Some things I learned in 2014.


And just like that, a new year is here.

Happy New Year. Happy 2015. Happy Thursday (that last one is for all those who went to bed at 10:00PM last night).

Before I even word-vomit all the things I learned (or can remember leaning) this year, I should first and foremost assert that, above all else, I learned, I don’t know it all. And, furthermore, I never will. For the first time in my life, I have absolute peace with this humbling reality.

Somehow over the past year, I managed to quit two jobs, travel through nearly a dozen states, live in two different countries, finish writing a book, and reflect longer and harder than ever before. I have said this time and time again, and although dramatic, I swear by the fact that writing has been more than just a form of expression for me this year. Writing has been therapeutic, and an opportunity to be still. Writing has contributed to the clearest mind I have ever experienced in my entire life.

As I sit here on the dawn of a new year, I am both nervous and anxious for what exists in the twelve undiscovered months ahead. For starters, I turn 30 this year. Yep, let that sink in for a moment. And while this is only the beginning of a beautiful love/hate relationship with the rite of passage associated with turning 30, I am also taking this time to pause and memorialize the phenomenal year I have had. To do so, in some form or another, the following ‘ah-ha’ moments exist as my knowledge nuggets for the year:

10.  Forgiveness only works if you actually forgive. Until then, own the dissonance.

9.  Choosing to avoid certain topics with family can be just that…choosing to avoid certain topics with family. You don’t owe anyone anything, ever.

8.  A dog will make me happier in life. In 2015, I’m going to rescue a dog.

7.  Spending money and time to make friends matter is always worth is. Travel, is always worth it (whatever, “it,” might mean for each of us).

6.  Sometimes telling someone, “Thank you for sharing,” is enough. Pause, listen more, let people tell their own story.

5.  You can place “home” in quotations, and yet it still doesn’t make it any more or any less of your actual home. Be free, go your own way.

4.  Good, confident, and/or happy is/are enough. And that’s enough, too.

3.  Some of the best people are the best friends. Consequently, some of the best people are also the worst friends.

2.  When you choose your self, you win, always. Sure, people will shit on you, but you’ve still won, because you matter.

1.  You don’t know what you don’t know. But when you do, you do, and there’s no looking back from there.

Before I moved to China, a very dear friend of mine gave me a beautiful notebook to capture my journey. Just before finishing the packing list, that specific notebook was one item which unfortunately did not make the cut. Just as I arrived “home” (see note above, re: “home”), I found said-notebook and was instantly overwhelmed by a sudden and urgent need to use every line from such a thoughtful gift.

And before I could even dream up the endless opportunities fostered by the blank space provided, I realized this special notebook deserved something more active and engaging. And that is what I am going to do, be more active and be more engaged with my learning. I’m going to document everything. And this has become my challenge for all those reading today’s note: capture your growth.

Sure, I previously referenced resolutions and my belief and advocacy for such dreams, however this is different. This is real and raw, and, in-the-moment, learning. Capture these moments. Get a notebook, email yourself and create a special folder to file these specific emails, and share with yourself any and every learning lesson you experience in 2015. When you get chills, document it. When you have the, oh-shit-ah-ha, moment, save it. Bottle these up, and let them guide you, teach you, train you, and prepare you for the next round of life’s simple gifts. You owe this to yourself.

And if you’re willing to take your learning to an even higher level, share these moments with a friend. Find someone who is dedicated to growth, and use them as a means for processing. Set a bi-weekly coffee meeting (or, “coffee,” for those anti-), and swap notebooks – ask questions, challenge each other, support each other’s ah-ha’s. If you want to grow, and learn, and develop, be about it and do something to elevate your perspective. Be held accountable.

I have a friend like this, and yesterday as I crawled out of bed, we shared about two-dozen texts regarding the biggest learning lessons we had acquired over the year. And, since she so graciously shared her vision with the twitter community (you can follow her here), I decided to capture them for all those tuning in today. Please see her individual ah-ha moments as follows:

10. Reflection is good for the soul. I need to do it more often. So is learning/reading.

9. The golden rule is not lived by everyone. Values and morals are individualized and are able to change. Change is good. Don’t steer away.

8. Don’t be ashamed of who I am. Life has made me this way and there is an explanation for my characteristics. I need to remember that when engaging with others, and stop expecting change from an old dog who can’t learn new tricks.

7. There is more to life than a job and social media. I need to live in the moment, disconnected, make lasting memories and spend time with those I love.

6. Money does not buy happiness, but it does contribute to a happy lifestyle. Finding the balance is hard to do and takes time.

5. Conflict is inevitable. I will always work through conflict with someone I love and appreciate. But if they can’t do the same, it’s not worth the trouble.

4. You can’t help who you love. When you love hard, it is hard to let go. When you love hard, logic is non-existent.

3. It’s my life. When I think I’m fucking up bad, I’m sure my closest friends even have skeletons in the closet. #dontjudgemyself

2. Learn to do, be more free, and live in the moment. Right and wrong is subject.

1. Race will always be a factor in my interracial relationships: platonic, intimate or acquaintance.

BONUS. Relationships change and grow, but can remain the same if both individuals accept that fact and have realistic expectations of one another.

This is just one additional perspective. And the great thing is, just as my friend and I, you, too, are learning. Now, go. Do. Be about it. Grow, develop, change. And most of all, march on.




2 thoughts on “Some things I learned in 2014.

  1. Your line of inspiration: “Writing has been therapeutic, and an opportunity to be still.” When I started teaching, I stopped writing. Who had time?!? But since I retired, I still have not picked up a pen; and I can’t decide: it’s been too long since I’ve been still or I’m too afraid to be still. Whatever the reason, it’s time for a change. Thanks for being an inspiration, Michael.


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