2018, You’ve been good to me.

I can’t believe today is New Year’s Eve! I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this year flew by, because it didn’t.

Actually, I went into 2017 with the intention of not letting another year fly by, and that worked well for me then, so I attacked 2018 with even greater efforts.

But, as many of you know, my dad passed away at the beginning of this year.

Over the years, I’d say I’ve been through a fair amount of tragedies. I’ve attended too many funerals for someone my age, been through really rough heartaches, had money troubles, and have suffered from some heavy anxiety and depression.

But nothing compares to the pain of losing my father.

Even today, almost a year later, I can’t – and won’t try – put into words the internal pain that’s clouded my brain, my heart this year. I know that I don’t wish that pain on anyone, and I also know I still have grieving to do.

I wish I could say that my dad told me to go, go live your life, and have adventures. But I can’t.

My dad was, at times, confusing to understand. Some days, he’d be up for anything, and other days, he’d concoct arbitrary rules. He was very protective of me, and always thought I partied too much. I don’t think he ever thought of me as a hard worker, or deserving of much.

But, my dad was a really brave person his entire life. He fought battles of all sorts, and he took the path not taken – even if it didn’t end in success. I am still learning so much about my dad – he left me many of his most treasured belongings, which has put me sitting on the floor of my apartment, crying over ticket stubs and old pins more often than I’d like to admit.

As much as my dad and I butted heads, we laughed twice as much. He had a sense of humor that I admire much more now, especially when there were days in 2018 that I was looking for any semblance of good.

But my biggest passion, my purpose for being is something my dad and I shared: the need to write and the belief that everyone has a story.

My dad did just about anything for the story, and that is a character trait that I admire so much, I’ve come to live it myself.

This year, in 2018, I vowed to work on my own story. As much time as I spent being sad over my dad, and cancer, I wanted to honor him, but I also wanted to care for myself – make my own footsteps.

So, without truly realizing it, I made 2018 my year of “Actively Living”. I lived with intention and… as I look back, it’s been the worst and best year of my life. Here’s some of the things I did:

  • Read 60 books (see them all here)
  • Was 1 of 2 passengers on a giant plane
  • Started meditating
  • Danced in two showcases, and performed in 1 music video
  • Saw Cecile Richards on tour
  • Tried food at 16 restaurants in Austin (all new to me)
  • Attended my first Writer’s Retreat
  • Went to Denver (read all about it, here)
  • Met my favorite food blogger, Gaby Dalkin (from What’s Gaby Cooking)
  • Celebrated the royal wedding!
  • Bought a cat stroller
  • Road tripped it to Marfa, Texas (read about it here)
  • Attended a hackathon
  • Took a 3-hour paddle-boarding trek to see the fireworks in Downtown Austin
  • Bought a washer + dryer
  • Surprised a friend + her family with a homemade dinner
  • Went deep-sea fishing + caught a 7-foot bull shark (read about it here)
  • Got more involved in ZTA
  • Attended all 3 days of ACL (all the goodies are here)
  • Went to NYC for the first time (Part 1 + Part 2)
  • Made it to one of the 50 Best Places on Earth (according to “Time”), the Austin Central Library

…This has been an unbelievable year. There have been times when I couldn’t believe this was really my life. In many ways, none of this is ever what I pictured for myself.

But, I’ve learned a lot about that, too. I’ve come to realize that life is what you make it. It’s not about waiting for the right time, or the right person, or enough money. It’s about creating the life you want and doing it right now.

In looking back at this year, I know that there are two kinds of people: those who actively live life, and those who let life happen to them. I’m actively living, and I’ve found that I get along best with others who do the same.

When I was in New York, I met and spoke with many new faces. After telling someone about my life this year, my adventures, she asked, “Did you promise your dad something?”

She couldn’t figure out why I’d thrown myself into my life.

“No,” I said.

I don’t think my dad would support my, at-times, reckless adventures alone. But I do think he would support following my heart, doing things that inspire me, and living with intention. And I know he’s been with me for the ride – and I hope he’s having just as much fun as I am.

I’m taking some fantastic memories into 2019 with me, and I know there’s so much more for me on the horizon. Tomorrow, I’ll share my 2019 goals here, and I’d love to hear yours, too.

Until then, cheers. May your New Year be bright! I’ll see you in 2019!

P.S. I’ll be sharing memories from 2018 all day today on my Instagram Stories @OrangeJulius7 & see what I’m up to tonight for New Year’s Eve there, too!

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