Sunday, January 15, 2017

2016 – A Disruptive Year

I can’t bring myself to write about 2017, until I finish this post which I started writing on December 31st, 2016:

Many people around the Internet claim 2016 was a bad year.  For me, 2016 wasn’t great but it wasn’t horrible either.  The year my company's HR manager attacked my management skills causing my confidence to plummet for months was worse, so was the year my mom was diagnosed with cancer, the year my father-in-law had a stroke and the year my husband lost his job. And let’s not forget the years of the Great Recession which brought pay-cuts and job losses to many of my friends and co-workers.  For me, even 2015 when one of my key employees resigned was worse than 2016. 

In saying all that 2016 was a disruptive year full of change:

It began with an old oak tree falling in our back yard during a winter storm smashing one of outdoor structures.  This resulted in a month of insurance hassles and clean-up. 

Around the same time, I purchased a new vehicle throwing off my financial independence goal for all of 2016.  I had planned to keep my 2004 Acura TSX for 2 more years, but after putting over $2000 into in 2015 and faced with another expense (new tire rims to prevent my tires from constantly deflating). I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I went with a Honda this time. From now on I’m going to plan for a new vehicle or new to me vehicle every ten years.

In February I lost my beloved dog Buck who finally succumbed to lymphoma. He had been diagnosed in February 2014, so I was fortunate to have had him in my life for another year, but his death left an empty space in our home and hearts for months to come.

In March, my company’s President signed a contract with a new business software company to convert our software despite members of the software selection team recommending he wait a year.

The summer was good. I spent time with friends and vacationed in the Apostle Islands, a place I had never been.

Fall brought the software conversion.
It started out well enough with everyone working long hours cleaning up our old system prior to the conversion, but once the data was converted work slowed to a halt company wide.  Every single person struggled to learn the new system.  The training and support from the new company was/is poor.  Even my boss who is usually an optimist feels we were oversold. We continue to struggle in 2017 to make this system work for us.

In November my husband had bi-lateral knee replacement surgery:
Yes - bilateral means having surgery on both knees at the same time. Despite all of his preparation - building upper body strength which improved his ability to lift himself out of a chair - life after surgery was challenging.  He was in more pain than he imagined, he was more mobile than I imagined, but his insomnia was worse than either of us could have possibly imagined.

Thankfully his healing has progressed well with no major issues in 2017.


One of the bright spots of 2016 was my reading. I read 32 books up from my average of 25.  I have now read 33 nonfiction books as part of my 200-500 nonfiction reinvention challenge.  I did join a book club at my local library, so I read more fiction than I normally do.  Unlike book clubs I’ve participated in previously, the attendees of this one actually read the books, the monthly selections are good and it is well facilitated.* Plus, I don’t have to drive far, spend money on books or dining costs or have to host/entertain in my home.

2016 reading highlights:

The book I talked about, thought about and recommended the most in 2016:

Runners up are Andre Agassi’s book:
Open: An Autobiography and What I Talk About When I Talk About Runningby Haruki Murakami  

Best business book:
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink, since reading this book I’ve decided to spend a good portion of my 200+ book challenge reading business books.

Book that didn’t live up to the hype: Roxanne Gay's book Bad Feminist

Author I’m not going out of my way to read again: Gloria Steinham. My Life on the Road is the third book I've read by Steinham, for being such an influential part of the women’s movement I find her writing to be uninspiring. 

The book I read everyone should read: Atul Gawande's book  Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. (This one was recommended by my financial planner and should be read by everyone who is caring for the sick).

Most well-timed read: Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink during the Olympics. Author Juliana Barbassa returns to Rio de Janeiro, her birth city, to report on their preparation for the Olympics.                  
Runner up:
James Feldman's book A Storied Wilderness: Rewilding the Apostle Islands (this one is a bit academic can be repetitive). I read this one after visiting the Islands last summer.

Most relevant fiction book:
 Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  Many employers in my area down-sized older employees with outdated technical skills in 2016. Some of them certainly are also a tad curmudgeonly. 

·        *I was a guest at book club last year, where the discussion of Paula Hawkin's book The Girl on the Train became a competition between two members over who had the worst divorce.

Did anyone else have a disruptive 2016?

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  1. I love my Honda! Six years old and I've never had a single problem with it! I had a car in college and my first years of work that kept me poor. Ever since then I'd rather make payments than repairs. You did the right thing!

    1. Glad to hear you love your Honda. The repair inconvenience was also a factor in my decision. I've got enough going on without having to deal with car problems as well. I had to call AAA twice; the driver remembered me the second time - I am old enough and make enough money to own a reliable vehicle.

  2. So much in this post!
    Let me say first I am very sorry about your dog Buck. Losing a pet is so very hard.
    I felt a bit out of kilter with everyone else last year because many people were calling 2016 the worst year ever-but for me, 2015 was a year filled with bad health, a midlife crisis, and the death of my dad. Horrible year! So all things considered I found 2016 to be a bit of a relief, frankly. Funny how the political atmosphere pales besides personal tragedies (well, for me it does, at least).
    I wish you the very best of luck with your new car. We have two old cars in our family and it's getting old--particularly as I have two young kids and trying to get cars fixed AND juggle car seats (and worrying about your car stranding you and kids) is ridiculous.
    And, Matthew Desmond's book "Evicted"--unbelievable, wasn't it? Makes you thankful even for a nonworking car, if you just have a house or place to live to park it by. It's all about perspective, evidently.
    Happy New Year, and keep up all the good work at this blog!

  3. Oh nooo :( Sounds like you definitely had a few downs in 2016 as well as the positives! I am so sorry about your lovely dog, it is so hard to lose our furbabies and I still feel the loss of our dog after almost 2 years. We also had a bit of a rough year, not due to worldwide events, but personal ones such as the death of my father-in-law.

    I for one am looking forward to 2017 with a lot of positivity and I wish you the best of luck!

    Natalya @ Cottage Retreatist x

  4. We bought new cars this year; unfortunately a wreck was the reason for one and a growing up college student the cause for the other.

  5. You certainly had a busy year - I didn't have a terrible 2016, but it wasn't a fantastic year for me either. Great books that you read! Evicted is on my must read list for this year, and Being Mortal is one that I've pushed on many others as well.