What I Learned in 2016


2016…man, what a year! There has been the good, the bad, and the hideously deformed. While I don’t think things have gone as planned for anyone, 2016 actually ended up being a pretty good year for me personally, assuming I block out everything that happened in America and the world at large.

This made me laugh and laugh and laugh

I’m not going to rehash everything that happened to me in 2016 because, well, you’ve already read about it (and if you haven’t, check out my travel recaps here and my race reports here). But I would like to touch on some things I’ve learned this year – the serious and the not so serious.

1. I can’t do it all (well, I can, but I’d rather not). This year has seen me at my absolute busiest at various points of the year. I taught 30+ barre classes per month for the entire spring and early summer while holding down increasing responsibilities at my day job and balancing a ton of freelance work. That paid off in the form of promotions and raises, and ultimately I realized that the pace I was keeping was unsustainable. I might be able to “do it all,” but I can’t do it all well, and I can’t do it all happily. So, I decided to step back from my job at the barre studio (I’m only teaching occasional classes as a sub now) and focus on my career. While I haven’t found that elusive free time yet thanks to the crazy hours I’m working, I’m definitely feeling a little more calm.

2. I can conquer my anxiety. I made a huge leap this year when I took my first solo international trip to the Azores and Lisbon. Although I always wanted to travel solo, I never thought it was possible because of my anxiety and my ingrained fears. Still, I decided to just do it – and that turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I look at all travel completely differently now (who would have thought I’d ever return to NYC?) and found a sense of confidence I didn’t know I had. I might be 31, but I’m still growing into myself and becoming an actual adult, it seems. In addition to tackling solo travel, I’ve also practiced saying “no” to commitments that are too much and relationships that are not fruitful. Both of these situations caused huge anxiety for me in the past, but facing them head on proved to be more rewarding than I could have imagined.

I’ve never thought about this before, but…true.

3. Quality is more important than quantity. I’ve touched on this before, but when I was growing up, my mom constantly emphasized the value of “quantity over quality” when it came to our clothes for school. We could have 10 outfits from J.C. Penney or 2 from Abercrombie (not really – we were not allowed to shop at Abercrombie, but you get my point). I understand her perspective, but as an adult, I’ve come to value quality way more than quantity, especially when it comes to gear. From the incredible outdoor gear I’ve both purchased and received from KUHL to my new favorite leggings from DanaLou Fit (use code DCA15 for 15% off!), having high quality gear makes a huge difference in comfort level. I’m spoiled now and I’m not going back! Guess I better get some more freelance jobs.

4. There are an unbelievable number of arranged-marriage-related reality shows on television, and I watch them all. Married at First Sight, Arranged, Married by Mom and Dad, 90 Day Fiance – you name it, I watch it. I’m not sorry. Not at all. I am an addict and the only thing I regret is that there are not more of these shows on television.

5. I may have missed my calling. I’m pretty good at environmental science, but I probably missed my calling as a therapist. I can honestly say, because other people have said it to me enough throughout my life and especially this year for me to believe it, that I give pretty excellent advice. AJ tells me that I should pursue it as a career, but I think I’m probably too judgemental to be a therapist and would get too annoyed when people don’t take my advice. Maybe I could be a therapist who only sees people one time, gives them advice, and then never follows up to see how it went? I’m sure that would be a success.

6. A healthy lifestyle takes time. Maybe I was never that busy before, but I never really had a hard time prioritizing fitness and healthy eating until this year. Sure, it could sometimes be hard to find the motivation, but it wasn’t really hard to find an hour a day to go running or the time to prep a healthy dinner. The past few months have seen a huge drop off in my eating and exercise habits because I’m working so many hours. The idea of cooking dinner is often completely overwhelming, and taking an hour to workout seems impossible. I have had to force myself to prioritize exercise and eating well, and it hasn’t necessarily come easily. I can definitely understand why it is hard for people to make time to live healthfully when they feel overwhelmed!

Me too. Me, too.

7. Brussel sprouts are not that disgusting at all. I randomly got a craving for brussel sprouts a couple months ago (I have no idea how, since I am not sure I had ever consumed a brussel sprout prior to that day), so I roasted some up and ate them. They were delicious! Even AJ doesn’t mind them, so now we eat them a few times a week.

8. Being an adult means sometimes we do things that we don’t feel like doing, just because we know they’re good for us. Please see the aforementioned brussel sprouts. AJ doesn’t love them, he just doesn’t hate them, which describes how he feels about literally every vegetable. I told him that as an adult, sometimes you have to do things that are healthy for you, even if you don’t love them, just because it is the right/smart thing to do. That doesn’t mean you have to do some form of exercise you hate or choke down vegetables you can’t stand, but if you don’t mind it, then you might just have to suck it up sometimes.

9. It’s ok to let people help you. I’m not great at accepting help from people at work or in life, but this year, I’ve been forced to. I’ve learned that it’s actually pretty great to ask your husband to cook dinner when you’re overwhelmed instead of panicking your way through a stir fry. I’ve learned that delegating responsibilities at work can sometimes be challenging at first, but ultimately, it makes life easier. I’ve learned that it’s ok not to do it all yourself.

10. THE MIAMI DOLPHINS ARE GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS!! And that’s really the only thing I need to know.


LEAVE A COMMENT: What did you learn this year?





12 thoughts on “What I Learned in 2016

  1. I had to relearn a lot of things this year, particularly when it comes to my mental and physical health. I just had to deal with a lot of issues that I haven’t had to deal with in a long time, and that threw me a bit. But I feel like I am doing the best I can. And now, with IVF, I get to put a lot of those lessons into practice. For better or worse!

    1. Doing the best you can is all any of us can do … and IMO you are doing a pretty damn good job at pushing through a lot of rough crap you have to deal with. AND, on top of all of it … you present yourself as the strong, brave, vulnerable, flawed, person you are – opening up about you medical issues, anxiety and more. I really hope that 2017 is an amazing year for you and Alex.

      1. Agreed! Here’s to Suz and baby Suzex (the only logical name for your future child!)

    2. You have been doing an amazing job adapting and adjusting this year. I can’t wait to see 2017 brings for you!

  2. This year I learned:
    * Don’t take anything for granted
    *Family matters more than stuff
    * Keep trying, no matter what
    *Good friends are worth more than diamonds.
    *You can tell very little by looking at people, but a lot by how they act.

    Really, really hoping 2016 isn’t the warmup act for 2017

  3. Love this post, as usual. And since I always have thoughts … here are a few 🙂 

    – Whether or not you’d actually want to be a therapist is a different issue, but ultimately I think it is a sign of something in very short supply: being a good and reflexive listener. There were loads of articles this year about how people more and more listen to respond, not for content. And if you sometimes try to just listen to others having a discussion, you can hear how disjointed it can become because what one person is saying is a response to something the other person said much earlier … I have been praised for being a good listener – and it is something I try really hard to maintain, because when it comes to ‘certain topics’ it can be hard to not just shut down.

    – “Have it all”. You cannot. That is all.
    – OK, so maybe it deserves more elucidation – say you are trying to be a good spouse/friend/child/sibling/worker/maintain health and all of that … and you’re thinking ‘nailed it’. Yet … you are sleeping too little, feel stressed and overwhelmed, can’t sit to watch a movie without falling asleep, and so on. Guess what? You aren’t healthy. And chances are that there are some other ways in which you are like a 6′ tablecloth trying to cover a 9′ table – you can get it covered, just not all at once … and everyone KNOWS that 3′ of the table is constantly bare … but since they also know that their table has a similar issue … no one discusses it. Your entire paragraph about “A Healthy Lifestyle Takes Time” really drives this home.
    – Quality vs. Quantity – totally agree … though as always there is balance. I have tried to do that and teach it to our kids – and now with running I am really focused on the quality side … but at least try to find good deals 🙂
    – Healthy lifestyle takes time/energy/focus/motivation – I wrote about this on my blog way back … but for a long time I felt embarrassed about my weight loss – how EASY it was. It wasn’t until after my thyroid died several years ago that I had to lose >100lbs again that I realized that what I saw as ‘easy’ really wasn’t easy at all! Even now I look day to day at the motivation, focus, effort, and willpower that I put forth in maintaining the health and weight and running in a body that is aging. Even with what I do regularly I still am amazed at moms of small kids getting all this stuff done!
    – I laughed about the Brussel Sprouts – as I never thought much of them, but this weekend out at a restaurant in Ithaca I specifically ordered them as a substitute for fries … and they were awesome.
    – Letting people help you … damn that can be really hard. I know it took me a while to do this, and still see my kids want to constantly go it alone (if I had $1 for every time I say ‘we pay loads of money to those schools because they have the resources to help you’ … ). I think as a culture we tell kids that asking for help = failure. Ugh … that needs to stop.

    1. Thanks as always for your thoughts Mike! I like your analogy about a 6-foot table cloth trying to cover a 9-foot table – I have certainly felt like that at times! I think sometimes I am still stuck in the trap of thinking that as long as I am hitting my work goals (for whichever job it is) that that is really all that matters and as long as I’m doing that, I DO have it all. Part of me will probably always think that way to some extent, but I have realized how unhealthy it has made me. That is part of why I decided to step away from the barre studio. Now to not try and replace that with a million other things!

      1. I think way too many of us are caught in that trap, or similar ones. I am pulled by the having it all (or at least piling on the good old Catholic Guilt when I don’t) trap … and also by the ‘you are the man of the family, be stoic and provide’ trap … and on and on and on!

        The “not try and replace that with a million other things!” is not trivial! Because there is often a lull, and the temptation to shovel stuff into that lull!

        For me blogging became a trap – I had started in the early web days doing game reviews for a site that got bought out several years ago and I got a few $ for each review they bought for their archive … and it ended up being more than 1000 – so that is playing and reviewing all those games. When that stopped I went to another site, and also to a general tech site where I will still do occasional stuff but had to stop doing so much because it was eating me alive. Then I started blogging, and felt the need to do it every day. Ugh. So now … I am free and haven’t felt the need to replace in a couple of years.

        1. I can definitely see how blogging can become a trap. I have certainly felt like that at times! I’m currently feeling a renewed sense of commitment and excitement surrounding the blog, though, and I think some positive changes are on the way. At this point, I’m trying to limit things that take me away from the house more than necessary (travel will just mean I need breaks in between) and then going from there. Baby steps!

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