Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reflections on 2016 and looking ahead to 2017

I have tended to post reflections and aspirations around this time of year, as one 12-month cycle draws to a close and another stretches out ahead. Last year I did not set goals or aspirations because I was in the early stages of pregnancy, and figured that (and the associated arrival of Mini Bite in August) would be challenge enough for 2016. Indeed it was. The ongoing adjustment to parenting may well provide sufficient challenge for 2017 too, but I am keen to look beyond motherhood and consider other things that I would like the year to hold.

Recent snowy scenes

First, though, 2016. Mini Bite's arrival was a momentous occasion and I have already posted some of my reflections on that adjustment. However, the year also involved other events and milestones. I acted up into a higher level at work (and then thanked my workplace for the privilege by going on maternity leave...); we had family visit who we hadn't seen since leaving Australia in 2014 (my mother-in-law in April; my brother-in-law and his partner in August; my brother in October), as well as a return visit from my parents; we had a week in the Forest of Dean; and we explored more of the countryside around our new (now new-ish) home in Kent.

From Goodreads I can estimate reading 67 books (give or take the odd one I filed late or not at all). I gave lots of books 4/5 or higher so will limit my list here to those that got the highest 5/5 rating;
  • At The Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
  • Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
  • Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
  • Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine
  • Longbourn by Jo Baker
  • Poseidon's Wake by Alastair Reynolds
  • Still Life with Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen
  • The Boleyn Trilogy by Laura Andersen (3 books, all excellent)
  • The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd by James Rebanks
  • The Memory House by Linda Goodnight
  • The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

I saw one film at the cinema (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children) - the only cinema-based film I have watched in the last 2 years! However, we watched nearly 30 films recorded off TV at home. Of these, I gave 8/10 or higher to;
  • 12 Years A Slave
  • Amy
  • Ex Machina
  • Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Iron Man 3
  • Saving Mr Banks
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Fifth Estate
  • The Way Way Back
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Wolverine
  • Zodiac

I post blogging details on my blog anniversary in March, but will note now that I shared 95 posts - considerably fewer than the 142 of 2015 and the 170-180 odd of the previous years. Pregnancy and a new baby will do that to you. 

I ran no races in 2016 (again, pregnancy and a new baby will do that) but did run 442 miles (710km) across the year. This is not very many by my usual standards, but I am proud to have run throughout pregnancy. I also started pilates, first pregnancy pilates and now mother/baby pilates, and the benefits for my back have been huge.

Looking ahead to 2017? I have 6 key aspirations:
  1. Run a half marathon in the latter half of the year. This would be my first race in 2 years and gives me a focal point for increasing my mileage back to the 13.1 level.
  2. Keep up pilates. This may not always be in the form of a weekly class, as when I am back at work that may not be feasible. However, the benefits of regular pilates have been so pronounced for me that I would be foolish not to prioritise keeping it in my routine.
  3. Find a routine for advance meal preparation. Whilst on maternity leave this isn't necessary, but when I return to work in June it will be a balancing act to fit everything in. I like the idea of setting aside an hour or two on a weekend to chop vegetables or prepare key staples.
  4. Related to (3), cut down on food packaging. For someone that likes to eat whole, natural foods where possible, I still buy a lot of packaged / processed foods. These are more expensive and aren't great for me or the environment. I'd like to get better at buying core ingredients in bulk and making my own versions of things wherever possible. Ideally packaged items would be a treat and not a weekly purchase.
  5. Get to the outstanding items on our 'To Organise' list at home - most pressing, buying a rug for our living room, a mirror to hang over our fireplace, and investigating options for putting a fire into the fireplace. 
  6. Live in the present more than I'm inclined to do. This will be a tough one to evaluate, but I am terrible at looking back and mulling over past events, and then looking forward and worrying about future ones. I like to plan and will always have that tendency, but I risk missing out on wonderful moments because I am not mindful enough to appreciate them. The arrival of Mini Bite has highlighted this to me in a new way and I would like to stay in the present a little more often.

What were key highlights from your 2016, and/or what do you hope the next year will bring?


  1. Pregnancy and a new baby makes for great change and I am sure next year will bring more with returning to work - I have slipped into more prepackaged foods this year and would also like less of it in my life. Your list of books has prompted me to look out some more Anna Quindlen as I have loved the books of hers that I have read - though I read books at a much slower rate than you. And I love your snowy photos - are you looking at a wood fire or a gas fire for your fireplace (E always calls the heater "the fire" - one of those quirky british or scottish expressions that I have got used to)

    1. We would love a wood fire but as our original chimneys / fireplaces have been removed we need to look at gas - probably also simpler and easier, especially with a little one!


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  2. It looks like youve got a good (and mostly importantly, an achievable!) list of goals for 2017! Im with you on the meal prep and cutting down on food packaging!

  3. Your goals are very good ones. Very attainable. #6 is my favourite, it's something I should prioritize myself.
    I liked that you posted your favourite books & movies from the previous year, it will give me ideas for what to read and watch ;)
    442 miles last year is amazing I think! It seems like quite a lot to me and I'm a runner. I'm not even sure how many miles I ran last year. It's an idea to keep track year to year to compare progress.
    Sounds like 2016 was a remarkable year for you.

  4. Congratulations on so much running and reading! I really empathise with the last three of your goals, in particular number four. I did want to shout 'yes! that!' when I read it. I don't buy a lot of things, I don't generate a lot of packaging in general, but when I look at the stuff that wraps my food, I'm in horror. I hope you achieve all those goals, and I'd love to read posts about how it all goes!

    1. It's awful, isn't it, when you really look at the packaging coming out of your kitchen! Good luck with your own efforts at it :-)

  5. Such a wonderful year for you Kari (especially the arrival of Mini Bite!)! I have the same goal for 2017 to reduce the amount of food packaging we go through - I am conscious of cooking food from scratch and I find that has reduced our food packaging, but there is definitely still room for improvement!

    1. Thanks Kyra - and it will be a big year for you!

  6. I read this post when you originally posted it (at work) did not comment then. I am reading it again today and taking it in.
    Motherhood is a new phase/open chapter for you and I am so happy for you, but I understand too that you continue to have many other aspirations; and pleasing that they are all achievable.
    I watched five movies at the cinema (which made up for the five years of not seeing any) and only enjoyed one - same as you as Iam a Tim Burton fan, enjoyed the first half, the end was well...not so good. Soem of the movies you have mentioned i have watched on DVD at home.

    We too want a log fire in our home, its on our home improvement home wish-list, but its a long list with the avocado bathroom needing modernising and the kitchen too.

    I don't do reflections, though admire those bloggers that do - i have in the past started writing up reflections and then never posted as they brought me down - Year of the slug 2014. But I am encouraged by your post here and may be inspired to write one of my own. I don't do resolutions though, but have begun to set goals and/or aspirations, so maybe I will share too.

    Wishing you the best Kari for 2017 x

    1. Thanks so much Shaheen and if you do share your aspirations I will be pleased to read them. I wish you all the best for 2017 and whatever goals you set, privately or publicly.


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