Annual Review, take two.

Things That are Decidedly NOT Awesome About 2011.

I’m starting to realize a terrible thing; I’m not evolving into the perfect human being the older I get.  In fact, every new year keeps introducing me to new ways to royally screw up.  2011 was no exception, and I’ve neatly compiled a short list of the things that were less than stellar about the year.

  • I let myself get pretty out of shape.  Gained some weight and lost some muscle tone.  Not stoked about that.
  • I abandoned my goal to experience 52 “Sabbaths” (a day of rest, meditation, and time with God), where I would watch the sunset and journal about the week.  It’d been such a good plan!  I was going to recap my week’s emotions, finances, relationships, and spirituality in a neat little blog-like journal.  Like most New Years Resolutions, this failed in February.
  • Me and Jesus? We stopped hanging out as much as we’d done before.  This is in direct correlation to my next Error.
  • I sacrificed a good deal of relationships and fellowship time so as to work, making and saving enough to take off to Australia in January.  Excluding my work friends (who became my surrogate family) I have maybe four people to say goodbye and send postcards to.

This year I drastically altered my life.  I left the youth group I’d been a leader with for two years, which by default was my leaving the church friends who’d been the reason I moved out at eighteen.  I’d stayed in Arizona when my family dissipated and shrunk back to California.  This violent breaking away from my community was intentional, the leaving of the youth group and taking on a job that guaranteed I wouldn’t be able to make it to Sunday services.  More on this another time, but I think I just needed rest, or to feel some semblance of control and independence; things had gotten too complicated with certain relationships, and I wanted everything that reminded me of the turmoil to be out of sight, and out of mind.

This breaking away afforded me Australia, and simultaneously cost me some soul-enriching friendships.  (That seems to be the problem with life; there’s no such thing as black and white, bad and good.  There’s a little bit of both in every decision.  There are so many gray shades, its immobilizing.)

The ironic thing is that I booked my flight for a few days after my 21st, so that I could celebrate my birthday with friends.  I lost them though, those friends.  Remember “Into the Wild”?  Remember how Chris McCandless painstakingly carves into a plank of wood the cryptic affirmation that “happiness only real when shared”?  He was on to something, that guy.

And there’s the condensed and abbreviated list.  I’m not going to be a downer about them, and neither will I ignore them.  I’m looking at them honestly and then I’m moving on.  You can’t travel very far with the weight of your demons on your back.  I’ve acknowledged them, and now I’m shaking the bastards off.  I plan on traveling light.

Next time; Anticipating Awesome in 2012

Year-End Review, 1/3

Look closer.Part one of three.

My favorite blogger of the last three years (Chris Guillebeau) highly recommends doing an annual review of your life.  What went well, what did not, and what do you see when looking forward?  This kind of introspection helps one see the forest for the trees, and is crucial for being present and intentional moving forward.  I like seeing the year all wrapped up and mentally separating it from the new year; its the same reason New Years Resolutions, while inefficient, are still comforting to me.  I love the idea of starting over, of being renewed.  Hindsight provides a great vantage point for looking toward the future.

In lieu of my confusion on how to begin a blog (does one post an introduction to themselves? or a mission statement?  does one simply start chattering about the stuff of life?), I’ve decided to post the highlights of my own review.  I’m only posting the main points of each category; you don’t need to know my every success and failure of the year to get the genera idea.  Hopefully this helps with your own review, and serves as an introduction of sorts.

 Things That are Awesome about 2011.

  • I started a challenging new job as a server and did very well at it, surprising my roommate and myself.  This roommate and I had concluded a year before that I’d never do well as a server; I’m too slow-paced and distractable; I can hardly keep track of two tasks at a time.  I rocked at this job, though.   Turns out, all I needed is a little cash motivation and caffeine.
  • I never once couldn’t pay rent on time, not the $400 for the room at this year’s first living location, nor the $160ish at the townhouse of the next five. (I’m spending December at my Dad’s in California.)  I’ve been financially independent every step of the way.
  • I went out on a limb, forsaking warnings and the disapproval of close friends, and trusted complete strangers on Couchsurfing.com to get me to the Rainbow Gathering.  So many expectations were blown on this trip, I’m still sorting through the details, and still so grateful to the new ragamuffin friends who opened their van to my dog and I.
  • I was published! Just a few ads in a local paper, but man, there was nothing more rewarding and validating for me this year than seeing “By Jessica Moran” in print.
  • I got along just fine without a car since totalling my Ford in May.  Not owning a car was a lesson in simplicity (your options are necessarily limited) and gratitude; while I’m a pro at mass transit and cycling around, I couldn’t have handled the last six months without the graciousness of friends and my brother chaperoning my errands.  All said and done, I’m super wary about buying one when I return from my trip.
  • The trip!  Yes.  Remember the serving job?  Remember the not-buying-a-car?  Well, I bought a plane ticket instead.  I’ll be bungee-jumping into 2012 in Western Australia.  For. Three. Months.

Welp, there you have it, the Awesome of 2011.  I’m incredibly privileged to have experienced success in the aforementioned areas.

Next time; The list of Less than Awesome