I’ve been writing these New Year’s Letters for long enough now that it’s not only a tradition, but a compulsion to do them. So much so that I think about them long before it’s time to put fingers to keys and punch them into life. Every year, I think that they’ll be trite and meaningless, and every year, they serve as a refocusing point for me, and maybe for some of you, and so I think that makes them pretty much ok and not entirely self-serving bits of debris in a sea that’s already fairly stuffed full of flatulence-loving self-promotional acts woven together from delusions of grandeur and mental masturbaton.
Was it the Year We Needed?
Another year has come and gone, and it’s been a Hell of a year. It was not the year I expected to have, not by a very long shot, but maybe it was the year I needed to have. As most of you know, I moved house from southwest MIssouri to the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas metroplex in February 2017. I very nearly lost my mind during that process. I have never before felt so much stress or so little control over anything, and I’ve been told I had cancer twice (I did not).
Even once that move was complete, the stress level was immense because of the incredible amount of culture shock I was experiencing. Along with that, I had to maintain my business, maintain some level of workload, try to rebuild a household, maintain my health and not fall to pieces. As it turns out, these were very significant challenges. I spent a lot of time stumbling around in the dark, but as they say, “When you’re going through Hell, keep going.” And I did. I had to because there wasn’t anything else.
When we lost Will this summer, then both my grandparents, a friend from school and my great aunt, I was pretty sure I was going to lose my mind completely. I shut down emotionally for a while. I’m sorry about that. You deserved better. I deserved better. But it was much too much for me to handle all at once. Those of you who pulled me out of that deep, dark pit are saints for everything you did and continue to do. It was a very bad, bad place with no color. I won’t lie, I’m still recovering from that. Mostly, I’m ok, but sometimes I’ll hear a song or something and just start crying for no reason.
I was also given hot and cold news about my health this year. The neuro added a diagnosis of mixed Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremor, the rheumatologist added Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis. The hepatologist, however, said that my liver was in really good shape, the tumors have all but disappeared and the inflammation is gone. This is a good thing. A very good thing. But it means that all the exercise and healthy eating has to be a permanent thing or that liver transplant becomes a discussion we have to have again. So good and bad.
A New Normal
It took months to return to normal, but I’ve found it again. I’ve found maybe better than normal. I’m hoping. Every night I go to bed and hope that this is a permanent thing. I’m allowing myself to believe there’s going to be a tomorrow and a yesterday and that I’ll remember a week ago. So far the memory is still a bit hit and miss, but it, too, is improving. Texas has been very good for me and it’s nothing like what I expected it would be.
I’ve started some new projects that are very, very promising. I’m excited to see where they go in the new year. It’s boring work stuff, but for me it’s pretty exciting. I have a lot of creative control and my input is valued highly. Sometimes that’s worth a lot more than money, really. It’s difficult to describe how much that matters, but trust me, it does.
Friends Near and Far
One of my very real fears about moving to Texas was being so far from my home base, the people I’ve known my whole life and my family. The culture in the Ozarks is very family and clan-focused and it’s really the central focus of the whole thing. I won’t lie, I wasn’t sure how it would go. I knew my health would make it extremely difficult to get back often or regularly. Eight hours in a car, minimum, is a lot for me.
But, you know, my dad was right when he said that things aren’t like they used to be. All you have to do these days is hop on the Internet and your friends are right there. All the friends I have in the box. They were there through the toughest times and the easy ones, too. If you’re reading this, you know who you are. You have no idea how much you’re appreciated. How much you’re needed. How much easier you made it to make this massive transition.
Who’s chopping onions in here?!?
On to This Year’s Goals!
Now! As for the coming year, there should be goals. There should always be goals, even if you don’t achieve them. Otherwise, what are we? We’re just floating along like jellyfish, hoping something will hit, I guess. So, I suppose we’ll start with these:
- Consume at least one book a week. So, maybe reading is still a little tough, but audiobooks are working out ok. Thanks John and Jason for pushing me in that direction.
- Travel a bit. I’ve been to Austin once, and San Antonio twice. I can make both trips very easily, so I should go more often and for funsies. Also other places….
- Establish and enforce better work/life balance. I am the worst for dicking around on the Internet when I should be working and then panicking and doing a bunch of work at the last minute. This has to stop. Time management and work/life balance should be this year’s main work goals.
- Invest more time in my personal brand. If I can do the thing above, I should have time to do this thing. My blog is sad and lonely and a site I’ve literally been working on for a year needs to launch. It’s pathetic.
- Get better at meal planning. Ah, this is also a time management thing. If I had better meal planning skills, I’d not take a freaking year to figure out what I was having for lunch.
- Lose another 50 pounds. This is partially because of all the med changes and partially because I like cookies too much. I need to get back on the one cookie per meal diet, exercise more and track everything.
- Run three 5Ks. I’m signed up for the Cowtown 5K on February 24th, but I’d like to do at least two more. It’s a little bit of a challenge because I need to ideally take Annie. All this has to be cleared ahead of time and can be a pain.
- Explore the metroplex. I’ve lived here for 10 months and have yet to really explore the city. I need to do this. Annie needs to see the world.
I know a lot of people guffaw at New Year’s Resolutions, or even year end goals, or whatever you wanna call it. It’s all the same thing. Really, the timing is arbitrary, but I think it’s pretty important to have a set time of the year to stop what you’re doing, evaluate where you are versus where you want to be, and kind of double down your efforts.
I don’t think it hurts to assess your progress. You can disagree all you want, that’s your right, but I can also call you a pig-faced waffle stomper, so I think that makes us a bit even.
So, whatcha got? What hot burning desires do you have for 2018? What’s driving your engine this year?