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Loss & Comfort: Thoughts about 2012 & the New Year

“My grief is tremendous, but my love is bigger. So is yours.”
—Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things

Every year, I conduct an annual review. I write about what went well in the past year and what I’d like to see happen in the year ahead. I also pick a word that will become my theme in the new year. As I reflected on 2012, I reviewed a lot of categories in my life, including relationships, health, finances, and my business life too. Below are a few highlights I wanted to share with you.

The Theme & Highlights from 2012

My word for 2012 was experiment because I wanted to experiment with new projects and be open to big life changes too; all of which happened. On the business side of things, I renewed my commitment to photography, started teaching online classes, and I launched my first print book. All of which made me really happy and were part of the year’s theme.

On the other hand, my personal life was filled with tremendous loss. Illness, death, alcoholism, job losses, and violence touched members of my family. The more I write about 2012, the more I’m stuck by how much loss my family experienced.

For me the year was defined by my dad’s illness, helping take care of him, and his subsequent death in June. In between all of that, I’ve tried to honor my grief, be open to happiness, and get my work done. For example, when I received the copyedits for my book I was terrified that I would not be able to finish the edits. Thanks to Logan, my amazing husband, and good friends I turned the manuscript in on time. They didn’t do my work for me, but they were there for me when I thought everything was going to fall apart.

I’m so grateful for their continued love and support because grief is a funny thing. It’s the little things that make me think of my dad, like hearing oldies on the radio, the way the clouds move across the sky, and holiday parades. I know his spirt is everywhere and that brings me comfort, even when I’m sad.

The hard moments over the past year have made me stronger and a little more courageous. I’m determined to follow my dreams and focus on the most important things in life, like relationships, doing work I love, and taking care of my health. I’d encourage all of you to do the same because life is uncertain and we’ll never know how our lives will unfold. Life is too short to spend chasing after status and stuff. It’s not what truly matters. At least not for me. I have just enough; enough money to pay my bills, time to be with family, and a wonderful husband. Life isn’t always easy, but I believe that hope emerges from struggle. Surprisingly, dealing with the difficult stuff can bring more joy and happiness into our lives.

What’s happening in 2013?

My word/theme for 2013 is comfort. Comfort defined is:

1: to give strength and hope to : cheer
2: to ease the grief or trouble of : console

After a year filled with so much loss, I believe my work and personal projects will give me comfort as I move through my everyday life. I’m planning a lot of exciting work projects for 2013, which include working on a new print book idea and teaching more ecourses too. On the personal side of things, I’m going to focus on my health, relationships, and filling my weekends with fun mini-adventures.

Your Annual Review

If you want to do a annual review, but aren’t sure how to get started read the following suggestions I offered last year:

  • As you get ready to start you own annual review, think about the things in your life that are important to you. Begin by brainstorming different life categories like travel, work, relationships, money management, and more. As you review the categories, decide on a theme for the upcoming year. I think of my themes as an overarching goal that will touch all areas of my life.
  • After you have brainstormed all your life categories, start writing your thoughts down. Just write and don’t worry about grammar or how your sentences sound. Most of the time, the first draft is a shitty draft. So don’t be hard on yourself. The important thing is to get your thoughts on a piece of paper or in a private text edit program.
  • As you think about each category, consider the good, bad, and surprising things that have happened to you in the past year. Ask yourself what went well and what didn’t go so good.
  • Talk about your review with friends and family members. Ask them if you missed anything on your list. Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own head and forget about important events.
  • If you’re a blogger, share your review with the world. And if you don’t blog, share the results with good friends and family members.

Thank you!

RowdyKittens wouldn’t exist without awesome readers like you. Thank you for buying my books, enrolling in my ecourses, purchasing photos and reading the blog. I couldn’t do this work without your support. I appreciate it!

A Question . . .

What’s your theme/word for 2013?


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dan Garner November 29, 2012, 9:43 am

    I’m sorry 2012 was so hard for you. Your story is very inspiring. My wife and I are both reading your book.

    I love your annual review idea.

    My theme for 2013 will be about getting OUT of my comfort zone. I’ve been in it too long. 2013 will be about expanding my boundaries. I’m going to write more, I’m going to start a small business, and take on a few key hobbies. I am going to do some new and amazing things. I’m going to cherish this life like I should have always done.

    Thanks for your great work,

    Dan @ ZenPresence

  • Laurie November 29, 2012, 10:39 am

    Hi Tammy, I’ve been enjoying your photos on Facebook, especially the storm cloud ones…marvelous 🙂

    Two years ago your work was instrumental in my decisions to change my own life for the better – thank you! My word for 2011 was Trust, learning to trust myself and others through massive life changes. My word for 2012 has been Allowing, accepting who I am and allowing my real self to shine. Those are serious, heavy themes…and so, after a couple years of intense evolving, my word for 2013 is DELIGHT, in which I hope to continue to let go of all the old stories and channel the joy and awesomeness of my new story, my new life.

    Thanks for all you do, and blessings to you, Logan, cats, and tiny home 🙂

  • Kathy Gabriel November 29, 2012, 11:42 am

    Thanks for sharing the trials and the triumphs of 2012. No doubt there will be more in 2013.
    I believe that you will weather them with the same grace that you have shared them.

    My word for 2012 is ‘unscripted’. It came in late last year and I kept the same word for 2012. For 2013 it will be the same. It is the word that best describes my life since it took a dramatic turn in 2009. Embracing it all with tears and laughter.

    As a blogger I’m already working on your last suggestion.

    Thank you for all your good words.

  • Claire/Just a little less November 29, 2012, 12:05 pm

    Hi, I have been amazed how you have managed to deal with your Dad’s death so gracefully.
    I feel inspired to write a review of this year – exciting as I’m new to blogging. However, I need to consider a word for the new year (too many are going through my mind right now). It could be FOCUS xo

  • Kathi November 29, 2012, 12:33 pm

    My word for 2012 was “becoming.” As in transformation, but with the added bonus of also being a synonym for beautiful. 🙂

    My word for 2013 is “intentional.” As in living life with purposeful intent (proactive instead of reactive).

    Thanks for this post and I hope you get lots of comments on it. I love reading about other people’s words. So many good ones to choose from!

  • Rebecca November 29, 2012, 2:42 pm

    I know that 2012 has been tough for you and hopefully it will get better/will be better.

    For me my theme this year is experiment….I need to just get out of my rut and just go for it and stop worrying about what people aka family and friends think about how I live my life. Plus wanting to try new things be it a new yoga pose (yoga is my favorite exercise and stress reliever), new recipe, new way to cook, way to dance, way to meditate, and just wanting new experiences in general.

    Take care and I know the year is not over yet but, I hope with the holidays coming up that they are filled with joy, laughter, fun, and just great memories.

  • Mopsa November 29, 2012, 5:10 pm

    Beautiful post, Tammy. It’s inspiring to read about your brave, honest and simple approach towards life.

    This got me thinking about a possible theme for my 2013, and it can be, for example “encounter” – as in encounter life (with all it’s good and bad), instead of running away/hiding from it, which, sadly, is my ingrained pattern.

  • Anonymous November 29, 2012, 6:50 pm

    Your pictures are AMAZING!!!!!!!!

  • Paul - The Kind Little Blogger November 29, 2012, 8:20 pm

    So much to think about. You’re good like that Tammy, getting me thinking! 🙂

  • Ekta November 29, 2012, 9:32 pm

    Namaste Tammy,

    Thanks for the lovely posts.
    My theme for 2013 is “Enter each day empty-handed, and full-hearted ”
    Have a beautiful day ahead.
    God bless!


  • Anonymous November 29, 2012, 11:12 pm

    My word for 2013 would be “condition”, as in getting myself and my horse ready for The Tevis.

    I really enjoy reading your blog. I nominated you for The Liebster Award. I really think you deserve that!


  • shaloo November 29, 2012, 11:51 pm

    Hi Tammy

    Thanks for the beautiful pics you share on your blog!
    My theme for 2013 is ‘“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” So I am going to focus on living in the present moment and learning new skills. I want to learn astrology & numerology in the coming year.

  • MarieG November 30, 2012, 7:05 am

    I love the idea of doing an annual review rather than simply setting goals for the New Year, which many times are the same goals or resolutions as last year! If we review our entire year first, we can make decisions about what is important to us right now in our current life and not make some arbitrary resolution.

    MarieG LifeSimplyBalanced.com

  • Sandra Pawula November 30, 2012, 10:50 am

    What a tough year it’s been for you Tammy. But you came through with so much heart, love, and insight. I’m amazed by you!

    My word for 2013 is “nying je”! It’s a Tibetan word that encompasses all the following qualities:
    *generosity of spirit

    You could say compassion in short, but really it’s compassion in all it’s facets.

  • Alicia November 30, 2012, 12:31 pm

    Looking back, my word for 2012 was “simplicity.” I have accomplished so much – setting boundaries and paying off four major loans and accounts. In fact, some of the lessons learned during the past three months were the result of micro-actions from your book. Thanks, Tammy!!!

    My theme for 2013: hearth.

  • Katie November 30, 2012, 7:18 pm

    Tammy, it has been a pleasure to watch you walk with grace this year. Thank you for daring greatly and sharing the journey with us – whatever that looked like when you sat down to write your posts.

    In the past I’ve had trouble with picking a theme or word to focus on, but in 2013 I want to focus on REAL. Real food, being real with people (authenticity), and real feelings (compassion).

    Thanks to you (and Vic) for the inspiration for the annual review.

  • Jill Salahub December 1, 2012, 5:38 am

    Inspired specifically by you (I loved your book so much–specifically how honest you were about who you were, what your life was like when you started to make the shift, how it shows that “if I can do this, anyone can do this,” love your blog, your pictures, your tiny house, your effort), and Courtney Carver of http://bemorewithless.com/, in the next year I am returning to what has called to me for the past 15 years, when I first read the book Voluntary Simplicity and saw the PBS documentary Affluenza (http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/affluenza/), and my word is Simplicity. Thank you for continuing to be a resource as I stop thinking and dreaming and take my first steps into the process.

    • Jill Salahub December 4, 2012, 11:00 am

      Oh no! Turns out, I lied. I was so sure I knew what this year’s word would be: simplicity. I’ve been thinking and writing about it for weeks, was so certain. It seemed so right, so perfect, just what I needed for the coming year. But then something magic happened as I was working on a blog post announcing my word. I was making an image to capture my word, a picture I took from my front porch on Thanksgiving morning, where the crow flying across the sky was a happy accident. I added the word “simplicity” and it just didn’t look right. Font after font, different colors and sizes and weights and placement, and it still looked off, wrong somehow. I started considering the qualities of the word. Freedom and ease came immediately to mind. Freedom. Hmmm. There was something about that, so I tried it with the image: perfect. That’s my word. Freedom: simplicity, space, ease, surrender, clarity. “The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; liberty, independence; the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved; being physically unrestricted and able to move easily; self-determination, open, opportunity, play, joy.” I like how that sounds. No, actually I love how that sounds.

  • Karla Telega December 4, 2012, 1:07 am

    Everybody has such inspirational words. Mine would be BULLDOZER. I quit my job and started writing a few years ago. It certainly has boiled my life down to essentials. The common element in both my fiction and my upcoming “bulldozer” book is humor. It may seem frivolous, but I feel like it’s a gift I can give to others. I just don’t see how people can get through life without laughter.

  • Nicole December 7, 2012, 4:42 pm

    The Universe is so clever sometimes. I haven’t been on your site in quite some time, and all of a sudden here I am. I’m so happy to see you’re doing well & embracing so much.

    I am sorry to hear of the loss of your dad. I hope you find comfort in his memory, and smile often when you think of him.

    My word for 2013 (it’s my first time doing this, by the way) is Abundance, mostly because it makes me oh-so-uncomfortable. In fact, I daresay I want it to be 2014 already, so I can pick a word I actually like, like Calm or Joy or something. 🙂

    Peace, love & light to you and yours, Tammy. Thanks for sharing your story with the world.

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