yearly theme

The meaning of life and more.

Thoughts on 43

Today I turn 43.

I’m marking the occasion in usual fashion, with one exception. I chose to spend the few days leading up to and following my birthday staying with friends in the remote volcanic forest landscape of Ocean View on the Big Island of Hawaii. Perhaps its unsurprising that this is the first travel of any kind I’ve done the end of 2019 before COVID-19 forced a shuttering of the world.

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Goodbye 2019. Welcome 2020.

So. I’ve never actually written a year-in-review type post before. At least, not that I can find. The closest I can come is this post from the beginning of 2018. It’s not a year-in-review so much as a forward-looking post at 2018 in front of me. As that post says, I’m not much for New Years’ Resolutions. Though I am all about reflection, so this revelation is actually a bit surprising to me.

Or, maybe because I’m so contemplative on a regular basis it’s never really seemed worth the effort to write an end-of-year summary. That streak ends today, as I look back on 2019 (and a bit at 2018). There’s no doubt the last year or two have been some of the most interesting and challenging of my life.

2018: A Quick Look

The year started off normal enough; school, work, politics. I had no idea what was in front of me.

Taking a night dive into uncharted waters, in March of that year, I left my job in the Governor’s Office to take a position as the Campaign Manager for Kim Coco Iwamoto in her bid to be Hawaii’s next Lieutenant Governor. I left the stability and safety of a dead-end job for an exciting new one which I didn’t know where it would lead. Or what would come next.

Finishing a disappointing fourth place, it was nonetheless a tremendous experience I’m glad I had. Not understanding how hard things would get financially, I took the remainder of the year to try to stand up my own consulting business and finish my Master’s Degree at GW.

2019 Began with Hope and Energy

2019 saw me graduate from George Washington University, my first official consulting client, and travel for work.

By the time January came around, my bank account had dwindled to pennies and my credit card debt had exploded. But I was hopeful because I also was making better-than-decent money consulting.

I was doing the work I loved on causes I genuinely cared about. Things were great. My business was taking off and I thought I was on my way.

But then the dumpster fired of a legislative session came to an end. And so did my contracts. At the time, in early June, I was still somewhat hopeful that it would only be a matter of time before the next gig came around.

Then, Reality Kicked Me in the Head

Again my bank balances dwindled, credit balances continued to rise and I didn’t actually find any other work until the end of October.

Being self-employed can be great. Freeing. Fulfilling. For me, there’s not much better than sitting down at my desk with freshly made coffee still in sleep attire. No shoes or pants required.

It can also be incredibly difficult and lonely. I went from working in an office full of other people to spending more than a few days working from home. It’s not an exaggeration that I am not social. Even in the office, I’d rarely talk story with my co-workers. Except when I did.

Having the choice was something I didn’t think I’d miss. But now I can easily spend a few days not leaving home except to venture out for meals or smokes. Being alone with my thoughts can take a depressing turn at any moment. Staying focused can be challenging.

I started to think maybe I had made a terrible mistake risking stability and comfort to venture out on my own. I applied and interviewed for a few full-time jobs back with the State, though none went anywhere. Had it not been for the love and support of my parents, it’s likely I would have been forced to pack up and move back as a failure to my high school bedroom to start anew.

I’m an Odd Mix of Hope and Brutal Reality

My life in Hawaii hasn’t been without challenges. From long bouts of unemployment to a chronic illness diagnosis and major surgery, my 17-plus years in the special place has molded who I am as an adult. Despite these challenges, I’ve always managed to land on my feet. Sooner or later.

So, while I continued to struggle toward the end of 2019 I started to think, again, about packing it in. Then, I received a call for a job that sent me to Mississippi for two weeks of work. It couldn’t have come at a better time. It was a great experience I’d happily take up again. And it kept me solvent for another month or two.

Strangely, when it comes to my personal life, I have long since given up on the possibility of “meeting someone”. Instead, I’ve chosen to focus on other parts of my life. Professionally though, I’ve always managed to stay mostly positive. Despite struggles and financial ruin (at least twice now), I continue to hold out hope that it’ll work out in the end and that I’ll be successful. Eventually.

Looking Toward a New Start in 2020

While I contemplate how best to deal with the crippling debt I’ve acquired over the last few years, new professional opportunities present themselves.

The 2020 Legislative Session begins in just a few weeks. And it won’t be long before the election season kicks into high gear. It will no doubt be a busy, stressful, and challenging year. As I sit here with my morning coffee on January 2nd, I am hopeful. Hopeful that income will begin pouring in. Hopeful that at least some of the projects on which I’m working will be successful. Hopeful that 2020 will see my business grow.

Here’s hoping. And here’s hoping 2020 will be a positive year for all of you.

Time to get to it.

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happy new year! it had been my intention to have all this finished and have a set of goals, and a plan for them, before the bell tolled midnight on december 31st. the holiday, not to mention a growing to do list for the coming week, kept me sufficiently distracted. so, here i am on january 3rd still struggling to prepare for the year ahead.

here we go with the last question….

~ thinking about the person i aspire to be, how do i imagine myself in 5 year? what does that person do, know? how does that person spend their time?

in my reading, these questions all seem closely related to one another, thus my lumping them together with one answer….

this is incredibly difficult for me to answer. the realist/pessimist in me is hesitant to predict my future; predictions so seldom rise to meet reality. still, for the sake of the exercise; i see myself as a lobbyist, activist, organizer. i’ll be working for a progressively-focused organization, non-profit, pushing forward on issues that affect working and middle-class people and their families.

i see myself with a masters degree of some kind: either in political science, public policy, or political management. getting accepted and figuring out how to pay for it all is part of a plan still in the development stage.

i see myself with more friends, maybe a “special someone,” and a more well-balanced life. for the last several years, my existence has revolved, almost entirely, around my career and gaining the experience and making the connections necessary to continue climbing to my goal. while i generally don’t have any problem with the choices i’ve made in this regard, it has become clear to me that i’ve neglected other parts of my life, leaving me somewhat socially isolated. i need a life away from the politics and volunteering. i have no doubt that this bit in particular will be instrumental to mental and emotional health.

after all this, i’m nearly set on my “yearly theme” and my “top goals.” in typical fashion, i’m a bit concerned that i’m being to ambitious; i don’t want to make the mistake of setting numerous lofty goals, only to fail at too many of them. so, even though the year is already a few days old, i’m going to ruminate for a few more days before settling on anything.

in the meantime, let me say “happy new year” to everyone. i hope you reach all your goals for the year.

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with the birth of 2016 fast approaching, i’m still struggling to nail down my “yearly theme,” my goals for the new year. i’ve got a list of ideas, though with little details on how to achieve them. under pressure to wake up on january 1st with a plan and vision i’ve attempted answer the questions remaining from part one, hoping at the end, i will be much closer to putting pen to paper and putting my “theme”  in writing.

~ what do i want to leave behind from this year?

it’s been a whirl-wind year. with dramatic changes at my work-place and an exciting and energizing election season heating up, though there may have been a fair amount of complaining on my part, i’m not sure how much of it was in my control, save one area.

those of you who know me, or have frequented this blog know that i’ve struggled off and on with depression for a fair chunk of my life. earlier this year, i fell into a funk out of which, on my own, i was unable to climb. i’ve been meeting with my therapist regularly since. though i’m back in an even, and even positive, frame of mind, i continue to see him as a motivation to work on things we’ve agreed are important.

though my temperament is such that i believe i will always be at risk of depressive funks, what i’d like to leave behind from this is year a nagging sense that my life lacks direction, accomplishments, or goals. the arc of my life has been fairly a typical, i think. it’s certainly outside the range of “normal” for the majority of my friends and while i look at this as a positive thing, i sometimes focus on the things they have that i don’t which causes feelings of loneliness and failure.

the goal of the “yearly theme” project, at is very core, is an attempt to leave these feelings behind once-and-for-all and be happy with what i have and successful in the goals i set for myself.

~ what went incredibly well?

honestly? i’m not sure anything went “incredibly” well. when weighing the “good” and “bad” in my life over this year, i can say that the scale easily tips toward the good. i made progress improving my finances, developed or strengthened relationships with some members of the democratic party of hawaii (which could prove valuable in the coming year), and proved my worth in a new position in my office.

as a matter of fact, if i look back at (what i can remember of) this year, it seems to have been a foundation-setting year. there was nothing particularly remarkable about this year, other than i could say it has put me in position to have a really good 2016.

~ what do i want more of in the year ahead?

more focus. i feel like i do a lot, constantly busy, but as i’ve been contemplating this new undertaking over the last few weeks, i’ve really begun to realize that while i’m involved in a lot of different things, there’s not a whole lot of focus in my life. enjoyable hobbies like writing, video blogging, and (restarting my) photography are consistently put off in exchange for “work” for one of the various organizations for which i volunteer; that has to change.

more joy. i’m not an unhappy person per se, but it can be a bit lonely and my free time is spent mostly laying on my couch. i’m often reminded, usually by friends and family that don’t live here, that i take completely for granted the fact that i live in this very special place. so, in the new year, i want more nature time: beaches, ocean, hiking, or just walking around my neighborhood. making a point to enjoy what hawaii has to offer is a good first step in the right direction.

there are still three or four more questions to go, but to keep this post from becoming completely unreadable, i’ll continue on in part three. stay tuned.

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though as a general concept, i decry the way facebook has become increasingly monetized; my news feed is littered with ads some algorithm has calculated i’d like. most of it is utter crap, but i can’t deny that i’ve found two or three ads appealing. they’ve even led to one or two purchases.

one such item is the spark notebook (thesparknotebook.com). from the site’s “users guide.”

The Spark Notebook is a place for you to store your most important notes, goals, and big ideas so you’re always at the top of your game. It achieves what no other notebook has before: combining the stunning design of sleek, professional notebooks with the functionality of big life-planners and organization guides. All of the great organizational tools without fuss or frills.

i get that the tone and language was probably market tested by some advertising firm somewhere, but it’s true that i could use a little direction and constructive planning in my life. with my 40th birthday less than three years away, i’m feeling an increasing need to sort my shit out. put another way, at just about six-months shy of my 38th birthday, i’m still struggling to find a career i care and can feel proud about. despite the high cost of living in hawaii, i nonetheless feel like i should be a little more financially stable; i’m not as far along as maybe i should be.

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