Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Easily Green in 2017

Perhaps it is most fitting to start looking towards 2017 in light of the Pantone Color of the Year: Greenery.  The (literal) master of color and fashion trends, Pantone describes the 2017 color of the year as being "symbolic of new beginnings."  I wouldn't be the first to point out that 2016 has been a rough and rocky year, and so it is fitting for just about everyone I know to hope for new beginnings and "reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose."  However, for me personally, it takes on even more meaning, because I will be picking up my life after being quite content in the Phoenix, Arizona area for over 14 years, and moving to the other side of the country.  The move alone is such a big deal, it means a complete life-style change for me and my
boyfriend, Jaiman, who will thankfully be making the move with me.  Greenery also is a great description of what awaits us in our move - we will be going from the beautiful desert landscape I've grown to love, to a place of green lawns, evergreen and maple trees, and all sorts of other greenery.  Money - perhaps the most sought-after proverbial green - will also be a key aspect of our transition; I will be getting paid more, he will need to find a new job, and we will need to watch that spending on our ambitious adventures and culinary conquests doesn't exceed our budget.  Hopefully, we will find "greener pastures" in Connecticut, but there's no telling if our food porn will make our friends and family green with envy, or if we'll go green with homesickness. 

Continuing down this analogy, Pantone suggests a number of palette combinations with names that are strangely fitting for the expected experiences of our year to come:
Transitions - both a job change for me and him, as well as a transition of lifestyle
Grand Canyon - we will be exploring our great home state a little bit more before we leave
Rev It Up - our personal and professional lives will hopefully find new energy in 2017
Fathomless - there seems to be no end to our dreams and aspirations for our new life in New England
Deep Rooted - while we're leaving our family and friends behind, we will stay connected
Calm It Down - there will inevitably be moments of stress, and I know I will need to take a moment to catch my breath and relax

Indeed, I am impressed by how much this opportunity feels like a blank canvas, and while green is not commonly referred to as a neutral color, Pantone describes it as nature's neutral, a perfect backdrop to re-invent ourselves and our life.  So without further ado, here are some things to look forward to and personal goals for 2017:

2017 Goals (Themes Inspired by Pantone's palettes)

Transitions - Get down to a size 12

While I often avoid making weight-loss goals because they are hard to adhere to and obtain, I think I've reached a point where I am ready to make some serious changes, and that means committing to an achievable goal again. 

Ethereal Material - Cook one new dish

Most of you know that I am not exactly a master in the kitchen, but I do experiment and come up with something amazing from time to time.  Encouraged by my hit chorizo tacos at the cabin for Christmas, I definitely am ready to expand my cooking vocabulary.  Suggestions welcome, just keep in mind that ease isn't actually a motivating factor for me, I want a dish that is AMAZING that I can't get elsewhere, that will motivate me to work on it.  

Grand Canyon - Do one new hike

I've conquered (and occasionally felt defeated) by some of the most amazing hikes in the world, right here in Arizona.  Before moving out of the southwest, I'd like to try one more awesome hike that I've not yet tackled.  I think we'll also need to do a hike or two in the northeast, but I don't expect that to be the on the same level.  Again, suggestions welcome! 

Forest Floor - Grow something

Cactus have been known to die at my hand.  But I've come to find that, coupled with my experimentations in the kitchen, the herbs and veggies I use often go bad before I use them all up.  I'm not sure how well it will go to grow my own, but I'd like to at least try to grow something like mint, peppers or lettuce so it can be used in my recipes. 

Rev It Up - Complete a college course (online or otherwise)

This category could have gone a few different ways for me - I was initially thinking about all the roller coasters we expect to do next year.  But I think, dating Jaiman, roller coasters are inevitable and also aren't actually all that important to me.  But as I was thinking about the future, I realized that it's been a while since I've done something for my professional development, so I thought, even if I don't pursue a certification of some sort, I should at least study something.  I've watched a lot of TED Talks over the last couple years, but even as thought-provoking as they are, I find them rarely to be actionable.  And there are so many options for actual college courses readily available and free online, I think it's a no-brainer to improve myself in this way. 

Fathomless - Make something unique & innovative

I'm leaving this intentionally very open-ended.  In years past, I've done some (I think) extraordinary things with my home, and for a while I had serious interior design ambitions.  But while I never did make it onto HGTV's Design Star, I think there is still room for me to do something really cool, and with a move to a whole new home, I can't think of a better way to break in the new space than by putting my own unique flare into it.

Calm It Down - Read 20 books

I had set out to read 20 books this year, and completed 25 (and started a couple more).  So I had thought about raising the bar for next year, but settled on 20 again because of all the changes and other things that are going to come next year.  Also, I found that while I was doing all this reading in 2016, I was consumed by consuming words, rather than producing them, and I believe my writing suffered as a result.  So not only do I not want to not stretch myself given all the other activity, but I think I will probably also limit myself to 20 books, and focus more on the experiences to be had and writing to be done. 

Analogous - Write a novel/book

I've had some little ideas circulating in my head for a while, and I love the idea of nanowrimo, even though I didn't participate this year.  So I think for 2017, I not only want to participate in nanowrimo again, but I want to work a bit more on my writing again.  I may even combine this with the class thing and take a writing course of some sort. 

Moody Blooms - Learn a new style of dance

I love dance, and I can always use more exercise.  In the distant and recent past, I've taken classes in modern jazz, ballet, east coast swing, hip hop, pole, tribal belly dance, lindy, and balboa.  Of these, I'd say I was most terrible at hip hop, so I may consider a return to that style still as being new.  Or, maybe I will have Jaiman teach me his favorite ballroom style, or maybe a Latin style dance - I do like shaking my booty!  Regardless of the style, the point is to move and enjoy it! 

Deep Rooted - Host a game night or get-together

An extreme extrovert, I just can't get enough of being around people whom I enjoy.  I think this is one of the aspects of moving that scares me most - I will once again be far away from my family and friends, and will only have a few people I know in the new world.  So whether it's before or after the move, I definitely want to push myself to host something that brings me closer to the people I enjoy at least once, if not 300 times over! 

Personal Events:

Feb 27 - Hiking "the Wave"
Mar 4 - A friend's wedding
Mar 18 - 19 - Going to my first NASCAR race
Spring(?) - Road trip up PCH to San Francisco (tentative)
Spring/summer - Househunting trip to Connecticut
August(?) - Move from Mesa, AZ to Stamford, CT area
Late summer/fall - Six Flags trips on the east coast!
Sept - Travel to Australia (tentative)

National Events:

Jan 1 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine one-hour winter finale (8:30 pm on Fox)
Jan 4 - People's Choice Awards (9pm on CBS)
Jan 6 - Hidden Figures (theaters)
Jan 8 - Golden Globe Awards
Jan 10 - This Is Us midseason premiere (9 pm on NBC)
Jan 13 - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix)
Jan 19 - Scandal (9pm on ABC)
Jan 22 - Critics Choice Movie Awards
Jan 25 - The Path (Hulu)
Jan 29 - Screen Actors Guild Awards

Feb 5 - Super Bowl LI (5pm on Fox)
Feb 3 - The Space Between Us (theaters)
Feb 26 - The Oscars

Mar 22 - Empire spring premiere (9pm on Fox)

Apr 14 - Fast & Furious 8: The Fate of the Furious (theaters)
Apr 21 - The Amazing Race (8pm on CBS)

May 5 - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
May 26 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (theaters)

June 11 - Tony Awards
June 25 - BET Awards

Sept 17 - Emmy Awards

Dec 22 - Pitch Perfect 3 (theaters)

Your Goals for 2017

I think goal setting is an important practice, even if you don't end up achieving your goals in the time allotted, or if your priorities change.  It helps us to think about what it is we need to accomplish, how we can do it, who we need, and what things we need to do to prepare.  It pushes us to be better people, to strive for the legacy we want to leave behind, and it gives us concrete things to measure ourselves against.  So often, I get this feeling of being stuck in purgatory, passing time until something exciting happens.  But the truth is, life is good, and every day can be awesome, and if I'm working towards something, then I know I am moving forward, and therefore I'm not stuck.  I strongly encourage you to use this template for your own goal setting for 2017, and I'd love to hear how you interpret these themes! 

Transitions - Change is inevitable.  What is one thing you want to change for the better?

Ethereal Material - Back to basics.  What can you do to ground yourself?

Grand Canyon - Adventure is waiting!  What is one thing you can do that will make it into your Christmas letter in 2017?

Forest Floor - Nature is the source of so much inspiration, not to mention food, shelter, water, etc.  What is one thing you can do to feel connected to Mother Earth?

Rev It Up - Accelerate your life!  What is something you want to accomplish that will push you out of your comfort zone?

Fathomless - The human mind is incredible!  Even if you don't consider yourself creative, push yourself to create something.  Take a class at TechShop, or a glass-blowing workshop, or one of those painting with wine classes.  Or, just pick up a couple supplies at your local craft store and go to town!

Calm It Down - So few adults continue reading after school is over.  Challenge yourself to read!  Ask for suggestions.  Look around at your library.  Go to goodreads and see what your friends are reading, or list the books you've liked in the past to see what comes up as suggestions.  Read the book before the movie comes out (I love doing this).  If you still don't know what to read, check out my list of suggestions here

Analogous - Just like reading, I think writing is such a critical part of our lives.  Consider starting a journal (or blog!), experiment with short stories, write about something you know really well, or make up a parody to your favorite song. 

Moody Blooms - Express yourself!  I'd challenge you to take a dance class, but if that's too out there for you, consider learning a new language (I recommend Pimsleur audio CDs, you can get them from the library and they only take 30 minutes a day - do it on your commute), trying a new skill (scuba diving? archery?) or going to see a show or event you normally wouldn't (opera? college theater? museum exhibit? botanical gardens?). 

Deep Rooted - At the end of the day, it all comes down to people.  How can you connect or re-connect with the people you most admire? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Christmas Letter: Year in Review

I just re-read my Christmas letter from 2010 recapping all the things I did that year.  It's truly amazing how much one can pack in to a single year.  I definitely have a feeling of being a slacker, as if my old age has slowed me down.  My past self put my present self to shame.  But I did have a pretty exciting year, and I still think it's worth celebrating, even if it doesn't top every other year of my life.  Jaiman and I spend most of our free time together, so there's a lot of "we" where there used to be an "I" in my stories, which is also really awesome.  So, here it goes. 

Dear Friends & Family,

We started the year off with a new hike we'd been wanting to do called Peralta Trail in the Superstition Mountains.  It looks like it was exhausting from the pictures, but I don't remember it being too painful, so it couldn't have been that bad.  For Jaiman's birthday we hosted a party at Ah-So with members of both of our families as well as some of Jaiman's closest friends.  The chef sprayed sake into everyone's mouths relentlessly.  Even the kids got to partake, but it was water for them.  We had a bit of an after-party at our house.
For Valentine's Day, Jaiman and I had a romantic getaway in Sedona, complete with a short hike, some good beer, and a chocolate lover's train ride through the wilderness, during which we saw a bald eagle!  In March we went to the Sonoran Light exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens.  I'm not sure if this makes me feel fancy, or old, but I like excursions to the DBG.  In April, my colleagues, Jaiman and my sister Christy and I did the Bubble Run and got covered in glorious colored bubbles.  

Perhaps the highlight of our year came in May, when we took a long-awaited vacation to Japan.  The trip got off to a rocky start, but we made it to Tokyo where we experienced Disney like only the Japanese can do it, as well as a sumo wrestling match, checking off one of my life list goals.  We visited a legit owl cafe and got to hold all sizes and sorts of owls, and got to play video games a bajillion-story arcade in Akihabara. I parted with Jaiman for one night and checked myself into a capsule hotel, which was one of the more amazing things I think I've ever done, and another checkmark on my life list.  What would be a Jaiman trip without a roller coaster?  We went on a ride which was rather mediocre, but hey, Japan!  Checking off yet another item on our life lists, we took a bullet train from Tokyo to Hiroshima, and then jumped on a ferry to Miyajima where we stayed two nights in the most luxurious of Japanese resorts.  Our room had a private hot spring bath which I obsessed with day and night, but we also managed to eat incredible food, tour the Itsukishima Shrine, take a rope car to the top of the mountain and hike down it.  Before leaving the area, we tour the Hiroshima Peace Park Museum and saw children singing at the Children's Memorial.  We hopped back on a bullet train and arrived in Kyoto in no time, where we searched for and found both the old and new Nintendo headquarters.  Back in Tokyo, we went to a baseball game, which was an unbelievably hilarious good time.  Some craft beer and shopping ensued in our last day in Tokyo; I helped Jaiman with the Japanese alphabet, allowing him to locate a rare CD he's been on the hunt for, and Jaiman having mastered a few key Japanese phrases to interact with the retail workers.

Upon returning from Japan, Jaiman and I were both mysteriously awarded with "matching promotions," Jaiman promoted to Store Manager of his own store not two miles from our house (a much shorter commute than what he previously had), and I was promoted to Demand Manager for laundry, taking on our very challenging brand, Persil (challenging because it keeps GROWING!!).  Lesson learned, we need to take more trips out of the country for weeks at a time, apparently it makes our employers promote us.  

I performed multiple times this year with the Gypsy Jitterbugs, including at Swingdependance in July.  For my birthday, we did another little getaway, this time down in Bisbee.  We played Knockerball with some friends from swing dance, and went to multiple ASU football games.  Jaiman and I also went to California to activate our Six Flags passes and catch some Pokemon.  For a birthday present, Christy got us tickets to see Straight No Chaser down in Tucson, a group we saw in 2015 in Mesa, and we will be seeing again on New Year's Eve this year.  You could say we're fans.  

For Thanksgiving, we went to Las Vegas with the intent of gorging at a buffet.  Unfortunately, our first choice buffet had a 4 hour wait just to get in, so we opted for our second choice, which still had a 3 hour wait, but we paid the extra for the "express pass" to
get in with just a 45 minute wait.  Christy, Jaiman and I also did the Hot Chocolate 5k, and we cheered Matthew on as he completed his first (and last?) 15k there.  For an early Christmas present, Jaiman took me to an Arizona Cardinals game.  When I asked if he had a shirt I could wear (meaning borrow from him), he presented me with another gift - my very own Cardinals shirt - a shirt I'd been eyeing in his store.  Jordin Sparks sang the National Anthem and the halftime show.  We lost, but it was still a fun time to see Arizona play their last home game.  

In June, my company announced the exciting news that we would be acquiring Sun Products, doubling our presence and position in the US laundry market.  This was especially exciting since I had just joined the laundry team with my promotion.  However, the writing on the wall was a potential re-structuring and re-location.  Sure enough, in October, it was announced that we would be moving our North American headquarters to Stamford, CT.  I have recently accepted a position as part of this re-location, doing the same thing I am currently doing but back on the beauty side of the business where I came from.  So, sometime next year, Jaiman and I are expecting to move to Connecticut.  We expect to take lots of weekend trips to theme parks and cities of historical and cultural significance, eat lots of new foods, see lots of shows on Broadway, and experience all sorts of different things.  

For Christmas this year, my family decided to rent a cabin in Show Low, Arizona.  The weather forecast does not show snow, but we're still hoping for a little holiday miracle.  Matching pajamas, karaoke, board games and typical Winger craziness is sure to ensue.  Stay tuned for more on that, and for our big adventures in 2017!  

Happy holidays!