Reflecting on 2012

Posted on Jan 8, 2013 in Eliza Brownhome, Featured | 3 comments

At this time last year I was lying in bed trying to think of my word for 2012 and I was terrified about what the upcoming year held. Sure, I was excited, but I was also feeling a lot of doubt about moving back into the bus with SO MANY CHILDREN. A year ago, this plot of land where I am now sitting was a clearing in a forest on the edge of a dirt road through a farm. This part of the forest was thinner, with fewer trees to remove,  a lot of salal and rocks, and unfortunately, plenty of 60 year old glass bottles. Apparently, this spot had long ago been a dumping ground on the farm.

Today, where once salal dripped with rain, there is now a toasty warm 500 square foot cabin joined up to our bus. We moved in to the cabin in November after driving Eliza under a little carport and inching her right up against an open door frame on one side of the cabin. Then Aaron insulated the gap between the two structures, and finished it nicely with a pretty jam, and suddenly our space was doubled.

I have been waiting to announce that the cabin was finished and we were moved in because it isn’t really finished. Still so much left to do (details, details), and I didn’t want the pictures to show the boxes, the plywood tub surround, the tarp and lumber outside the front window…but I can’t really sum up this past year without the recognition of what we accomplished.

Every year, I spend the last week of December reflecting on the closing year, and visioning for the upcoming year. To see what my practice looks like you can read this. Today I also want to share with you some other nice formats: The Liberated Life Project (similar to mine, but includes option for yoga/meditation AND specific goal setting as part of the practice) and The Art of Non-Conformity (if you’re a little bit more Type A – it has a spreadsheet!). And you can always check out these others that I shared in the past.

A year ago, none of this was here. A year ago, I was so worried about how we were going to do it, about how crazy it was.

Now? We are once again living in a home of our own creation, on land that is shared, in a situation that feels symbiotic, and with a rent payment that allows us some financial independence. Funny how in 4.5 years we’ve come full circle, to echo the very living situation we were in in Vancouver in my sister’s backyard. The place is different, the people are different, and we are different, but the fundamentals are the same. (Now if only we can get my sister close by).

And here’s the thing: despite how hard we have worked, despite how tired we have been, despite the tight spaces and lack of amenities, we have loved this year, particularly the latter half of the year, once we finally moved on site. This year we came home to Eliza, and despite my panic and worry, it went perfectly, and we’ve felt perfectly at home, every minute. Honestly.

The word I chose for 2012 was Energize and something I’m discovering about the practice of choosing a word of the year is that I’m far better at summarizing the past year in a word than I am at focusing on a word for the next year. What can I say? I have a short attention span – ahem, which is why I don’t like resolutions. While we certainly poured a ton of energy into our project, we never really felt energized. In fact, a more apt word for 2012 might have been ENDURE. We worked really hard and we made something huge out of nothing, but it was mostly a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other-slog rather an Energizer-bunny-hop. I also fell off the wagon of my Project Energize posts after one post summarizing 4 months. Alas, once May came around and we were busy moving, and then living in the bus, organizing the photos on my computer somehow went on the back burner.

But if I were to be more positive about our year, about what we have accomplished and about how I see this year fitting in the continuum of years to come, words like STABILITY and FOUNDATION come to mind. That is, 1) after 4 years in our new region, we’re finally putting down some roots and we’re likely to stay in this home for a few years, and 2) we’ve just laid all the groundwork so that we can earnestly start in on the nitty-gritty good stuff of dream-building.

In shorthand, this year:

  • we wrote a lease, partnered up with some good people to share resources, built a cabin, spent 6 months living in a 300 sq ft bus without a shower or proper laundry facilities (as a family of 5), freed ourselves of the cost and instability of traditional home rental arrangements (which for us has meant moving every year of the last 4 years).
  • we spent a lovely family filled holiday season at the end of the year that has left us feeling relaxed and refreshed
  • we have enjoyed the supportive, creative community of our son’s Waldorf school
  • we celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary
  • my blog received some unprecedented attention when Tiny House Blog featured us, and we were uplifted and encouraged by all the positive feedback we received from people around the world
  • our family business had it’s most successful year yet, and met some financial milestones that we wouldn’t have imagined 2 years ago
  • I re-discovered the joy of reading novels again
  • we brought a rescue dog into our lives and our family feels richer for having her with us
  • we were blessed in the way that so many friends and family came together to give us a hand to complete our cabin – without them, none of this would have happened.

Sleep remains a challenge, friends were sorely neglected as we spent all of our time and resources on completing the cabin, and of course, those organizational tasks around the home never happened. Parenting challenges continue to abound, and the cabin took longer and cost more than we intended (meaning a re-appraisal of financial goals is in order). Some things to work on for next year, but nevertheless, we close the year feeling amazed, grateful, blessed, loved. We endured and we flourished.

How about you? What word summarizes 2012 for you?



  1. I chose ‘clarity’ as my word for 2012, and I think that I actually managed to achieve that to a large extent. My 2013 word is ‘presence’, and I’m off to a slow start. But really, I have a whole year ahead, right?

    Mostly, though, I just wanted to say that I’m glad it was a good year for you. I look forward to hearing more about your continuing journey.
    Amber´s last post ..My Happiness List: January 2013 Edition
    Twitter: AmberStrocel

    • Thanks Amber. It’s been a whirlwind.

      Good luck with your intentions to be present. I’ll look forward to hearing how that unfolds.

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