Woof. I'm writing from the dining room of our new house, still 90% boxes, over-caffeinated because we got too excited to try the builtin coffee maker. I can't find my notes. So let's do this.
After seven years of my new employment life, here's what's going on in my head:
Momentum is scary and helpful.
This year has been wonderful and scary and intense. After leaping off a cliff last summer (I mean, moving to NM out of the blue), it's been non-stop. Lots of travel, a new job, a new job for Paul, a new car, launching MañanaCon, tabling my first zine fest, Paul going to grad school, we bought a house, I got a promotion, I started a Patreon AND SO ON FOREVER.
It's easy to get scared of the momentum, to feel like I must be hurtling toward a crash. My old burn-out radar starts pinging when this much stuff happens.
But...it seems I've learned something. This speed feels different from the frenetic pace of my 20s. Most of the stuff I'm doing feels _good_, feels like it's _helping_ me and not just some new shiny object to chase. And I'm keeping up (mostly) with things like sleep and exercise. Sure, it's not as under control as I'm used to, but I'm still headed in the right direction. Be a little less concerned and keep doing what seems most important.
I like New Mexico as much as I thought I did.
I had no idea if this would be true. It's one thing to pine from afar (and I'm so good at it!) but it's another thing entirely to move in with your long-distance crush.
I knew I'd like the food and the sunsets and the weather. I didn't know I would also like everything else. I'm glad we took this leap and I'm glad we're putting down roots here.
Find a way to make it work.
I mean: If you have something awesome, don't let yourself fixate on the rough edges. Look for a way to make the rough edges more bearable--or better yet, turn them into a positive.
My job has been awesome this last year, but I could have easily focused on the not-great parts and then I'd be wanting to leave soon. It's what I do. I'm great at that. Instead, I have been working on improving them while also keeping myself pretty happy and focused on the good bits.
I've also been feeling a bit burned out on travel. Like, oh man, I am so tired of airplanes and they are killing the planet and why am I leaving behind this awesome life at home. I had to stop freaking out about it and get real with myself: How can I feel better about the environmental impact? How can I feel the good exciting parts of travel? How can I reduce the annoying bits? How can I solve this instead of worrying about it?
So I'm going to be buying carbon sequestration. I'm going to be reducing the amount of weight I fly with. And I'm going to start a fucking gratitude journal to remind myself of the cool stuff that happens when you go to a new place -- or even an old place. I'm going to find ways to make trips awesome -- whether that's doing more exercise or seeing something exciting.
Recycle, reduce, reuse, repeat, refine, remember.
Do a thing and then expand. Don't start 17 unrelated projects. It's okay to take baby steps. Repetition leads to refinement.
In past years, I've written about saying no. And saying no is still the best possible option for new ideas. But I'm focusing now on how to get the most mileage out of every thing I do instead of starting a new thing every five minutes. If it's important enough to me to have done it in the first place, then it's very likely important enough for me to revisit it. I've been keeping a daily log just so I can remember the day and get a little somethin' extra out of it.
The skills I need to lead a nature walk are connected to the skills I need to do my job are connected to the skills I need to create a zine. It all feeds into the next (even if I'm the only one who can see that.)
Systems are communities are systems, and diversity in the system matters.
I took a bunch of ecology classes this summer as part of getting certified as a master naturalist. It was so dorky and amazing but the real thing it reminded me of is that it really, really is all connected. The way water moves through the river valley, the culture and history of the area, whether or not people leash their dogs--it all connects in this mind-boggling complexity to produce what we have now.
We're all in it together and it's renewed my commitment to understanding and living within my environment. I'm just another (very demanding) animal and I want to know how I can be a better neighbor. (We started by leaving the bee hive on our house.) I serve my purpose in this niche, and a monoculture isn't good for anybody.
I can draw.
I mean, I'm not good at it. But I've finally given myself permission to just do the thing. Draw stuff. And best of all, I'm not learning to draw, but rather drawing to learn--to learn about my subject, to learn about my tools.
Lessons to Learn in Year 8
Don't forget to look up every once in awhile.
Life has been moving so fast that it's easy to lose track of what I want to get done in this life. To just keep pushing and moving forward, to take the next small step and the next. I'm trying to do better about pausing, taking a deep breath, and surveying the territory.
I said this last year and I've gotten better at it. But I will need to be writing, speaking, sharing at a new level this year and I need better tools and processes to support that.
What I really need is less fear, and more iteration. I want to make more zines and fewer drafts of zines. Smaller, smaller, smaller.
I want to be sharing more about the work I do, the talks I give, the communities I support. I want to be sharing about home ownership, gardening, nature, tech, diversity & inclusion in open source, bicycles, travel -- all the things. I don't know how yet but I'm going to have to figure it out pretty soon.
Leadership, leadership, leadership.
I don't know what this means, but I know what kind of leader I want to be. I want to be a person who hears more than the loudest voices in the room, who organizes and enables other people to do awesome things, who isn't afraid to be awkward or uncomfortable when the moment calls for it. I have some new responsibilities and I want to be sure I'm taking care of people with compassion and vision and helping them be as awesome as I know they can be.