I have, in years past, jumped at the chance for a fresh start, a clean slate. I relished the opportunity to become a new and improved me. New Year’s resolutions seemed like “Get Out of Jail Free” cards, forgiving my failures and allowing me to shed my guilt.
But as I get older, I’m starting to feel less guilt. And I’m trying to appreciate my failures.
2014 was incredible. It was the year that I matched with a great agent and married the most wonderful man. It was a year of partnership and milestones.
Of course there were frustrations and difficulties too, but even so, I don’t want to wash 2014 away. I want to build on 2014.
A year is a useful unit of measurement, but it’s not something that can truly be taken in isolation. Each year is a brick, a step. Put together, one after another, they form the path of our lives.
I don’t know exactly where I’ll end up, but I feel good about the direction I’m heading. I hope to continue on this challenging, rewarding route through 2015, and beyond.
But just because I’m no longer seeking any “Get Out of Jail Free” cards doesn’t mean that I’m not striving for self-improvement. I want to write more. I want to write better. I want to read more. I want to listen better. I want to have more patience with people. I want to be more informed. I want to take better care of my body. I want to volunteer again.
These things aren’t quick or easy to accomplish, so my 2015 resolution is simply this: To put in the work.
That’s the first, hardest, and most important step. Everything else will follow.
If anyone is looking for a fun and easy way to reflect on their past year, I suggest chibird’s adorable checklist.
“15 Things to Stop Doing in 2015″ is an excellent guide toward a happier, healthier mindset.
And just for kicks, here’s my class picture from 20 years ago. Can you spot me?
I guess it’s become a bit of a holiday tradition to look back on my year in books and pick out favorites. According to GoodReads, I’m “behind” on my reading goal for this year, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.
Thanks in part to the YA Diversity Book Club, I was exposed to a really wide variety of stories in 2014, and that’s a trend that I hope to continue, if not improve upon, in 2015. My nonfiction reading was down, but I did end the year with a really thought-provoking book recommended by Andy called MINDSET. (Which might warrant its own post in the near future.) And surprisingly, my audio “reading” may be on the rise, due to my realization that it’s much easier to listen to my iPod while walking Riley than it is to hold a book and flip pages.
Anyway, in order of when I read them, here are my favorite books of 2014:
(If you’re curious, you can also check out my roundups from previous years.)
What were your favorite reads this year?
I don’t post about politics often. There are plenty of other voices out there already — voices smarter and more relevant than my own — so I try to sit back, listen, and learn. I try to understand and really consider what people are saying, even when it’s not pleasant. Maybe especially when it’s not pleasant. I try to question my thoughts and feelings, to examine my own experiences and beliefs. I try to figure out what I can or should do to create positive changes in myself and my community.
(And usually I cry a little.)
Because I believe in the power of words and stories, I like to share the things that I think more people should read/see/hear/watch. Below is one such thing, written by a friend of mine from college.
* * *
Just wanted to say this: if you are angry, confused, upset, etc, consider this a call to action. If you are not okay with the verdict, consider this a time to act. If you’re wondering: what can I do? Google it. If you live in a major city, there are action groups around you, and they will be demonstrating. Join them.
So now: the hurdle. You’ve read articles about looters and rioting, about tear gas and arrests, of chaos and destruction. If you’re hesitant to go to a march, I can understand why. But I will just say this: I personally have been to a bunch of protests here in St Louis. We’ve closed down highways, marched downtown, you name it. I have seen no violence, I have seen no looting, I have seen no fires, no fights, no crazed and raging protestors. All has been peaceful, all has been constructive, all has been people joined together to show support.
Honestly, when things start to shift, it’s very clear (and also usually much later in the evening). You’ll see a line of police in riot gear, often times with gas masks on. This is the turning point. This is where everyone makes starkly different choices. Some people do not back down. Some people stay, but at a distance. Some people decide to go home. Whatever you choose, I really don’t care. I’ve chosen each of those paths on different nights, and I understand each one. So do what you feel you’re ready for.
My point is this: these protests are calm and organized. They are a show of support, and a way to find more local organizers for future action steps. They are a way to do something more productive than posting “WTF” on Facebook.
If you go, you will see what this is really all about. You’ll have a perspective formed from action, from experience, and not from a frenzied media. And if one night you decide to stay, you might see things left unreported, like your local coffee shop or church tear gassed by police. You might hear the heartbeat of democracy.
Do not be afraid. Go forth and help change things.
– Ruben Quintero