It's that time of the year when I like to look back and consider what I did right. Positive reinforcement wins it. So does living outside my comfort zone. This year I could have updated things around my house or made wise financial investments, but I didn't. Instead I decided to spend my time and money doing all those things in life that most of us plan to do someday. This year was my someday. I went places and did things and lived one of the most exciting years of my life.
The following is a list of some of the wins from a year full of lessons and adventures that I'm still trying to sort out.
- While attending a writing workshop that used a teaching method called the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we learned by taking turns reading our work aloud and commenting on each other's writing. The caveat? You could only say positive things. I didn't think it would work. How could my writing improve if no one told me what was wrong with it? Ten days later I could barely believe how much each and every attendee's work had expanded and grown into something beautiful. A stunning win for the power of being positive, and a life lesson.
- This year I purchased a park pass for a nearby park and when I wasn't traveling I went there to hike. It's amazing how many touristy things we have in our own area that we never go to. I'm working on correcting that. It isn't necessary to travel the world to change your perspective.
- When I traveled for the previously mentioned workshop and it ended, I didn't want to leave. It seemed like I'd been writing morning, noon, and night, and hadn't had a chance to enjoy the gorgeous place I'd traveled so far to write in. So I changed my ticket and stayed. Alone. In Greece. During the whole insolvency thing. I walked everywhere, ate yogurt and fruit from a nearby market (and some octopus), and did NOTHING. Nada. Zilch. Okay, I wrote some more. It. Was. Amazing.
- Dear Hubby and I have polar opposite taste in music. But every single concert he wanted to go to this year, I agreed. He was so excited he got the best seats he could manage. Know what? Concerts are FUN. I don't care who's playing. I had a blast and I may have even bought some of their songs for my iPod later. Don't tell Dear Hubby.
- There's a woman in San Francisco who started a little coffee-coconut-toast bar. Someone sent me her story from an online article because she looks and seems so very much like a character I invented for a novel I wrote. The coincidences blew me away. Of course the real woman isn't a Covenant Keeper assassin BUT EVERYTHING ELSE is freakily similar! She looks exactly like I envisioned this character. I MIGHT MAYBE have finagled inviting myself on someone else's trip to California and drove clear across town to see her. Might. Maybe. I fit right in at that little hipster coffee bar. (Not even a little. It was AMAZING being totally out of place in the exact right spot.)
- Somehow I found myself in a dodgy section of a dodgy town. Wait. That happened in several towns this year. What I meant was the first time I found myself in the dodgy section of a dodgy town THIS YEAR, a total stranger handed me tickets to go to a concert. I went. The music was sort of Rockabilly Blues Rock. It was so loud that I could feel the bass in my heart. That is how I know I'm in the right place, music-wise. It was standing room only and the age group seemed to be barely-legal to old and gray. I FREAKING LOVED EVERY SPLIT SECOND. Now I fangirl all over them online and buy all their music. The Delta Bombers.
- The second time I found myself in a dodgy section of a dodgy town was somewhere in Spain. I thought I knew some Spanish. AHAHAHAHA. No. I can READ some Spanish. I cannot understand it OR speak it enough to be understood. But I walked out of my hotel with Google Maps and got LOST AS @*$%! Hours later I ended up at a BioPark (i.e. Zoo). After spending hours there I walked back too. I took a completely different path. I like to call it LOST AS HELK WITH GOOGLE MAPS.
- There I was sitting inside an Irish Pub (still in Spain). The waiter refused to take my order until I ordered in Spanish. So I did. He interrupted me to say, "Never mind. Just say it in English." It reminded me horribly of the time I sang to one of my babies and he reached up and covered my mouth. Still it made me laugh, and I give myself full credit for trying even when I fail. I like to flatter myself that I have a gift for language, but I have no illusions about having a gift for speaking in any of them.
- After nearly thirty hours of travel I made it to my little hotel room and opened the window, leaned outside, and listened to church bells welcome me to Rome. I left the window wide open, inviting sunshine inside, laid on the bed, and slept until dark. Sometimes a nap is my highest priority.
- I'm not easily spooked. In fact I haunt cemeteries. While in Rome after a long battle with Google Maps I meandered into the Capuchin Crypt. It contains the remains of nearly 4,000 bodies, all Capuchin Monks. It's similar to the Paris catacombs, the bones decorate several rooms like art. I wasn't spooked, but I was disturbed. The purpose of the display is to remind us of our short time on earth and our imminent passage to the other side. What struck me was the odd arrangements of the deceased. I wasn't altogether comfortable with recycling to that level, you know the found art using bare bones level? However, I did appreciate the thought provoking jarring provided. I think it was the skull flying with the help of pelvic bone wings that crossed my line.
- As usual I spent a couple weeks deep in the wilderness of Canada. This was the first time I've ever gone at the end of summer, and it was mushroom season. The flora and fauna of different places fascinate me, and I spent weeks exploring the bush and taking pictures of fungus and mushrooms. It was a small thing, but it delighted me nearly every moment of my trip. The Northern Lights were cool, too.
- By the time I got to the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, I was touristing alone. It didn't stop me from being amazed by the futuristic looking buildings. They look like they were inspired by The Jetsons. I spent far too much time wandering through glass enclosures full of trees with that Joni Mitchell song going through my head, the one about taking all the trees and putting them in a tree museum. I resent that. What I appreciated was the realization that after two months of travel, I was ready to be still for a bit and write my next novel.