This Has Been My Year

Self Improvement 150Looking back on 2012, I don’t think I can point to a single thing that would stand out as a watershed moments. Instead, there are a lot of small memories that I can recall that summarizes my year. Waking up early to write 500 words before work; blearily sitting down on my meditation bench to clear the last of sleep and chaos from my mind; sitting around a table with my friends and watching them get excited about a role-playing game session that I had written. There’s sitting at Chez TJ with Ryan, the love of my life, and sharing incredible food. There’s drinking wine and watching movies at the house of friends, and finally feeling comfortable in their presence.

All in all, this was a really great year. I’ve figured out a lot about myself personally, spiritually, professionally. And that self-knowledge has brought with it a comfort that has proven invaluable. I’ve taken great strides in knowing who I am, becoming comfortable and accepting of that, and using that as a foundation to push myself in so many ways. Because of that, I’ve become more dedicated as a writer, a corporate professional, a husband, a Buddhist, a friend. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but I’ve been able to let go of the negative impetus for those changes. No longer do I feel like I need to become a better friend because if I don’t I’m a bad person. I feel like I need to become a better friend because doing so makes me a better person.

A lot of that energy has been pointed to cultivating this blog — now that I have the drive and the dedication, the next thing to work on is consistency, and this space provides an excellent opportunity for that. I’ve set goals of updating this space at least three times a week, and I’ve failed quite a bit I must say. That’s okay, though — I’m still a work in progress, and so is this journal. I like to think that the posts here have been enjoyable enough, and that you good folks will stick with me through the New Year while I continue to figure this out.

WordPress was good enough to offer me a year in review for this blog, and it turns out that my biggest post of the year was the one in which I tried to define some sort of standard for furry fiction. I got a lot of great feedback on that one, and it inspired some really passionate debate on Twitter, on the blog, and in private messages. I’m still processing the opinions of other people, and I think my views on it have changed somewhat since I’ve made the post, but I’m still a very big fan of people being more mindful with their writing. Even if the piece they’re working on is fluff of the lightest order, I think it can only help to try and pay attention to what you’re writing and the effect it will have on your audience.

Another thing that I’ve been trying very hard to pay attention to is the effect what I say has on the people around me. I try to do this without arrogance — I don’t expect that people are going to have their lives changed by whatever I do, but I do know that my presence and actions have an effect on the people around me. And I want to make sure that effect is as positive as possible. When I’m in disagreement with someone, or when I’m trying to talk about a subject where emotions are bound to run high, I’ve tried my best to be as mindful of the feelings and opinions of my audience as possible. Not only does it help you to get your point across more effectively, but it really does foster a sense of compassion in you. I want this blog to be a ‘safe space’ to talk about difficult things respectfully and frankly, where we can have strong, passionate discussions and still view one another in high regard. Engaging with people is important to fostering a sense of community, and doing that is important to me.

I’ve gotten tired of people who speak as though they’re in a vacuum, that have no regard for the people they’re talking to or the things that they say. It’s bred a terrible state of discourse in our society, where the point of the argument is not to find a way to navigate a common problem, but to score points with wit or volume. Nothing gets solved that way. Someone just walks away feeling smug or stupid, entrenched and clinging to their opinions regardless of whether or not they’re right. It’s very important to loosen your hold on what you think is true, to allow for the possibility of error. Other people who hold different beliefs aren’t any less intelligent or more evil than you, for the most part. It helps to believe that they came to their beliefs somehow, and to try and understand (and respect) that process. Even if it’s riddled with holes, even if they’re terribly mistaken, respecting the other person’s experience is the first step towards working with them to correct it.

Anyway, I’ve gotten off track on this year-end review. I feel like I’ve cut a good place for myself in my professional life, my fandom life, my life in general. I look forward to nurturing that place next year, reinforcing my priorities and working to make myself a better person.

For the first time in a very long time, I feel like my footing is sure. I can make progress with a solid understanding of where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.

Happy New Year to all of you. I hope this year has brought you a number of good lessons, and you can use what you’ve learned to make next year even better.

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