The Reflection Pool

My “20 for 2020” List

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and many other books, has initiated a fun way to think about things you might want to accomplish in a year. She and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, who co-hosts the Happier podcast with her, started back in 2018 with an annual list. Part to do list and part semi-resolutions, the 20 for 2020 list gathers some thinking about what the year might bring.

Image by Monfocus from Pixabay

I wrote my list in January and have been working on it. It’s enjoyable and not too stressful. These are things I really want to do and try; writing them down has given me a little extra push to follow through. I’m assessing as I go, so we’ll see what happens!

I’ve decided to publish my list here as an extra piece of accountability. Maybe someone will come up with a brilliant idea to help me out or even want to tackle one of these with me? Let me know!

Here’s my list:

  1. Get a thistle tattoo.
  2. Try intermittent fasting 1x a week.
  3. Do 10 “real” push ups.
  4. Make ice cream two times.
  5. Go on a writing retreat.
  6. Read three books on writing.
  7. Attend a writing course.
  8. Do a 5 km open water swim.
  9. Visit London and another part of Europe.
  10. Get married.
  11. Write 2 blog posts per month.
  12. Keep a one sentence journal.
  13. Choose a signature colour.
  14. Grow my hair longer.
  15. Start a weekly family update.
  16. Read the bible more.
  17. Create a photobook.
  18. Get a new kitchen.
  19. Get a mammogram.
  20. Call my parents more often.

I’ll post an update in a few weeks.

GRACE – #Oneword for 2017

I’m ready to start the new year.

In 2016, I chose essential as my one word. It proved to be the perfect choice as I reflected throughout the year about how to pare down what I spend my time on to that which I consider most important. I also successfully experimented with various ways to use less time on those things that I have to get done, but don’t consider particularly enjoyable. The idea of Essentialism is now embedded in my thinking and my actions.

Photo Credit: Deida 1 Flickr via Compfight cc

The word grace encompasses thinking that I’ve been doing for the past few months. Ideas of forgiveness, love, gratitude and growth have all been present for me. I finally decided on it after finishing Wab Kinew‘s The Reason You Walk, a heartfelt meditation on reconciliation, love and forgiveness. “To be hurt, yet forgive. To do wrong, but forgive yourself. To depart from this world feeling only love. This is the reason you walk.” (p.268)

Then, as often happens, I began to see references to grace everywhere. Arthur C. Brooks wrote recently how powerful it might be to forgive another person this very day and how that small act can make the world better. Dan Rockwell offered leadership advice on How to Respond with Grace and Resolve When Teammates Disengage. A walk in the Royal Botanical Gardens brought out the chickadees!

This year, I want to consider deeply how to find the grace to forgive and love throughout all areas of my life, not just when it’s easy.  It’s scary because I’m sure I won’t be 100% successful. That means grace is my best word for 2017.



My #oneword post for 2016 is here, just before the end of January, which I’m rationalizing as being better late than never. My 2015 #oneword was change, and it seemed to influence what actually happened in my professional life.  I experienced many changes including new colleagues on our senior team and new trustees to work with. The year culminated in a new district structure for school support and leadership capacity building and 12 new schools to work with. These exciting changes full of potential have led to think about a very different word for 2016. I hope it influences my life as much as the word change did.

IMG_0018Wayne Joudrie, a connector and leader, recently shared the book essentialism: The disciplined pursuit of less by Greg McKeown. It has inspired my #oneword for this year: ESSENTIAL.

I’ve always believed that we as a western society and by extension, me, do way too much. Whether it’s in our personal or professional lives, it’s a badge of honour to be super busy (see Dean Shareski’s great post on this), to not get enough sleep or to be behind on emails. Some people I know seem to take pleasure in telling others how many emails they get in a day. I have to be honest, this doesn’t seem right to me. We need time to think, to reflect, to breathe, to sleep.

Then there are the initiatives. This might have become a dirty word for some. In education, we see a lot of top down initiatives in all areas. Ask any teacher, principal or superintendent and they’ll shake their head knowingly, maybe roll their eyes, and rhyme off the various initiatives that have come down in the last few years. To be fair, every year people admit and agree that maybe we’re trying to do too much and be everything to everybody, but then the flood waters rise and wash back over us.

So I want to figure out what’s essential. I want to know what’s more important than anything else and focus on that. And I want to say “no” gracefully and courageously.

Do you know what’s essential for you?