My Top 16 of 2016

I wasn’t going to post a list this year because I think boiling a year down to a list is tough, but it’s the last day of the year and I was just inspired by seeing some other friends post their lists.

Here it is, the now 3rd annual My Top of The Year things I thought were great. And of course, this isn’t totally comprehensive because every day is awesome (cue the Lego Movie Song). Here it goes in no particular order:

Weekly Gratefulness Journaling – every week I have a recurring to-do item in my to-do app (todoist) that prompts me to write down anything that pops into my head from the past week about what I am grateful for, or special moments, etc.. I’ve been doing for more than this year but this is the first full year I have it all captured where I can go back and look. Thanks to three to five quick minutes a week I can now go back and see so many small things that may have been forgotten or the small amazing parts of bigger things (like the first time Z said ‘it hit me in the nuts’ or ‘thingy-a-ma-jiggy’ to when a friend launched his online course to the moment an idea popped in my head that later became a gift for someone). I hope to find more quick, small things to add (or delete) from my day/week that bring exponential positive impact. (toying with the idea of sticking to the 5-minute journal practice for 2017 as I did it some in 2016 and it was great)

Family & Friends – there are so many amazing things I’d put about my family it would be more than I could ever write. The same is true for my friends. I couldn’t possibly capture everything. In looking back and thinking about the year though I couldn’t help but think of some of the bigger moments with the family that were just as special as the small ones everyday like prepping for N’s birthday, Z & Zo skiing for the first time, waking up on New Years in a hotel overlooking the parade, taking the kids on the paddleboard, dinner dates, Zo’s book, Christmas Orchestra, Poconos Weekend, facetiming with each other from around the world, and just about everything else.

Burning Man – once again BM makes the list. This year was SO different than my first and while both years were great – this one was exceptional in so many ways. Some of them even being how bad certain parts were. You learn a lot about yourself in tough situations and BM can be one of the toughest. At the same time, it’s one of the greatest places on earth with the best people ever and this year was even truer to that statement – especially the greatest people aspect. You guys rock! Getting a chance to experience it with one of my best friends – Lenzini – was also amazing (Cheers to Rosie’s Diner)! There was also an incredibly special moment on the man burn night where Lenzini and I were talking and I realized that since he and I have been friends since Kindergarten that maybe, just maybe Z and Zo are making friends now that they’ll have 30+ years from now.

Meditating – at the end of 2015 I set a goal to start a mindfulness practice and meditating. I’ve been wanting to try it for a while and just never got around to it. Thankfully, 2016 I really jumped in and ended up meditating on average 6.5 days a week (thank you to my data tracker where I mark off which days I did certain things.) I also was fortunate enough to attend a silent mindfulness meditation retreat at the Shambhala Center in Colorado and found it an amazing way to enhance my understanding. I can’t say very tangibly what it’s ‘done’ for me like I know X or Y, but it’s been profound on so many levels I intend to continue and have some great ideas on how to use this base to now extend into focusing my practice on specific areas like more mindfully eating.

Work – this year was one of my best and most fulfilling years of working since I graduated college. It was also one of the hardest. I think the two often go hand in hand. In the last third of the year I also moved into a new role that seems to be more aligned with my values and passion than any I’ve ever had. I started the year working with amazing people, and finished the year getting to work with even more amazing people. 2017 is going to rock!

TED Summit – Getting to spend a week in the woods, with incredibly smart people seems like it would be perfect. Getting a chance to do it in Banff, with super incredibly smart people (not including myself in that bucket) made it even better. Being a part of shaping the future of TED was great, doing it while rock climbing (I didn’t realize how much I miss that) and other great adventures with friends from the TED/TEDx Community over the years was even better.

Community – felt like I had the chance to get back to doing some more stuff ‘in the Community’ this year. Whether it was the random things like Moorestown Day and a Santa Mailbox or the more specific like helping TEDxPhiladelphia get started again I really enjoyed trying to find ways to connect to more local, physical communities vs. the online world.

ChinaI had to go to I was lucky enough to get to go to China a couple times for work in the last 14 months. Thanks to that not only did I get the chance to do some amazing work stuff in China, I also got the chance to stop by Shanghai Disney Land and tour the Great Wall of China. I’m a huge Disney lover so getting the chance to visit a brand new park was awesome. I was also able to facetime with the kids while I met Mickey and rode the Buzz Lightyear ride which made it fun to feel ‘connected’ to them while I was homesick thousands of miles away. The Great Wall of China was breathtaking. While standing on the wall it also flashed in my head that visiting this place has been on my life goals list since 2002. It made me even more grateful to have a job and work for a Company where I get to work across the world, a great balance to the tough realities of traveling a lot in 2016.

Neighbors – maybe this also fits under Community, but I called it out because having amazing neighbors continues to make our neighborhood great. I’m sure it will continue to get even better too. Having friends online or who you see 2X a year is great and I’m fortunate to have many of those types too. Having friends that you can look across your driveway to or walk around the cul-de-sac to or down the block (or drive 3 miles across town to) make everyday life even better. Plus, at this point I think we’ve found a ridiculously fun new Black Friday night tradition at a local karaoke place.

Piano – getting a piano in the house was a super addition in 2016. The kids now take piano lessons and I learned how to play a couple Christmas songs from YouTube. I think art education in kids is critical and I love seeing them at the piano. Also, we took a video of me playing two Christmas carols on the piano with the kids singing them and that pretty much is like the greatest video I can ever think of.

Travel – I couldn’t talk about 2016 without talking about traveling. At the end of 2015 I said how happy I was to get back to global travel yet I hoped some of it slowed down. Well, thanks to some happenings at work, it only sped up – and to more places. While it was very tough in some ways, it was amazing in others. I learned about so many places and experienced so many things I just wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. I also tried to talk to the kids about some of it and where I was going before I would leave for a trip so hopefully they will be influenced to travel when they are older as well. Favorite places for the year: Russia, China, Singapore, Prague, London, Banff.

Steak Club – well, this is sort of a secret dinner club so I can’t really say too much (ha, ha, ha). But, let’s just say that getting together every couple months with a great group of people for a dinner and conversation while integrating aspects of the historical Beef & Liberty Society of Great Britain can be amazing. Along with that we also added to it the Ratz Restaurant sing-along this year. Breaking bread.

The Election – this is an interesting one. I’m putting this on the list not at all because of a leaning towards any specific political side or agenda whatsoever or any type of statement about who won/who didn’t. I’m adding it to the list because I think it’s been – and will continue to be – an incredibly great learning opportunity. I learned so much more about myself and am learning so much more about the world and the people in it by seeing how everyone is handling the election and the results. I have forgotten just about everything about every Presidential election so far in my life, I know this one will impact me much differently. No matter what side anyone is on, I hope it also galvanizes more people to do more for what they believe in.

Education – when I first graduated undergrad I kept continuing my education in many ways and also worked to obtain professional certifications in areas in which I was working. It’s been a while since I looked at any types of certifications, but am always taking online classes in something just to keep learning. So, this year I figured I’d go for a couple different certifications to see what it was like and it was a great way to get back to having a specific educational goal and the testing of skills through certification exams and processes. Learning something for a particular purpose (like being able to play Christmas carols on the piano or pass a certification exam) was a nice different approach vs. just digesting the info (which is great too though.)

Side Projects – I get to work with amazing people both at work, and outside of work. I feel like side projects are always an important part of my life and have ranged from small things to big. This year some especially big side projects took off (like getting some things done around the house and an upcoming announcement which I just received final proofs of on Dec. 28th so technically it counts towards this year). There were also a ton of smaller and medium sized things. I think you can tell a lot about people by their side projects. I wanted to call out side projects this time because of how lucky I am to get to work with different people on them. This year Steve P. and Catherine were incredible in how much they helped shape my thinking, how much I learned from them, and how much we got done.

Everything – I wish it was 2099 so I could write 99 things or maybe I should just do 2,016 things because there are so many GREAT things that happen every week, every day, every month that it’s impossible to just list 16. Yes, there are plenty of things that didn’t go well this year (my weight in last two months of the year, not writing enough, not taking enough time to teach Z to ride w/o training wheels, and more) and analyzing those are important to learn from and ensure it doesn’t continue. But, focusing on the positive, looking for the good, remembering how unbelievably good we have it in life and finding something to be grateful for in every situation means that no matter what happened in 2016 or what’s going to happen in any future year it will all be amazing. Life is amazing. I’m the luckiest guy in the world to get to do it with my family and friends.

Cheers to 2016, let’s make 2017 even more amazing!

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