Happy Year 
of the Rooster
Yvette was fortunate with her flexible consulting schedule to dedicate a significant chunk of time to her parents’ care. Her mom is down to 80-something pounds with a multitude of eye, lung and digestive issues. Yvette’s dad was diagnosed with a heart problem whose source was a rare cancer in his chest cavity. Gung Gung spent over three weeks in hospitals, the ICU, and the dreaded SNF (Skilled Nursing Facility). Blessed are those who work in hospitals, especially nurses! They were incredibly good to him throughout the ordeal, yet the hospital scene left its scars. It is as if you’re pulled down a flight of stairs and while you slowly climb up, something trips you every so often, reminding you to continue operating in crisis mode. Through these trying moments, Yvette is most grateful for her 3 incredible sisters, amazing hubster, kids and friends who cried, offered playdates and filled her heart with love and strength. 

While in years past, Yvette worked with a group of co-facilitators, she mainly worked solo this year with über satisfying clients, including successfully mediating a year-long merger of two HIV community councils and developing a pilot program against human trafficking. Yvette also carved out more time to do 1:1 executive coaching in which she combines leadership development with “untraining” clients around racism. This combination of actualizing social justice and coaching to help people love themselves so that they can eradicate racism is Yvette’s ultimate calling.
2016 was a year to explore this unique state from top to bottom. From San Diego in the spring, we also ventured to the Mojave, Point Reyes, Gold Rush-era Columbia, the Sierras, Humboldt, the Tule Lake Internment Center museum, and the caves in Lava Beds (with a side trip to Crater Lake). Taken together, these places remind us that although our struggles for economic improvement, justice, and protection of wild spaces are ongoing, our society can, with proper mindfulness and motivation, create a world we want to live in. May we all foster mutual encouragement and uplift this coming year to build mountains reaching for the sky.
Savio, Sequoia, Liwen, and Yvette
              Savio had his share of excitement. After he got beaned by a high, inside fastball in his first baseball game this season, his underdog Miracle Mets team won his division’s championship. For the final out in the championship game last spring, his team tagged the other side’s runner (the potentially winning run) who was sliding into second base. He also accomplished other firsts, including doing his first science fair project, graduating to a bike with hand brakes, and figuring out cursive and multiplication in third grade. On top of all that, he lost his two top front teeth. The gradual uplift? In addition to continuing to discover the joy of reading and to express his creativity in writing and drawing, Savio has become a responsible teammate, helping around the house and fighting his sister to clean the bathroom (!). Against the backdrop of national politics, he has become much more mindful of trying to help others.
Clockwise from top left: Granite slabs in El Dorado Nat’l Forest; Fog over Pt. Reyes Beach; Sea life; Elephant seal pup; Getting rich panning for gold at Columbia; Mojave sunset; Light at the end of Skull Cave, Lava Beds; Emerging from Lava Beds darkness. Middle: Guard tower that oversaw thousands incarcerated at Tule Lake Segregation Center; Floating pumice in a heart-shaped pool on the Rogue River.
After more than a decade at Fenwick, Liwen found an opportunity to work full time on conservation at The Nature Conservancy. Fenwick has an amazing culture of advocating for vulnerable members of our society, many of whom need more help than ever in areas such as housing, immigration, and First Amendment rights. However, what we do to nature affects us all (humans and otherwise), and Liwen is glad to undertake a larger role in helping to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends. Faced with eroding federal support, science-based organizations like The Nature Conservancy must step up and show that our civilization can flourish while also preserving our natural legacy. Liwen also joined the board of Youth Outside, a nonprofit that exposes kids to the outdoors and prepares youth for related professions. The gradual uplift? Though it doesn’t get any easier at this age, Liwen has enjoyed playing Satie’s “Gnossiennes” and the Pixies on piano, shredding and skate skiing in the recent snow, and getting out to climb in Yosemite and Lover’s Leap.
Sequoia has bravely marched on to middle school after graduating from 5th grade in May. Despite the difficult transition from a nurturing elementary school class to less warm-and-fuzzy set of middle school classrooms, she has met the challenge with aplomb. It probably helps that she commandeers the radio (with endless pop music) and intersperses her hours of studying with plenty of social texting. We are also impressed that she has taken on new endeavors, like learning to snowboard, joining choir, trying out for and participating in her first team sport (volleyball), cooking recipes she finds online, and learning to be skeptical of the middle school boyfriend phenomenon. In August in Yosemite, she also did her first non-family backpacking trip, where her fellow campers nicknamed her “Smiley.” The gradual uplift? Throughout her adventures this year, she has exhibited an incredibly positive attitude, patience and perseverance, and a consideration for her friends and teammates. And she’s learned to assert herself against occasional injustices that her parents and little brother wreak.
When we quickly recollect the past, extraordinary events are the ones that garner our attention: births, graduations, weddings, moves, beginnings and endings of jobs, and startling news from the world around us. It is appropriate that we acknowledge, prepare for, and learn from these remarkable events, both the celebrations and setbacks, much as we cannot ignore the floods and other cataclysms that punctuate our lives. 
Yet most of our lifetimes, and much that is worth remembering, comprises the enduring act of living through ordinary events. Earthquakes happen, but the mountains owe their grandeur to more gradual thrust and uplift. Although it seems imperceptible, the process of this slower change is no less important than sudden upheaval, and we certainly appreciate the growth and maturity it brings. This past year has seen its share of upheaval, but we are still here and continue to rise to the daily undertakings that await us.