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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All Things Glorious and True

Lunchtime creative inspiration / life guidance from @katasharya

“At some point in life you make a decision to be a verb instead of an adjective, and you run with it – especially when you realize what it is you are running towards and not away from. It doesn’t mean you lose your poetic nature, your fanciful imagination or your freedom, but does mean you’re all systems go and anti-autopilot.” – From All Things Glorious and True by Kat Asharya

Back in January I wrote on this blog about aching to boldly “change my life” in 2013 and getting down to the brass tacks to be able to do so by breaking down what I wanted to achieve by setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.

While I was in Chicago as part of my book tour to promote my new book Grow my zine-pal turned writer-pal Kat Asharya handed me her new book, All Things Glorious and True. Sometimes you find the handbook to your life, or the life you are trying to create, when you least expect it. As I read it in sections, and sometimes from back to front, while I was on the road it became exactly that.  The writing is drawn from a now-defunct blog Kat kept for nearly a decade called NOGOODFORME that chronicled her fashion, pop culture, music, film and personal obsessions and transformations.  The book, however, is so much more than a series of selected and edited blog entries.

Reading All Things Glorious and True made me stop to think about this personal transformation I am pushing through my life right now. Every month I meet up with my friend T. and we talk about our goals for the yar and the progress we are making towards them. Every month I’ve found that my goals have shifted slightly, that I have reached a more nuanced understanding of where I am at and where I want to go, and steps I can take to get there.

Kat approached her life transformations in San Francisco, New York City and now in Illinois with panache, open hearted bravery, and the perfect jeans, boots, and leather jacket. Reading her book reminded me that I can and do find strength and guidance in film, the music I love and the clothes that I wear. More importantly, however, it reminded me that when you have a goal to “change your life” the best you can do is to open yourself up wider than you thought possible, to let in courage you didn’t know you had, and to let your heart above all things guide you.  This is extremely difficult for me who, as a Gemini, would rather think about it, write about it, talk about it, and implement it, than actually feel the emotions brought on by those changes (Kat also breaks down Gemini’s personalities very nicely in her Astro Cinema feature where she recommends perfect movies for different astrological signs).

Modeling my Dad's 1956 Langlitz Leathers motorcycle jacket... Now mine!

Modeling my Dad’s 1956 Langlitz Leathers motorcycle jacket… Now mine!

So where am I on my goals? So far 2013 has been a megapacked year. I’ve visited 22 states so far (and counting) to launch and promote Grow. I have gotten a handle on my personal finances – bye bye compulsive shopping and credit card debt! Hello savings account! – but I’m also seeing that changing my life isn’t just about setting goals and timelines. It’s about incremental change. Paying attention to a gut feeling. Having a conversation. Reflecting. And readjusting accordingly. Sometimes I want life to change as boldly and quickly as dying my hair red or taking a weekend trip to Los Angeles, picking out the perfect record, or donning a killer leather jacket (I inherited one this year from my Dad!) but I’m finding that for me, life transformation doesn’t work like that.

Because I’m looking at a total overhaul that prioritizes happiness, health, fulfillment and creativity, I’m finding I need to look intensely inward so I can really understand where I want those goals I set to lead me. Kat’s book shows that the objects, images, ideas, sounds and fashions we hold dear and the meanings we give them can act as powerful guideposts and reminders to support us and help us on our journeys.

Here’s to a transformative second half of 2013! I’ll let you know in December what became of my goals and where they have taken me.