Reflections of 2017: My Year of Self-Care

 · 
1 January 2018
 · 
4 min read

Before the year started, a friend and I spent some time mapping out each month to help me create a plan of action around my future. I was on the verge of (slash in the middle of) burnout and without any sense of structure in my life. The toll on my body and my mental capacity was quite high but I was determined to figure out a way to change my lifestyle to regain stability and productivity.

Out of all the goals outlined, I surprisingly met most of them (yay!). I did a lot of traveling (3 trips to Sydney, 2 trips to Portland, 4 trips to Texas, 1 trip to each LA, Atlanta, Dearborn, and Seattle) including 2 personal trips to Europe (Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Helsinki, Amsterdam, London). Despite all this traveling, I managed to set a routine (going to acupuncture appointments and making homemade meals) although I definitely fell by the wayside in the fitness section. With the transition from traveling 2 weeks out of the month to commuting 4 hours in the day, I realized I needed to put in a lot more planning time (laying out clothes, prepping meals, etc).

Over the course of the year, I came to some realizations:

  • I dipped my feet into the pool of smart home devices (I got Phillips Hue Lightbulbs, an Echo Dot, and Wemo) which actually helped me escape technology during my morning and evening routines a lot more. Getting up to check the time was a simple voice command while turning off the lights as I fell asleep reading my book made it a seamless transition.
  • For me to absorb and process knowledge, I need to write. Writing is my medium of communication and unfortunately I didn't get to do it enough this year. I'm building it in to my plans for next year.
  • Throwing out a third of your belongings really does give you peace of mind (thank you Marie Kondo) and space to create your own little reading corner.
  • I have a tribe. They are awesome. And I should spend more time appreciating them and spending time with them rather than trying to add others to the mix.
  • I will never master the medium of watercolor. One can only practice and hope.
  • Traveling alone helped me heal and deal with my grief.
  • I used to make fun of those people that used to say "I want to live near water", and now I've realized I'm one of those people.
  • Family always has a weird way of coming back around to you.
  • I am growing up but the world is also becoming a worse place.
  • Dump days (where you can do whatever you want) balanced with gladiator days (get shit done) are the key to a productive but healthy lifestyle.
  • It's important to understand the privilege in your life and what judgement you're willing to live with, while still being open to the possibility of change.
  • The feeling that there's a perfect job and there's an "way" of getting there has disappeared.
  • I am an old granny and I like reading books the old school way - when they are printed on PAPER. I read 14 books this year!

I also made an active effort to document what questions I was pondering. Here are a few:

  • Do you want to save the world or do you want to enjoy the world?
  • How similar or different do you have to be in order to grow together?
  • What is your flavor of leadership?
  • The opposite of depression is vitality. So what will give you vitality?
  • What do you make progress for yourself? How do you show progress externally?
  • How do you create routine and structure? What does it do for you?
  • How do you get over burnout?
  • Do you want to be a leader or a learner?

I started a lot of good behaviors that I would like to continue in 2018 with the addition of a few more:

  • Start volunteering somewhere regularly (even if that is bi-weekly)
  • Ride a bike over the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Write and publish a blog entry once a month
  • Research and up the Executive Presence
  • Speak at one design event this year
  • Sharpen a skill (photography, drawing, dance, orchestra)

Just as this past year was centered around the theme self-care, I want the next year to be centered around the theme of positivity. I've found myself become quite impatient and jaded with the world. My natural cynicism and pessimism has turned to having very dichotomous views rather than even attempting to find the silver lining. A change in disposition is hard but I'm hoping the routines, habits, and structure set up in 2017 will help focus my thoughts and actions in 2018.

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