I've had a hard time wrapping my head around how I summarize the year. Personally and professionally, this year has been incredible - and beyond exceeded my expectations. I've had amazing opportunities, checked so many experiences off my bucket list, and traveled to some absolutely breathtaking places that I never even dreamed of seeing. I've gotten to work with my dream clients, created my first ever collection in collaboration with ModCloth, and continue to be amazed every morning I wake up that this is actually my life, (with even bigger and more exciting things to come in the New Year). I even cultivated some new hobbies - like cooking and taking barre classes. I also had the privilege of celebrating so many amazing accomplishments by friends and colleagues - they published books (Janet Mock's Redefining Realness and Kristin and Dannielle's are must reads), they created breathtaking collections, worked with incredible charities, starred in plays and movies and directed their own films, written albums, conducted medical research, and continually inspire me with their work, love, humility, gratitude, and gravitas.
Where I struggle with celebrating, though, is looking back on the year at large in the world and taking count of all the catastrophic and painful events that have happened globally. I can't be the only person who, too frequently, reads the news and cries. It seems sort of selfish to celebrate my own personal successes and gains when the world feels more-or-less in shambles. This is something I've always struggled with, to an extent, but this year I've had an increasingly difficult time finding peace in all the noise. The events that happened in Ferguson, in Staten Island, the racism and vitriol that we've all been made painfully aware of once again (and the extent to which people will go to deny they exist) were among many that dominated my consciousness. Tensions (that's putting it lightly) between Russia and the Ukraine nearly escalated to an all-out-war, while the war at the border of Israel and Palestine broke my heart over and over. Images of beheadings and the genocide occurring at the hands of ISIS had me nearly speechless, because, really, what is going on in the world? The spread of Ebola in West Africa was damn scary, and yet somehow people continued to make jokes. When I sit down and think of it all, and this is only the tip of the iceberg, it feels... completely overwhelming. I'd really like to feel less overwhelmed.
Looking forward, trying to stay focused and positive without disengaging with the world, I know there are many, many things to look forward to. Ali and I are back in the same home after she completed her doctoral coursework, and we have some amazing plans for the new year - topped off by our wedding, less than 6-months away, and our honeymoon immediately after that. I'm working on new business ventures behind the scenes (it's a big part of why I've been a little more quiet on the blog recently) that I cannot wait to share - and that make me really excited and hopeful about all parts of the future. Ali and I also have incredible travel plans on our agenda, and lots of homemaking that has been a really exciting part of our journey and relationship together - with lots more to cross off my 30 before 30 list.
I'm not big on "resolutions" as I try to continually improve myself every day, but I saw this list on my friend Hitha's blog, and thought it was a great way to set my intention for the new year:
A BAD HABIT I'M GOING TO BREAK
Being on my phone/email/etc. I've gotten a little bit better at "disconnecting," (I recently deactivated my personal Facebook page and whoa - it has been liberating), but it's really easy to get caught up in things as a freelancer and consultant who is pretty much always "on call." Emails can wait.
A NEW SKILL I'D LIKE TO LEARN
This was part of my 30-before-30, but I still really want to brush up on my language skills - especially in French. Being really fluent feels a bit ambitious considering there's no time for a full French immersion in my near future, but I really am going to reacquaint myself with the language and become more conversational.
A PERSON I HOPE TO BE MORE LIKE
Both my parents. They're not without their individual flaws (who is?), but they've set a remarkable example for me and the person I hope to become.
A GOOD DEED I'M GOING TO DO
I really want to carve out more time to work with youth organizations. I had a great time working with Step Up Women's Network this year, first with fundraising and then with mentoring some of their girls. Over this next year, I'd love to continue to foster my relationship with SUWN in a more hands-on way. I'd also really love to start working with LGBT youth. I was so lucky in my own experiences in coming out and in being born into a progressive, loving family - and know too many of my friends have not had the same experience. This is all punctuated by the death of Leelah Alcorn, a teenage transwoman, who took her own life after facing discrimination from her own family. I don't want to see another young person become a statistic.
A PLACE I'D LIKE TO VISIT
Naoshima! Ali and I are going to be honeymooning in Japan and we are so excited. I have been to Tokyo and Kyoto before, but Naoshima is a completely new-to-me place that we cannot wait to visit. It's an island off of Japan that houses a Buddhist temple alongside contemporary art and architecture by the likes of Yayoi Kusama.
A BOOK I'D LIKE TO READ
Malala Yousafzai's I am Malala. How a young woman can be shot and left for dead by the Taliban and walk away from the experience with forgiveness and a mission to improve education standards for young women around the globe is beyond inspiring, and I'm a little mad at myself for not actually reading her book yet. I mean, she won a Nobel Peace Prize!!
A LETTER I'M GOING TO WRITE
I think for me this is more letters - to my friends. To reaffirm my love and appreciation for them, to say thank you, to kvell and be proud of their accomplishments. As we all get older and busier and more invested in our home lives and relationships and families, we're all spending less time together - but that hasn't at all diminished the love I have for my friends.
A NEW FOOD I'D LIKE TO TRY
I have to steal Hitha's response here and also say Senegalese cuisine. I've been pretty lucky to travel and try a lot of different things in my life, but Senegalese food has not been one of them. Hitha, maybe this can be our next date?!
I'M GOING TO DO BETTER AT
Everything. There's not one area in my life that I don't want to improve, refine, and execute better. I have big goals and even bigger dreams, and they're not going to accomplish themselves without some serious effort. I promise to do 2015 even better than I did 2014.
Happy new year, everyone.
Thank you for your support, encouragement, and love throughout the years.