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one look forward, one look back

Was 2016 good? Will 2017 be better or worse? As with most things in life, the answer depends on perspective. Looking back, do you focus on one or two events and let them define the year or do you take a step back and appreciate the good moments while acknowledging the difficult ones? Looking forward, do you fear the challenges that lie ahead or welcome the opportunities that life will surely present?


2016 was certainly not without its bitter moments. After spending the bulk of the preceding five years overseas, we returned home at the end of 2015 to find both of our grandmothers in ill health; S’s grandma passed away at the beginning of the year.

But there is also much that happened in 2016 for which we are thankful. We enjoyed being back in the United States, reconnecting with friends, and spending a lot more time with family than the Foreign Service life frequently allows. It was great watching Munchkin develop a relationship with his grandparents and to be home for a number of important holidays that our families usually celebrate without us. We also learned French, spent a couple of weeks in Paris, and were home to watch D’s Penguins lift the Stanley Cup.

And then we moved to Kigali midway through the year to start our latest adventure overseas. Half a year into our third Foreign Service posting, we still haven’t quite finished settling in, but we’ve also done quite a bit of travelling. We’ve explored some of what Rwanda has to offer, journeyed to neighboring Uganda several times, and D even travelled to South East Asia for the first time ever.


S does not believe in New Year’s resolutions; she tends more towards continual reflection. D, on the other hand finds the end of the year a good time to meditate on the year’s accomplishments and set goals for the coming twelve months. Curiously enough, his resolutions for 2017 look a lot like the ones he made a couple of years ago – not because he struggled to meet them, but rather because he noticed that working towards these goals made him perceptibly happier:

  • Read at least one book per month – Half of the twelve books D read this year were in French, as is the new novel he started this weekend. The goal for 2017 is to work in more foreign language literature – in French, but also in Spanish, which D feels has gotten pretty rusty.
  • Spend less time online – We’ve taken pains to avoid clickbait, but with the elections in full swing D still frittered away way too much time on sites like 538. With the coming year in politics promising to be a painful one, the goal for 2017 is to waste less time on online “news.”
  • Dedicate more time to friends and family. Thanks to Munchkin, we spend more time Skyping with our relatives than we had previously, but it still clearly falls far short of what we could be doing (or what our parents would like).
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ben #

    on getting offline and getting engaged with family/friends: i’m going for more snail letters and fewer emails. So far nothing but its only day two, right?

    January 2, 2017

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