2016 Retrospective

I did one of these posts last year, inspired by Tilde, who I continue to be inspired by. In an effort to be more consistent in my life, I’m going to do it again this year.

Unachieved 2016 Goals:

I did a lot this year, but I did not do everything I set out to do. Before we jump into the “lookit how great it was!” here are the things at which I fell short:

Get this paper out the door

I have an editor I’m working on with this. But it’s still not out. Fingers crossed on 2017.

Do 2 speaking gigs max — unlimited participatory events

I ended up doing 3, but 2 of those were 7 minutes long. This is still a drastic change from past years.

Read and comment on at least one blog entry/article a week

Reach conversational comfort in Deutsche, Kiswahili, or ASL. Future years for the others.

Yeah, neither of these happened. I still understand how important they are, but they just didn’t stay at the top of the stack.

What I did manage to do was…

Slowed down. For me.

Only travel for (well-paid) work and family/close friends

This year was a year of transitions and movement, but also of stillness and consistency. I did go completely around the world once. I also went to India and Japan, meaning I’m now only missing Antartica from Continent Yhatzee.

That said, I travelled less than I have in years past (~30k less). There was an entire month where I didn’t go anywhere further than a 3 hour drive (!!). This has not happened since 2012.

This gave me a chance to…

Start learning how to Be Somewhere

Move to the Bay Area – looking like March

Being Somewhere was daunting. Grocery stores are hard. Seeing the same people day-in and day-out is vulnerable in utterly unexpected ways. But I have excellent housemates, local friends, and coworking cohorts. I went motorcycle camping and saw art exhibits.


This also meant my presence was predictable enough that I could…

Work on someone else’s large art project

I took an infrastructural role for Priceless and Ephemerisle. Back to back, along with Burning Man, which was a bit intense. But I’ve learned more about when to trust how others are already organizing long-standing events, and when it’s worthwhile for me to step up. I’d like to think I did well at contributing without trampling. Also got to help with a Relationship Management System as Art which was a blast.

It was especially difficult to stick with it while Everything Ever was going wrong.

I survived the implosion of various levels of abstraction crashing in near-perfect unison

The delight that has been working with Aspiration for 2 years came to a close during Q4. I’m excited that Gunner is taking better care of himself, and that I had a chance to learn so much during our times together. I still work from the office sometimes, and we are on enthusiastically rad terms. (But PS I am looking for gigs.)
The conversation with the main squeeze about work ending, and whether I should return to contracting (traveling more again) or shift career focus slightly so I could stay closer to home (for Future building etc), instead turned into a “should we actually be dating?” conversation. Which didn’t go the way I would have liked, but such is life.
A few weeks later, the slow collapse of democracy took up residency in the United States as well. I supported shocked and grieving friends through hosting an actionability workshop, and by helping other friends interact with volunteers for workflows related to the TogetherList.
A few weeks after that, both of my home regions were on fire. I’ve learned more about building codes, residential rights, and how effective people I care about are in the past month than ever before.

Continued meditation, running, etc

My meditation practice continues to be spotty but present. I’m far calmer overall. Physical activity is also a part of that – I walked 1,717 miles in 2016 and ran 206.

I did have a very strong “case of the GTFOs,” which my wifey (no romantic involvement, this is just how we refer to each other) Meredith (who also coined the phrase) helped me address without me packing up all my stuff. Part of that might have been shooting a flaming arrow at a set of balloons filled with propane.

Thrived despite those implosions

I went dancing in a Nairobi club. I’ve gone to SF events without someone dragging me there. Both of these are mild indicators of my anxiety being lower than it’s been in YEARS. I feel independent and capable.
Continued stabilizing my finances, including landing two contracts that are allowing me space to think about what comes next. Thank you to the two folk who helped make that happen.

Find a physical activity I like in addition to running — maybe swimming, rowing, climbing, riding, or boxing

I am now more fit than I have been in a very long time. I climb regularly with Sean, Kitty, Kristen, and Preston. I run regularly with Jackson and with Nicole.
Went swimming a few times but it hasn’t stuck. Yoga is fantastic and I’d like to do it more.
Took up snowboarding, and am excited to do it more starting next weekend.

I’ve enjoyed the bicycles I’ve ridden in life, but never had one of my own since becoming an adult. Dear friends Tilde, Rubin, and Reed put together this beauty for me and I’ve been riding it around like a madbot ever since (often whispering/shouting “bikebikeBIKEBIKEbike” as I do). I cannot thank them enough. Holy shit.

A photo posted by Willow Brugh (@willowbl00) on

Run a Spartan race

Finished 255 out of 2617 female-identified persons, in 2:05:18. I didn’t train specifically for it. Yes, I have already registered for another one, for which I am actually training. It was super fun to have the support of Estee there as I huffed and puffed my way through grime and heat.

waaaaait for it…. @willowbl00 finishes the #spartanrace

A video posted by Mike Estee (@mikeestee) on

Other random bits

My drawings ended up in Media Mobilizing Project’s 10 year report (intentionally) and in the Disaster Preparedness Exchange report (unintentionally – it includes things like the phrase “Military-supported disaster relief reinforces the view of America as an INDISPENSIBLE NATION.” wtf. It was an interesting event to be at, tho).
A paper on feminist hackathons I also had a small contribution to went live in the the Journal of Peer Production.
I helped James get the Lantern Library squared away for his will.
Hosted another CatCon for my birthday. Oh my goodness!
For the first time in over 10 years, my hair was not blue.


This lasted for 4 days, after which the world returned to Normal.

All in all, a pretty good year. Here are two other overviews worth the reminder that 2016 was not, in fact, The Worst.

2017 Goals

Last year I focused on humility in order to balance out my “I think I’m right, but I’m happy to be wrong” attitude developed while overcoming imposter syndrome. In this ever-stabilizing oscillation, this year I am thinking about personal ambition. I’ve had a lot of ambition related to the world I’d like to see and how to build it, but I’m not terribly good at putting myself in a better position to deliver that. I still don’t know what this looks like, and I imagine most of my goals will emerge based on how that goes, but in the meantime, in addition to holding to the above positive patterns…c0npzbyuaaa5zfl

  • Run 400 miles over the course of 2017 (about twice what I did this year).
  • Beat my time/position for a Spartan race.
  • Climb at least 6 times a month.
  • Bike 50 miles or more a month.
  • Make a longer-term financial plan (and start on it).
  • Remain emotionally vulnerable and available even when it suuuuucks.
  • Explore, decide upon, and execute the next work bits.
  • Find 3+ adventures of any size to go on, and go on them.
  • Get back into reading a nerdy amount.