2020: A Re-Set, with Baby Steps.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Here we are again: a new year, and a start to another decade (if that’s how you choose to count it).  And now, we’re 20 years into this century. Holy crap. (Freaking out over Y2K seems so far away now, doesn’t it?)

Before I stare ahead into the abyss of a new year, I’ll briefly reflect on 2019. In short, it wasn’t bad.

I actually got off the continent and over to Sri Lanka in early spring, taking in the beauty of the island, the people, the food, the lush green, and the brilliant sunsets, just to rattle off a few things off the top of my head. (Despite the terrible attacks that took place after I left – a gut punch that lingered for days after – I think, if given a chance, I’d return to see more.)

I also had a second crack at writing an episode for the video game project I worked on in 2018 – the same episode for the same game, but re-vamped. Unlike last year, I think I felt a little less out of sorts with the deadlines this time around, as I knew I had to be disciplined with my time after work and on my days off. I’m sure there have been many changes and revisions, but it’ll be interesting to see the finished product, when it finally launches.

I did spend time with friends, although I felt I had a slightly subdued social life this past year.

Do I have the “whopping ennui” I brought with me into 2019? No … I don’t think so. But I definitely felt a little disengaged, and a bit drained, just trying to keep up with the daily grind.

I also feel as if I spent more time by myself in late November and early December. Which in a way, I think I needed.

In fact, now that January is here, I think I still do need a bit of it – at least for the next couple of weeks. Because sometime in 2019, there were just so many basic little things I stopped doing for myself.

I was reminded of this on the bus ride home from my mom’s place last night. I was listening to a podcast about how to help people tackle their problems, and I happened to be listening to the episode about how to make New Year’s Resolutions stick.

Funnily enough, the underlying point happens to be what I’ve been thinking of doing with myself this year: to pick something specific one wants to work on, and to come up with a plan as to how to tackle it, one step at a time.

And I’ve said this before – I’m not a fan of making resolutions, because I know what my degree of willpower and discipline are, and I know I would be absolutely lying to myself.

But there are some things I have in mind, that I really need to re-set and work on them slowly. Ever been at a concert where the musician creates a beat and accompanying vocals by using a looping pedal and adding their sounds, one at a time? That’s the approach I’d like take – just start with one thing, and once I’ve got that down, add another, and another. If one of those things fails? Then start that particular task again until I’m able to find a rhythm that works for me.

I’d also like to resume the little things that I used to do.

Like read books – and actually finish them. (I only read one book cover to cover, in 2019. Yikes.)

Or visit a museum or art gallery for a bit of culture. Maybe occasionally go to a karaoke bar, book a room and wail my face off. See the odd mediocre movie.

Or tackle that thing I’ve been meaning to do in my apartment for the past five, almost six years now.

All I know is that I need to get some mojo back, to have more pops of technicolor in my life, to remind myself that I’m still (relatively) young and need to find little things that give me life.

Whatever you choose to tackle in 2020, pace yourself. Be kind to yourself. Take time to do things you enjoy. And hopefully, if things fall into place (if they’re meant to), the payoff for your intended goal(s) will be huge.

Happy New Year, everyone.

 

Looking Back.

Recently, I’ve noticed people reminiscing on social media about where they were – physically, emotionally, mentally, what have you – 10 years ago.

It’s been interesting seeing people’s photos of their younger selves alongside their current selves, or sharing what was happening with them in 2009.

It’s funny, because 2009 seems like a lifetime ago to me. So I decided to peek back through my own social media to remind myself of what my life was like.

Man. What a different time.

Thirty-two-year-old me, frustrated with work (amid job cuts), travelling overseas,  flitting around to various parties – costume parties, dance nights, a wedding – trying to navigate online dating, pining over young men, deciding to hang up my backpack to save for real estate, considering joining Twitter, agonizing over what getting a Blackberry for work would mean for my personal time, and wondering what the future would hold.

But still optimistic. Still having authentic interactions with strangers.

And my dad was still around.

Who I am now: Older, heavier, wearier, starting to grey. I’m less prolific with my writing in this space and not mooning over men. Grousing about work much less, but still grousing. But at least I’ve resumed trying to satiate my wanderlust when I’m able.

Has my optimism been extinguished? I don’t know. I suppose there are times I still look for the silver lining. But I think my youthful hope has been replaced by wariness.

I feel like I’ve shrunken inwardly. Maybe it’s due to sadness. Disappointment. A constant awareness (and dread) of my own mortality. Despite my ability to still be social and outgoing, despite all the good moments I’ve had in the past 10 years, I feel quiet and small.

***********

At this time 10 years ago, I was probably preparing to ring in the new year with friends.

Today? I’ll probably just head over to my mom’s condo for a few hours, then head home to ring in the New Year, quietly, on my couch.

I’m sure my 32-year-old self would be a bit bewildered.

But I’d probably tell her to pipe down, adding that when she’d understand when she got to my age.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing. In a world and at a time that feels like it’s rarely quiet, some peace and solitude is sometimes necessary.

So, my wish for you is for some peace and solitude for the first few moments of 2020, so that you can gather your strength to take on the moments that follow.

Time Flies When You’re Working

If you asked me to recall my first day of work at my current employer, I don’t think I could, to save my life.

I can only guess it was on a November day. The air was cool. And it probably wasn’t raining like it was today.

I do wish I could remember what I could have been thinking as I entered the building for the first time …

Likely sidling up to the security desk … asking for someone by name … getting authorized, then handed one of those fluorescent “visitor” stickers.

I’m pretty sure I was nervous. Knowing I was starting from the very bottom of the totem pole. Hoping that I’d do a good job.

And I’m sure that if someone told me that I’d still be working there eight years later, I’d probably look at them as if they were insane.

Sure, I’d say, that’s what I hope for. But who knows? And considering I how lucky I was to find a job just two months after September 11, you’d probably understand where I’d be coming from. 

And yet, here I am. In the future.

I’ve managed a slow ascent up the evolutionary chain – gaining a better station, vacation time, benefits. The stuff working adult lives are made of.

And again I’m lucky, pulling off the monumental feat of being fully employed in the midst of a world-wide recession – keeping afloot in an industry being hit with closures, layoffs and threats of  bankruptcy.

I suppose I have that proverbial brass ring – or half-ring – people talk about.

At least I HAVE a job, I keep hearing.

So I should just shut up and be happy, right? Well, easier said than done.

I have moments. Of nervous energy. Frustration. Lack of motivation. Yearning for something else. Something that’s lacking.

I know there are so many people out there who feel that way. And I’m tired to being made to feel ungrateful for not being over the moon about my job.

Honestly, eight years kinda takes the shine off things. Sometimes, it doesn’t even take that long.

I’m regularly reminded of the world happening outside the bubble I work in – usually by reading Facebook or blog updates by former classmates. People whose raw talent I was in awe of, who I SWORE would be the future of my industry.

But they left – or didn’t even enter, and are blissfully happy. (Or seem that way.)

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

Part of me knows there’s nothing stopping me from leaving at any time, and it’ll be just fine.

But the other part watches the people who’ve come after me, wriggling their way up to – and past – me on the pole,  and I start psyching myself out. Wondering if I’ll be a failure for leaving … or if that’s just my tattered self-esteem talking.

Life always looks greener on the other side.

I always told myself I wouldn’t become a “lifer”. That I’d give myself 15 years, then get out.

But perhaps I’m just need to let the dust settle, and that will give myself the opportunity find that niche that, until now, has been eluding me.

Or perhaps I’m still kidding myself.

Either way, I have the type of job security people out there right now would kill to get … even if I’m not 100 per cent happy.

So until bluer skies return, I suppose I should just button my lip, keep my head down and roll up my sleeves.

Because tomorrow is another work day.

Happy anniversary to me.

Spain: The Epilogue.

So I’ve been home now for about eight, almost nine days.

This week was was my first week back at work. And for whatever reason, it’s been half-crappy. I’ve started getting those rashes that mysteriously cleared themselves up when I was away.

And it’s made me miss Spain immensely.

I miss not knowing who I’ll meet next … and when I do meet those people, what stories they have to tell.

I miss the fact that time actually slowed down, so that a day actually felt like a day. There was more length, more weight. I didn’t blink and have the day evaporate. I didn’t have to rush anywhere if I didn’t want to.

I miss not having a routine or people asking things of me.

And most of all – especially today – I missed the heat.

When I go back in my mind and try to think of images that stand out for me … there are so many.

Like the tiny, snowy-haired nun who looked up and smiled at me as I let her pass on a narrow sidewalk in Granada, when I felt at my loneliest.

Or the cute little kids who were with their parents everywhere I went.

Or the views of cities from belltowers, or parks high up.

Or the design and architecture of the buildings in the south.

Or the palm trees. Ah, the palm trees.

If I had the language and the gumption, I’d go back there in a heartbeat. I would go to smaller towns to explore and to beaches to sun myself. Maybe I’d write more and Facebook less. (Wait … who am I kidding?)

I know that, if I had the option, I would have kept going, at least for another week. I wanted to wander and explore, just like all those other backpackers.

This has probably been the first time in the longest time that I haven’t felt complacent about something I’ve done. When people mention travelling, I get excited. I want to hear their stories, and I love it when I pick up pieces of advice for travelling amidst it all.

Now I have to wait until at least next spring to wander again. Maybe this time I’ll get to go with a friend.

But who knows what the next six months will hold?

Anything can happen, right?