What didn’t work in 2016, and what I’m going to do about it

The list of what worked in 2016 was longer than this list of what didn’t, but these are some big issues without easy fixes.

What didn’t work for me in 2016:


The election. While I am not solely responsible for our political system or the incoming administration, I did not do enough to speak up, specifically in the areas where I have experience and authority: health care, caring for the vulnerable, and education. I don’t know what form(s) exactly my speaking up will take, but I am convinced I need to contribute more to the conversation.


Finances. While we ended 2016 in the black, money is pouring out the door. We have 18 months before we have to start paying college tuition, and I’m feeling a need to get a handle on the flow.


I have been injured since late August. I am finally walking several miles at a time again, gearing up toward running, but I spent 4 ½ months injured. No es bueno.

Partially because of #2, and partially because I am lazy, my exercise fell off the schedule. Even if (or because) it’s going to be several more months before I’m running regularly again, I need to find a new pattern for my exercise, so it meets both my mental and physical health needs.


I want to spend more time in prayer. While I found a way to use my very limited free time for lots of writing, it squashed out regular morning quiet times. The days I began with prayer went better, so I am committed to making prayer a priority in 2017.

Your turn. What didn’t go well in 2017 and what are you going to do about it?


What worked for me in 2016

In the spirit of looking back and then forward, I have spent some time reflecting on what worked for me in 2016. A later post will detail what didn’t work, and what I plan to do about it.

What worked for me in 2016:
I made my writing a priority, and it paid off. I wrote regularly, which made the time I spent more productive. When I don’t write at least every other day, I lose all momentum. Also, I met regularly with my critique partner, and her wisdom and accountability were immensely helpful.


I am working in the hospital again, attending deliveries and taking care of new babies. I love both. This was an unexpected opportunity after I thought I had given it up for good, and so far it’s working well on many fronts.


I have made a concerted effort to be a better advocate for my patients. This has meant a lot more phone calls to other doctors and medical providers- sometimes having to beg for help on my patients’ behalf- but it is paying off in better care for my patients.


Monthly meal planning. The longer I do it this way, the easier I gets. We’re eating more vegetables, which is good for everyone.


I feel like my biggest accomplishment this year was growing out my hair. (That shows you how I feel about 2016.) I found a salon that specializes in curly hair, and I finally can live with it again.


Calling up our refugee friends and getting together with them. It used to take a ton of energy and effort.   On the way back from church on Christmas Eve, the mom asked me (via her son, translating) all sorts of questions. It’s progress, and I’m grateful.

We are spending more time with our parents. Sam has been traveling to Chicago to see his family every 3-4 months, and I’ve been spending one weekend a month with my parents. It costs us a lot in terms of our nuclear family time, but it is good and important.


I’ve started asking for more help.  Sam and the kids have really stepped it up at home, and at church I have just said no, though not as often as I probably should.


I’ve stopped listening to the radio on my way into the clinic each week. It sounds like a small thing, but those 15 minutes of prayer before I have to face so much sorrow and sickness is a real gift, and it has made a huge difference in my empathy and focus.


I hope to continue all of these habits in 2017. What were your successes in 2016?

Next up: what didn’t work, and what I plan to do about it.

What worked (or not) in 2015?

It’s the end of the year, folks. Naturally my thoughts run toward self-examination.   What worked in 2015? What didn’t?

What didn’t work:

  1. Working in the hospital. Too many computer modules required (in both clinic and hospital- same material, twice) to maintain my privileges.  I spent all the time I allotted for learning more medicine doing required computer classes on what to do in case of fire or a bomb threat. I gave it up and will practice medicine only in the clinic. This is a loss but I think it’s time.
  2. Mummifying the chicken. It worked once when we did it in 2005, but it didn’t work in 2010 or in 2015, either. (After a week, my whole kitchen began to smell like rotting flesh.) It symbolized to me the need to let go of my second grade experience with Jonah and be in the school we’re in now with Phoebe.
  3. Not enough unstructured time outdoors. This is a symptom of the big kids’ lethargy. I’ve raised a bunch of homebodies.  How to fix this? Not sure.
  4. We live in a country where a grand jury says it’s okay to shoot a child with a toy gun because he didn’t look like a twelve year old. I have a twelve year old. He’s big. It’s not his fault. His body is big, but he’s still a child. I don’t want to live in a country where it’s okay to shoot big children because they don’t look like children.  (Or, like the shooter in Sandy Hook, because they’re small.)  I don’t know what to do with that. I’m still listening and waiting, but I am at a loss for how I can change it.
  5. My exercise time. Last year, working out while the kids all swam in the afternoon, was great. This year one swam, one danced, and the other two expected me to entertain them (or pay them to entertain each other) while I drove from pool to dance studio and back. Fail. Also: all running with no strength training breaks me down. My brain doesn’t get any groovy feelings from doing my PT, but it’s necessary in order to keep running.

What worked?


  1. Something is better than nothing. Small steps toward small goals. Small pleasures. They add up.
  2. The January Money Diet. A month with no unnecessary spending reset our ideas of wants v. needs after the indulgence of the holidays and gave us a head start on our financial goals for the year.
  3. Being bold and releasing my book. Now that I’ve stopped rewriting that story, I can work on the next one. Which begs the question: what figurative story am I still rewriting in my head instead of moving onto the new one?
  4. Persistence and embracing the awkward silence. I want to be a person who knows people who are different from me. But that means that when we get together, we are different. I have to listen.
  5. We have a really wonderful community here who showered us with love when Sam was sick and recovering. What a blessing.
  6. Taking more time alone/apart. I went away for a weekend with 3 girlfriends last January and came back encouraged and recharged. I backed off during the summer. In October, I spent my birthday weekend alone. Both my jobs (at home and at the clinic) require me to talk and listen and analyze and explain. I need more silence. I need less doing and more being.

What about you? What worked in 2015? What didn’t?

2013 Retrospective


  • Get comfortable working at the (new to me) hospital (check)
  • Run (still trying to eke out those last 3 miles to complete 1000 since I started back in 2011)
  • Write
  • Spend more time at my parents’ house (check)


Things I learned:

  • commuting sucks the life out of you
  • there are not enough hours in the day
  • I like being in control (maybe I knew this before, but…)
  • that I have fallen out of the habit of reading books.  Is this from lack of time? Or general malaise? Is it a result of reading bit articles online? Or because I can’t litter the house with my dog-eared books to have one to pick up whenever I have a chance to sit for five minutes? (I am hoping the latter.)  Most of the books I read this year were fiction repeats, or new-to-me parenting books.  I needed the familiar fiction to dig me out of the hole the parenting books threw me into
  • children should not have iphones


Things the children learned:

  • Jonah: how to take the bus and that he really prefers reading to all other activities
  • Owen: confidence in riding his bike more than just around the block, and that he needs an organized exercise activity (think: sport) to get him to exercise
  • Moriah: how to knit, and how having a quiet activity for her hands helps her mind focus
  • SweetP: that she really wants to read. And that keeping her room clean is hard.


New Years

What is it about taking down the Christmas decorations that turns my mind to fresh and new?  I guess it is a changing of seasons of sorts.  This year Sam did it without me (bless him!) and all I had to do was find the well-hidden Christmas tree drop-off.  Which I couldn’t do at first, so J and I left the tree tied on top of the car while we went to lunch.  Alas, no one helped themselves to our tree while we were eating.


After we found the tree drop-off and managed to get the huge thing off the car, we saw a bald eagle on a telephone pole.  Actually, we had seen him ten minutes earlier (or maybe we saw two different bald eagles?) but I was going 45 and couldn’t really stop to admire him.  J didn’t even see the first one.  But the second one?  He seemed like a sign.  So we stopped and looked until J saw him.  Really saw him.


Anyway, my neighbor cleared out her basement, and my friend Renee cleared out her budget, and I am left wondering what I’m supposed to be clearing out to make room for the new.


And then in prayer the answer comes: discontent. Covetousness.  An old word that simply means not being satisfied with the riches already lavished on me.  Not sure what that’s going to look like this year (or if I even want to embrace the call.)  Sometimes I’m so full of wanting more that there’s no room to enjoy what I have today.  So maybe I need to go with that for 2013.

Are you clearing out the old to make room for the new?

Halfway through 2012… How Am I Doing?

My mapmyrun log tallied my miles (199) for the year, and I realized 2012 it was halfway done.  What had I planned?  Running 400 miles in 2012— so I’m on track.

Then I wondered what else I had planned for this year.  And where am I?

Well, I’m on track to go overseas and use my skills there… though it’s kinda funny that when I wrote my resolution, I hadn’t even learned the skills I’ll be teaching in Thailand.  God’s good.

Being outside more?  We’ve had a lot of meals on the porch.  We’ve camped once and hiked a few times, though the smoke these past few weeks (and the front-range fires) have made that hard.
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Eat more dinners on china at home… I don’t know if it’s more that last year, but we do.

Get comfortable working at the new hospital… that’s stuck in paperwork la-la land.  So no progress there.

Memorize scripture… not so much.  Time to get on that one.
Writing?  Lots.

Learning and laughing every day?  Check.

Have you checked in with your new year’s resolutions?  Have you made new ones?