2016: Year in Review


2016 has felt like an incredibly long year.  In its defense, I’ve done a lot this year.  However, not all of 2016 was good things, so today I just wanted to take some time to review my year and think about how far I’ve come (or not) in different areas.

We’ll start with a few work things that really colored my year.

One of the primary roles in my current position, is managing a large number of student end of course evaluations using a software designed for that purpose.  I’m going to keep this part a little vague to protect all parties involved.  In the 2016 spring semester, there were problems.  There was an error that effected data integrity that was inherent to the system (and a known issue) which caused a great deal of trouble and delayed my ability to release the evaluation reports for two whole months.  This in itself was a bit of a nightmare.

But that wasn’t the only thing that happened.  There was a hacking incident.  It involved inflammatory language, threats to a professor, and illegal responses on more than 40 other courses.  It consumed most of two weeks of my work life at the end of the semester and didn’t fully resolve until August.

These two incidents combined, prompted a very swift look for new software.  One problem was caused by the software, and other was made possible by a quirk of the software, and the system had never really done everything we needed it to do anyway.  So the office that purchases the software spent a couple months researching and then we got demos from three companies.  As one of the largest units using the software, my opinion mattered, and the ultimate decision lined up with my own first choice software.

We did a pilot in the fall with about 10% of the courses I manage in the new system and the rest in the old system.  The new system is amazing.  It’s so much more responsive and far more capable of fixing small human errors from earlier in the semester (like accidentally coding a Likert-scale item’s number values backward).  It’s far more complex, but that lets me do far more things, and will ultimately make my life much much easier after we’ve done a full run next semester.

The reason I mention this here, is because dealing with the issues from last spring and the pilot this fall, has really affected the rest of my work.  I was so stressed over everything in the spring that everything else in my life suffered for it, especially my writing.

I managed to keep my writing from suffering as much in the fall, but my 101,101 words during NaNoWriMo this November may be coloring my impressions.  When I look back at my writing over the course of the year it’s been good, but not as good as it could have been.  I still haven’t finished revising the second Swords and Shields novel, or worked much on the third one since completing the draft.  I’ve not kept up my daily writing habits as much as I would have liked.

But there were good things about my writing journey this year.  I wrote 26 blog posts matched with the 26 letters of the alphabet, posting one a day (except Sunday) for the entire month of April for the A to Z blogging Challenge.  (You can find them here.)  I wrote 41,378 words during April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and 31,597 in July, in addition to my 101,101 words in November for NaNoWriMo proper.  I finished at least two projects this year, even if they were fanfic rather than something original.

It’s not that I’m unhappy with my writing, just that I don’t have much in the way of finished products, this year, and I had been aiming to finish book two for publication before the end of the year.

That might be because it was a very full year.  My husband was diagnosed with a chronic illness at the tail end of 2015, so I’ve spend all of 2016 worrying about him and trying to support his recovery.  The good news is that he’s making progress and getting better.  But it made a lot of things hard this year.

One thing it made particularly difficult was our move in September.  You can read about my moving journey in these blog posts.  Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to be moving after all the water problems we had in our last apartment.  (I lost a dresser, two book cases, all my paper mementos from my study abroad in Scotland, and a rare Japan only copy of a NGP game of my husbands to the water.)  But it was a nightmare just finding a place that would work for us that was in our price range, and our last landlord really took advantage of us at the end which translated to the move costing a few thousand dollars more than planned.  I went into the move knowing I couldn’t ask my husband to help, but it was still a very hard month of packing and moving and exhaustion.

But the new apartment is wonderful, even if we haven’t had much time to unpack.  It was also a good mood booster for both me and my husband, and I think the move helped him do better in his classes this semester, which has put him back on track for finishing his degree soon.

The move also gave me a kitchen big enough to actually bake in again.  I made cookies and three kinds of cheesecake at the end of October.  It was glorious.  I love baking.  It’s therapeutic for me actually.  Has been since I was a kid.  When I was in middle school my sister and I came home one day to news that our grandmother had suffered a heart attack earlier in the day.  No one had called my parents back with word of her condition for most of the day (that side of the family isn’t spectacular at communication).  My sister immediately burst into tears.  I went straight to the kitchen and make chocolate chip cookies.  I even made on the size of a dinner plate.  I felt better, and it was comfort food for my sister and parents.

One thing that seems to have gone well this year is my goal to not dwell on the negative, especially things I can’t change, but instead focus on the positive things in my life and the things I can effectively change.  My success can be seen in the fact that most of this blog is about the positive things I’ve accomplished this year.  Yes there are goals I fell short on, but that’s not what I’m focusing on.

And that right there, feels like an accomplishment.  Especially with everything that’s happened this year in the country and the world.

So this week, as 2016 draws to a close, I’m going to think forward to 2017 and the good that I can accomplish next year.  How about you?  What are you focusing on moving into the new year?

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