12 Lessons I Learned in 2016
Admittedly these are not all lessons learned. Some of them are topics I thought a lot about and that I hope you found useful.
This is my 100th blog post this year and the end of the year. It is a good opportunity to look back at some of the really fantastic stuff I wrote this year. I know you’ll want to read these or read them again.
In January I learned – after extensive research – how to open a can without a can opener. I’m not sure I am any more capable of defeating an unopened can after this project. I am however, more prepared to take on this battle when it happens again in the future.
In February I learned, or perhaps realized, that in order to reduce my own stress I need to stop rushing my kids though life. This is a lesson I need to be reminded of on a regular basis.
In March I thought about the balance of work and life and how I would like to see more flexibility from employers. I had the good fortune to have a job where I could work from home and shift my work around my life. I have since changed jobs and while I fully expected to lose this flexibility when I changed jobs, I in fact landed in a workplace that is more fully equipped for employees to work flexible arrangements.
In April I started writing Dad Guides to learn more about topics I felt would make me a better dad, and then share that knowledge with other dads. My first guide was the start a series to help dads support their daughters through their first periods. This guide is focused on menstruation. Through writing this series I filled in my own gaps in knowledge and feel much better prepared for when my daughters go through this particular stage of puberty.
In May I continued to learn and write about menstruation and how to prepare myself and my daughters for puberty. I also carefully researched the achievements of the Parents of Girl Guides who were deserving of their own badges. This was also one of my most popular posts of the year, read by girl guide leaders around the world.
In June my brother and I cleared out my father’s apartment after he had moved into a nursing/rehab home to recover following a stroke. We were preparing to move him back to Canada after two decades in the US. Stripping his possessions to the minimum in advance of the planned move, I contemplated the transitory nature of life and the possessions we collect on our journey.
In July we saw an uptick in stories about black men dying at the hands of police. Between the conversation related to these incidents, the Black Lives Matter protest at the Toronto Pride Parade and comments from friends and acquaintances of colour, I realized that I am a part of the racism problem. I now think more often about the privilege I have as a straight, white man and look for opportunities to listen more to those with less privilege.
In mid-August, my dad died as a result of a stroke. This led me to think about his legacy to me and what I had learned from my dad. It was challenging to sort through my feelings about him and our relationship and putting this post together helped me through that process.
In September, as life got busier, I was thinking about ways to make more time for my kids and made some changes in my own life as a result.
October marked my oldest daughter’s tenth birthday. It was also my tenth anniversary as a dad and I compiled all the biggest lessons I learned over the past ten years.
November of course marked the unexpected election of Donald Trump as the new president of the United States. I, like many, was shocked at the outcome. A few days after the election was Remembrance Day. The ceremonies helped me refocus and think about resistance to Trump and the ideas he unleashed in his campaign.
In December I spent more time focused on my woodworking business than on writing. I continued to think about Trump like so many other people. He continues to show his inability to tolerate criticism, which is a dangerous trait. He could stand to spend a little time learning how to manage criticism.
2016 has been a great year of writing and learning. in 2017 I won’t be writing quite as much. I plan to spend more time doing things with my family and less time sitting in front of a computer.