It’s become a tradition here on this little old blog to put together a Nailed It list at the end of the year. It’s a chance to look back on the year and celebrate things that you’re proud of — those things that when you do them, you instinctively say to yourself (or out loud) “Nailed it,” while conjuring up your best Fat Amy impression.
These may not be things that you (or I) specifically stated as a goal for the year or even something that you (or I) knew that I wanted to achieve. But when you do, something clicks inside and you’re proud of yourself.
To be honest, I totally forgot about this tradition until I read Allie’s post the other day asking the question, “Is it ever good enough?”
I’m the first to admit that I’m a Class A, Type A overachiever. Nothing ever is or feels good enough. I’m the first to downplay any achievement and move on to the next shiny goal without pausing to acknowledge what I just finished. That’s what makes this list both a challenge and a delight.
Let’s just be clear. 2016 was a weird year, full of ups and downs. It’s felt much longer than 365 days. It’s felt more like 10 years.
Here’s my Top 5 Nailed It List for 2016.
1. I turned 40.
OK, it’s not like I had any choice in this but what I’m proud of is that I didn’t freak out. It wasn’t the end of the world as many would have you believe and I don’t feel like my best years are behind me. I think that’s because I learned a lot about life and confidence in my 30s and I’m proud of these lessons. Plus, I’m excited about what’s ahead.
2. I wrote words that I was proud to share.
I love writing personal essays. A big part of the reason I started this blog was to share stories that I hoped would resonate with other people — so that maybe we wouldn’t feel so alone and maybe we could lift each other up. But writing essays is not easy. It often involves a lot of reflection and grappling with uncomfortable emotions and experiences in order to make sense of them.
In February, I wrote about the challenges of passing on my Chinese heritage and traditions to my kids and the responsibility I feel to help them understand where they come from when I don’t have a handle on it myself. It was a hard truth to admit to myself and share publicly. But I’m glad I did.
The essay ended up in The Washington Post, both online and in the print edition, and was syndicated by the South China Morning Post. And I received so much amazing feedback from others who also struggle with this. It reminds me that I do have stories worthy of telling, which is something that I often struggle with.
Funny, that week another essay of mine was published. This one was less serious — about my experience going 30 days without sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy and soy — and was picked up by Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Delish and Dr. Oz. Between those two essays, more people read my words during that first week in February than like ever.
3. I wrote for Runner’s World.
The print edition of Runner’s World was on my bucket list of publications I dreamed of breaking into. This year, I wrote three stories for them — one of which I pitched way back in June 2015 and finally made it into print in the March 2016 issue. Yes, 10 months.
It goes to show that this world of freelance writing takes a lot of patience, persistence and a really thick skin. I don’t have an abundant supply of those three traits and I easily get discouraged when it feels like I send pitches and essays out into a great abyss. I question what I’m doing and if I have what it takes to be a writer and journalist.
This experience reminds me that there are so many different factors at play when it comes to writing and pitching, so many factors that are beyond my control and so much of it feels like luck. The things I can do? Keep plugging away and doing my best to get high quality pitches and stories out the door.
4. Half marathon training cycle
I seriously fell back in love with running this year. What I’m proud of? That I slowly rebuilt my running base (with amazing help from Jess of course!) so that I was in a good place when I started half marathon training this summer. That I didn’t get caught up in numbers or what I *should* be doing and listened to my body. That I found faster paces than I thought I’d be able to run — and to be able to run them comfortable.
Of course that started to fall apart when I started training for a specific goal race and time but even in that experience, I learned a whole hell of a lot about me, my mental strength and that I never ever want to feel like I’m giving up on myself again.
5. Soul-nourishing trips
When I look back on the year, I think about the amazing trips I went on — San Juan Islands, the Canadian Rockies (still by far one of the best trips ever) and Vermont for Rise.Run.Retreat. Yes, the adventures and time spent playing outside were incredible but I got to spend time with an incredible women on each of these trips — my sister and close family friends, my best friend and badass runners.
What I realized is that this time together with my female friends is good for my soul and lets me re-connect with me as an individual person outside of being a mom and wife and everything else back home.
Let’s hear it. What on your Nailed It list?
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