No, you didn’t read that wrong. 2020 is the year of the Metal Rat. I was doing some reading on the Chinese Zodiac signs. The rat is the first animal in the Chinese calendar cycle and, in Chinese culture, rats are actually considered a sign of good luck.
As this is the first animal in the cycle, the Year of the Rat is a sign of renewal that indicates new experiences. The attachment of metal to this particular year is said to symbolize success.
We are entering a new decade. That in itself seems symbolic enough to me of a year of renewal and new experiences.
And it’s something I want to take to heart.
If you’ve been following my sporadic posts and adventures throughout the year, you know I’ve been dealing with a lot of changes. I’ve been speaking my truth. I’ve laid everything out on the sand while also drawing lines where necessary. I’m going to enter 2020 free.
And I’m yearning for more adventures, desperate for them. My favorite memory of this past year was definitely my adventure in California. I adored that time and I passionately miss it. I wish I could afford to go back, but finances aren’t looking promising in that regard. It’s simply an experience I’ll never ever forget. I hope it is a preview of what’s to manifest in 2020.
Interestingly enough, 2020 is the target for perfect vision. So we have clear vision, success, and new experiences attached to kickoff of a new decade.
Ten years ago, I was a terrible person. I was close-minded, said I was “color-blind” which is a highly racist thing to say, I was intolerant, fighting my true self, and didn’t think about my opinions–only went with what my family said.
Ten years later, and education has taught me a lot about the world. My perspective (2020) has changed. I’m more open-minded. I’m openly gay. I see race so I can help fight against racism, but also appreciate the diverse cultures in the world. I’ve learned the power of research. I’m not the “cookie-cutter” person I was told to be my whole life.
I’m entering 2020 hoping to still grow and learn, as there is much to still uncover.
I’m entering 2020, a year where I will gain my Master’s in English and Creative Writing and, hopefully, be accepted in another Master’s or Doctorate program for Equity and Diversity in Education.
I’m entering 2020 with a clear vision and momentum for the novel I’m working on–the foundation of my California trip.
I’m entering 2020 with a goal to disconnect more, to reconnect with nature, to make a difference where I can.
I’m entering 2020 proud of what I’ve become, eternally grateful I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago. That guy was awful!
This is the Year of the Metal Rat, the year of new experiences and success.
How will it define you? Or how will you define it?
Sometimes I just need to write my thoughts, my ideas, my intentions. Other times I like to say I’ll write them down, but I never do.
For example, I last blogged on February 14th, 2016 with every intention of blogging regularly.
I failed. Obviously.
And in many ways I think that’s pretty much what 2016 was for me. A bunch of strange failures. Now, don’t read that and say, “What a pessimist! Don’t be so hard on yourself! Stop it!” But being hard on myself is kind of something I do. That being said, I don’t think it was a terrible year. However, it wasn’t a majorly successful year, either. It’s one I look back on and think, “Meh.”
Looking back, 2016 has given me a drive to change a lot of things in 2017; things I’m growing passionate about more and more each day. I’m dividing this blog into two halves. The first half I’ll discuss what didn’t work for 2016. The second? You guessed it! I’ll discuss my plans for 2017. If you find my boring rambling entertaining, then buckle up. If you think I’m a moron and dry, then please continue reading to reaffirm your opinion of me. Either way, it’s a win-win. Right? Plus, I have an addiction to GIFS. Be prepared.
2016: The Year of Stunted Growth
You know I finished my first book I was proud of late 2015. I mean it was a grueling yet passionate process that yielded my first complete and ready to publish manuscript.
It’s the first of a dark and gloomy trilogy called The Aedonu Trilogy #1: Shadows in the Darkness. It’s pretty much about the end of the world, kicking off with a worldwide earthquake that deeply impacts the lives of three different characters. Each character struggles with their identity while the whole world turns into a depiction of absolute hell. They struggle with being heroes, having faith in a Creator, death, acceptance, and believing in the impossible–becoming the impossible. You know, totally normal everyday things. Just…in an impossible situation.
It’s a story that means a lot to me and I almost got it published back in February. I had a request from a publisher for a full manuscript. Crazy awesome, right?!
Ultimately, however, they decided not to pick it up to publish it. Not so awesome.
I would be lying if I were to say that experience didn’t both build up my confidence and, yet, dash it into a thousand pieces. I was left scrambling with so many questions: What do I do to change it? Can I change it? How can I tweak the story to make it more presentable? Can I even handle this anymore? Is the story worth it?
Deep questions for a writer. Throttling questions. So I did what any logical person would do, especially after the growing list of rejection letters from other publisher.
I dropped the project.
I abandoned it, heartbroken in many ways, and fled even though I still believed believe greatly in its potential. You see, that story is super complex. It made me do some soul searching in a time where I had no time to search my writing soul. Therefore, I turned to writing a middle school realistic story about a kid who believes his English teacher is a superhero (wishful thinking, perhaps?). It’s a story that is a whole heck of a lot less complicated. It’s another story I believe in, but it’s also one that I haven’t “connected” with 100% which means it hasn’t been wholly productive.
All that to say….2016 stunted the writer within me. Maybe almost destroyed him. Perhaps obliterated him.
I began a health journey back in 2012. I went from 225 lbs. to 165 lbs. in a matter of seven months! It was amazing, hard, and so rewarding. Since then I’ve been much more careful about what I eat and more conscious of staying active to avoid becoming 225 again. After an intense seven months, I actually had a lean body with a few abs showing! It was awesome.
Then I fell madly in love with pizza and milkshakes over the years once more.
Those items and I have an abusive relationship. During 2016 I’ve had some good workouts and runs. I started around 198 lbs and worked down to 178. And now I’ve worked back up to 198 (I just weighed myself..and in my sadness I’m eating a cookie).
Look, I’m an emotional eater. Don’t judge me.
I actually joined a gym back in November after a good friend of mine convinced me to.
It hasn’t been entirely fruitful. I’ve been binging on pizza, cookies, pop/soda, and chips vehemently the past few weeks. Also? Candy. Maybe some eggnog too. Oh, did I mention cookies? Maybe some wine as well. Yeah. You see the problem? I also make a lot of excuses to not work out.
So…with all that combined…..2016 has pretty much threatened my health.
Look. I’m never going to be a millionaire. Ever. It’s a nice dream, but I’m a teacher with over $100,000 in student loans. I wish I was kidding about that amount of student debt. I’m not. And I absolutely love my job as a teacher. I’m never abandoning it, so I accept I’ll never be rich.
But that means I need to be smart with my money. This year I haven’t been that smart.
I’ve been collecting Funko POPS! like crazy. (Awesome collectables, but can get pricey)
I’ve been eating out. A lot. (See above category on fitness).
I went through a comic book purchasing phase from June-August. It turns out buying comics gets pricey when you read a lot. (Like $50-$60 a week in comics!)
I tried two months of Dave Ramsey’s plan to budget where you put cash into envelopes and spend only that money on things. It worked well for those two months. Then I got lazy and stopped withdrawing cash from the ATM because, well, it required me to drive to the bank. And we can’t have that, can we? No. It’s a lot of work!
So, naturally, I stopped budgeting and my eating out habits increased until last week when my car pretty much broke down and I needed a new battery. I went to spend the $100 for it and was informed my account had insufficient funds.
Awkward. Pizza clearly betrayed me because, well, pizza on a night to night basis adds up.
Thank you, 2016, for turning me into a financially unstable man. (Disclaimer: finances and stability don’t work well together for me.)
So, what’s next?
2017: The Year of Growth
First, let me acknowledge that I’ve strayed from making New Years Resolutions because I usually break them by the end of the day on January 3rd in some way, shape, or form. Why create them when they will simply be destroyed? It makes me feel awful. Plus, resolutions are simply begging to be broken. It’s like the fine print within the word resolution.
So, these are not necessarily resolutions as much as they are new life goals. In my mind, it always helps me to start something at the beginning of the month. It just so happens that the beginning of the next month is 2017. Therefore, I have some goals I’m going to fight to complete.
Rework, tweak, refocus, and publish The Aedonu Trilogy.
Write at least once or twice a week
Saturday mornings = designated writing time
No excuses–I’m not hiding from my story.
Goal #1: Get published and/or finish writing The Aedonu Trilogy #2: Flames in the Darkness
Goal #2: Try to write at a minimum one blog post a month. However, I’d love to make it weekly. Start small, though, right?
Make time to read.
Read every night right before bed–even if it’s just for ten minutes.
Goal: Finish at least one book a month. Minimum of reading 12 books in 2017 (which should be attainable easy enough).
Workout five times a week–which means going to the gym I’m paying for
Only one cheat meal permitted a week, mainly in the form of pizza.
Only eat out once a week, mainly in the form of pizza.
Goal: Regain my lean form and have some semblance of abs by March
Hardcore budget my money every month, which means withdrawing cash and putting into envelopes
No cash? No pizza treat once a week.
Stop impulse buying–I struggle there.
Goal: Have enough money at the end of the year for a new car
Okay, so they aren’t resolutions, but they are goals. Goals are a destination to be reached vs. an absolute to keep in check from day one. You can stumble in your goals, but still achieve them. I feel like once you break a resolution, it’s easy to give it up for the rest of the year. Having distinct goals may help me stay on track in these four areas of my life.
Focusing more on writing will impact my reading a lot more and vice versa. In the same sense, if I’m more self-disciplined in staying fit, I know that I’ll be more self-disciplined in my finances. Those always seem to highlight one another.
2017 should be a wild ride, but I hope it’s one that’ll show 2016 it didn’t knock me out.
While 2016 revealed my weak areas in various ways, 2017 should be a year that empowers me in so many more ways.