Saturday, January 2, 2016

Goodbye, 2015 and Hello, 2016!

I can't believe another year has flown by! I was busy working hard and working lots in 2015... maybe that's why it went by so fast!

Travel highlights:
I started out the New Year in Spain, and stopped over in New York on my way back home.

We had an amazing trip to Battle Abbey in February, and another unforgettable trip to Fairy Meadow in April. We weren't skiing in heaps of powder but the stable conditions made it possible for us to summit lots of different peaks. Mt Butters and Mt Sir William were highlights.

Another amazing day at Fairy Meadow
I went back to Mwanza, Tanzania in July and also got to explore Zanzibar at the end of my trip. And pet a cheetah!

In September, we made another attempt on Mt Assiniboine but were again shut down by weather. Hikes with my parents and delicious meals at the lodge made up for it.

Mt Assiniboine, hidden in the clouds. Hoping for better weather next time!
We spent lots of time in BC. I made a few trips to Vancouver for work and for concerts, I went to Victoria to visit my nephew, I went to a wonderful yoga retreat on Salt Spring Island in June, and we spent 2.5 weeks climbing, biking, and relaxing in Squamish in October.

I made a trip to Toronto for the first time in almost 15 years. I know Toronto is the center of the universe, but I've just never seen much reason to make the trek east. I went to Toronto in 2003 for work-related interviews and to visit a friend from university. That same friend moved back to Toronto from overseas this year and that convinced me to pop by for a visit.

We finished off the year with a trip to southern Ontario to visit Jeff's family. Did you know that the "South Detroit" that Steve Perry from Journey has immortalized in song would actually be Windsor, Canada? Due to the geography around the lakes, Windsor is actually south of Detroit.

Concerts and shows:
There have been three performers that I have always wanted to see live, and I got to tick off two of them in the same year: Madonna, and U2. (The third is Michael Jackson. I am truly a child of the 80s.) We were at the concert in Vancouver where the Edge fell off the stage.

Madonna. Nobody fell off the stage this time...
I also went to a Rachmaninoff performance at Lincoln Center. Other shows I saw this year: Beauty and the Beast, The Book of Mormon, Cirque de Soleil Kurios, The Lion King, and Once. My favourite was definitely Once.

I'm not sure exactly how many books I read this year, but would guess it's around 100. Most of these were young adult dystopian novels which don't merit any special mention.

My husband has been after me to read anything by Alistair Macleod for years. He is best-known for his short stories, but I finally read his only novel, No Great Mischief, and it was wonderful. It was voted Atlantic Canada's best novel ever. It is about two brothers from Cape Breton. That's more than I knew about the book when I started it (I only knew that it was set in Nova Scotia), and I think it's best to read the book knowing only that. So, there you go.

I also read and enjoyed A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. This is the story of a child soldier in Sierra Leone. It is heartbreaking. I followed that up with War Child by Emmanuel Jal, a child soldier and singer from Sudan. He gives a compelling TED talk that is worth checking out. After that, I read Romeo D'Allaire's books They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children, which explores ways to end the use of children in war. I also read his book Shake Hands with the Devil. He is Canadian and was the UN commander in Rwanda around the time of the genocide.

I also read The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, who is also Canadian (I just realized I've highlighted 3 Canadian authors). It's about a girl who was captured and sold into slavery. I also enjoyed his book Any Known Blood.

I did not make any major changes in my work, apart from working more than I usually do, and it actually turned out to be way too much. I found that I'd started rewarding myself for working hard by spending more, which is counterproductive. I'm going to dial things back in 2016 and feel lucky that I have that flexibility and control.

Personal Life:
I've made meditation part of my daily routine, and the impact on my life has been subtle but undeniable.

I didn't climb as much as I might have liked to, but I committed to and managed to attend every class in a 6-week movement training course. The main lesson I took away from my instructor is that I have to start trying harder routes and not be afraid of failing. My hardest climb ever was 5.11b, but my instructor would regularly tell me to try a 5.11d or even a 5.12a. And to my surprise, I was even able to do most of the moves.

I'm on my last week of P90X3, and it's been awesome. The routines are only 30 minutes long so it's easy to fit into the day. When I started the program, I could do 15 pushups and 4 pullups. Now, I can do 35 pushups and 8 pullups.

And, 2016?
I'm pretty happy with the status quo. Apart from working less and prioritizing my family, friends and travel, I'm not planning any big changes. I've come up with a budget and will hopefully be able to stick to it.

Thanks for reading my blog, and Happy New Year!


  1. Happy New Year, Liana! I am so impressed by your athleticism. Wow - 35 pushups and 8 pullups!!
    I saw U2 back in the '80's. I want to say 1985 but it could have been 86 or 84.

  2. I really like this approach to recapping your year: travel, the arts, and good reads! I actually taught A Long Way Gone in my Freshmen Seminar class. It was a cross-curricular class blending literature and civics, and that was our last unit of the year. It was always one of the students' favorites, so I'm glad you also read and enjoyed it. It's a powerful story about rehabilitation, redemption, and turning human tragedy into change for the good.

    Happy New Year, Liana! Here's to more happy travels and adventures in 2016!

    <3 Liz

  3. I'm very envious of your travel this year, especially the weeks you spent in Squamish. I only spent a couple days there this year, but it reminded me I really should return more often. Looking forward to seeing more in 2016!