As 2016 winds down it’s tempting to look ahead to 2017. First take time for a Year in Review exercise.

For me personally there was a lot I’d like to forget about 2016. But as the winter solstice shows us, it’s important we honor and acknowledge the darkness along with the light.

As a seasonal check-in, this New Year period is a great time to reflect, get honest, look for the positives and plan for the future.

At first I just wanted to share the lessons learned and put a positive spin on my seasonal review. That would be ignoring that a lot didn’t go as planned this year.

The lessons learned are equally important because they serve as guideposts to help us plan for next year. Hopefully they help us steer a course that more productively produces our desires end results.

In the next few days, I highly encourage you to move, meditate, and spend some time journaling out your own year-in-review. In the meantime, here’s mine for inspiration.

My 2016 Year in Review

2016 ranks number one as the worst year in my life. It all started with a new puppy that had to be re-homed. It was the right choice for everyone involved but a sad choice nonetheless.

Then there was the somewhat sudden death of my husband’s grandfather.

Immediately afterwards followed what I’ll call “the situation.” I can’t speak about “the situation” publicly but it has by far been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with on every level — emotionally, financially, physically, mentally.

My husband spent about 12 weeks of this year away from home for work. Lots of adjusting and re-adjusting and the most time we’ve been away from each other for about 6 years. This included him missing Christmas — the first time in the 11 years we’ve been together that we haven’t been with each other over the holidays.

Because of “the situation” we ended up being away from our other dog for about 2 months. When all you want is to cuddle with man’s best friend, we couldn’t even do that.

My own grandmother passed away a few weeks ago. Although it was expected, it was still sad and she’ll be missed greatly.

Get honest (and personal) and look for the positive

The darkness that I faced this past year revolved around letting go. Letting go of animals, people, expectations, desires, things, possessions, “the way things are.” This year was about simplifying when I didn’t want to. It became about bare necessities. The people and things that truly matter. All of this hardship brought me closer and closer to my Self and the way I truly want to show up and live in this world.

Despite all the heartbreak, my relationship with my husband strengthened. My capacity for love and compassion grew because I consciously chose not to let fear and hate and dishonesty dictate my path.

My yoga practice deepened. I graduated from my 500-hour program, started an online yoga studio and continued to see my income as a full-time yoga instructor increase. I connected with a more spiritual foundation for my personal practice, recommitted to meditation, and continue to explore my relationship to my body and mind.

Despite all the hardship, I got to do some pretty awesome things. I taught my first yoga retreat in Costa Rica and visited Hawaii for the first time to see my husband. We visited Acadia National Park in Maine. My best friend moved to DC from California and I’ve continued to establish more relationships in the DC area.

This year sucked because it really tested me at the same time that it provided me incredible opportunities.

Plan for the future

In 2017 I hope to find some resolution. Resolution with “the situation” will help settle a lot of the other aspects of my life.

I will continue making more money as a full-time yoga instructor and explore ways to make my career location-independent as this feature offers me the most freedom to live my life on my terms.

I’m looking for more ways to show up as me, love fully and unconditionally, release judgement and keep progressing toward the world I want to live in.

My practice will connect me on a deeper level to the world around me in many different ways.

I will embrace and focus on my strengths to become a better version of me and let go of or delegate my weaknesses.

Set your intention(s)

My intentions for 2017 are to connect and create.

I want to care more for my Self.

To move forward and let go.

To simplify and grow.

I want to embrace the paradox.

What are your intentions for 2017?