And We’ll All Float On.
It’s that time of year again.
I can’t believe it either.
The first iteration of The Hobbit movie lasted longer than last year did. Hell. The first scene in that movie — when they’re all cooking dinner presumably in real-time — lasted longer than last year did.
For me, twenty-fourteen was like a first-time sexual encounter — pioneering, exciting, and way, way too short.
But I’m happy to report that at least in my case, I think that’s because I actually did in 2014 what I set out to do in 2014 without even really thinking about it because guess what? Not thinking about it is exactly what I set out to do. Kind of.
On Letting Go
See, after reading one of those you-have-to-do-this-before-the-end-of-the-year-or-you’re-going-to-die-miserable-and-alone kind of articles while not drinking by myself on New Year’s Eve last year, I discovered a little burst of clarity. The idea is that I was supposed to let go — let go of the guilt I felt for being so wishy-washy with my aspirations, and let go of trying to figure out how to make things happen and just let them happen.
Apparently that song from Frozen got sucked into the black hole of my subconsciousness and just stayed there. Which is kind of ironic because I sort of disliked that movie for the awful parents and the sisters not talking and that weird creepy snowman. I actually thought I was the only person in existence who didn’t like it until we visited my cousin over Christmas and learned that her 2 1/2-year-old daughter dislikes it even more than I do. She hates it, even. So much so that we’d chase her around the house saying, “Natalie, do you want to watch Frozen?” and then laugh while she’d scream “Nooo!” and scamper off in search of less asinine people to hang out with.
It was great.
The first professional thing I did in 2014 was apply for a job. A real job with an amazing company for which I’d have been able to work remotely from home or Zimbabwe or the coffee shop in Newport News City Center. I made it through several interviews and had even practiced typing the name of my new company into the “About Me” section of Facebook once or twice without hitting “publish” until — spoiler alert — I didn’t get it.
And so the first unprofessional thing I did in 2014 was publicly whine about it and the rest of my crushed dreams while quoting Dumb and Dumber in emails to my interviewers and lamenting about having to spin my arugula in batches.
It wasn’t exactly a high point.
At that point I gave up all hope of working towards my dream career, let alone figuring out how to find it.
And that, m’dears, is when it found me.
I was approached by someone who’d been reading my blog for some time, and she was looking for a virtual assistant to help with her interior design business. So I peeled myself off of the floor, sent her my resume, and did my best to verify that she wasn’t under the influence of mind-altering substances. (I mean, she read my blog and still wanted to hire me — you can’t blame me for being suspicious.) After a couple of phone chats and even a visit to meet with her in D.C., we discovered that we work very well together and, even more surprising, virtual assisting works very well for me.
My schedule is flexible, the pay is nice, I work mostly from home, and I finally have a chance to utilize many of the skills I’ve accrued over the years — from graphic design to website dabbling to spreadsheet management — which allowed me to clear the cobwebs from some dusty corners of my brain and start feeling a sense of purpose again.
I’ve recently taken on an additional client/employer in a very different creative field, and I do believe that good things lie ahead in my newfound career.
Lest We Forget
If you recall, I was also supposed to prioritize last year. “Prioritization” was my word for 2014. How’d I do? I’d say fairly well, considering my first priority was to just let things happen.
In fact, when I look back on my list of goals from last year, I actually managed to make significant progress on quite a few of them just by getting started and not trying so damn hard all of the time.
Learn to play acoustic guitar.
I learned and then forgot exactly one song. But that totally counts, right?
Earn a living wage as a full-time blogger.
Surprisingly, the thing I thought I wanted the most is no longer a viable goal of mine. I’ve spent some time over the last year learning what I can from the pros, and what I learned is that I love blogging. And if I want to continue to love it, I probably shouldn’t make it my career. And guess what? It’s totally okay to cross goals off of your list when they cease to apply.
Travel the world.
Since it’s unrealistic to travel (and enjoy) the entire world in just one year, I picked just one country, Italy, and took cooking classes from a professional chef. I’d say that’s a good start.
Figure out how to keep fingernail polish looking nice for longer than 18 hours.
It’s called a top coat. Done.
Completely update this 1957 brick ranch on a budget.
We’ve tackled and (mostly) finished our most ambitious project for this house — the kitchen. It still needs paint and a few finishing touches, but the progress is fantastic. My goal is to finish most of the rest of the house by the end of 2015.
Subscribe to — and actually read, bookmark, and execute vacations and recipes from — at least three culinary and/or travel magazines.
I have a subscription to AFAR, I’ve bought several issues of Saveur, and I have an entire stack of Travel & Leisure from Justin’s aunt. I love them all, but so far most of them have done little more than decorate my end tables.
Write a series of children’s books for my friend Jenn to illustrate.
On hold, but not forgotten.
Become a better cook.
Yeah… those cooking classes in Italy didn’t hurt.
Thoroughly explore my new part of the country.
Walk my dogs and/or work out daily.
Admittedly this didn’t happen every day, but I’m happy with my level of commitment.
Stop wasting so much time.
While I’m working to change my attitude about multitasking, I still need to get better at not doing it. Much better.
Consider getting a real job so I can earn my keep and justify doing any of the above.
And it fell right into my lap.
On Moving On
It’s only right that I pick a word for 2015, and considering how good it feels to just let things happen, only one word really feels right:
Not like placidly atop a stagnant pond but, you know, with a current. Sometimes the coasting will be fast, sometimes it will be slow, and sometimes it will require a good paddle here and there to pull myself out of the inevitable doldrums. I have a few goals I’d like to work on:
- Write more.
- Be genuinely happy for people. (Envy is a serious creative buzzkill.)
- Accept the curveballs.
- Figure out and embrace my personal style.
- Get the house ready for re-sale.
The experts always say you need to have specific goals, but I think this realm of vaguery works better for me. I’m tired of constantly struggling against the current, bereaving the plans that never worked out. This way I’ll always be going somewhere, but I’m finally willing to accept the fact that I can’t control everything about where that place is.
It doesn’t mean I’ve lost ambition.
It doesn’t mean I won’t have dreams.
It just means I’m better equipped to handle them.