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New Year

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A Year of Yes: Joy is my New Year’s Resolution for 2019

My year of yes in 2018 was a year of doing things that scared the hell out of me. And I’m proud of myself for getting through it. I pitched creative projects more often than I ever have in my life. I went places and did things that I never imagined I would have the courage to do. I met amazing people who inspire me and raise my spirits and sense of hope. I kicked rejection to the curb after some serious self-doubt every single day. I’ve built up a powerful immunity to rejection that I know is going to serve me well. It was hard-won and not easy, but I’m glad I dedicated myself to it. Sure, rejection still hurts but the sting isn’t quite as strong and it doesn’t last as long. And for that, I’m grateful.

And if I’m honest with myself, I also did a lot of things that I didn’t necessarily want to do or need to do in 2018. There was definitely some time wasted saying yes that I wish I could get back. Some of the things I did I absolutely didn’t enjoy. I did run myself a little ragged, which is my natural tendency. I don’t rest easily nor often. It’s against my nature. I wish it weren’t but this is the raw material of me I have to work with, and so I work it.

Some time in November, my friend, Ashley Semrick, put up a post on Instagram in which she asked people to send her their favorite words. Mine: brilliant and joyous. And as soon as I articulated that second word—joyous—I started seeing joy everywhere from the grocery store to outdoor advertisements. It was everywhere I looked. Now, you could argue that the last couple months of the year are all about the joy of the holidays. And that’s true but I also think there’s something more. I think that word kept showing up persistently for me as a sign. Joy is a filter I can use in this coming year to do what my friend, John Bucher, calls focusing on the great rather than being distracted by the good.

My best days are ahead of me. They’re ahead of you, too. I’m proud of the work I’ve done up to this point; I’ve gotten so much further in life than I ever dared to dream possible not that long ago. And. And. In 2019, I’m going to press my luck on the joy meter even further. If something (or someone) doesn’t bring me joy, then I can’t focus my time or energy or talent there. We have a very short amount of time on this very strange third rock from the sun, and that time has to be used wisely, now more so than ever.

So that’s the promise I’m making to myself in this new year: to look for, seek out, create, and celebrate joy. I’ll be talking about the joys of my life, big and small, right here on this blog, and on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I’m looking forward to this journey of joy more than I’ve ever looked forward to any journey before. My hope is that I will find what I seek, and that by this time next year I’ll be a little less tired and that my life will have more joy. That’s the goal.

What are you looking forward to in 2019? Happy New Year!

2018: A Year of Yes

My 2018 resolution can be summed up in one word: Yes. My friend, Ria, recently told me about an article she read in which the author explained that when you commit to saying yes, your day ends up in a completely different place than where it started. And I’m all for that. Yes to:

    • adventure
    • travel
    • learning
    • passion
    • creativity
    • exploration
    • joy
    • opportunity
    • community
    • building a better city, country, & world
    • kindness
    • helping others

I’m going to make 2018 the best year of my life so far in every way. And I’m going to lift others as I rise. We’re doing this.

What I learned in the pause of 2017

2017 started on a difficult note for many of us, and so it ends that way for many people, too. 2017 has been a series of near constant ups and downs. Month-to-month, day-to-day, and sometimes hour-to-hour. A lot of unexpected change came my way—I moved back to New York from D.C., I started a new job, and I published my book. I said a tearful goodbye to several people whom I dearly loved as their souls crossed over to continue onto the next leg of their journey. I kept many friends close, reconnected with people whom I haven’t seen in years, and welcomed brand new people into my life. I tried to be mindful and grateful every day, and to make the best of the good and the bad.

I thought long and hard about my life—what I love and what needs to change. Explored new ideas, passions, and interests. I’m most proud of the fact that I didn’t give up, even in the face of extreme difficulty and adversity, and that I continued to stand up and speak out for myself and for others. I kept showing up, listening, and doing my best, and in 2017 that often felt like a vertical climb. I found that if I could pause and breathe, then I could steady myself and continue.

There were absolutely times that I wanted to crawl under the covers and hide, and for a few days out of the year I did just that. But never being one to rest easy, I found a way to quickly get my feet under me again so that I could keep inching forward even if I didn’t always know where I was going nor what I was doing. I continued to tell my story, and that in and of itself is often the bravest thing we can do. To not be silenced, to not let someone else shape our narrative, to take our days in our own hands and mold them as best we can. That is a win, even if it doesn’t always feel like one.

Some days I created what felt like strong, solid work, and some days I just crashed and burned. Those crashes were painful, and necessary. And in all those days, I learned something. It wasn’t always the lesson I wanted; it was always the one I needed.

So now as we round the corner to 2018, I feel a sense of urgency, a sense that I have licked my wounds and healed and grown in leaps and bounds in 2017 so that 2018 could be the turning point it needs to be. I can’t think of a year when I’ve felt this much anticipation and excitement, this much responsibility to keep reaching and climbing and helping and appreciating and giving. I’m under no illusion that 2018 will be easy; I do know in my gut that it will be far different from any of my previous years. I’m prepared to be surprised, and to meet those surprises with openness, grace, and courage.

I wish you a monumental year in 2018, a year in which you live exactly the life you want on your own terms. I’ll see you there. Happy new year.

In the pause: Considering a New Year’s cleanse

This past weekend, I was very sick. It came on very suddenly and I was down for the count for 3 full days. I am finally almost back to normal but being that sick really caused me to think about my nutrition and exercise routine. (Lying there under a pile of blankets, I had a lot of time to think!) I realized over the past few months, I haven’t been taking great care of myself. The stress of the job search, getting up-to-speed on a new job, launching my book, and doing my best to take in all that New York City has to offer took its toll. I thought I was doing okay, but when I really stopped to reflect on my choices, I realized I haven’t been as diligent about my health as I usually am. This was a big revelation and though I wish I hadn’t lost three days to being sick, I realize now that it was actually a great thing to force myself to be so mindful of my health.

Yesterday, a friend of mine recommended that I try a cleanse for the new year after the holidays to reset and get my new year off to a solid, healthy start. I’ve never done a cleanse before so I’m looking for recommendations. Have you ever done one? Did you find it to be valuable? If so, which ones would you recommend? Thanks in advance for any advice!

In the pause: Be the light

It’s often said that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, light above the clouds, and dawn after the darkness. Here’s what I believe: we are the light. In the new year, if we do nothing else, I hope we stop waiting. Clouds, tunnels, and darkness be what they may. Be the light in this moment for yourself and for others. We owe it to ourselves and to each other to shine as brightly and beautifully as we can. Don’t pray, hope, and wish for better days ahead. Please make the day you have right now your day. Wishing you the happiest, healthiest, and shiniest of new years.

Wonder: A look back at my 2016

Today as I travel to the Philadelphia area to ring in the new year, I’m thinking about the wonderful things that happened in 2016. I opened up my wonder jar that I created in January 2016, and this is what I found:

1.) I got a new job through a recruiter on LinkedIn in healthcare working with artificial intelligence. And it came with a promotion in title and a raise to boot!

2.) I went to Cuba, a lifelong dream trip, and met some fabulous people whom I’m sure I will travel with in the future.

3.) I moved into a new apartment in a new neighborhood and discovered a whole new side of D.C.

4.) I went to Puerto Rico for a dear friend’s wedding.

5.) My amazing friends Ken and Tom got married, as did my dear friends Rachael and Jon. I was so thrilled to celebrate them and share in their joy with some of my favorite people in the world. Love wins!

6.) I made new friends, reconnected with others whom I hadn’t connected with in years, and had the best times spending time with so many friends whom I love.

7.) I turned 40, and had one of the very best birthday parties of my life thanks to wonderful friends.

8.) I finished my book Where the Light Enters, and a small press is considering publishing it.

9.) I greatly expanded my freelance writing opportunities, and am looking forward to even more of that in early 2017.

10.) Phineas came through a couple of difficult health challenges like a champ, and is now super healthy at the ripe old age of 7. We took a lot of long and happy walks together all over D.C. and we had plenty of snuggle time. I also found a great daycare / boarding place and a dog walker that take wonderful care of him.

11.) I saved a down payment with the hope of buying my very first home in 2017, and got my finances in order in a better way than ever before.

12.) I attended fun cultural events all over Washington, D.C. all year long.

13.) I had one of my collages accepted and shown at an art gallery in D.C.

14.) I expanded my personal art collection with works from all over the world that inspire me on a daily basis.

15.) I started the Breaking Bread Podcast.

16.) I had the chance to support a number of nonprofits that I admire and that make this world a better place.

17.) I greatly enhanced my cooking and baking skills, churning out some delicious and nutritious meals from my kitchen.

18.) I worked on my first television project as an Associate Producer.

19.) I learned to trust my gut more than ever before. I laughed, I smiled, and I loved.

20.) I saw a ton of great live music in D.C. including Josh Ritter, Andra Day, Elephant Revival, 2 Cellos, Janelle Monae, Rhiannon Giddeons, The American Pops, Ben Harper, and Grace Potter.

21.) I created and taught creative writing workshops for kids at 826DC.

22.) I got to shine a light on creative entrepreneurship, art, and writing through The Relational Economy, American Public Media, the Lits to Lens podcast, and the What’s Next videocast.

I’m sure 2017 will bring many more blessings and learnings. And that wonder jar was a wonderful thing. I plan to start a new one tomorrow in honor of the new year.

Wonder: How to use time to your advantage

A few weeks ago I read the book The Power of When. It’s a quick read that helps each reader understand their chronotype—when they have maximum brain power and do their best work. I’ve read books like this before but this is the first one that’s helped me really understand when and why I do my best work. It’s not a perfect match for me, but in terms of my sleep and work hours, it’s a pretty good fit.

Like about half of people, I’m a bear:

  • I like to get 7-8 hours of sleep and wake easily once I’ve rested enough (I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have this after years of insomnia)
  • I do my best work between 10am and noon
  • a walk before lunch and a quick 20-minute nap or some meditation around 2pm help to keep up my energy
  • by 3pm I’m ready to leave my desk and be with people
  • I love food
  • I love my friends
  • Have a can-do attitude and enjoy having time to relax

In the new year, I’m going to try to make this schedule more of a reality so that 2017 becomes my best year yet. If you want to take a 45-second quiz time find out which of the 4 personality types you are, check out: http://thepowerofwhenquiz.com/

Wonder: It’s Time to Take a Pause

I have just one New Year’s Resolution for 2017: I’m going to hit pause for some amount of time on a daily basis. No social media, no devices, no to-do that must be done. Just being in the world for some amount of time every day and letting my mind sit in the quiet space of its own thoughts. In his new book, Thank You for Being Late, Tom Friedman says, “When you hit pause on a machine it stops. When you hit pause on a person, we start.” Tom Friedman is one of the writers and thinkers whom I admire most in the world. The pause is a gift; it’s where we bring together disparate ideas, where we figure out how we think and feel given everything we’ve seen, heard, and experienced.

2017 marks 10 years since I graduated from my MBA program at Darden. It’s been a decade of tremendous change for me, personally and professionally. In 2007, I never could have predicted how my life would change in these 10 years, or how the world would change in that time. And the rate of change is only accelerating. As much change as this decade has held for me, I’m sure the next decade will hold even more. To make the most of that change, to really understand and respond intelligently to what’s happening, the pause is necessary. And I’m very much looking forward to it.

Wonder: Back to school

The Tuesday after Labor Day was always the first day of school for me when I was a kid. This time of year always feels like the New Year to me. I look forward to Fall all year, and I’m looking forward to it more than ever this year. Apple and pumpkin in everything. Boots and sweaters. Beautiful leaves. Crisp, fresh air. A feeling of hopefulness. I’m excited to see what it holds for all of us, whether we’re in school or not.

Wonder: Rhiannon Giddens’s unique sound is now finding the audience

Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, Bhi Bhiman

Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, Bhi Bhiman

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to seek out new music and see more live shows. I learned about Rhiannon Giddens on CBS Saturday Morning Saturday Sessions. I was making breakfast and when she started to sing, I popped my head around the corner from the kitchen to see who she was. Her sound was so unique—both her voice and her band’s orchestrations. She’s managed to take her multiethnic heritage and meld all of the parts of her ancestry and experiences into something wholly new and very powerful. There is something about her earthy voice and music that stirs something in everyone who hears it.

Giddens and special guests will be at Lisner Auditorium in Washington, D.C. on February 26th at 8pm. The concert is described as:

“Led by Rhiannon Giddens, founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, this concert will explore the songs of resistance of the South, both old and new, the deep history of protest songs from Leyla McCalla’s Haiti and Louisiana, and the modern outsider-looking-in observations of 1st generation American Bhi Bhiman.”

I snapped up a ticket immediately. I hope you will, too.

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