It’s that time of the year again. Yup, it’s the time of year when I make a list of what I learned, thus convincing myself that I grew or changed or whatever. That I haven’t just been sitting on the couch eating popcorn all year. (I’ve been sitting on the couch eating popcorn all year.)
I’ve been doing this since 2011 and, let me tell you, it works like a charm. Last year, in 2018, I learned 18 things, and in 2017, I learned 17. This year, I learned 19 if you can believe it. Nineteen things! In 2019! (Next year in 2020, I’m gonna reset this shit to 0 instead of coming up with 20 things so I hope I don’t learn anything.)
Here they are:
- Old dogs are the best dogs. Hogie is old, y’all. He has arthritis in his back hips, he’s deaf, he sleeps most of the time, and he has something his vet says is like doggie dementia, which has made diapers necessary. So, this year, my life with him has gone from long walks and rigorous sessions of hide and seek to washing loads of diapers, making sure he gets his supplements, giving him shots, and petting his sweet little head while he naps. But, he’s somehow even cuter and kinder now that he’s a senior dude and I’m so grateful for this time with him.
- It’s just hair. I started 2019 with long black hair, then I cut it chin length, then I bleached it blonde, then I dyed it brunette. About half of the year I had bangs. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself. But, hey, it’s just hair. It grows and you’re allowed to change your mind. A lot.
- Audiobooks are like really long podcasts – with plots! I read more books than ever this year and it’s definitely because of audiobooks. (My Best of 2019 book post will be up soon!) Every time I was cleaning the house, on a walk, or in my car alone, I was listening to a book -most of them non-fiction. It was fun and I learned a lot of stuff! And, yes, I still listened to my podcasts between the books. I’m not a monster.
- Do the work. I had a very hard time writing book 3 in the Sam the Spectator series but I persisted and now I think it’s my favorite one! Sit down and try the thing over and over again. Eventually you will do the thing.
- Just keep swimming I mean walking. This year I logged so many miles on my Nike Air Maxes, I had to order a new pair. Long walks helped with my anxiety AND they gave me time to inhale all those audiobooks. Plus, I always used them as an excuse to treat myself to a latte. Win-win-win. Whatever makes you feel better or saner or more YOU.. do it up!
- Celebrate your friends’ victories. This year I got to see my bestie Edi’s face on a giant building (and watch her just fucking KILL IT on a great series – Watch The Righteous Gemstones on HBO if you haven’t yet!!!), I got to travel to Santa Barbara to see a VERY cool art show featuring my good friend Roberto’s amazing piñata sculptures (and also see his name on a giant building!!), and cheer on my friend Liz as the wonderful movie she wrote slayed Netflix. There’s really nothing like seeing your friends succeed and this year I learned that it’s not only okay, it’s also important to take a moment and celebrate the hard work and talent it took them to get there. They rock and it’s fine to tell them that and also to cry a lot while you’re telling them that. You’re a Pisces (or a Cancer or a Leo or a whatever) after all. Feel your feels!
- Put your work out there. You might win something! This year, my novel The Haunter, won a B.R.A.G Award (and now I get to brag about it) and was a 2019 IAN Book of the Year finalist. So proud to see the book get some attention and so glad I took that leap last year.
- Trust your friends to save the day. At a game night in April, Hogie was viciously attacked by a family of adorable skunks in our yard. (The mom sprayed him in the face while the four babies presumably laughed at his old ass.) My friends jumped into action: one of them googled what to do, two made the de-skunking potion, one jumped into the bathtub and helped me rinse him off, while another pal collected towels and opened all the windows to de-skunk our poor stinky house. The teamwork was AMAZING. I’m no longer worried about the zombie apocalypse because my friends and I have that shit on lock.
- It’s never too late to change your life. One of my other besties, Christie, after twenty years in animation, sold off/gave away her belongings, packed a very small amount of necessaries in a backpack, and set off to volunteer her way around the world. She’s quite literally doing exactly what she wants to do with her life and that shit is INSPIRING! Even though I’m not brave on that level, I’ve let her trip inspire me to be bolder in my day to day life.
- Gifts don’t have to cost money. That same friend and I exchange “gifts” frequently. She sends postcards or handwritten letters from wherever she is in the world and I send her epic 100-song playlists to power her journey. We’re both always stoked to receive something from the other one and all it costs is postage or a monthly Spotify subscription.
- See a show! Tim and I splurged on season tickets to a theater near us this year and saw touring versions of all my old faves, from Miss Saigon to Les Miserables. We also saw eleven concerts. I honestly think I could’ve handled twice as many. It just makes me happy. Some people spend money on cars or vacations but give me live entertainment any day. So grateful I get to see it on the reg.
- Clean something that’s not your house. Or volunteer in some way. It’s super rewarding! This year we helped clean the L.A. River with our friends Rachel, Steve, and Christie and it felt great! A bit stinky, sure, but gooooood.
- There are easy ways to cut down on your plastic. Cleaning the L.A. River made me more determined than ever to cut down on my plastic and reduce my carbon footprint. You wouldn’t believe how many plastic straws, cups, wrappers, etc. were stuck in the plants down there. We were already using reusable silicon bags instead of Ziplocs and Beeswax wraps instead of Saran Wrap but in 2019, I added a metal straw that I carry in my purse and these amazing collapsible coffee mugs to my routine. It’s really simple: if I don’t have a reusable mug with me, no latte that day. If I don’t have a reusable straw, I go without. It’s not much but it’s easy and it feels good to do something to make up for all my years of getting disposable plastic stuff.
- Thrifting is better – for your wallet and your planet. In 2018, I started shopping my conscience by doing my research and using Good On You to find brands who were sustainable and good to their workers and the environment. This year, after listening to several podcasts on the topic of sustainable fashion and reading The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth L. Cline, I realized I wasn’t doing nearly enough. I started thrifting instead of buying new (so much cheaper! you can get fancy brands for less!) and I’m now, currently, on a 4 month fashion detox. No shopping until March 3 of 2020. I’m only allowed to wear what’s in my closet or borrow from a friend. It’s been over a month so far and I’m doing okay and learning that I don’t need to buy new stuff all the time. I even survived the after Thanksgiving sales, y’all.
- Go ahead and get that facial. I hadn’t had a facial in years and years because it felt silly and frivolous to pay a stranger to rub serums into my face. I am perfectly capable of rubbing serums into my own face in my own house while wearing my Ewok pajamas! Besides, I needed the extra money to support my shopping and concert habits. But, in 2019, I agreed to get TWO, with two different girlfriends (Thank you, Guddy and Cinsley), and they were both lovely. I’ve decided to invest in facials every couple of months because, hey, I’m not getting any younger and, also, I deserve it. Doing something for yourself like a facial or a massage or a yoga class every once in a while makes you feel like you’re worth nice things. Because you are.
- Grab coffee with a friend or friends. Do it a lot. This year I established a weekly coffee date with friends. (Thank you for this idea, Christie, we have continued in your honor!) It’s the day after therapy with my actual therapist but it often feels more like therapy (in a good way) than my real therapy sessions. Writing books is wonderful and I feel so lucky to get to do it but I’m alone way too much. Having these scheduled dates where I get to be social made my 2019 so much more awesome. Awesomer. IT WAS AWESOMER, OKAY?
- Allow don’t try. On one of these coffee dates, my friend Edi advised me to “allow don’t try.” It took me a while to understand what she meant, even when my pal Monte expanded on the idea with “hold don’t grip.” But, I get it now and it’s changed my life. I’m a “tryer” from way back (who uses the word “awesomer”). I need everyone to like me and everything to be perfect so I attempt to force things into being. For the last few months, I’ve been using a softer approach with myself. I do the work, I set my intentions, but I don’t try to make anything happen in any area of my life. Then I just go with the flow when the universe sends things my way. This advice was, to me, PROFOUND. I hope you relate to it as well.
- Never underestimate the power of Baby Yoda. I’ve been on Twitter since 2009 and I’ve had a blast tweeting about those things close to my heart: vodka, dogs, anxiety, and Star Wars. I know that many of the people who follow me enjoy Ewok tweets but the type of stuff I like has never been viral material. That’s why I was so shocked to have a silly tweet explode earlier this month. To be honest, it freaked me out a little but I quickly chilled on it (I allowed!) because, hey, that’s the power of Baby Yoda. May he lead us to a happy and cute AF 2020.
- Keep fucking going. At the beginning of every year I come up with a catch phrase for the twelve months ahead instead of a resolution. In early January, I received a silver bracelet from my friend, @goldengateblond, a lovely thoughtful badass, that had “Keep Fucking Going” engraved on the inside. It was the perfect sentiment for a year where I needed to keep promoting my books and writing the third one. I wear the bracelet when I need a reminder and I even wrote the phrase on a Hello Kitty post-it and stuck it to my computer, much to the delight of my 14-year-old nephew when he was staying with us. Keep fucking going, everyone.
In 2019, I kept going and that was a lot. Thank you to everyone who helped make my year so memorable. Here’s to a MUCH better 2020, in all the ways. Sending you love, light, and Ewoks.