My Word for 2018

Looking through my post history and considering what my word for 2018 would be, I was initially surprised to discover I didn’t write a word of the year post for 2017. Really, though, when I remember how derailed I felt in late 2016 and how much of a hiatus I’ve since taken from blogging, it shouldn’t have surprised me. Despite my lack of sharing, I did have a word for 2017: Strive.

And strive I did. In late 2016, I was already leaving behind my word for 2016, balance, and moving into a striving space. I applied for graduate school in November and December of that year, and decided to close my business January 1st.

There were so many times over the past several years when I said no to something or accepted health or energy limitations. Initially, I had to because I was in rough shape, but later I became afraid of taking on too much and settled into a pattern of not challenging myself.

Now, with full-time graduate studies plus a mandatory two-day-per-week internship, I have been thrust into the very definition of too much and yet, I am thriving. I have found more energy than I knew was possible and I am maintaining balance and a reasonable bed time despite the heavy workload. It’s been illuminating.

Looking ahead to next year, there’s one key area that I want to work on: Personal growth. While I claim to have adopted a growth mindset, I still find myself asking “why?” when I’m asked to do something for school or internship. My innate response is, “I already know this,” or “What am I learning?”

Next year, I’m going to focus on growing, in my education, my mindset, and my personal life. And so my word for 2018 is ‘Grow,’ with my chosen definition, “to develop or mature physically, mentally, or spiritually.”


I’m hoping this word will help me remember to maintain a growth mindset, to be willing to consider another perspective, and to approach each individual or situation with the best intentions. For me, doing those things would embody growth.

What about you? What is your word for 2018?

Kate Watson

Inspired January 2018

Inspired January 2018

Inspired January is back for 2018!

A series of daily Instagram prompts throughout the first month of the year, Inspired January is an invitation to start your new year mindfully—with peace, gratitude, self-exploration, and gentle visioning. Around the midpoint of the event, you’ll be encouraged to move into action and creating, and then celebrating the steps you’ve taken and the work you’ve done. The beauty of this experience is the community that is created among the conscious, creative individuals who choose to participate.

In 2018, the #InspiredJanuary community will be cultivated and cheerled by three certified coaches, Kate Love of Sage Coaching, Kelly Mahoney, and me. The three of us met in January 2016 as members of the Courageous Living Coach Certification Program, and we remain friends.

Inspired January 2018 Prompts

How to Participate

How you engage with Inspired January is up to you. To join in, follow one or all of your hostesses on Instagram: Kate Love, Kelly Mahoney, and me. We will be guiding the journey by posting daily responses to the prompts above using the hashtag #InspiredJanuary.

We invite you to share your process along with us by using the official hashtag. Of course, you may also choose to keep your process private through journaling, meditation, or creating in your preferred medium. The prompts are designed to be flexible and invoke your imagination.

You’re welcome to pop by when the spirit moves you, whether for one day or all 31. Either way, Kate, Kelly, and I will be there, welcoming you and sharing our own journeys. We hope to see you there!

Kate Watson

My 40+ After 40 List

While making my 40 Before 40 List, I brainstormed some additional life experiences I wanted to have but knew I would never fit into the available three years. Hence I made a second list, my 40+ After 40, which I’ll share with you today. It’s a collection of life and travel experiences I want to have sometime during this lifetime:

Life Experiences for My After 40 List

  1. Adopt a pet
  2. Restart Latin dance lessons
  3. Enter a ballroom competition
  4. Learn a martial art
  5. Ride in a horse-drawn carriage
  6. Attend a ball
  7. Fly first class
  8. Be a movie extra
  9. Take a Segway for a spin
  10. Buy or build my dream home
  11. Try SCUBA
  12. Write an 80K word novel
  13. Publish a book
  14. Make mead
  15. Make wine
  16. Attend an NBA game
  17. Attend an NHL playoff game
  18. Take a sculpture workshop
  19. See Misty Copeland perform live
  20. Go parasailing
  21. Jump out of a plane
  22. Do a mud run
  23. Participate in a flash mob
  24. Have a 5-minute conversation in Spanish
  25. Have a 5-minute conversation in French
  26. Grow my family

Create Your Own Visited States Map

 Travel Experiences for My After 40 List

  1. Travel to all 50 states (16 to go!)
  2. Visit David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
  3. Stay at a 5-star resort
  4. Attend Mardi Gras
  5. Visit all seven continents (two to go!)
  6. Live in Europe for 6+ months—again
  7. Live in another overseas location for 3+ months
  8. Visit South Africa
  9. Visit an aboriginal art center in Australia
  10. Cruise the Mediterranean
  11. Cruise and set foot on Antarctica
  12. Visit the Galapagos
  13. Play tourist in Washington, DC – see cherry blossoms, visit museums
  14. Sleep in a castle
  15. Sleep in an overwater bungalow
  16. Visit Alaska
  17. Take a small or private cruise
  18. Visit Caisteal Maol on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
  19. Italy! – Take a gondola ride in Venice, see the Amalfi Coast, visit Sicily, and stand inside the Sistine Chapel
  20. Ride the Rocky Mountaineer scenic train
  21. See the Northern Lights
  22. Attend the Winter Olympics
  23. See the Earth from space

40 After 40 List

What would you put on your bucket list?

Kate Watson

Photo Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data provided courtesy of Chris Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center). Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Defense. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.

40 Before 40: Final Roundup


Well, we’re here at the final roundup for my 40 before 40 list. It’s been three years of new experiences, fun adventures, and figuring out what matters now and for the next 40+ years of my life.

One thing I learned from this process is the importance of priorities. Some larger items on the list didn’t get done because I didn’t apply consistent effort. While I was able to give attention to developing a course, working this list, planning my 10th anniversary, and expanding my involvement with foster youth, I didn’t prioritize practicing Spanish, writing a personal owner’s manual, or writing an 80,000-word novel. That’s OK.

Remaining items that are important to me will be transferred to my 40 After 40 list. Here’s an overview of these past three years, with emphasis on the remaining open items:

1. Try Peruvian food – check!
2. Sponsor an elephant – check!
3. Visit Seattle – check!
4. Complete a 10K – check!
5. Wear my joy – check!
6. Play tourist in my “home city” – check!
7. Try Scandinavian food – check!
8. Develop a free course for my readers – check!

9. Expand my involvement with foster and at-risk youth – check!
Last year, I began working with two more teenagers through my local CASA program and I was asked to serve as vice chair for the organization’s board. If I were less committed, I’d call this goal complete based on that alone. However, this is such a passion area for me, I decided to enroll in a Master of Social Welfare program. Through the program and additional studies after it, I plan to become an expert in programmatic interventions benefiting at-risk youth, particularly those engaged in the foster care and juvenile justice systems.

10. Attend an NFL game – check!
11. Exhibit my watercolor paintings – check!
12. Fly in a glider – check!
13. Attend Holi at Stanford – check!
14. Celebrate 10 years of marriage – check!
15. Dance in the rain – check!
16. Try Stand Up Paddling – check!
17. Attend a concert at Mountain Winery – check!
18. Visit Mendocino, CA – check!
19. Start a personal photography project – check!

20. Do a color run – check!
I had some difficulty completing the more physical aspects of my 40 before 40 list due to an injury I developed training for my first 10K. It took almost two years to get a diagnosis (rupture of my plantar fascia and tearing in my peroneus brevis tendon, plus some inflammation in other areas of my ankle and foot). My podiatrist put me in a walking boot after I’d signed up for the 2017 San Jose Color Run — so I walked the race. In the boot. Good times!

Color Run San Jose 2017

21. Wear yellow – check!

22. Fly a kite – check!
In June, we got together with some friends to fly kites and drones at a local park. It was a bit windy for the drones that day but I had a great time flying my kite. Have you ever flown a kite? It’s a relaxing, almost meditative (and certainly mesmerizing) experience. It was so cool to see the kite soar, bounce, drop to the earth, and soar again in response to the changing winds.

Flying a Kite

23. Visit Europe again – check!
24. See Stonehenge – check!
25. Travel the Chunnel – check!

26. See Rent – check!
#26 was originally attending a fancy-dress ball. I couldn’t find what I was looking for so I swapped in another idea: attending a musical. Although Rent debuted more than 20 years ago, I’d never seen either the musical or movie so, when the touring company came to San Francisco, I snapped up a pair of tickets for hubby and me.

27. Take a sushi making class – check!
I’d been trying to schedule a sushi-making class since announcing this list three years ago but it kept falling through. Finally, I turned to my husband’s coworkers and got together a group to fill a class at Sushi Confidential in Campbell. It was a great time—really interesting and tasty!

Sushi making class

28. Do a mud run – postponed due to injury – transferred to 40 After 40 list
29. Write a 80,000-word novel – transferred to 40 After 40 list
30. Do something fun with my hair – check!
31. Participate in a flash mob – transferred to 40 After 40 list

32. Finally get a wedding album – almost done
My husband and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary this year and we still don’t have a wedding album. I decided to remedy this as part of my 40 before 40 list, and we’re definitely making some progress. We reviewed our wedding photos and chose an album vendor. Now all that’s left is to submit the album for printing and production. Because we’re moving this summer and our album vendor is half a world away, we decided to postpone ordering the album until after our move. Once we’re in Los Angeles, a wedding album will be ours.

33. Have a 5-minute Spanish conversation – transferred to 40 After 40 list
34. Drive a dream car – check!

35. Write a personal owner’s manual – in progress
I’ve learned a lot about myself over these past three years. While I don’t have much of an owner’s manual yet, I have a lot of components for it and that’s enough for me for now.

36. Host holidays at home – check!
37. Get certified in CPR & first aid – check!
38. Visit David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – transferred to 40 After 40 list
39. Stay in a 5-star resort – transferred to 40 After 40 list
40. Buy a house – transferred to 40 After 40 list
41. Write my 40 After 40 List – check!

So, there you have it. I checked off 31/40 items on my 40 before 40 list. Two of the remaining items are in progress and seven will be transferred to my 40 after 40 list. More thoughts and notes about this journey to come.

Kate Watson

Sally Rorer - This is an amazing journal of your activities. All I can say is that it is fantastic. I congratulate you on all of your accomplishments. Yeah!

40 Before 40 List: Roundup #4

We are just six months away my 40th birthday so it’s time to check in on how I’m doing with my 40 Before 40 List. Here’s what I’ve accomplished since my last recap:

#4. Wear my joy. 
When I last wrote about wearing my joy, I had just taken a class by Kelly Rae Roberts. Then, last fall, I enhanced that practice by applying Marie Kondo’s Konmari method to my clothes. Now all I own are clothes that bring me joy, which certainly makes wearing my joy easier.

#7. Try Scandinavian food.
Last February, friends and I gathered at Pläj restaurant in San Francisco to try Scandinavian food. I was surprised by how many offerings were cold, given that Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have colder climates, but we enjoyed our tastes of pickled herring, gravlax, and trout. The dessert was my favorite, though: sorbet, princess cake, and chocolate cake (kladdkaka).plaj-restaurant


#10. Attend an NFL game.
I originally had this one on my 40 After 40 list but, last September, Brian’s cousin invited us to the season opener for the 49ers. So we went. The Niners won, which was pretty cool for a team who ended the season 2-14, and we had a great time. Thank you, Laura!



#18. Visit Mendocino, CA.
Before my husband started his new job in April, we took a weeklong driving tour of Northern California, including a stop in Mendocino. It was a lot smaller than I expected, but pretty cute.


#23-25. Visit Europe.

Originally #23 was a trip to Scotland and Ireland, but we decided to go to mainland Europe instead. Brian and I had last visited Europe in 2008, which seemed like a long time ago, so we visited London, UK; Bruges and Antwerp, Belgium; and Amsterdam, Netherlands in December. It was my first trip to London in 20 years, if you can believe it. We did some cheesy things there—like tourist photos at Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station—as well as the regular must-sees, like Stonehenge (#24), traveling through the Channel Tunnel (#25) and the London Google office. 😉




#30. Do something fun with my hair.
In late 2015, I dyed my hair a warm brown-red and then one of my besties gave me hot pink extensions for my birthday. Love them! I might need more extensions.


#34. Drive a dream car.
For my 2015 Christmas gift, hubby gave me a supercar driving experience with LTF Adventures. Over Easter 2016 weekend, I got to drive a Ferrari F430, Ferrari 360, Lamborghini Gallardo, and Porsche 911. My favorite car to drive was the Ferrari F430, maybe because it was my first. The 360 moved around on the road more than the heavier F430. The Porsche was a lot of fun to drive, but the Lamborghini was perfection.


#37. Learn CPR & first aid.
In October, I completed a one-day class in CPR and first aid. I’m now certified but I still feel like I have a lot to learn, especially on the first aid piece. Maybe next I’ll take a more in-depth first aid class.

Kate Watson