The kid came to live with us.
“The kid” is technically John’s eighteen-year-old nephew, though, given the living situation, he is also somewhat our son. He had a bit of a rough few years recently, and so has been living with us in Chicago since last May. The whole shift was a huge experiment for all of us, on a lot of fronts. There were growing pains and there was a lot of frustration; there were also milestone celebrations and underlying belief. There was a tremendous need for both persistence and patience – both pushing and then holding back – and there were lessons in balancing all of these things as we tried, stumbling around and unsure, to (re)raise an eighteen year old boy who is most certainly family, but only informally our kid.
I wrote a book.
Actually, I guess I wrote a couple of books, technically. I signed up for nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) on the second day into it, and ended up writing not only the prerequisite 50,000 words, but another 80,000 after that – a 130,000 total that included two “novels” plus 30 minutes of daily journaling.
I kept on writing into December and found myself with another 50,000. I moved through this despite work and birthdays (both mine and John’s) and holidays and holiday parties and travel, both business and personal. I wrote. And I realized: I love writing. It was a labor of love, to do this.
I went vegan.
This happened a bit spontaneously, really. I had been considering trying out veganism for a while, in the same way that one fantasizes about a big vacation, and when I suddenly found myself vegan one morning, it was in the exact same way one finds themselves entering their credit card information on expedia.
I’m not always very good at being vegan, and I am not sure how long this whole thing will go on, but, much like the writing and the kid, I am doing it now and will keep on doing it until it ceases to feel right.
I paid down a lot of student loan debt.
I started the year with a balance well into the six digits. And I now have a balance just under it. It is, of course, still a lot of money, but the difference in digits – between having “six” and having only “five” – feels as good with debt as I imagine it feels in breaching a salary.
I sent in the payent that tipped the scale on the same day that I finished the (first) book in November, and promptly went out for a glass of (nice) champagne. (If all goes well, the next time I celebrate like this, it will be to commemorate a balance of $0 and some book sales.)
* I traveled to Detroit, Maine, Iceland and Ethiopia
* I gave a keynote speech on “Developing Presence”
* we moved into a great apartment in Chicago, marked in age and sunshine
* I read about 50 books, published about 50 blog posts and tried about 50 new restaurants
* I managed 2 projects at work
* I published blog posts on other sites
* I saw Garth Brooks in concert, saw a show at Second City, and watched the Red Sox play the Yankees at Fenway Park
* I deleted about 50% of my facebook friends (who arguably weren’t even friends to begin with)
* I attended the Boston Marathon and a Pride Parade
* I took a road trip with friends
* I got my palm read (not worth it)
* I bought a new pair of glasses for the first time in 10 years and I bought life insurance, like a responsible adult
It’s funny how the “bucket list” things that we make out to be such big deals turn out to be things we consider “small” by year end. My travel this year, for example – including both Detroit and Iceland, two places I have wanted to visit for years. It’s not that I didn’t love my travel, because I did. It’s just that, come year end, it turns out other things were even “bigger.” What meant more to me was writing. (And this will likely continue to mean more, going forward.)
And I realize, of course, that “writing a book” is, in fact, a bucket list thing for lots of people. So I guess that’s the thing, really: figuring out which of your dreams are only check boxes, and which will make your life feel big.