Reflections from the last day of 2017

2017’s Top 10 Greatest Hits and Misses

This year I learned a ton… Did you know a ton is the equivalent of 2,000 pounds? It was indeed a heavy, weighty year of learning and re-learning that started with the disbelief that we had actually elected someone as heartless as Donald Trump — the self-confessed pussy grabber, robber of the working class ala Trump University and insert any number of other scandals.

Wise words from the King.

Then that initial disbelief transformed into a severe case of WTF-itis. Blow after blow with what was happening socially and politically in this country. Overt racism in many forms, the vast array of environmental crises that erupted and of course, #metoo. It took a few months for it to kick-in that this era would require a new kind of resiliency and commitment to what I believed in. It also meant that perhaps, we were not getting better, but we needed to sit with the realities that were being revealed to be healed and stare them down and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We were not as good as I thought we were which is hard for a millennial brought up to believe in continual progress.

I was born into the class of 2000. We were supposed to be the hope for the future. 2017 was confirmation that progress is not a linear straight line and looks and feels more like an etch-a-sketch being drawn and shaken with vigor until it all falls apart, only to be redrawn again.

2017 showed us the hopelessness. And, it showed me how to reach for hope again.

Top 9 Photos From Instagram of 2017

Here is my top 10 of personal greatest hits and misses from the year. This includes lifehacks that have made my life better with little effort, starting with dry shampoo and I promise it gets deeper along the way (but dry shampoo is really important to me now).

  1. HIT: The Wonders of Batiste Dry Shampoo — Ok, I’m starting off in extremely shallow waters here, but this one tweak has definitely enhanced my life in a BIG way. I wash my hair 2–3 times a week now and use dry shampoo in between. Why is this awesome? For several reasons: It’s better for the environment when I’m not taking long showers and I’m spending less time getting ready in the morning. Oh, and it’s super cheap!
  2. MISS: I was a serial dater — I made some amazing connections, but also feel like I spent too much time searching for something outside of myself. I have a belief that if souls are meant to meet, nothing can keep that from happening. I wish I hadn’t swiped so much of 2017 away through mindlessnessly staring at a screen instead of connecting with my nearest and dearest.
  3. HIT: I Quit Drinking — I’ve always been a lightweight. I can and have gotten drunk from drinking just one drink. It makes me tired and sluggish, and I’ve seen far too many situations where drinking has lead to unimaginable consequences, including the loss of my cousin who was killed in a car accident. Even closer to home, before I was born, my Dad almost died in a car accident and while he was in a coma, saw the light and the whole shebang. Drinking hasn’t really ever done anything for me. So it was liberating to “just say no”. I still order fancy drinks without the alcohol and I’m saving me and my dates a ton of money.

4. MISS: #MeToo — This summer another court case regarding a sexual assault culminated. It’s a long story, but essentially, I went for a run in a very well-trafficked touristy area on Labor Day in 2016. I had just finished running and was talking to my Mom on the phone when a young man biked past me and said, “I wanna piece of that ass”. He later came back on his bike and grabbed me somewhere in the vicinity that our President would. I ran after him screaming, “I’m going to get you motherf______!” And a professional cyclist went after him, but it’s hard to catch someone on a bike, even when you’re a professional cyclist with a bike. Later that evening, one of my neighbors saw him at our neighborhood Lunds and took his photo. It turns out he was trying to attack other women (including a city prosecutor) and we were able to ID him. He finally showed up to court this July and was given probation. Probation?! Unfortunately, this wasn’t my first rodeo with a disappointing sexual assault conviction. In a much more serious case, my attacker (who was also a stranger to me) served just 10 days after a year and a half of court dates and a terrifying attack. I don’t want to be looked at as a victim. But this year #metoo was weirdly reassuring that it wasn’t just me. That this was somehow normal because no matter what happens with sexual assault those who are attacked must always answer the question:

“What could I have done to keep this from happening to me? And to my loved ones who had to pick up the pieces during the time I left myself and struggled to exist?”

It was a revelation this was just another case and example of how messed up our society is when it comes to normalizing sexual assault and harassment. That even if you have witnesses and all kinds of evidence (just think of Brock Turner), the punishment will not fit the crime, particularly if it’s a white male. I was lucky in both cases to have incredible evidence video in one case, and witnesses in the other. I know most victims are not as lucky. I’m writing this publicly because I want everyone to know why women wouldn’t pursue a court case. The criminal justice system is a joke, and isn’t worth the time, emotional investment and trauma required of victims.

I told very few people about the outcome of the conviction. I was numb to it. I don’t want to identify with it and I’ve spent so much of the last few years healing from the other assault that I just wanted to move on. And then #metoo happened… which I’m still processing. Let’s just say, I’m a little burnt out on learning life lessons through men who don’t know how to control their sexual urges. But I know I also have to do my part and I’m discerning what that can be.

5. Hit: Purchasing a Peloton Bike — One of the outcomes of being attacked is that I didn’t feel safe working out in the great outdoors. So I bought a fancy-schmancy Peloton bike and I love it! Great DJs and no excuses not to workout other than how cozy and warm my bed is.

6. Hit: I’ve been meditating on a daily basis! — Even though I’ve made a guided meditation album, and love incorporating guided meditations when I teach yoga, I haven’t been able to create a daily practice and actually stick to it. Now, I meditate 30 minutes first thing in the morning and I’m loving it! My goal for 2018 is to do it every single day.

7. Hit: I took up kayaking — Coming from Minnesota, coming from lake people, being on the water is something that has been missing in my adulthood. I love the peace, serenity and tranquility that comes from being in the mighty Mississippi without being able to use any digital devices and just BE.

8. Hit: I finally released, “You Are Made of Stars” — This book was a work of love and it was absolutely thrilling to finally get it out there and hear how it’s being used in classrooms, families and even a wonderful prison program that I fell in love with. It works like this: the mother who is incarcerated creates a recording of her reading the book to her child and then the child receives a can listen to their Mother’s voice over and over again while reading along with the book. We’re all searching for ways to create meaning and impact, and this really hit my heart in the best ways. In 2018, I want to find more ways to be of service in ways that are truly meaningful and impactful.

9. Miss: Too Much Judgment and Complaining — This is something I’m continuously deepening into. I need to practice what I preach. Regardless of the circumstances, on a national level or a personal level, if I’m not willing to take action, I need to find other ways to meaningfully contribute rather than complain.

When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.
 — Eckhart Tolle

10. Hit: Trusting My Intuition on a Deeper Level — Ok, this is the jackpot winner right here! So many things unfolded this year that I sensed in advance and solidified my absolute trust in my intuition. It’s allowed me to step up more boldly into my professional work of teaching and designing leadership programs for graduate students and faculty to address wicked challenges. It’s also given me tremendous freedom not to have to second-guess, but the problem is in communicating “how I know” in a world that isn’t alway open to knowing from a place beyond facts and figures…especially in academia. I’m excited what this knowing will bring in 2018! Definitely more fearlessness, audacity and a commitment to what needs to be an what needs to be done from a soul-inspired place.

Other 2017 honorable mentions: Finally getting a Spotify account, circumnavigating organizational politics, and getting better and better at setting boundaries.

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. 
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
- TS Elliot

In the realm of leadership development and we say that 40% of learning occurs in reflection. What did you learn in 2017? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!