Its been strange to talk about my life the past month and a half. When people ask what I’ve been up to, I have to answer in all honesty “work.”

It sounds so sad, but when I look back at my calendar and what I’ve been doing, that really is a significant part of the pie chart. And the bulk of what my brain can remember.

At the end of December, I took a new role under my existing management at work, and I’ve been trying to figure out what that means in terms of job responsibilities, deliverables, and what I’m supposed to be spending my time on ever since. It’s been interesting and a great learning experience. But I don’t think I would ever do this again.

This is not to say I don’t like the new role or anything like that. This is to say that transitions kind of suck.

I realize that this is not a singularly unique experience. There are many statistics about how Millennials will go through multiple careers before they settle into their life path of employment. I don’t even know if we can call them careers anymore, to be truly honest, or if you just need to expand the definition of career to include a more “liberal arts” approach of jobs held in an order of increasing difficulty and knowledge gain.

Regardless, this means a lot of transitions and a strong impetus to get a lot better at it. If every time I try something different, I lose 6 to 8 weeks of my life, I’m not sure this is going to work. Fundamentally, I need to change my approach, because it hasn’t been working.

At the beginning of the year, I gave myself permission to stop writing here weekly, to stop taking pictures daily, and to free myself of all the commitments to produce things outside of my job.

And I think that was a mistake.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still cooking, although that’s more so I don’t starve to death, and there is occasional knitting to keep my sanity in check. But I find myself unmoored without a regular habit of production to compliment all of the reading and consumption I still do.

I find myself frustrated, malcontent, and unable to shake this urge that things just aren’t right. I am not in the right place doing the right things, and it’s not just my professional life while I switch roles.

Now that I’ve had a couple weeks to think about it, I know that what I’ve been missing is the creation. Without these separate outlets to make things, just for me, because they’re beautiful, for some reason other than a boss or a boss’s boss wanted something done, I’ve lost a lot of the control I’ve had over my own time and life.

This is not a groundbreaking epiphany. I knew not to cut out too much of my gym time, but I hadn’t realized how important being a productive and creative person has been to my mental sanity. So I guess this is all to say: I think I’m back; I think I need to be; and, yeah, I’m incredibly slow at learning.

But hopefully this lesson is something that I can take with me, because I am very much a Millennial and there is already a tentative end date for the role I took, and that maybe it will help you too.

In times of stress and transition, do NOT give up the things that make you happy even if they take time you don’t necessarily have, because you’re friends appreciate you not being a grouchy and irritable jerkface.

How NOT to Transition

2013 was an interesting year, and it’s calendar review took much longer than reviews in years past. The lessons learned and all that are still in progress. Overall, 2013 taught me a lot about priorities: recognizing them, accepting them, and honoring them.

The easiest way I know to do a review is to literally go through my calendar and write down the highlights of what I did every month. If you’re  neurotic about scheduling things in your calendar like I am, you’ll find it to be a good reflection of how you’ve spent your time. And, as Doug Hargett says:

Your priorities are where you spend your time.
(this is perhaps my favorite quote ever, and I am seriously considering it as a life mantra, or at least a Twitter bio)

Unfortunately, I cannot for the life of me figure out if I set an intention for last year, or a theme. I can’t even find my resolutions, although I vaguely recall throwing all that out and trying to do a “25 before 25” because I couldn’t think of anything more profound. 2012 was the year of living with intention and purpose, inspired by my almost twice-weekly yoga practice. It was a hard act to follow, especially since, at year end, I felt like I had done that better.

Hindsight bias during year end reflection, in this case, works for you since this is all mind-over-matter and self-fulfilling prophecies start with beliefs about the future. As a result of my success in 2012, I felt stumped when it came time to think further into the future to 2013. I was coming off a personal achievement high and a break-up, so between all these conflicting emotions, it was hard to pin down what I wanted to do better or differently.

One thing was glaringly clear though: all of this “don’t just do things, choose things” was getting a little tiring. You run a high-risk of both over-thinking and being the smug “I’m so in tune with my inner self” New Age jerkface with that mentality; my brain was tired and my chakras were refusing to align. I just wanted to just “do” in 2013 and rack up the frequent flier miles as proof.

All of this doing meant that 2013 was…a year of sharpening my focus and purpose. When you just do, you let your subconscious SHOW you what your priorities are instead of constantly querying it to see if your decisions fit with who you are. The calendar review exercise is critical for this. If I never made time to meet with someone, can they really be called my friend? The opposite, unfortunately, also counts, for those friends who never seem to have time, or at the very least apologize and offer to reschedule. And, if I spend so much time with someone I don’t care for–why am I lying to both him/her and myself? I came out of 2012 with a much stronger sense of self, and 2013 reinforced it, for better or for worse. Friends stepped out and friends stepped up, I actively talk about the C-word (career), I made moves, and, more than anything else, I’ve really gotten a sense of just how lucky I am to have the support network that I do, and how to better maintain those relationships.

As a result of my 2013 findings and performance, I want 2014 to be the year of generosity. Generosity in spirit, in time, in whatever it is I can do to give back for the blessings of 2013 and carry them forward. It is a year to focus on expansion of my social circle, my experiences, and the length of the texts I read. I want to be bigger in all senses of the word, except the one that means the new jeans I just bought become too small.

I want the intent and purpose of 2012 yoli with the confidence of 2013 yoli to choose MORE than what I’ve got and, to borrow some lines from Captain America which I half-watched last night (full attention would have resulted in my roommate beating me for all the “come on, really??” comments that would have ensued): I want to amplify my good. Of course this will be broken down into smaller SMART goals, because Corporate America not only took my capacity for reading and sustained thinking, but it also showed me a simple way to measure progress (or lack thereof).

Anyone else setting overarching intentions or just little goals to keep the energy and excitement of this brand new year going until December next?

The Berlin Wall is rather iconic, and actually a wall. Most of it is torn down and can be found in souvenir shops, including postcards with little pieces of Wall embedded on it. But even when it’s gone physically, it’s still there. Berlin is a city saturated with history.

Germany in general, but especially in Berlin and Munich, you can see memorials to the atrocities of WWII such as the victims of the Holocaust. In the center of town, there are parallel rows of bricks in the cobblestone showing where the Wall used to stand. Near one of the Checkpoints, called Checkpoint Charlie, there is a free open-air museum chronicling the plight of all those who tried to cross, both successfully and not.

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Former checkpoint, current souvenir shop.

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However, in the south-east of the city, there are parts of the Wall still standing, covered in state-sanctioned graffiti, a visual memorial to the divided nation and a collective prayer that it never happens again.

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On the opposite side of the Wall from the murals, there was also an exhibit called Wall on Wall, about other dividing walls that still stand: the DMZ in Korea, the wall between Israel and Palestine, “peace lines” in Ireland, etc. After seeing how much people have suffered from a 30-year wall over two decades ago, it’s heartbreaking to imagine what pain the still standing walls are causing.

Berlin Wall

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Brandenburg Tor/Gate (it’s not plural, which I thought it was, so now we’ve all learned something!)

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On the right is from the side of one of the oldest buildings in the city, St. Nicholas’ Church.

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By the entrance to the Capital buildings.

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Ritter Sport store & Tegel Airport (TXL)

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Alexanderplatz, where I stayed last time in I was in Berlin

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Berlin_09There is a difference between horse & edible chestnuts. On the left is the inedible horse kind, take note! On the right are the steps up to the Victory Column. My mom counted and it was well in the 3 digits.

 

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I hope yours has a lot of good food and better company, because that’s what this holiday is all about (the origins are shady but the intentions are good).

Earlier this month I talked about doing a Notable November focusing on doing little things to make our corners of the Universe better.

This month that meant being more conscious of doing things that “seemed right,” like convincing the coworkers that a potluck and decorating the work area were good ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. It meant not waiting to call, text, or email if someone needed it. It meant saying “yes” when people needed a volunteer photographer and processing the pictures that night (by which I mean deleting the really blurry and crappy ones, no actual post-production).

The idea that a lot of little things can have a big impact isn’t new or revolutionary, but doing this challenge and reflecting on it now did result in one big epiphany: I can’t honestly say if these things made a difference in other people’s lives. Sure, people said “thank you,” but I don’t know if they were “notable,” persay.

But maybe “notable” doesn’t matter.

I feel better having done these things, and there was definitely a selfish aspect to most of these actions in terms of fulfilling my own desires. I love potlucks! And don’t use my camera enough. A death in the family isn’t the best reason to call someone, but catching up with friends will always be one of the best things you can do.

Forcing myself to be more cognizant of these opportunities to be altruistically selfish this past month was a good exercise. I know that my actions brought a little bit of brightness to my life and the lives of the other people. Most of them were really easy to do, and pretty enjoyable too!

The best part is that when you start adding up all those little moments, they become something bigger: something “notable.”

Happy Thanksgiving