Today's my birthday, folks. Thanks for your well-wishes and positive thoughts.
Having my birthday so close to both Christmas and New Year's, and during the winter season, has always meant that I'm both reflective during my anniversary of life, and that I also have lots of things to distract me from the fact that I'm aging. Funny, though, maybe it's the fact that my Mom never 'blended' my birthday with other holidays and was always sure to get me separate presents, have separate parties, etc. that I never confuse the three holidays. Instead, although it's sometimes irritating to get 'combo' birthday / Christmas presents from friends who don't realize how annoying that can be (just give me one present for one holiday, dammit!), I see this time of celebration and cold weather as a time to reflect on the year that's just past, and the year to come.
Yes, I make new year's resolutions (or 'goals', as I like to call them, since that feels a little less daunting), but overall I like to just think about where I've been this past year, and where I want to go. And there's been a lot for me to reflect on this past year.
First, there was my trip to visit my father and then right after that, my first-ever trip to the Philippines, where I met a lot of other family for the first time. Before my PI trip, I had a a great send-off with friends, which made me feel strong and protected for what ended up being a very emotional and physically taxing (tropics in the summer) journey. I also had tons of support from friends who donated more than $2500 to me for my trips. It was hard to fundraise for myself in some ways, even after I've raised literally millions of dollars for organizations and other people. But it was a big part of me claiming for myself my right and my need to take these journeys, and I got huge validation from my community through this fundraising drive. I also started the year right with a belated birthday party for myself.
Those two trips were the double-whammy of my spring, hitting me with a load of intense emotions, from joy to sorrow to anger and everything in between. I learned a lot about my family during those trips, and therefore about myself, about my roots and where my weird quirks and values come from.
As I said in an earlier post, I did a lot of other traveling this year, much more than I ever have before, logging a bunch of miles on my Southwest Rapid Rewards account in the process. I traveled a bunch for work. I moved into a new position at work this past year, one that was both stressful and challenging in a positive way. My time management and control issues were definitely put to the test, and I realized that I can't do everything, and shit, that's really okay. It was also the first time in many years that I worked a full year at full-time at one job, only doing a few contract gigs here and there. That was interesting. I don't think it's necessarily the right career option for me for the rest of my life (I like having more flexibility and independence), but it's been good to get grounded in one place again after working on a bunch of different projects for the past few years. And CFJ is also a great place to work.
I did a two-week stint at VONA this year, one week with my long-time creative hero Jessica Hagedorn, and a second week with my new creative hero Chris Abani. I learned more in those two weeks than I had all year about my writing, and what I need to do to move it forward. Thanks Jessica and Chris, for reals.
Lastly, but definitely not least, H. and I got engaged (there was no proposal involved, just FYI, we just discussed it and decided it was the right time, in our typical non-conventional fashion). We've been planning our wedding for the past couple months. You can read more about that on my wedding blog.
It's been a bit of a whirlwind year, but a lot of good things that I've been wanting to do for a long time happened. And the best part of it is that I had a major if not the main role in making them happen. It was a good year for self-empowerment. Damn, it was just a good year! Thanks to all of you for supporting and encouraging me throughout the year, and for reading my blog.
I look forward to a happy, fulfilling, (hopefully) peaceful, and prosperous new year with all of you. I really believe that the best is yet to come.
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund reading Friday June 30
34 minutes ago