Sunday, January 1, 2017

The passing of time, the realization of dreams, the challenge of optimism (happy new year)

Welcome, 2017.

I haven't blogged for 6 months. I've thought about it a lot, planned out posts. I wanted to write about politics, about accomplishments, about failures. I wanted to write about funny things my kids have done, my job, things I have learned.

2016 was a weird year. It was a year that made me fear stating my opinion. It was a year when I attended rallies to support my kids in saying loudly and publicly that Black Lives Matter. It was a year when I saw the ugly face of gender discrimination everywhere I looked. It was a year when I feared for my family. It was a year when I often didn't feel safe writing a blog post, sharing my innermost feelings and thoughts. It was a year that pushed me into being quiet.

It really wasn't the year, I know. It was me. It was me feeling guilty that personally, I wasn't having a terrible year, but the events of the world made it difficult to feel like I had the right to celebrate personal and professional victories. With so much conflict, so much noise, so much fear, I didn't feel like it was ever the time to say the happy things. Or even to voice my own sadness and grief and anger and frustration. After all, I'm just another white liberal cis woman, passing for straight, not the 1% but living in Santa Barbara county, well paid and with health insurance. The best I can hope is to be a good ally and let marginalized voices fill the silence, not mine.

Worse, I started to feel like my eternal optimism, the feeling baked into the core of my being that everything will always work out, was breaking apart. John calls me Pollyanna, but I have been struggling to hold on to that feeling. What if I was wrong? What if things don't always work out as they should?

Every time I went to write a blog post, I stopped myself. Thinking I'd be too angry or too happy or too anything. Thinking that maybe everything I felt or believed was wrong. Thinking that maybe my time for making meaningful observations had passed, if they had ever been meaningful at all.

This morning, when I woke up and welcomed 2017 next to the love of my life, surrounded by dogs and listening to my kids stirring in their rooms, I thought maybe I'd skip the annual new year blog post. I barely wrote anything last year, after all. And looking back, I didn't accomplish even one of my three goals for 2016. Funny. My resolutions clearly have been lacking the resolve. Still, I'm a sucker for traditions. And this is one I think I need, a milestone that needs marking for me. A way for me to reflect and take stock, and then pick myself up and start anew. A way to mark the passing of time and measure progress, a tenet of a good product person, I think. And since my life is in a way the greatest and most important product I manage, I can't shirk my responsibilities in holding my annual retrospective.

So here it is, the annual taking stock. What did 2016 hold?

  • The biggest, best thing: Arial. We brought our 7th kiddo into the brood. She joined our family in May, and she has been a blessing to all of us. I can't imagine our family without her, and I can't wait to officially adopt her this year. 
  • The job I started the year off with was a bust. I probably should have known that joining a startup with a bro-culture would mean that when times got tough, I'd be the first to go. In retrospect, it was a great thing, but man, it sucks in the moment to lose a job. 
  • SBTAN hosted the first annual Trans Day of Visibility event in Santa Barbara. I couldn't be more proud of our community, our trans kids, teens and adults who live bravery. It was an honor to be part of that day, and I'm looking forward to the second annual event this year. 
  • I got a new job that I love. It's challenging and I work with lovely, smart people and I believe in what we're doing. I don't know that you ask for much more than that. 
  • I officially joined the advisory board of a VR company. I am still trying to figure out the perfect mix of immersive tech and learning, and while it's not my full time job, I love staying connected. Who knows what the future holds?
  • I "rebought" my house. When I bought this house 4 years ago, my divorce wasn't finalized and my ex graciously agreed to put his name on the house so I could finalize the purchase. This year I was finally able to buy my house outright, in my name only. I don't know if I can capture here what it felt like to sign the paperwork. If ever there was a metric of success, of me feeling like I have accomplished something in my life financially, it was buying this house this year. 
  • I officially came out as bisexual. This was a surprisingly big deal, since I've only ever had long-term relationships with men, and I'm currently married to a man who is...everything. The truth is I've never been straight, but when I grew up, saying you were bisexual was not something that you did. But my kids have made be brave, and so, yep, the "B" in LGBTQ is me.
  • We hosted an exchange student from Japan who is our honorary 8th kiddo. We miss Yu, and have loved staying in touch with his family in Toba who hosted Jackson after Yu stayed with us. It was an amazing experience.
  • I spoke at my 9th consecutive DevLearn. Professionally, DevLearn has been my favorite annual connection to the industry I love and the people who I've connected with through the years who are now, personally, my lifelong friends. I can't wait to make it 10 years this year!
  • I joined Pantsuit Nation. This is a heartbreaking one, but also my source of hope through what was a bleak year. For every story I heard of hate, discrimination, and marginalization, there were stories shared of love, hope and solidarity. 
  • I lost 15 pounds. It wasn't a resolution to lose weight, but I started on a program in the last few months that helped me lose some weight and lower my blood pressure. And I got a FitBit for Christmas, so I'm thinking that will help continue on with improving my health in the new year. 
  • Not my accomplishment, but John went back to college to get his teaching degree. I honestly couldn't be more proud of him. It makes me so, so happy to see him excited about his future career and doing something he loves. I am living vicariously.
So, I didn't learn to play the ukelele this year. But still, I did some pretty big things that weren't on my list of resolutions. Not a bad year, after all. 

2017, though. And the matter of resolutions. What should I set as my goals for this year?

I've decided to stick to three, keep it simple. I've decided to keep them closely aligned with my life goals. I've decided to not try to set myself up by picking new things to do, but rather to resolve to keep doing the things that are most important to me. So here they are.

Goals for 2017:
  • Adopt Arial. 
  • Do things to improve my health.
  • Smash the patriarchy.
Here's to you and yours for a happy, healthy new year. 

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