Happy New Year, friends!

Though 2018 started off with great promise, by summer time, I did not think I would make it to the other side of 2018 intact and whole. And yet, here I am, on the first day of 2019, more hopeful than I was last year at this time.

Despite the six months where I wanted to set my life on fire, I am grateful for 2018.

In fact, I am grateful for precisely those six months of excruciating emotional turmoil because I think I am a better person for it.

My Phrase of 2018 was, Just Go! and I did just that. So in an effort to remember 2018 and reflect and grow from the past, here are some of the things I want to build a figurative stone altar to commemorate.

1) I got my first long term writing contract with Sagebooks at the start of 2018.

This single event changed the course of my year. Because of this contract, I gained confidence in myself as a writer and blogger, stretched my writing skills, and re-learned how to manage my time as a semi-employed person.

I will forever be grateful to Sagebooks for appreciating my work, my writing, and being a fantastic company with which to work for and with. I am excited and happy to continue this relationship into 2019.

2) I forced myself to just go and try things.

I’m a chronic overthinker.

If there’s a way to tie myself up in endless minutiae and talk circles around myself, I can do it. All my life, I have only chased after the sure thing and shirked anything that smacked of risk and possible failure.

I forced myself to do the mundane housekeeping to-dos such as finally starting and writing a newsletter for Mandarin Mama, revamping my site and getting a professional logo designed by the incomparable Lizz Porter, and lots of back-end things that are boring to discuss but still important to actually get done.

I put myself out there: whether it was for speaking gigs, writing gigs, or guest posts and interviews. They didn’t all pan out, but if you don’t ask, the answer is always, “No.”

I tried very hard to believe and live out, “Launch it broken; fix it live.”

In fact, I often felt as if my life broke and I had to fix it in front of a live audience. It was, um, bracing.

3) I stretched my writing skills.

I alluded to this in the first two points, but I feel as if my writing deserves its own commemorative point.

I’m so very pleased because like any type of skill and talent, writing in different styles and genres for varying audiences requires effort and work (and a lot of figurative head-banging).

In 2018, I wrote my usual blogs; academic, journalistic, and informational pieces; poems; short fiction; newsletters; and social media posts. I consistently published 2-3 articles a week at approximately 1,000 words a piece, and for the most part, they were passably good content.

Furthermore, I feel as if I came into my own a bit more this year as a writer. I have always had a distinctive writing voice, but this year it seems as if I cut loose more and let out my inner “extra” persona. I thoroughly entertained myself with my absurd commentary and I’d like to think I amused my readers as well.

I would like to be extra extra in 2019. You’ve been warned.

4) I put in the work.

Whether it was for actual work or the internal work of dealing with my emotional stuntedness, I put in the work.

It was hard.

It was painful.

There were casualties and collateral damage.

But in the end, my craft, my parenting, and my actual life improved.

By no means do I think I’m done, but I am encouraged that after a lifetime of believing the lies my father sold me about hard work, that it is this work that has shown up and proven itself in the end.

5) I discovered BTS.

I crack a lot of jokes about BTS and abs and pretty, pretty Korean men in bondage wear so it may seem as if I love this group for purely shallow reasons.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m plenty shallow.

But I am not exaggerating when I say that BTS, their music and lyrics, and the overall cohesive message of their brand and public lives were a major factor in dealing with my mid-life crisis. Without their consistent message of #LOVEMYSELF and #LOVEYOURSELF, as cheesy as it sounds, I would not have made it through 2018.

Since I love words and music, I was particularly drawn to the depth and poignancy of their lyrics, their musicality, and their honesty with their struggles and pain.

And yes, staring at attractive and charismatic humans for hours was sometimes the only way I made it through the day without setting everything on fire. (Or at least, it allowed me to remain in my home for the free wifi despite the overwhelming desire to walk out the front door and never return.)

6) I did what I wanted to do.

I mean, in general, I’m already a zero fucks given type of person. But I still care about what other people think of me as well as consider the consequences to my actions.

I’m not a sociopath.

But for the stuff that I’ve always wanted to do but never did it? I decided that in line with my Phrase of the Year, I was going to do it.

Thus, I got a mohawk. Dyed it blue, then purple, then fuschia.

I started wearing my nice jewelry. I bought a moto jacket. I paired fancy jewelry with cheap clothes and multi-colored hair and stopped caring that I looked like an old Chinese lady who lunches.

I wrote how I wanted to write. I spoke how I wanted to speak. I used social media to like BTS related things.

I chose me. A lot.

Oftentimes, incredibly selfishly with consequences. But I also worked through those consequences and came up with better solutions to get what I wanted.

And now, at the start of a shiny, brand new year, I am excited for what is to come. My 2019 Word of the Year is Consistency because 2018 taught me that I can go hard, flame out spectacularly, and rebuild. But for 2019, I’d like to just consistently plod along towards the end and come out the other side without excessive weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I wish you all the best for 2019, friends. Thank you for listening, reading, and sitting with me. You are loved. You are worthy. You are good.