On New Years Day of 2019, I waved away the headache from last night’s partying — a concert put on by Lucius — and drove across San Francisco to Yoga Garden SF. Yoga became a big part of my life the year before. There was a class that met for a 1-hour flow and was followed by a meditation and new-year-intention session. We wrote letters to ourselves. Self-addressed, to be sent a year later. Although I am still waiting on my letter, what I remember was the need to move forward. Some aspects of my life felt stuck. Even as my job advanced and the gratitude I felt for where I lived and how I shared my life with people, still there was a feeling of stagnation. After we finished our letters we were supposed to pick up a tile with a word on it. My tile read “Transformation”.
As my regular yoga practiced continued, I would think about that word when setting my intention for the class — which sounds vague. The intention you set before practicing yoga is so personal and abstract, to talk about it publicly is like talking about dreams. But anyway, a few times per week I’d embrace what that word meant to me and try to be receptive to whatever feelings or realizations came from that word during my practice. After a few weeks, that intention took a slightly modified trajectory: Transformation into Joy.
We never know what the future will bring. This video diary — about 2 seconds almost every day — feels like a barometer of this intention. How did it play out in my life over the course of a year? What challenges got in the way? I’d say, it was an effective way to look at the moment, which was hard at the time, and it gave me some structure to think about my life and what made me joyful. Ultimately I think this intention led to a few changes that were quite consequential.
(Also, if you now how to change a YouTube thumbnail, DM me)
The biggest, I think, was the decision to leave San Francisco and make plans to move abroad. The first company to hire me as a part-time blogger — WebChalet, later known as OneRooftop — was acquired in 2017 by a company called Cloudbeds (I know, it sounds like a mattress company) and our whole team was hired over. Cloudbeds offers an incredible privilege to its employees to work remotely. Rather than going into an office, I work from wherever there is wifi. Many of my colleagues I work most closely with are not in the United States — but in South America and Europe. Many of them are in Ukraine. So I got the idea to take advantage of this privilege and move to Europe. I’d be closer to their work schedule and I’ve always wanted to give Greece a second visit after studying there in 2013. The idea had been floating and under consideration, but I think there was too much fear around the unknown. At a certain point though I didn’t like that fear was my controlling force. Perhaps joy could take the wheel.
Another consistency that surprised me but brings me joy is the whole story arc around the Bazaar Cafe. Bazaar Cafe is in the Richmond District of San Francisco and has one of the most incredible live music cultures I’ve ever seen. Period. In 2017 I very loosely started to attend open mics. It was open to all artists, and it offered me a venue to work on my writing. I set a goal to have something to read that was either new or revised every month. It was a goal that held me accountable to be working on my art. There were so many clips of the different musicians and performers over the year. Learning Les (the owner for the last 20 years) was selling the cafe I grew more reflective on what such a venue offers artists. Fortunately the cafe has opened again, under the same name. I never got to see the new setup under Josh and Rozanne’s ownership, but if I’m in SF again I know I will be paying a visit. To make writing a regular part of my work life has been the struggle I’ve reckoned with the entire time I lived in San Francisco. It’s never been perfect, but there were some personal wins this year. Regularity at Bazaar, of course, was a continuous delight. An invitation to ready at Kevin Killian’s reading series at Alley Cat Books was another shocking surprise.
And then there’s the yoga. It deserves some comment that I have like 10 videos me doing some sort of inversion. To be fair, that’s only a few seconds in 365 days. Yoga continues to be a fun and important way for me to check in with myself but — yeah. There are a lot of them. I think doing inversions is just way too fun. The videos helped me realize what I was doing with my body, straighten my pose. If this reads as vain to you — sorry. Last year my Oops-I-forgot-to-take-a-video video was the laundromat. This year it was doing handstands against the wall.
But best of all, I see the relationships strengthened through the year with family and friends. My two best friends got married this summer, in May and July, and I feel so blessed I could be in both of their weddings. Seeing clips from the various bachelor parties or wedding festivities makes me so glad to have been a part of it all. When I left SF at the end of October, I got a unique opportunity to move back to Minnesota and spend quality time with family in a way I haven’t been able to do in a long time. I left Minnesota after graduating high school — my siblings all moved around too. But now in 2019 many of us are all in town and the farthest is only about 15 minutes away from anyone else. All the babies in this video are quite conspicuous. I can’t be more thankful for the time I got to spend with my niece and nephew, both of them about a year and a half old, with their parents, and with my own parents. Sometimes it felt like I left Minnesota for other adventures as soon as I could — and so I had a lot of reservations about returning home. I will say I have gone through some climate shock. My acne here in Minnesota is worse, and my hands are so dry that sometimes my knuckles bleed. Aside from those two small things, I feel like I got so lucky to spend the time with family. And to give Minneapolis a fair chance, something I never really gave it before, fully returned the investment — and then some.
Today is January 14, 2019, which means I now begin another year of 2 second videos. This project is so strange and unlike any other journaling project I’ve taken part in. When I normally journal, I never think about looking back on it. But with these videos, and knowing what kind of adventures are coming up, I can’t help but wonder what I’ll find when I check back next year.