017 and see things looming that make me anxious. Instead, I’m shaking off the gloomy thoughts and focusing on my corner of the world – the place where I can make a difference.
And I’m starting by recognizing 16 things that 2016 gave me:
- An awesome few months of running: I would like to say that 2016 gave me the accomplishment of a big goal (a race each month) but it didn’t (hello Achilles injury). It DID however give me the strongest running start I’ve ever had. By mid-April I had run 3 races of 5 or miles and an additional 2 half marathons. It was a good start even if the lack of stretching plus other factors lead to injury.
- Ragnar: I was so afraid I’d have to drop out of this race experience and I wasn’t sure I’d ever get the chance again. Luckily I had a team that didn’t care if I walked my legs of the relay and I ended up with a weekend that was one of the highlights of my year. Who knew 36+ hours of no sleeping (or showering) could be so much fun!
- Running Sunburst with my boy: Well I didn’t run but I walked and J ran. I’ve now down Sunburst 8 years in a row and at least one time with each of my kids. Yay!
- A whole new vacation adventure with my husband: Portland, Oregon. It was a great mix of alone time and fun time with extended family. We saw all new sights and had such a fun break.
- Great American Road Trip III: I’ve had this trip planned for at least 3 years and getting to take the kids away from their everyday lives and spend time together exploring new places was amazing. As it always, always is.
- Maine: Yes, this was part of the road trip but it deserves its own mention. Maine is beautiful. Acadia National Park is one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever seen. Hiking; sitting on the rocks watching ocean waves crash; kayaking… I really hope I get to go back.
- An energizing work year: It was stressful (oh was it stressful) but I expanded my business and found myself traveling for the first time in over a decade. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt independent and impactful in that way. I loved it. And I’m excited about another year that includes more trips and possibly more growth. (but less stress would be nice… we’ll see if I can work that out)
- Cheering at the Chicago Marathon: I had the opportunity to scramble all over Chicago cheering on a family member (who I’m lucky enough to call my friend). It was a beautiful day to watch someone accomplish such a huge goal and I loved every minute of it.
- College visits: My oldest is a senior about to make her college decision and I really enjoyed going out to explore campuses and help her set the stage for the next phase of her life. (Before this year is out I’ll be doing the same for my second daughter – gulp!)
- Chicago Cubs World Series Champions! I’ve already written about what this meant to me and it was definitely a highlight of my year.
- Dunes Hikes: I made a conscious effort to get myself out to the Lake more this year and every single trip – even the ones where I was racing back to make a conference call – was so worth it. Even though I can’t hike those dunes for a while I need to keep this intention for the coming year.
- Small family adventures: It wasn’t always easy to find the time. And I wish I could have found more of it. But every adventure I did with my kids was worth it. Trips to the city. Hosting my nieces for “Aunt Barb’s Cooking Camp.” Heading to South Bend to see the Downtown Abbey exhibit with my middlest. Chicago Cubs World Series Parade with my oldest. Movies. Six Flags. Blueberry picking. Walks to the farmer’s market with my son. Small moments that are each a big blessing.
- Youth Ministry: I expanded my volunteer work with my church and “my kids” in youth ministry. I ventured outside of my comfort zone as an adult leader at a diocesan retreat. I took a group on a weekend retreat in Wisconsin. I fostered new traditions for the youth of my parish. It’s a lot of work but watching these kids grow is an awesome experience.
- A Northern Michigan Adventure: Any time a year includes time in Northern Michigan it is a good year 🙂 Somewhat last minute we pulled together a family road trip to Mackinac Island for Labor Day weekend and it was a blast.
- Trying new things: I went new places. I did a few things solo that I’ve never done before. I cooked new foods. Nothing earth-shattering but it’s good to do new things.
- Friends: Lunch dates. Walking dates. Sharing a few drinks. Massive group text conversations. The small moments that make life a little richer are some of the best blessings indeed.