Letting go of 2013

New badge, longtime life adage #diy

At the end of 2013 I set out to set my goals and intentions for the New Year. I’m not one for full on “resolutions” because the beginning of January rarely feels like a rebirth, but rather, simply the beginning of the long haul of the New York winter. I began 2013 with a lot of possibility and a lot of uncertainty and guess what… I’m starting 2014 the same way!
Getting ready for Grow's launch!

First of all, 2013 was a huge year for me personally. I put out my first book, Grow: How do take your do it yourself project and passion to the next level and quit your job!, and booked a national tour, visiting 24 different cities over the course of 3 months. It was really amazing to make so many new connections and get to spent so much time exploring parts of the country both new and already dear to me. Spending two weeks driving through the Midwest immensely grew my appreciation and understanding for the US as a whole. Though I’d taken my high school indie pop band on an East Coast tour and done several cross country road trips in my early 20s, to have the freedom and opportunity to explore with a focus of connecting and working with creative entrepreneurs was incredible. To connect with so many artists, handmade business owners, creatives and makers who are pursuing their dreams and figuring out how to fold them into their lives was awesome. Every day I was blown away by the honesty, focus and strength of the DIY community.

Work is love made visible. (Has there ever been a more Puritan statement?)

Coming back from all this traveling also made me realize that while the rest of the US is pretty awesome, I also love New York. I decided to shelve (for now) my plans to move to Los Angeles to focus on making my life what I want in the city where I’ve grown my deepest roots and community outside of my home state of Maine.

The air up there

I spent a huge portion of the year with views like this

As I reflected on what I really wanted, post-book and book tour, I decided to strike out on my own as a freelancer in order to be able to spend more time working on projects close to my heart, have more flexibility in my work schedule, and learn new skills so I can begin working for creative startups and consulting companies. Something that really surprised me is that one of the skills I started to develop out of sheer curiosity was learning to code. I entered into some weekend workshops at General Assembly thinking I would learn the basics of the web development process to help jumpstart my career shift. I wasn’t expecting to fall deeply in love with backend web development, specifically Ruby on Rails. I feel completely immersed, sometimes to the point of drowning, in this new world and I love every second of it so far. I’ve found the tech community in NYC to be welcoming, enthusiastic and supportive and have especially loved connecting with the New York Tech Women.

Well, this is the start of a new adventure

My love of code was a surprise to me

My newfound love of programming showed me, yet again, that you never know what you will discover about yourself, as trite and cheesy as that might sound. So where does this lead me for 2014?

My friend Tracy asked me three questions that I think sum up my year pretty well: what I learned, what I’m proud of, and what am I looking forward to next year.

In brief:

I learned how to think clearly. I’m better at assessing personal and professional situations clearly and setting realistic expectations. I learned that having goals is not as important as actualizing them or gaining momentum. Goals are key because they set you in motion and community is important because it provides the bridge for you to achieve those goals, but you still have to make your own opportunity.

Not Afraid Anymore I

My first tattoo

I’m proud of gaining the courage to take risks and to push myself emotionally, personally and professionally to move towards and deal with the things that scare me the most. I’ve also gained the courage to be humble and admit what I don’t know.
Who Dares Wins

I’m looking forward to establishing a routine that gives me a space to create and reflect through regular time to meditate, write, and continue to study Ruby and other languages.

2013 was a transformative year for me in that I went through a lot of very painful growth. It was not triumphant transformation, but some acute periods of loss and letting go.  Fortunately, with that release can come a new lightness and clarity which I hope will help me take a big leap forward in the new year. With that, what did you learn in 2013?  What was your proudest moment? And what are you looking forward to?

Don't I have the best cousins?

One of the best parts of the year was getting to reconnect with my cousins

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S.M.A.R.T. Goals for 2013!

New Year Card 2013While New Years is not my favorite holiday, I love the opportunity for reflection and reinvention brought by the New Year itself. With the upcoming release of my first book in June I have high hopes for 2013. This is going to be a year of transition personally and professionally and I have decided to take this year to embrace change and become the person I really want to be at this point in my life.

To do so I made goals for what I wanted to achieve this year.  Unfortunately, they were really vague like, “Save money, get more freelance work, lose weight again, write more, change my life.” I started feeling daunted by how ambitious they were and I when I mocked myself for making them in a Facebook status and added I wanted to do all this without losing my mind on Facebook, my friend M. spoke up with a suggestion. She, like me, is a graduate of a management program, and encouraged me to make my goals S.M.A.R.T.

For those used to planning for a business or organization S.M.A.R.T. stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely” goals. When you break your goals down into these criteria they become more possible to achieve.

One night I sat down with my Moleskine journal and changed my vague hopes for 2013 into goals that I can conceivably follow, with action steps and benchmarks in place. For maximum accountability I wanted to share my goals with you here (minus a few too personal details). So let’s see what 2013 will bring!

1. Save Money

If I’m going to change my life I’m going to need a financial cushion. And you never know what can happen in this economy. So it’s time to get serious about savings:

Up the bi-monthly transfer to my savings account

Put money I earn from freelance work into savings

Define and stick to a very limited weekly spending amount that includes food and extras, like clothes (so this blog will soon become a blog about being fashionable with what’s already in your closet)

Track my expenses

Pay off my credit card debt

2. Get more project and freelance work

I like the chance that freelance work provides to get involved in different types of projects and creative people implementing a vision. It also helps me sharpen different sets of skills:

Follow up with current clients

When my Portfolio website launches (soon!) make it clear I’m available for grant writing, project management gigs

Continue to talk with other freelancers and self-employed people I respect about how they go their start

Meet up with other freelancers regularly for networking, events and work sessions

3. Lose Weight (again)

I managed to gain 10 pounds since the summer and it’s no secret how it happened – I ate a lot of bad-for-me-food (pizza! burritos stuffed with French Fries!) and pretended it wouldn’t matter. Time for some accountability! I’m hoping to lose those 10 pounds by the time June rolls around by:

Track my eating everyday

Exercise 4 times a week

Go to Weight Watchers meetings at least once a month

4. Write more creative non-fiction

Finish a new issue of my zine Indulgence with at least three substantial essays by the Brooklyn Zine Fest on April 21

Update this blog weekly

Reach out to other venues and publications that publish nonfiction and present essay-driven work

Stay inspired by reading more essays and creative nonfiction

5. “Change my life”

I’m contemplating taking a year sabbatical from New York City in 2014 and spending the winter and spring in Los Angeles and the summer in fall in Paris. I’m looking for sun (in California), adventure, and a change of pace! But there’s a lot of logistics that I have to take care of before that happens!

Break down logistics: Research apartment prices, getting a car (or not) in LA, pare down possessions, look into subletting my NYC apartment

Have honest conversations with the important people in my life about what I’m thinking and feeling and how it impacts them

Be proactive: if there’s something on my mind talk about it, even if it feels daunting to do so

Develop a clear vision for what I want in my life and what makes me happy through journaling and focused self-reflection. As my friend Iris in LA told, “Manifest what you want, be specific.”

What are the goals that you hope to achieve this year? How are you breaking them down to make them manageable?

As a post-script, I’ve also launched a year-long drawing project with my friend Michel in Paris. To practice our drawing skills we will each create a drawing on a similar theme every week and post them on our Tumblr “One Week, Two Hands, 4,000 Miles” or 1w2h4m. Follow along with us and see if we can do it!

Trying on the New Year for Size

I always grumble that New Years is my least favorite holiday, but this year I decided to pre-empt my new years ennui and throw a party. It’s a good excuse to see friends, make good food and get dressed up but not have to go anywhere. I even managed to convince my friends who live in Washington Heights, Bushwick and Greenpoint friends to come down to Sunset Park.

Party Shoes!To celebrate the passing of the old year and the beginning of the new I wore an old, favorite dress: a sparkly, vintage number I bought at the Garment District in Boston in 2000 and wore to my senior prom! The shoes are brand new and by Robert Clergerie in Paris. They constitute my year end bonus from work. I first saw them on Fashion is a Playground and fell in love.

Reflective Electronica DuoAt some point during the evening we thought it would be a good idea to a photo shoot… on the kitchen floor. Ah, revelry! So here is wishing you all the very best for the new year! May it bring you happiness, health, adventure and joy!

Wahoo! 2011!

And now, a little blast from the prom night past! Hilariously, my outfit 10 years later is almost the same: sparkly tights, high heeled Mary Janes, but not the pink wig or cats eye glasses. Enjoy!

Prom Night 2000

Prom Night 2000