I should know better by now. I should know that this exercise is not one to take lightly or brush off. If I ignore it, I quickly learn that it has a sense of humor.

My word for 2016 was Build.

As I’ve mentioned before, I try not to overthink what my word of the year “means” when it comes to me. Every time I’ve tried to force it, I end up with something that doesn’t resonate and inevitably change it. So, “build” showed up and I just accepted it. So how’d it go?

At the end of 2015, I had just found out I’d be moving back to North Carolina, a state I love (despite its current political climate) and where I had spent a few years in my early twenties. Other than knowing I’d be heading to the Triangle area, I had very few preconceptions or plans about what my NC shift would bring.

For the first half of the year, I felt, frankly, lost. Living in temporary housing while working on selling the house in Atlanta, spending hours and hours in the car going back and forth between Raleigh and ATL, having most of my belongings in storage, spending more hours traveling to shows…Oh, and my beloved guitar and all my sound equipment getting stolen the morning a tour was starting. I was adrift and didn’t have any touchstones to ground me during that time. My only recourse was staying present (thank you, meditation and hiking trails) and accepting things as they came. For someone who loves to be in control of the plans, I was being taught a firm lesson about “rolling with it.”

my hiking buddy, Pavlov.

In April, we bought a house in Durham NC. We ended up with a fixer-upper ranch on 2.5 acres and a couple of out buildings. Because the housing market moves so quickly around here, I actually “saw” the house over a video chat and told M. to put an offer on it while I drove up from Atlanta. We’d been burned by a previous offer falling through because we couldn’t get to it in time, and thought it was worth the risk. I hopped in the car for a 6-hour trip, worried I would hate it when I got there.

Luckily, I knew we were in the right spot as soon as I set foot on the land. It needed (needs) a LOT of work, but I love to get my hands dirty and, after all, I totally asked for it.

We spent a month doing the most major updates before moving in to the place in May. We took out two walls, repainted kitchen cabinets, tore out shower doors, installed a massive support beam, repaired plumbing, gutted the “garage apartment” (seemingly designed by someone who woke up one day and decided to build a house with no regard to code, safety, or logic), build two garden beds, and hauled more than 4,000 lbs of junk to the dump. Here’s a snapshot of that process:

Oh, you wanted to Build you say?


In addition to the actual “building” I did, I also had some goals around community building and settling into a new area. I wanted to meet members of the creative community here and get involved. To that end, I became a Patreon supporter of a local theater, played a few local shows, auditioned and was cast in a community theater production of a musical to knock some dust off of my theatrical skills, and participated in a Christmas show with a 22-piece band to raise money for a great organization called Arts for Life.  I’ve been slowly but steadily meeting people and trying to foster friendships, which is awkward and a little odd as an adult, but I’m committed to making it happen.

The second half of this year, things finally started to feel like they were settling in to a groove and a sense of normalcy and stability peeked its head out of the rubble. The year was chaotic but wonderful, difficult but rewarding. 2017 approaches, full of possibility.

photo by Hartman Outdoor Photography

Oh, and this happened, too. 😉


Did you have a word or theme for this year? How did it go?