Hello and welcome to my favorite post of the year! I’ve done this every December since 2011 and I think it’s really helpful to look back and give myself a little credit for growing as a person each year. It’s really cool that every year I learn EXACTLY the same amount of things as the year itself, like, for example, in 2015 I learned 15 things and in 2017 I learned 17 things! Wow!! (Also, how ’bout using this same joke every year? Double wow!!)
It was a year full of highs and lows. Honestly, I’m still reeling and processing. But, I think this was an epic year for my personal growth. I also saw soooo many cute dogs this year, y’all. So. Many.
So, what did I learn? Let’s do this thing:
- Write the book. Publish it. Or, start that podcast. Paint the painting. Make the movie. For goodness sake, DO THE THING. It’ll feel great; I promise. In October of this year, I released my first novel, The Haunter, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and positive feedback. Thank you so much to everyone who bought it, reviewed it, messaged me about it, RTed it, Instagrammed it, did anything for it. I’m so grateful to you and I’m so grateful that I got to do this! Book two, Ghostapalooza, will be out next month! Yay!!
- March. Or tweet or donate or call or send postcards or knock on doors. Hell, do it all. In 2018, I went to so many marches that it started to feel like they were replacing brunch as my weekend activity of choice. I wore out my Nikes. It really made me feel better to get out there. I think these days it’s easy to feel helpless, like you can’t do anything to help. But, you can. Your voice and presence matters. We have to speak out. Or march out.
- Practice gratitude. After the 2016 election, I started writing in something I called my ‘Rage Journal.’ I wrote in it frequently, pouring out my frustrations with the country and also my personal life. This year I turned it into a gratitude journal. Evert day I write a bit about what’s going on with me and then I list everything I’m grateful for. Sometimes it’s small stuff like: I’m grateful for this chai latte and sometimes it’s major stuff but it always makes me happy, no matter what’s going on in my life.
- Puzzles are therapeutic. I’ve loved them since I was a little kid but this year, I did more than ever and it helped. They’re so calming! Plus, they make you smarter and stuff.
- Do a weekend without your phone! Seriously. Sometimes you gotta do it. You gotta unplug yourself from the news and social media because that stuff will eat your soul. This year, Tim and I did a weekend in Joshua Tree without our phones and it was nothing short of amazing – a total zen reboot. I highly recommend it.
- Find the thing that gives you peace and joy and do that. A lot. If there’s something that makes your heart soar, let yourself have it or do it. Do the thing as much as you can afford to. In 2018, we bought season tickets to a local theater and saw as many concerts as we could afford. Maybe being in nature makes you complete and not at all terrified that Jason’s mom will get you. Do the camping thing every chance you get! Totally worth it. You deserve as much joy as you can cram into your life.
- Buy yourself something silly but useful. I bought a tiny little table to put my cocktails on and I’m a better person for having done so.
- You have got to roll with health shit. You just have to. I’m luckily a healthy person but this year I had a couple of minor bumps in the road health-wise. I’ve learned the less you make a big deal out of things, the less of a big deal they are (even when they are a big deal). Look, shit happens. You cope the very best you can. That’s all any of us can do.
- Aging happens. Similarly, you are gonna age. You don’t get a new body and even if you take care of it, there will be some adjustments as you go along. This year, after a lifetime of perfect vision, I had to embrace the joy of reading glasses. (I’m wearing them as I write this looking cool af, you guys.) After months of squinting at menus in dark restaurants, I finally bought a pair of readers from the old people section of Walgreens and now I know what I’m ordering! Life is an adventure!
- Do stuff even when you’re anxious. You’ll be fine! I had a little ‘come to happy hour with me’ thing the night my book came out. Everyone who came is SUPER nice and a friend. Even so, I was anxious for some reason. I don’t like all the focus to be on me and I worried that people didn’t know each other. But, it was fine, great even! Other versions of this played out all year: I was an anxious mess, I went anyway and I DIDN’T DIE and even had some fun. I’m getting better and better at not crumbling under the weight of my anxiety because I’m practicing. I know it sometimes feels like you can’t handle things when anxiety has you in its grips but you can! You’re tough and you will handle it. You will get through whatever it is.
- Swing out. Along these same lines, it’s great to get out of your comfort zone! I pitched a kids’ show with my husband this year and it was so fun and rewarding to put myself out there creatively like that. (Still in the process so that’s all I can tell you.) Doesn’t matter if we ever sell it or anything, the point is to try something new and different and we did! What a great feeling!
- Ask for what you want. Put it out there no matter if it’s something big like asking someone to read your work or something small like a new flavor of your favorite drink. Wait, that seems big too. Anyway, you never know, you might get what you want!
- Go play. This year we went to Disneyland for the first time in almost a decade to see the holiday decorations and holy wow, was it a blast! The Haunted Mansion! The Mickey-shaped donuts! The old ladies dressed in matching Minnie Mouse Christmas outfits! Ahhh, I loved it all and it reminded me that deep down I’ll always be a dorky little kid at heart.
- Talk about your stuff. Whether it be anxiety or career struggles or health stuff, someone else is going through it too. If you share, you might help another person or at the very least let them know they’re not alone. On this tip, watch this space for a post in the new year. I have stuff to say.
- Invite a teenager to stay with you. Yes, I’m serious. We did this with our nephew, Logan, this year and it was delightful. He’s the coolest kid. Having one-on-one time with an important teen in your life is just the best. They’re practically adults! We’re gonna have the other one visit from Texas sometime in 2019 and I can’t wait.
- Kids are cool. Speaking of nephews, we got to spend time in Maui with our two youngest nephews this year and it was just so much fun! Hang with them as much as possible, especially if you don’t have your own. They’ll teach you things you need to know like what Fortnite is and why Fortnite is.
- Make time to catch up with old friends. I got to do this a couple of times in 2018 -once with theater friends from college and once with my junior high/high school bestie– and let me just say, you never regret it. There’s something so badass and special about the relationship you have with people who have known you since the days you carried a lime green rubber backpack as a purse.
- Celebrate the small stuff. At every stage of the book process, Tim encouraged me to celebrate. At first I was grumpy about it, like, ugh, it’s not a big deal, whatever! But, you know what? He was right. If you can’t celebrate completing something or achieving something, no matter how small, then what are we even doing? We make our own happiness, after all. Mine is made out of concerts and champagne.
That’s it! That’s everything I learned all year except the stuff I forgot! Hope you learned a lot this year too and hope your year was a great one. Here’s to 2019 being even better!