A lot can happen in a year and yet years seem to go by faster and faster. 2016 just flew by!

With hundreds of days in a year, we have good days and bad days but collectively my wish for you and for me is that our days roll up to a year of new learnings, opportunities, hearty laughter, memorable moments, and genuine health & happiness.

I wanted to create this ‘year in review’ wrap up blog post, partly for you and partly for me. Since the years do seem to rush by, capturing it in writing in some small way seems like a small way to cement the accomplishments and memories.

I’m also guilty of just plugging on to the next thing and not taking time to savor and celebrate the accomplishments. It’s been fun to reflect and recognize the fruits of my labor and to highlight what was really great about 2016.


2016 World Events & Themes

To put some context around everything, I first feel like I first need to capture some of the big events and themes of 2016.

  • Alabama beat Clemson in the 2015 College Championship that took place in January. It was a crazy game!
  • The Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton campaign consumed the media and in many ways divided our country.
  • Pokemon Go made gamers look like the Walking Dead in local hot spots.
  • United Kingdom voted to leave the European Community
  • Black Lives Matter movement against violence and systemic racism toward black people
  • America tourists begin to visit Cuba…and their former President Fidel Castro died in November.
  • 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro was a record breaker for the US with 121 medals, 46 of  them gold.
  • Several devastating natural disasters occurred this year including the winter Storm of the Century in the northeast US,  significant earthquakes in Taiwan, Italy, Myanmar & Indonesia, brutal wildfires in California & Tennessee, and Hurricane Matthew left his mark on the Southeast U.S. & the Caribbean (and almost re-routed our Sister Weekend trip to Tybee Island)
  • We lost a few American great heroes and icons this year: Prince, Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, Florence Henderson, Alan Thicke, George Michael, and Carrie Fisher.
  • The Denver Broncos won Superbowl 50 and the Chicago Cubs won the baseball World Series after a century long ‘curse’.
  • Rotten Tomatoes says ‘Zootopia’ was the highest critic ranked movie of 2016 but my pick is ‘Bad Moms’
  • Song wise I think I’m falling out of touch with the hits as I barely recognize the Top 10…the most streamed song in 2016 was Drake’s One Dance (a definite favorite of my kids)

Elizabeth’s 2016 Year in Review

Business Reflections & Accomplishments

Pardon me why I brag or celebrate a bit…

  • I kicked off the year by participating in a Mastermind Group on Flipped Lifestyle which put into play many foundational changes I made on Happy Healthy Caregiver. I rebranded and said goodbye to my original name ‘Savvy Sandwicher’. I also transitioned my site from Squarespace to WordPress with the goal of creating a place for exclusive content where members subscribe for access – hence the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community was born (click here for info on how to join).
  • In March, I spoke at my first local event as the Happy Healthy Caregiver. I presented ‘How to Make Self-Care Part of Your Lifestyle’ at the A and A Wellness ‘Fitness, Nutrition & Lifestyle’ Conference.
  • I organically and genuinely created a wide network of professional caregiver advocates, consultants, and coaches. The two virtual Caregiving.com events that I participated in helped start this (go here and here for the respective replays) and then the Virtual Caregiver Summit for Today’s Caregiver strengthened it and finally the National Caregiver Conference in Chicago earlier this month allowed me to connect face-to-face with many of them. No doubt our messages and actions are stronger together. Here’s a video replay of the National Caregiving Conference ‘Coping on Difficult Days’ panel:

  • I got into a regular groove of producing and sharing content on my site and social channels. I strive to post 4 blog posts a month and I love the writing process. Twice a week, before I go to a personal training appointment, I park myself at a nearby Starbucks with my coffee and enjoy writing in these early hours. I cherish these mornings with my coffee and my laptop followed by a strength building workout. Definitely pockets of me time. My top post of 2016 was You Know You are a Caregiver When.
  • Speaking of social channels, I created a Happy Healthy Caregiver Facebook Group. All businesses have a Facebook page (which I was excited to surpass the 1K followers this year) but building engagement with followers is tough on a business page. The Facebook Group offers its own identity by having day of the week themes for content. Mondays is all about Inspiration & Motivation, Tuesdays are for Tips, Wednesdays are about Working Out, on Thursdays we are Thankful, Fridays are Funny, Saturdays are set aside for Self-Care and Sundays are for Planning healthy meals, Organization, and Meal Prep.
  • I’ve been excited to share my message on platforms outside of Happy Healthy Caregiver by guest post writing for Mid life Boulevard and being interviewed for podcasts including We Turned Out Okay, The Caregiver’s Caregiver, Caregiver Talk, and Flipped Lifestyle.
  • I volunteered to become a local chapter leader of a Daughterhood Circle. Atlanta didn’t have one and needed one! You can get more information about these live meetups called Daughterhood Circles here.
  • I stepped out of my comfort zone with live video by accepting a challenge to do 30 days of Facebook Live. I used my 30 Days to be a Happier Healthier Caregiver as my guide and tried to keep them short an practical. If you missed them, you can find the under Videos on my Facebook page. If you want a calendar page with one tip a day…click here to get your 30 Days to be a Happier Healthier Caregiver.

Family & Personal Reflections & Accomplishments

By the way, can I count this as my ‘Christmas Letter’ since that hasn’t happened in a few years?

  • A huge change took place this past April. I transitioned primary caregiver responsibilities to my sister Susie. Coinciding with the move and Easter this year was another hospital visit for mom, she was retaining too many fluids and couldn’t even wear shoes…for a while she was wearing post operation Velcro shoes. Susie experienced a life change that allowed her to have mom move in with her in Pennsylvania. You can listen to Susie’s Caregiver Spotlight interview here. My brothers and I felt like the Assisted Living situation was not meeting mom’s needs in Georgia and were ready to try something new. We had tried two facilities and experienced similar patterns and issues. I have written a few posts about our Assisted Living choices and experiences here and here. While I expected to feel good about mom’s move, it truly felt like I was handing my sister a huge boulder. I reframed these feelings in to doing what I can to support my sister as a family caregiver. She is the epitome of my target audience for Happy Healthy Caregiver. So now she is more than a fabulous sister and a terrific family caregiver, she also a respected guinea pig for my content. One of the first goodies she received from me was the Caregiver Jar.
  • Also in April, my husband Jason and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary! I have written a couple posts about our  marriage that I’ll share here and here. To celebrate, Jason took me to New Orleans for a Jazz Festival. You want to feel young & free again and enjoy some amazing people watching…go to this event.
  • We enjoyed our annual family vacation to Hubbard Lake, Michigan in July and assembled a brief 4th of July program underneath my dad’s memorial flagpole on the North Shore.

2016 July family flag pole

  • Natalie got her wisdom teeth extracted this year…not so fun but funny videos!
  • My husband and I both survived layoffs in our companies this year. We are grateful for our full-time jobs.
  • My kids continued to make me proud academically. My son Jacob finished his middle school years with a fun 8th grade field trip to Savannah that I helped chaperone and this past fall started his first year in High School and while it’s challenging him more, he’s committed to his education. I enjoy watching both my kids encourage each other. My daughter Natalie is a huge help to us by running errands (thanks to her new to her Jetta she received this year), getting herself to practices, and helping to carpool Jacob. With her license comes more freedom so we are also establishing boundaries there..especially since she also has a steady boyfriend.
  • My sister Susie went to Michigan for a long Labor Day Weekend while I had some 1-on-1 time with mom. We played lots of Skipbo and watched several movies. It was nice to spend time with her away from my job and my normal responsibilities.
  • Jacob switched his athletic focus from baseball to track and cross country this year and is happy with that switch. Natalie started the year healing from a lower back volleyball injury and then finished the sand volleyball club season and played her last season of fall indoor volleyball at the High School. She’s decided to focus on her studies and earning some extra income instead of spending time on organized athletics.
  • Natalie is wrapping up her fundraising efforts for her third mission trip with a local church to help families in Nicaragua. These trips have forever changed her…in a good way…and she looks forward to seeing ‘her kids’ grow up.
  • This summer, we officially kicked off the college visits. While Natalie is only a Junior this year she has a list of schools she would like to visit so we started working them into our schedule. Top contenders so far are UGA and University of Alabama.
  • Over the kid’s fall break, we took a family vacation to Orlando and visited the Disney & Universal theme parks.
  • I made a dent in my ‘50 before 50 bucket list‘ and checked off the following: donate blood, ride bike around Hubbard Lake (over 20 miles) with my sister Susie, update our will, and Visit Chicago (thanks to the National Caregiving Conference)! I also achieved my Goodreads book goal of reading 25 books this year. My favorite fiction book was Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale
  • Personal health wise I’m proud of the focus I’ve given to this area while balancing a career, caregiving, children, marriage, and side business! My focus on eating whole nourishing foods and regular exercise are true habits for me now. Some of the new habits I’ve explored related to my health & wellness and have tried to work into my routines are aromatherapy, meditation (I’ve completed 129 sessions on Calm in 2016!), regular chiropractor visits, striving to get 7 hours of sleep a night, and working with a doctor to balance my hormones.
  • My Fitbit Charge HR logged that I took over 3 million steps this year for a total of 1,300 miles.

2016 1 Second Everyday Video

Here’s a video synopsis of the highlights from 2016 made with a fun app called ‘1 Second Everyday’ that is a compilation of personal and professional events & accomplishments. Enjoy!

Looking Ahead to 2017

  • I’m excited about the possibilities of partnering with others in my industry & more podcast, speaking and guest blog opportunities. I’d love to be considered for a blog award, get published on Huffington Post, and secure other media opportunities to help spread the mission of Happy Healthy Caregiver.
  • Kicking off the first of many Atlanta Daughterhood Circle meetings. The first one is January 18th at 5:30 and the founder of Daughterhood Anne Tumlinson will be there. Please contact me for details and to RSVP.
  • Become a Certified Caregiver Consultant after completing the training that kicks off in January.
  • Continue to expand the organized and exclusive content in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community and grow the membership.
  • Seek opportunities to accomplish some of my 50 before 50 bucket list items.
  • Develop an online stand alone training course for the Happy Healthy Caregiver and a complimentary live training series for family caregivers that will be offered to local hospitals and adult communities.
  • Work with my mom and my sisters to publish my Dad’s second book that was in the editing stage when he passed. Click here for a link to a post I wrote about his ‘drops’ of wisdom.
  • Investigate and plan our next family European vacation. We want to definitely get one family adventure in during Natalie’s senior year.
  • I’ll be sharing more about my personal health & wellness endeavors including sleep, hormones & chiropractor visits and continuing on the lifelong journey of achieving and maintaining a healthy body fat %. For my size and age, I’m striving for 20%.

It’s a good thing we have 365 days in a year! I’m going to need each one of them.

Take Action

Before you potentially dive into setting your 2017 resolutions, I encourage you to sit with a journal for just a few minutes and reflect back on your year. What are you proud of? What changes or learnings had a huge impact on you? What fun or funny things happened? What goals have you made progress on?

Perhaps reading my recap of the year will jog your memory about some of these events or maybe you can do this reflection activity together with your entire family.

Happy New Year Happy Healthy Caregivers!! May 2017 be full of blessings and joy for you and your family!

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