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I just read through all of my Reverb10 posts. A few of them are still very relevant, perhaps even more so now than ever. Moving to Spokane, away from the awe-inspiring Sierra Nevadas, has decreased my sense of wonder dramatically. To be honest, I routinely hate it here. It’s a nice place, with nice people, and I’m getting that Biggest Little City in the World vibe (without the vice) that I so enjoy. Unfortunately there’s nothing here that just takes my breath away the way Tahoe did.
I’m not sure Spokane is the place to capture the thrill of living, but I’m here for the next year. I think the best way to embrace the situation is to spend time working on me and to experience a sense of wonder in my own accomplishments. Maybe I need to be here so I can change my core story.
One thing that will help, is to take more risks. I need to push myself in new ways, and I can’t let habit and security hold me back. Living in Spokane is one of the safest choices I could have made; now I need to create my own adventures.
Reverb10: Core Story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.) (Author: Molly O’Neill)
My core story tells me that I am resilient enough to get through anything. While that is an important part of my story, it leaves out so much. I need a story that will tell me I can build anything, that I am the one who will shape my life, that I will thrive instead of merely surviving. A big part of 2011 will be restructuring my core story.
Meanwhile, some people have such an incredible core story that it inspires me to make mine equally marvelous:
Any others I should read? Inspire me.
Reverb10: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year? (Author: Holly Root)
As I’ve mentioned, 2010 was a challenging year. My friends and family both gave some wonderful things to make life better for me, but I am the one responsible for the big gift that let me get through this year healing instead of hurting. My own resilience was what got me through the year. It was my resilience that allowed me to look at each challenging situation and either grow from it or let go of it; it was my resilience that prevented me from self-blame, self-pity, or self-loathing. I had help (and I am so grateful for those people), but I am the one that did the work.
That gift was uniquely needed in 2010, but it’s one I hope to continue to cultivate in 2011. There will likely be more unpleasantness to slog my way through, and when that occurs, I want to be challenged and educated, not overwhelmed and broken. I want to be able to look objectively at my life and take care of myself and my relationships and my environment, even during the worst of it. Being able to deal with the bad will allow me to build the good.
Reverb10: Defining Moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year. (Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)
Moving. I moved four times in 2010, and it has left me desperately craving stability. (Yesterday I almost named stability as what I want to achieve in 2011, but I already plan to move at least once, return to school, and find a new job or two. No sense setting myself up to fail with unrealistic expectation.)
Even so, each of my moves have come from a place of greater stability than the one before. When I moved in May, it was because my previous living situation had become so volatile that I no longer felt safe there. When I moved a month later, it was because of an unethical landlord situation. When I moved from my apartment in Reno to Paul and Tiff’s apartment in Reno, it was due to my desire to continue living with them, and a bit of convenience. When I moved back to Tahoe in November, I finally moved because it was the best choice for me at the time and continues to be a good choice. I can see improvement, little by little.
I am here now and I am enjoying my apartment and my town, but I’m also keeping an eye on the next move. Even as I unpacked, I asked myself if I needed all of these things. Every time I buy something I think about how I will move it. I don’t think I’ll be fully settled until I’m in Seattle, where I’ll be able to commit for two years, where I’ll be able to truly establish a home for myself.
Reverb10: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today. (Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)
Building. Empire. Direction. I think those are the three words I’m going to use as focal points in 2011. As I’ve said before, 2011 is to be a building year, and I plan to build an empire. But building an empire is a vague goal, so just what am I trying to achieve?
Direction. I don’t want to aim my life at one specific goal and simply work toward it — what will happen when I achieve it? Instead I want to point my energies in the direction of the life I want for myself and let everything flow the right way. I think having a clear direction will make me feel purposeful and determined.
So, ten things I can do to achieve those feelings immediately?
- Clearly define my direction.
- Monitor my finances.
- Clean the house.
- Make January’s donation.
- Tidy the car.
- Take car in for maintenance.
- Identify this season’s skiing goals.
- Make a dentist appointment.
- Plan a meeting with my boss at the restaurant.
- Call Amy.
Let’s see what I can achieve.
Reverb10: Ordinary Joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: Brené Brown)
Skiing is my ordinary joy. The stand-out moment in 2010 was when one of the kids I teach, Annie, told me she loved me as she and her grandmother walked away. It was such a simple, sweet moment; I’m so happy she enjoyed skiing with me so much that she could say that as only a three-year-old can. Moments like that not only bring me joy, they assure me that I am on the right path.
However, that was not an ordinary moment and skiing provides me with plenty of ordinary moments of joy. Every time I ride up the chairlift and see my beautiful mountains unfold, or stand at the top and look at what I’m about to do. Every time I take a lesson that expands the mountain for me, or teach a lesson that helps someone turn for the very first time. I am lucky that I am able to spend my time doing something that brings so much joy into my life.
Except it’s not actually luck; I chose to have this life and I’ve worked to make it happen. People frequently tell me they wish they could ski as much as I do…they can of course, they’ve just made different choices. There are things I wish I could spend more time doing, but I haven’t made those choices yet. Maybe someday I will, but for now, I will take joy in my day-to-day adventure.
Reverb10: Soul Food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth and touched your soul? (Author: Elise Marie Collins)
Food is an incredibly important part of my life, so there are so many things that fit this prompt.
- The endless lamb Jay fed me as a means of showing affection or regret.
- The chocolate mocha cheesecake.
- The citrus cheesecake with ginger crust.
- The joy that is chocolate dob.
- The ultimate comfort food: my chili.
- The beef tartare Natt offered me when I started my job.
- Chicken and dumplings.
- Pasta with Paul and Tiff.
- Apple bruschetta with bacon and bleu cheese.
- Blake’s amazing red beans and rice.
However, the one thing I want to devote some time to is beef fat, specifically the fat that comes from beef ribs. Short ribs, prime rib, and ribeye steaks all share this fat, and it is one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. The taste is determined by the meat and seasonings of course, but the texture is unique and oh, so wonderful.
I read a lot about food and nutrition, and I inevitably come across articles talking about the importance of reducing fat, or telling me if I must eat red meat I should only eat lean cuts, or preaching the evils of all saturated fats. The fat I’m trying to describe assures me that those articles are wrong. The most important thing about food is that it creates joy. Nutrition is not as well understood as we would choose, and one thing I’m sure of is that eating food that makes us feel excited and satiated and well-fed all at once is good for us. Eating food our bodies love will build healthier bodies.
I have a lot to say on this matter, but I’m going to stop here for the time being. I’m grateful for all the wonderful meals I enjoy in 2010.
Reverb10: Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you. (Author: Tracey Clark)
This is one of my favorite pictures of me. It’s a photo of my aunt and I (I am on the left) sliding down an inflatable slide during the Reno Italian Festival. My mom and two of her sisters came to visit me for a few days and this is what we stumbled upon when we went to see downtown Reno. One of my aunts and I took one look at the slide and decided we had to take advantage of it. (My mother and other aunt decided they would photograph the event for us.)
I love this picture because I am doing something fun with the people I love while on my grand adventure. I can’t think of a better moment in 2010.
Reverb10: Everything’s okay. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead? (Author: Kate Inglis)
When my friend Justin smiles because he is pleased to see me and gives me a hug. It’s happened a few times this year and every time, no matter if he was helping me through something crazy or celebrating a holiday together, things slowed down and got better.
I have amazing friends and asking them for help and letting them support me will always make things better. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right person to listen, the person who can and will do the one little thing that will spark a change.
It really is that simple.
Reverb10: New Name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why? (Author: Becca Wilcott)
My name? My name has been a point of contention for me most of my life. My last name is a full twelve letters, most of them consonants. Under different circumstances, I might appreciate it, but not only am I not close to my father, he has no contact whatsoever with his own father. One of my uncles actually did change his last name to my (step) grandfather’s last name when he married. My surname is difficult and does not hold a great deal of sentimental value.
My senior year of high school I proposed changing my last name to what I think of as the family name, but the very idea hurt my father (Which I’m not sure I understand. He does not speak to his biological father, and treated his stepfather as my grandfather.) so I let it go, but never stopped wanting a change. And, while the family name is something I would share with people I love, it’s also very common, meaning that I would share my full name with a surfeit of others — as is my name seems to be unique to me.
I do think it’s time for a change though. My life is wholly mine now, no longer something I’m living under the supervision of my family, and my name does not fit. It took some time to find an appropriate replacement, but I think Joslyn is right. Sister Carolyn helped inspire me — not only was she the one who introduced me to the work of Matilda Joslyn Gage, she also chose to name herself. (Actually, attending Sister Carolyn’s Lesbian Tent Revival and a later read-through of a play she was writing, was a life-changing event altogether.) My name would still be unique, I would have a daily reminder of the importance of feminism, the sound of Jill Joslyn appeals to me, and a so many other little details make it seem right.
I haven’t researched the process, but if it’s reasonably straightforward, 2011 may be the year I rename myself.