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What's in a Year?

What is a year, really? There’s that iconic Rent song, of course, that boils it all down to love—probably a more accurate measure than we realize. But if you really take a look at a year, what is it?

Is it measured by the things we do? Six jewelry trade shows, one sunrise hot air balloon ride, two book parties, one eclipse viewed in complete totality, four holidays with family, one stolen suitcase, three days at Disney with a nephew, one international vacation, forty mini gingerbread loaves baked, one dear friend’s funeral, one NBA finals game attended, two resolutions kept…

Or is it better measured by the things we don’t do? Twelve more eggs lost, the man I should have let go sooner, or maybe the one I didn’t keep but should have, the zoo membership not renewed, work projects not completed, books I didn’t read, chapters I didn’t write. Do these things carry more weight when taking inventory of our five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes?

Sometimes it’s easy at the end of a year to feel more haunted than happy; more regret than resolve. And you should know me well enough by now to know that this is usually the camp I sit in. It’s not that there’s anything irresistibly romantic about melancholy (read: it is the very definition of irresistibly romantic), it’s that there is value, at least to me, in pining for what might have been. What we do not accomplish. What we fail to achieve. To me, it gives us the opportunity to evaluate how badly we want it. And failing either makes us double our efforts to get or achieve this thing, or it allows us to let go of what turns out to be less important than we first thought.

I only set two resolutions in 2017, and I hit them both. I’m very proud of that, however minor they are in the grand scheme of my life. In addition to resolutions, however, I always write a letter to myself in preparation for each new year. It’s part encouragement, part tough love, and in general serves as a road map for the kind of person I want to be in the upcoming year. The letter that sat taped to by bedside table each day of 2017 was written last Christmas Eve while sitting inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. There was a pretty significant personal change I wanted to make this year; a rather toxic situation I counseled myself to get out of. I remember tears spilling down my cheeks as I rested my head against the cold cement of a cathedral column while composing the letter. Yet early on in 2017, I had already failed in my effort. And I won’t say it didn’t affect me greatly to wake up each morning and see my letter, knowing I hadn’t taken my own advice. But failing at this has brought about the doubling of effort I spoke of a moment earlier.

Something else that helps me in the wake of regret or falling short is to expand my perspective beyond a single year. It’s less about what’s in a year. It more like, what’s in a life? I was able to spend a few days in my hometown over Christmas, something I rarely do, and it was incredibly grounding to be amongst people who have known me since I was a child. Our lives are about everything we do, see. And the foundation we set is large; it is always present, regardless of how any individual year shakes out. We’re more than the sum of our years, so keep that in mind as you resolve, refocus, and reprioritize for the next five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.

Happy New Year!


Resolutions: Week 1


This was my view as I mulled over the new year and the areas on which I wanted to focus, to improve, to accomplish, or to at least spend more time on in 2016. The beach is an incredibly inspiring place for such thoughts, and I left feeling both refreshed and energized to get started. Nevermind that on the walk back to my house a bird pooped on my head--a warm, wet glob that fell from a tree and seemed to clearly indicate that the universe was rejecting the goals I'd just set, but whatever. I'm ignoring the whole incident. Because shit happens, yo.

I won't bore you with the details (some undoubtedly very pathetic) of my New Year's resolutions, but I will say that in many areas, week 1 was a complete success. I want to volunteer more and I signed up with two local San Diego charities that will hopefully give me the opportunity to do so. I want to be more social so I've lined up some events that will get me out of the house and meeting people more often. (Clarification: There's nothing wrong with being an introvert, but I'd like to make more of an effort to go to events that typically have me rationalizing that I'd much rather go home and write and spend time with my cat. Which is pretty much what I say about every social event.) I want to cook more and made potato soup from scratch like four times this week. (San Diego is in the dearth of winter right now with temps sometimes no higher than the fifties. Look what California has done to me???) I could continue in this vein, because there is more, but hopefully you get the point. Which is that I am doing things. Which is so much more powerful than trying to do things or saying you will do things or postponing things until a more convenient time.

That time is now, for all of us. So I leave you with the challenge of action as you delve more fully into the new year. Do the thing. Do all of the things. Just maybe wear a hat if any of those things involve walking on the beach.


The Best Nine


I spent a good chunk of time at the airport this morning sifting through all my 2015 photos looking for the 9 that I considered the best...the 9 that made me the happiest and also were the most representative of my year. I'd seen all the #2015bestnine stuff floating around, and not until I actually asked someone about it did I find out that people were not, as I had thought, using Pic Stitch to create homemade versions of their own self-dubbed favorite 2015 pics; that these best nine were actually auto-generated by a website and based on the 9 Instagram photos that were the most "liked" by your followers. Somewhat less charming, but still, I suppose it's a pretty good collection.

2015 was an incredible year for me. One that saw me read a record number of books, finish my own third manuscript, become a gemologist, transition my career, and move across the country. I basically crushed it. To the point where I'm struggling a bit as I sit here making goals and resolutions for 2016. It's not that I worry that no year will ever top it, it's more that so much on my life to-do list got accomplished. Particularly on the gemology front. Becoming a gemologist and then moving my career in that direction was something I aspired to for so many years, and now that it's happened, now that I've done it, I simply don't have another similarly-sized dream to replace the empty space this has left in my dream bucket.

It's a good problem to have, surely. And isn't that the whole point of dreams and goals? To achieve them? I believe that. I do. But as a person who thrives on having that next big, dreamy thing to be working toward, I am, quite frankly, feeling a little lackluster about the upcoming year. Given that I may be staying put for a while in this lovely sweet spot that my 2015 dreamy actions have put me in, I'll need to spend some time figuring out what comes next for me. Big things, small things, things I haven't even thought of yet. My hope for you, my dear friends, family, and readers, is that you are able to do the same, and that you revel in the process. Happy New Year, indeed.




If you must know, this wasn't actually taken at midnight. I cheated. I was there though, and I have some surpsingly close pictures of Ryan Seacrest to prove it. For the record, I am thoroughly embarrassed to have taken any pictures of him at all. Honestly, how does a person get such billing power with so little to show for it in the way of talent? Not that I'm saying that Ryan Seacrest has no talent, but what has he ever really done to show us otherwise? He can speak, he can speak into a microphone, he can speak into a microphone while keeping a show moving along at the proper pace, he can speak into a microphone while keeping a show moving along at the proper pace and simultaneously making all the girls he interviews look taller than they really are. Anyway, how did we get here? Almost a full paragraph on Ryan Seacrest?

You'll recall that I love NYE. I love Times Square. And I love that the confetti released at midnight is made up of wishes that the general public has hand-written on each little square. (See Hopes and Dreams. Or Wishing. Or even NYE Reboot.) The wish I made in 2013 that was shot into the sky a year ago didn't come true, and that's OK. It was sappy and stupid and something I knew I wouldn't get anyway, I just felt at the moment when I scrawled it on a tiny blue confetti square that it was still important for the universe to know it's what I would have wanted. This year's wish, the one released tonight, is another gamble, but it's a go big or go home kind of night.

In my book, wishes are things a person can't control herself. They need a little extra help, luck, fate, providence, miracle, whatever you want to call it. They aren't things you can bring about yourself. I love this aspect of New Years that the Times Square confetti brings, but I also love the chance New Years gives for us all to make resolutions that we can accomplish on our own. How empowering! And not because any of you are keeping track at home, but simply because I believe there is power in formally recording your goals, here are the three things I am resolving to accomplish this year:

1. Complete my gemology certification

2. Write my third book

3. Make a career switch (to something in the gemology realm)

It's going to take a lot of work, but I really think I can do it. Of course, everyone says that on January 1. It's why gyms are so crowded in January. Everyone is still on the wagon. So I'll check back in with you in a year. (And, um, also 2-3 times per week until then.) And as for my wish? I hope it enjoyed the ride down. I bet the view is pretty spectacular from up there.


NYE Reboot


Remember this post? Hopes and Dreams Well, this is the night. The night my wish gets shot into the sky at midnight in the middle of Times Square. And so I'm thinking about wishes. About hope. And also about resolutions. About resolving. To stop. To start. To move on. To never forget. To be happy. To make a change. Whatever it is, do it. Do it this year.

Happy 2014.


Hopes and Dreams


I snapped this pic over the weekend because wishes greatly exacerbate my sentimentality. There's just something about wishes. They're personal, oftentimes they're private, and they represent what we hope for most in our lives. In the professional world, "Hope is not a strategy" has been beaten into my head, and probably for good reason. Hope gets nothing done, it doesn't bring results. But wishes are a different animal, and many times the things we wish/hope for are things we don't have the ability to bring about in any way; things on which we cannot necessarily affect change. And in these instances, hope is perhaps the only strategy we've got.

When in NYC a couple of months ago, I went to the Times Square museum. From the replica of the New Year's Eve ball to the relics and costumes from various Broadway shows, it's a colorful place. But the most striking thing in there (honestly it looks like the beginnings of a parade float) is the Hopes and Dreams wall. It's little squares of confetti paper stuck to the wall, each bearing a handwritten wish from someone who's come through. The best part about these confetti squares is they are what gets shot into the air on New Year's Eve when the clock strikes twelve. All that confetti you see sailing through the air on TV? It's people's wishes, and something about that made me clutch a hand to my heart and steady myself just to absorb the impact to my sentimentality scale.

Of course I wrote down a wish, something I will never get, something not even hope can bring me, but I'm one of those dewey-eyed dopes who believes it's important--even if you know you'll never get what you want--for the universe to know how you'd like things to go if it were up to you. Silly, I know. Pointless, I know. But still. When my wish sails through the sky at the moment the new year begins, I hope it settles near the feet of someone who reads it and hopes that I got my wish.



The Impossibility of Time Management

I went to time management workshop a few years ago as part of a weekend conference, and I remember it changing my life. Because of how horribly depressed it made me. After asking the audience to list the roles and responsibilities that require chunks of time (in other words, what we do with ourselves all day), it became painfully obvious that only a small fraction of the listed items could actually be accomplished. Not that I didn't already know there was not enough time in the day, but now, through a rather clever illustration on the board and a speaker who seemed an authority on the topic, getting done the things that you want to had been proven officially hopeless. The speaker did go on to suggest some techniques for getting more done, and I remember these changing my life too, but still, I'll never forget the sense of hopelessness that overcame me in that workshop.

As a person with a full-time job, I find it particularly hard to find time for the things I want and need to do that don't involve work. Because for at least 10 hours of every day, I am committed to my job and can do nothing else. Not that that's stopping me from writing this. From my desk. At my office. But anyway, with the time that's left in the evenings, I can pick only a handful of things to accomplish. And I've been thinking about this in conjunction with my New Year's resolutions. Because like everyone else, there are certain things I'm resolving to spend more time doing. Like reading and writing. Aside from the fact that one of my other resolutions (to do more to serve and help others) would seem to conflict with these resolutions to increase the time I spend doing things for myself (reading and writing), there's the bigger issue that increasing time doing ANY of these things means finding more time period. It means cutting time away from other activities, only I'm not sure there's anything to be cut.

I know, I know, it's the story of our lives. It's just been on my mind this month. And the excitement over goals and projects and new beginnings is once again being overshadowed by the slight depression of realizing I simply can't accomplish everything. Or anything even remotely close to a small fraction of everything. I'd attend another workshop, but who has the time??

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