Below is a mostly complete list of the moments and lessons that defined this past year for me. 2016 has proven to be quite an interesting year, to use the euphemism of the decade. It’s odd how the unanimity of challenging circumstances for everyone on some level, can provide a feeling of comfort to us all.

I’m not trying to celebrate or glorify the fact that it was a tough year for many people. I’m not masochistic. I’m merely leaning on the fact that our shared experiences allow for an understanding and togetherness that is significant to me. I know for me it has been one of the more difficult years of my adult life and I am looking forward to a new year as much as anyone. However, the goal isn’t to wipe the slate clean and to start fresh like a whiteboard, but to file away the lessons learned within well worn pages and to carry them forward with nuanced perspective.

1) I take a lot of pictures. A lot. Photography has become more of a passion and it’s for moments like this when I randomly saw my friend digging for clams while I was walking the pier. A photo is something to keep and to share.

2) Our beloved house by the sea. We found out the day Clive was born that our landlords were selling the house we were renting. A few months later we had to move out, but we wouldn’t have traded our time here for ANYTHING.

3) This photo was taken on Clive’s first trip to the ER. He had croup and it sounded like he couldn’t breathe at times and it was scary. We got to visit the hospital where my wife works and saw some familiar faces which was great. He was a champ.

4) These colors. This pier. Our little part of the ocean that we are fortunate enough to call home.

5) There are three essential items I walk out of the door with every morning: coffee, lunch, and keys. There was a period of the year where I could only seem to remember 2 of the 3, and I usually forgot the keys. Thus, I’d sit outside our office on this picnic table until someone else showed up.

6) NYC. I get to this city as often as I can. I love the pace. I love the energy. I love seeing friends and my step sister who lives there. See you soon!

7) On a work level, 2016 proved to be the most challenging year I’ve ever faced and I was stretched in a every way as a leader. As a young founder of an organization much of your learning is trial by fire and it feels as though you are learning by Braille. It’s exposed my strengths and weaknesses in ways that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise and for that I’m grateful.

8) An overwhelming highlight of the year was getting to participate in a graduation ceremony at our Krochet Kids intl. program in Uganda. Nearly 30 women took the step to move toward self-reliance as they left our programs and are now leading businesses and careers of their own. It was awe-inspiring.

9) Neighbors. We were lucky to move right behind some good friends. This meant constant scheming of ways to utilize our shared spaces. Movie night on the garage was one such escapade, and the movie Bat Kid is incredible BTW.

10) Nostalgia for me is rooted in fresh water, boats, and searching for turtles. Our family lake cabin allows for all of the above, and we are lucky to escape their at least once during the summer.

11) I love the people I get to work with. We have a tradition (creatively) dubbed “Last Friday”. On the last Friday of every month we do an activity together. Our staff and intern ping pong tournament is pictured above.

12) Remember how the Olympics happened? This was Clive’s outfit for the opening ceremonies and for the family Olympics competition we had with my in-laws.

13) My wife is a former gymnast and all around badass (both shown here). She impresses me daily and I ask her to show off her skills whenever I can because it’s one of the things that made me fall in love with her.

14) We traded the beach for this incredible nature preserve near our new home. Can you spot Amy and Clive?

15) Our family bikes. It was a huge milestone to get a bike seat for the little monster. It meant we could be mobile on bikes again as a family. Life is complete.

16) What an incredible joy it is to get to experience travel through the eyes of a child. We’ve had fun bringing Clive along for the ride. Pictured here was his first cross country trip to NYC at 6 months old.

17) I especially love this photo because of the journey I took to capture it. I left the previous night watching the sunset in Florida and then I awoke before sunrise on a camping trip the next morning in the central coast of California. The two coasts couldn’t be more different and the direct contrast was fascinating to me.

18) I have always been a morning person and Clive got that same gene. Many weekend mornings find us exploring around Newport pier like you see here.

19) Community. The Haacks put on an incredible “friendsgiving” gathering every year, but this year was especially memorable because we all sat and ate in the rain. It was magical.

20) We had board meeting/retreat in the San Juan Islands in Washington this Fall. Growing up in the Northwest I had somehow missed ever visiting this amazing part of the country. It did not disappoint.

21) This photo sums up our little guy. All smiles, one sock, and bringing joy wherever he goes. Though I didn’t know what to expect, parenting has been more difficult than I thought it would be. Higher highs and lower lows have marked our experience thus far and we’re just getting started.

22) It wasn’t until the latter part of the year that Amy and I started to attempt some date nights. I have been thankful for encouraging voices in our lives reminding us of the importance to prioritize our marriage amidst children. Here’s to more of this in 2017!

Written by Kohl Crecelius
Kohl Crecelius is the CEO and Co-founder of the non-profit apparel brand Krochet Kids intl. He is passionate about helping others realize the role they can play in changing the world using the skills and gifts they have.