In many ways 2014 was one of the best years in recent memory. I was able to try a lot of new things and accomplish some stuff that I have wanted to do for a while. Of course it wasn’t all sunshine and candy corn, there were some hard times but I feel like I was able to weather the storm pretty well. It is easy to focus on the things that have my stress level through the roof right now, but looking back I am worlds better off than I was just 12 months ago. Last winter I was reeling from the loss of my aunt and a good friend, I was drinking a bit too much, and would spend my nights and weekends just sitting around my apartment killing time. Now I have a pretty clear head, a successful hobby, I am more active and am generally enjoying myself more than I would have last year. I think that the trend this year was to try new things and pursue opportunities for self growth, hopefully I can keep that up during 2015.
As with any year my family and friends played a huge role. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with people that I care about in 2014 which is part of what made it great. I had a chance to go on camping trips, and brewery tours, concerts, road trips, and even just hang around at camp with a bunch of my oldest friends. Camp was a little different this year since some of my family moved back to the northeast and was around more, it had a lot of benefits but having to share more takes some getting used to. We had a nice little reunion this summer and I got to spend time out on the water and around the campfire with most of the family. It was pretty heart warming to see my cousin’s 3 year old become fast friends with my 91 year old great uncle. This November a bunch of us also went up to Montreal to see my other cousin dance with his Swedish ballet company and I finally got a chance to see how good he is at what he does. I guess the more things that you get to do and the more people you get to spend time with the the better you feel about how you spend your time.
It is very easy to point to the two biggest factors that influenced 2014. My commitment to being more active and my decision to start doing comedy have both had a very positive influence on the year. Beyond those there were several smaller decisions that all resulted in good outcomes. I didn’t have any major life changes that saw me switch jobs or move or anything so that probably helped to keep me on an even keel which gave me the even greater ability and motivation to grow.
Weight has always been an issue for me, but in January and February I started to look at it differently. I had a lot going on in my life and had a bad case of the winter blues and decided to commit myself to running a 5k and generally being more active. It took a few months to get around to it, but I did eventually run three 5k races and made running and going to the gym a priority. I started doing a bit of yoga and worked with an online personal trainer for a bit. I admittedly have slacked off during the holiday season and feel terrible about it, but am committed to getting back out there soon. The change has been pretty amazing. I am down more than 30 pounds since February, I feel healthier and stronger than I did before. I have made a few changes to my dietary habits and while I still fall off the wagon from time to time I have a better chance of dusting myself off and getting back on. I joined a CSA this summer and spent all of the warm months feasting on fresh local veggies.
It is not all super dramatic, I sometimes walk around and notice that I have more spring in my step, or that I am bounding up stairs instead of plodding up them. These little victories give me more hope than the decreasing numbers on a scale. I have to keep pushing myself to continue on this path, but everyone has been extremely supportive and have given me a lot of motivation. I would especially like to thank the friends who took the time to run with me at these events, and those who sent me motivation and even tough love. A few weeks ago I had a friend come up to me out of the blue and simply say that I am looking good which helps motivate me to get out there and to keep up the good work.
Comedy is the other obvious step that I have taken this year. I took a one day course which pushed me to take a 6 week course which pushed me to start doing open mics and now I am doing actual performances. I am not looking for my name on the Marquee, but I am definitely proud of the steps that I have taken. I have been able to put myself out there and validate my ability to make people laugh. This in turn has given me a boost of confidence which carries over to other parts of my life. I feel more comfortable communicating and am less afraid of failing, because lets face it once you stand up in front of a group of strangers and make them laugh about your greatest failures it puts everything in perspective.
Along the way I discovered that Vermont has a very vibrant local comedy scene. I knew that there was an open mic at Nectars when I lived in Burlington, but I didn’t realize how deep it went or how much it is blooming. I have been fortunate to meet some very good people who have guided me along the way and am glad to be part of the growing scene. I have a chance to meet people from different walks of life that I probably wouldn’t meet otherwise. No offence to the 90% of my friends who at one time or another were in pharmacy school, but I was getting sick of hanging out with nerdy middle class white people. During the 5 years since college I have only made a handful of new friends, mostly because I have kept myself in a bubble and never really tried to meet new people. In the past 3 months I have had the privilege to meet a diverse bunch of folks and am starting to form some great new friendships. 2015 will hopefully bring more shows, and introduce me to more people, and bring me to the shiny new comedy club being opened in Burlington, I am already excited.
Beyond the big ticket items I was able to try or rediscover some other hobbies. I started online dating and while I didn’t meet “the one” I did get a chance to go out and meet new people. I got disillusioned and took some time off and probably won’t be renewing my subscription, but just having a motivator that would get me out of the house to give it a shot was worthwhile. 2014 included a marked increase in writing, and the eventual launch of this website. I finally started taking blogging seriously and while I produce some humorous stuff I feel that I am started to produce some solid in depth matieral. Writing has always been a very cathartic exercise for me, but it has also been hard. By putting myself on a schedule and giving myself time to formulate ideas I am able to produce solid essays and blog posts on a pretty regular basis. I also renewed my interest in photography this summer and had a chance to take some great pictures. I have always been passionate about taking photos, but even though I had the equipment I wasn’t motivated to go out and do it. Much like running once you start it gets easier when you do it. I read more during 2014 that I did during 2013, mostly because I made the commitment to do what I enjoy and I enjoy reading. I read a lot more diverse things and rediscovered my love of the small town library. I didn’t pursue it like I had in the past where I wanted to compulsively read everything, I just took time for myself and put my nose in a book if I felt like it. There were plenty of other smaller factors that made 2014 pretty great, but these were the main ones.
As usual I spent most of my free time on the go. I went to Gatlinburg, Boston, Tampa, Cooperstown, Nantucket, and Montreal on top of numerous trips to Willsboro and Albany. Each trip gave me the chance to spend time with the people who I care about, many of whom I don’t get to see often enough. I was also able to have a lot of big and small adventures along the way. It is pretty amazing that during 2014 I drank world class beer, made new friends, including a wounded a crow at a wildlife rescue, sold mushrooms at a farmers market, saw the world’s number one Elton John impersonator (as voted by Sir Elton himself), ate a grapefruit that I picked off a tree, scattered some ashes, worked 3 jobs at one time, celebrated the shit out of Flag Day, started doing yoga, and standup, and improv, wrote more, ran more, listened to more rap music, and more bluegrass, took some amazing photos, cooked good food, read great books, spent time with family and friends, and did it all without feeling burned out. I think that 2014 was a year to remember and I wish you all a happy and healthy 2015.