Read this on galpod.com.
Last year, I did a reflections challenge that didn't go quite as well as I hoped it would. This year, I decided to take some of the prompts and use them for a year-end reflection. I selected 11 out of the 31 prompts.
2019 in three words
1. Singing: I've rediscovered how much I love singing, thanks to my incredible partner and his unsurpassable birthday gift early in the year. Besides recording and releasing the album, I'm also taking voice lessons and even performed at an open mic night.
2. Letting Go: Something that struck me as I was looking over my notebook is how tidy my handwriting was at the beginning of it and the gradual "messiness" of the journalling. Some of it is probably that new notebook feeling. But I think some of it is me growing less tidy over the year. I feel that I had let go of a lot of the pressure that I'm used to putting on myself. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is yet to be determined, but it's happening.
3. Reading: I've made reading a deliberate part of my routine. I read all sorts of things, but I read 37 books this year. Sure, I was aiming for 40, but I feel that I did a pretty good job of it this year. I'm going to increase the challenge to 45 next year, and make an effort to read more contemporary novels and possibly short stories.
Definitely recording in various studios with some talented people, but the highlight was going out to Hastings for a day with Frank Moon and Bev Lee Harling who opened their home and their hearts to what we were trying to do. It made me almost believe that I could, one day, live that way. I won't because it's not who I am, but it was an enlightening glimpse into another life.
Releasing the album. It was a process that took nearly all year, for various reasons, mostly because it wasn't my main project. I'm really pleased we managed to release it before my next birthday, that way it's about the 40-year-celebration and I can now move on to the next step of this journey. I'm not sure which step that is, yet, but it'll be fine.
Time well spent
Commute. Wait, hear me out. I've been travelling regularly this year to Bethnal Green (voice lessons) and Kentish Town (Literature course), both on the other side of town. The other side of town typically entails 45 minutes of sitting in tubes, trains, and buses. But, because I can't for the life of me read while in motion (I mean, I could, but it won't be pretty), I opted for listening to podcasts. I discovered a few fantastic podcasts, which I also listen to walking and running, and I learn a lot. Highly recommend this podcast thing.
New skills learned
Well, singing wasn't really a new skill, but I definitely improved it. I also learned how to run without hurting myself, which is much better than running with hurting myself.
I think the break-through moment this year was when I realised that scheduling doesn't work for me anymore. I changed the way I work, and it did wonders to my creativity (and lowered my stress levels somewhat). I'm happy with the current framework, so I'm keeping it for now.
I made some progress at the beginning of the year with playing on the iPhone, but it comes in waves. When I'm stressed or anxious, I tend to resort to distraction using Best Fiends. Beware, it's addictive. However, I developed a habit of reading before going to sleep, and I'm working on my exercise habit.
Out of my comfort zone
This year, the singing was definitely out of my comfort zone. I had to pretend I'm an actual musician. The real musicians were on to me, but they let it go, so that was nice. I went on stage, which is something I have mixed feelings about. For 2020, I want to keep doing that, but also to let myself be freer: about the schedule, about the goals, about the kids. Cut myself some slack. That would be very much outside of my comfort zone.
Theme for 2020
Flexibility. I've been thinking about this one all week. I still want to aim for authenticity, as I did this year. I still want to nurture my creativity and write and all that. But next year, I think what I need to be working on is my flexibility about schedules and goal, about plans, about what works for me and what doesn't. I need to try out things before I decide.
I noted before that, for me, the school year is more critical in terms of goals and reflection. But I'm happy to set broader intentions at this junction. In 2020 I intend to:
1. Get Labour Pains as far into the publishing process as I can.
2. Finish book 2 (first draft 3/4 done) and book 3 (the idea won't leave me, so I need to write it).
3. Enter at least one short story into a competition.
4. Learn constantly: literature, singing, writing, general knowledge.
5. Take care of myself: eat well, exercise, meditate.
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