Every year gets harder, every year gets better

On New Year’s Day of 2023, after an afternoon nap, I awoke with new certainty that I wanted to write a book. With surprising clarity, I believed I needed to at least give it a try. The idea of a system for improving systems – a meta system of sorts – had been brewing in my head for a long time. And now that I had invented it in my brain, I kept seeing opportunities to put it to good use everywhere. If only I had a good way to share the idea with everyone. It was fun to explore different ways to do that. Maybe this is an infographic. Maybe a small flip book. Maybe a timeline? Spreadsheets and sketches and prototypes had occupied some spare time here and there. But a book would require more dedicated attention that I couldn’t really hide, and so I ‘fessed up to my husband that afternoon. I wanted to make this a project for the coming year.


And what a year it turned out to be. Except for the couple of years during the pandemic that we homeschooled the kids, it has felt like each new year of parenthood brings a new level of difficulty. Things only get harder, not easier with time. And 2023 was arguably the hardest year of being a parent for me personally. Stress from kid-related mental health challenges amidst provider changes, school expulsion, and eye surgery were compounded by the household stress from a summertime hurricane-force storm’s aftermath and an unrelated monumental, unplanned kitchen floor repair project. Serenity now!


Yet somehow through the months this book project turned out to be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling thing to have simmering alongside my regular life. It felt like a relief to have somewhere to put my ideas. It was interesting to learn more about publishing and how other authors think and work. And I got to see my very vague and nebulous idea begin to take shape. This coming year will naturally pivot to promoting the System Redesign Handbook now that it is out in the world. But I’m so thankful to have gotten to work on its creation in 2023.


Looking back, this has weirdly been the hardest and also the best year yet, personally. Both things can be true at the same time. And that’s a lesson that feels very full circle at this particular moment.