How To Measure a Year?
Measuring A Year: Sticking to the Plan (Kinda)

Measuring A Year: Always In the Background

So, yesterday I explained that I've begun my "annual review" process. I do this every year -- looking back before looking ahead. I also explained that - for me - counting things (minutes, pages read, workouts completed, etc.) is not all that useful or relevant. I'm looking for deeper revelations here!  I'm looking to find (in the words of Albert Einstein in the quote I shared yesterday) . . . 

the things that count that can't be counted!

Why do I go through this process at all you may ask? Well. For me, reflecting on the year-just-ending helps me understand myself. It helps me grow and become the person I was meant to be. It let's me know if I'm doing what I set out to do/living how I wanted to be living back at the beginning of the year.

USUALLY, this is what my looking-back process looks like, in a nutshell:

  • I review my intentions for the year.
  • I identify what worked (the highlights).
  • I identify what didn't work (the lowlights).
  • Then, I figure out where I want to head next.

I say usually . . . because 2020 has been anything but a "usually" kind of year! So I'm mixing things up a bit this year. I did begin with reviewing my intentions (more about that tomorrow.) But instead of thinking about the highlights next - like usual, I decided to tackle those lowlights right out of the gate. Because . . . those lowlights? They kind of serve as the backdrop for (nearly) the entire year, and I wanted to address the the elephant sitting in the room.

IMG_1132 2

(Since the pandemic began, I've been taking regular, random selfies. They are very real. I'll share some this week.)

Let me begin with a story . . . 

Way, way back in time when my kids were very young (Erin just 5 and Brian 2, so we must be talking . . . 1994 here), we took a long car trip to visit family back in Wyoming. (My kids' ages are set in time for me, because Brian had a tiny cast on his tiny arm.) (Bed jumping with Daddy.) (I wan't home.) Anyway. While we were visiting, my sister-in-law and I thought it might be nice to have a group photo taken for my in-laws of all the grandchildren together (there were 5 of them at the time -- all under 6). And I had the brilliant idea of inviting my sister to bring her daughter (also 6) to the photo shoot so we could have my kids doing double-duty for ANOTHER photo for my parents of their 3 grandchildren. As you might imagine, 6 excited children under the age of 6 barging into the Sears photo department went . . . about as well as you'd think. We had out-of-control excitement. We had sibling squabbles. We had crying. We had at least one (and I think two) meltdowns. We had poopy pants. We had whining. We had an exasperated photographer. And we had three moms who were trying their best - and failing miserably - all while laughing hysterically. In short, we had very little cooperation anywhere. I remember the conversation going like this . . . 

Photographer: Maybe we should try again another day?
My sister: Like hell.
Me: Just take the flipping photo.
My sister-in-law: Can we have a burning-building background, please???

The photos (which he finally did take) are priceless -- and would only have been enhanced by that burning-building background we asked for! (We had a kid crying, a pouter or two, someone poking someone else, and Brian waving his cast around wildly.)  (In the best shot.) (If I could find it, I'd share it.)

And the point of that???
Some years just have a burning-building in the background.
And 2020 was one of them!

As I looked back on my 2020, I see a lot of me flailing around . . . in front of a burning-building-background.

Most of the really horrible things that have been happening this year . . . and they are really horrible things . . . have had no direct impact on the life I've been living, day-to-day. I've been safe and healthy and isolated here in my privileged little bubble.

And yet, I felt broken.
All year.

My "lowlights" for 2020 . . . look very different than in "usual" years. This year, it was just a constant, relentless, horrible background noise. All the time. Every day. It impacted everything else that happened this year. Colors were less sharp. The air was thicker. Burdens were heavier. Chores more tedious. I'm pretty sure gravity pulled me down with more force this year.

Burning building background.
Every day.


Today is the final day for Honoré to host our "one little word" monthly updates for 2020. Be sure to check out what everyone has to say. As for me? I'm not ready with a post yet. But I'll share sometime next month.


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Of course I thoroughly enjoyed that story (!!)--and I also really appreciate how you take your time with the looking back part of your process. (You'll see why when you get my OneWordPrompt. Let's just say you could have written it!) Your post has me thinking that my future self would value a few days' retreat in this 'between time' dedicate to reflection. Thank you for sharing your lowlights. Your sentence 'the air was thicker' stands out as particularly sentient to me. xo


I think we have all had that experience with our children. You want the *perfect* photo. The child has other plans. LOL


Sometimes it's better to accept the background (and reality), even if it's a burning building and not the (figurative) unicorns and rainbows we might have liked better. That is something that 2020 has hit me over the head with time and time again, and maybe someday I'll even learn and be able to carry the lesson into 2021.


Great story Kym! Had me laughing. I'm not one for analyzing the past or reviewing it really in any depth. I'm more a "let's just get on with it" type of person. And, although I chose a word the past few years, I never "did" anything with it. Seemed too much like school work to me. So I am not picking one this year...rather just enjoying the fact that 2020 is wrapping up and 2021 will be a new adventure.


Thank you for this post! Yeah... the year with all the things on fire was most certainly this year. I struggled with so many things. Lots of which you mention... it was so hard. One I do not care to ever repeat! lol

I am excited to see what you choose for next year!

Julia in KW

Omgoodness! I smirked out loud! The scene at the photographer’s is very well drawn! It might have felt like a low point, but think of the laughs it has provided in the years since! This year, I too have felt the low lows and some really great highlights. Good of your to recognize that they are both present this year, too! A great reminder to see them both!

kathy b

Kym I love your selfies! I love your story as well. Those Sears photographers simply did not get paid enough! In this difficult year, before it ends, I have been acutely aware that bloggers like us, put our selves out there regularly because we love our craft. We become a supportive community . But we are being very vulnerable at the same time. I commend each of my blog writing pals for the work that it is to blog and share honest true life moments . Thank you


That is a great story, I wish you could find the photo! This year has definitely been impacted by the constant barrage of background crap. Next year will get better . . . eventually . . . and I'm so ready!


I love the selfie project! I am good about capturing bits of myself (feet especially) and not so much my face. I'd love to better about that. and also about simply accepting what IS and not all the time trying to fix it.


You made me really laugh with that memory -- I can picture it so well! Instead of a burning building, though, I immediately thought of this: (it's a dumpster that was floating down a street when we had a flash flood here not too long ago, and someone added the flames). But otherwise, yep, that's the right background for this entire year. I know there will be some things we'll want to remember, but on the whole, this year was one giant dumpster fire.

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