A Blythe Coach

A Beautiful Year of Slow Creation & Growth – 2023 Reflections


Lovely as can be,

a time to create

and witness beauty

That’s the poem I shared when I declared my Word of the Year and practices to make it so.

Now how did it go?

View of Cochem in the Mosel wine region of Germany

In December I participated in Judith Peters’ aka Sympatexter’s blogging challenge called “Jahresrückblog,” in support of writing and sharing annual retrospective and reflection blog article. Love a bit of structured reflection and sharing insights that may be interesting or helpful to others!

As I’ve noted in previous years, it takes me a while to complete such a reflection process, so I didn’t click “publish” on the deadline of the challenge, but was well-served by the social media prompts, live and recorded support and community that the challenge provided.

Here I am now to share my thoughts on 2023, at least as I experienced it, and inspired to share more regular personal reflections of this nature in the form of monthly-ish blogs, in order to continue to connect with folks with similar values and interests for whom my work and being in the world resonates.

Did a lot of journaling, an important part of my process

Here I’m reviewing my goals and intentions, highlights and lowlights, joys, lessons, and challenges of 2023, in order to move powerfully into 2024.

Review of My 2023 Goals

What became of my declarations for last year?

Following Amanda McKinney’s annual planning process, I had set larger annual goals in the areas of Life, Growth (Business), and Revenue. Spoiler alert, I didn’t reach any of them!

But! I still made progress in each area, just saw slower results than I had hoped for. These measurable differences and improvements were the gift of gathering all this data, as well as perspective on how regular actions contribute to results over time. Now I also have increased knowledge and experience to set and achieve better goals in the future.

You could say it was a challenging year for me personally, and I know I’m not alone in that, but I am here to celebrate what wins there were and what I’ve learned and enjoyed along the way.

A view of home: Kailua Bay from the Kona Inn with red hibiscus in the foreground

2023 Outcomes

  • Life: My lived experience, interactions and influence on others was my highest priority. Creating and witnessing my Word of the Year, Beauty, was my intention in this area, and I DID indeed create and witness beauty plentifully! Made strides connecting, sharing love, adventuring and celebrating, traveling, and practicing rituals and habits. When things were difficult or I felt low, I sought support and kept in mind the intrinsic beauty of life and the small moments even in the midst of struggle, pain, or loss. I deeply appreciated, savored, and celebrated everything that is beautiful and that I’m grateful for in life, including my love, family, friends, and community, nature and art! I was blessed with rich cultural experiences, travel, and adventure.
  • Growth: I didn’t reach my 1,000 subscriber goal for YouTube, but did end 2023 with 495 subs, and in January of 2024 I reached the 500 sub milestone! This is nothing close to viral or even profitable, but I find sharing and connecting with people through the channel as well as my blog and social media very beneficial in terms of refining my message and connecting with likeminded folks. As YouTube pointed out, that’s enough people to fill a jumbo jet 🙂 This was not enough, yet, to translate into large gains in clients or students, but I have seen growth in enrollment as well. I increased the number and type of my offerings and still wrote and created quite a bit, so feeling proud of my efforts overall. Will continue with perseverance and strategy.
  • Revenue: I’m not sharing financial details here in this article, but like my other stated goals, I saw distinct growth, albeit not yet at the scale I desired. New opportunities continue to present themselves and I am so grateful to be able to do work I’m passionate about! Continuing to work to give myself grace with transitioning to a new country, language and life through global pandemic.

Annual Glows + Grows

As with my reflections on other periods of time, in Daily Logs, Weekly, Monthly, and Quarterly Reflections, I take note of what went well, what was challenging, surprises and challenges, highlights and lowlights.

I vent it all, then see what trends and themes I can suss out.

Glows: Highlights & Accomplishments

As we saw, I did not hit all of the targets I set though process was made. There were some standout moments related to my intentions, as well as delights and enriching experiences that arrived over the course of the year.

I’m especially pleased and proud of:

  • Maintaining daily Yoga, Meditation, Reading, Writing, Gratitude + Abundance, German practices, weekly Physical Therapy, Improvisation, Artist’s Dates, monthly reflection
  • 5th Anniversary and happy with Ela
  • Trip Home to Kailua-Kona in May
  • Getaways to Bochum in at the start of the year, to the Mosel wine region with friends in September, to Amsterdam with my cousins in June
  • Other cousins visited Cologne in October and of my best friends visited Cologne in December
  • Classes and offerings growing, Barre a Terre, teaching and coaching in new locations and demographics, further possibilities unfolding
  • “Alice im Wunderland Ballett” was a success with Tanzschule Tanzraum at the Urania Theatre in Cologne, so proud of all the students!
  • Hosted new challenges and workshops: “International Women’s Day Yoga,” “Get Down Daily,” “Ignite the Spark of Creativity,” “Transitions & Translations,”
  • Emceed for the first time for West Hawai’i Dance Theatre’s “Rikki Tikki Tavi Ballet”
  • Participated in challenges new and old: Camp NaNoWriMo/Memoir, Self-Care September, A Year of Planning, Alphabet Superset creative challenge still in progress, learning to use TikTok
  • Adulting: Started collecting profit using the PROFIT FIRST system, Granted a 3-year work visa in Germany, Applied for the Kunstler Sozialkasse and Techniker Krankenkasse, Solved credit card issue, switched Spotify to YouTube for music, bought a Deutschland Ticket subscription for unfettered travel
  • Arts & Culture – was treated to live performances including “Nutcracker,” “Rikki Tikki Tavi,” and “Navy Blue”
  • Sports – started practicing Tai Chi and Qi Gong, watching Sumo Championships, Women’s World Cup finals, Eddie Aikau surf competition
  • Ela returned to Karate after working hard to recover from knee injury and surgery
  • Bathroom repair after flooding late 2022 finally complete
  • Received a copy of a history of one side of my family from a distant cousin: The Kernahan Clan, still need to read it and follow-up
  • Had a blast on my Artist’s Dates, bought stationery, played in my journals and got creative, especially enjoyed traveling with my new Artist’s Roll for my colored pencils and a few other items
Artist’s Roll in the wild on the slopes of Mauna Loa

Grows: Lowlights, Loss & Lessons

This was a bit of a theme of the year for me, unforeseen challenges, grieving, letting go, hanging in there, starting again. It was not the easiest year for me emotionally, and I know I’m not alone in this. It was overall a beautiful, wonderful year and I don’t want to complain, but also want to be honest and authentic about my experience and not ignore the difficult parts.

  • Wars in Ukraine and Gaza are shaking our world, sending refugees and trauma. Save the children, call for a ceasefire, peace on earth.
  • My Great Aunt Kathie, with whom I was not especially close but who was dearly beloved in my family and was my Tutu’s last living sibling, passed away this year
  • A studio where I teach suddenly lost a dear custodian, Guiseppe, with whom I often chatted and whose family is left bereft
  • 3 beloved family dogs passed
  • One of my aunts was diagnosed with cancer and has begun treatment
  • I had my own health scare and had to be treated for Hemorrhoids, a much more common condition than I realized
  • Our bathroom flooding repairs took all year
  • Challenges and goals that I did not complete as intended: Inktober52 (3/52 drawings), Nikolais/Louis reading and explorations, coaching client acquisition, business card distribution, sample sessions, content creation and networking at the level I intended (yet)
  • Unsuccessful university teaching position application (I believe I am qualified and do love teaching in higher education, but I’m also happy to work outside of the system)
  • Did not publish Somatics and Ballet or other academic articles to blog (yet)
  • Did not participate in a dance research conference but would like to in the future
  • Zoom video recording problem which created difficulties for my video workflow and beyond, technical issues aplenty
  • Very slow/delayed on monthly, quarterly reflection, still haven’t broken down expenses categories for budgeting, paying taxes and recordkeeping very stressful, need a better system for this
  • Did not take steps towards getting my German Drivers License
2023 Annual Collections Journal Flipthrough and 2024 Migration part 1 on YouTube

Intentional Habits & Practices

In service to my overarching long-term goals, I had announced twenty-three focus areas or more regular habits/practices. This was playfully inspired by JashiiCorrin on YouTube, with a Bullet Journal spread to declare and track. For each of the 23 chosen actions, I meant to make at least 23 contributions, and in this way consistently support of my major goals and most valued priorities.

My Twenty-Three 23’s in 2023 Bullet Journal Spread at the beginning of the year

23 Twenty-Threes in 2023

I met quite a few of my 23 targets, and missed a bunch as well…

Here are the practices I prioritized:
  • Practice Yoga – as this is meant to be a daily ritual, I practiced yoga many more than 23 times, rather 318 sessions and it continues to be there exactly when and how I need it
  • Meditate – 299 sessions
  • Gratitude & Abundance – 365 days
  • Morning Pages – 189 entries
  • Classes Taught – 417 including online, in-studio, and at a new school location!
  • Bullet Journal Spreads – at least 104, including annual collections, monthly and weekly spreads, and quarterly reflections, plus special events and trips
  • Books Read – I actually enjoyed reading 35 books and I’m very happy with this. My goal for reading is not maximum consumption, but maximum appreciation of the benefits of reading books and a balance of pleasure and growth. Diversity in topics and genres as well as turning to reading material that is just for the fun of it. When it comes to nonfiction, I tend to read slowly, take a lot of notes, and try to integrate what I learn into my life as I go. Currently I plan to record and share what were my favorite books and other media of 2023, to come…
  • Send Email Newsletters – 45, a top priority is to stay in touch with my inner circle of students, clients, and likeminded creatives
  • Write Articles – 14, less than desired, partly also do to technical snafus with video publishing process, also just allowed myself to get derailed by life stuff
  • Videos Published – 17, much lower than I expected due to unforseen technical difficulties and other circumstances
  • Dance Improvisation – several times per week, 52+
  • Choreography – 19, very much supported by participating in Alphabet Superset
  • Artist’s Dates – weekly, about 52
  • Physical Therapy – about twice weekly, 52+
Non-Priorities / Did not meet objective
  • Letters Sent – 13 (I love pen-palling but struggle to get out cards and letters as I wish to do)
  • Podcasts Published – 4, though I did reach episode 100! Decided to let this take a back burner to other content types this year as I took on new roles in other areas
  • Drawings – 3, also decided to let Inktober52 go
  • Poems – 11, kept my practice going
  • Music Practice – stopped tracking
  • Micro Workout – stopped tracking
  • (Not tracking Student or Client numbers or Income here)
My cousin’s child, cousin, and Ela in the park during their visit

Key 2023 Themes for Me

Theme 1: Family

I most cherish special times with family this year, mine and Ela’s. So grateful to be able to travel to be with my parents, and that a couple of my cousins could come to Europe, meeting us in the Netherlands or at home in Cologne. Got to spend quality time with a couple of my cousins’ delightful growing children and I treasure the memories.

But possibly our family’s biggest news of the year is the birth of Ela’s sister’s child, baby Adem in the spring. He is absolutely the best and we’re eating him up. Not sharing photos of him online, so you will have to imagine his wide, curious eyes, huge cheeks, and dear smile!

Theme 2: Creative Chosen Challenges

Hosting and participating in challenges and workshops was definitely a highlight of 2023. I hosted a few challenges, namely Get Down Daily, Ignite the Spark of Creativity, and two new workshops, International Women’s Day Yoga and the Transitions and Translations choreography workshop at my home studio, West Hawai’i Dance Academy!

I gladly participated in A Year of Planning, Blog Your Purpose (also with Judith Peters!), Self-Care September, and the ongoing Alphabet Superset challenge with Campbell Walker, aka Struthless.

Stepping into creating micro video choreographies on TikTok for the Alphabet Superset, completed first half in 2023, to be continued in 2024…

Theme 3: Experiencing Arts & Culture

I was blessed with a wealth of special concerts, performances, galleries and museums, travel adventures, new sports and more! Planning to pass along recommendations for my favorite reads, viewing, and events in an upcoming blog.

My 3 Favorite Blog Articles of the Year

Of my writings this year, I’d like to recommend a few that I think are particularly valuable in retrospect:

  • At this time of year and anytime, my Annual Refresh, Reflection, Clearing and Planning Process Blog is a great way to get ideas to add to or refine to your own refreshing reflections and powerful planning
  • As I shared, creative challenges were a big highlight of my year, if you’re wanting to see how they could support your goals as well, my Chosen Challenges Blog is here
  • Storytelling, whether in-person, on video, or written was everywhere in 2023 and I was working to become a better nonfiction writer (it’s ongoing), through Camp Memoir and readings, which I reflected on in Writing True Stories to Reflect & Connect

My Goals for 2024

My big-picture, long-term goals haven’t changed this year, but I will be continuing to pursue them in patient, persistent, and strategic ways. I’ve also chosen 24 24’s for 2024 and will be sharing these intended actions and how I’m tracking and supporting them in the future.

Having already declared a Word of the Year in this article, next up will be jumping into action and creating systems to support the journey of the coming year. Glad to be on this journey together!

A little birdy told me we are going to fly in 2024!

Questions for Reflection

  • How do you reflect on the year past?
  • What goals and intentions do you have for 2024?
  • How can I support you in going after your dreams this year?

Resources for Further Exploration

I’ve got oodles more free resources for you here on the blog, on the A Blythe Coach YouTube Channel, on social media and live! The best way to keep up-to-date on everything I’m coaching, teaching, creating and sharing as well as my favorite work from other creators is to subscribe to my weekly email newsletter. Would love to be connected to you there, here, on social media, online or in-person!

Blog article-wise, here are some others you might find interesting:

Blythe Stephens, MFA & Bliss Catalyst
she/her or they/them
Creator of A Blythe Coach @ablythecoach
helping multi-passionate creatives dance through their difficulties,
taking leaps of faith into fulfillment through coaching, yoga & dance education

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