For business, 2017 was fantastic. I exceeded the 2017 revenue goals by 15% and we increased our billings 35% from 2016. We brought in some big-name clients, and it was a nice mix of hard hustle and well-deserved breaks in-between projects. I love what I do, and I get to work with some pretty effing phenomenal women, so I count myself quite lucky. Founding this new company 2 years ago saved me -- and not just financially. That's probably a whole other post.
I find that the past few years have been a University of Life. I'm getting thrown lessons right and left, and I have some erudite professors kicking my ass. This year was especially educational. Philosophically, I was (as were the rest of woke Americans) reeling from the Trump victory. It changed something inside of me. I saw a little more clearly just how giant this beast of White Privilege is. I see, now, how the establishment is white-knuckle gripping to its hegemony. I got smacked around by the Patriarchy (not literally, don't worry -- massaging some metaphors today). But the ugly underbelly in this nation became sickeningly apparent. I pined, and still do, that California could float off and become its own independent island-nation. I am a Californian but I don't feel American.
In response, I headed into 2017 a little more wide-eyed. The election colored how I saw the news and current events. It saddened me. I saw clearly the cancer that Evangelicals have injected into the psyche of middle and southern America, and I fully realized that their priority is not at all to protect and stand up for the downtrodden and needy, but to protect a man's place (and specifically, let's be honest, a white man's place) at the head of the table. This topples any notion of a moral compass that seeks to distribute equality or compassion, and it's fueled by an agenda-driven religion based on power, not awareness.
I don't know why it took me so long to see it clearly.
I'm hoping that Trump's generation is the last of a majority who thinks like he does. I know there are many who are young and voted for him, but I also see a more inclusive bent in the younger generations, and I just hope we won't leave them too big of a clusterf#&^ to clean up.
I lost my religion and I became much more comfortable with a sense of a universal truth and guidance. I've been exploring Judaism, mainly because I still crave ritual. I find that the Jews, and their cultural determination to overcome thousands of years of persecution, have given them a more honest and reflective look at themes like God and suffering. They are not a people standing on the shoulders of privilege and conquest. I love what I've been finding as I delve deeper into the mystical tradition, in particular, of Judaism. So I plan to keep on exploring as I head into 2018.
In addition to letting go of my inscribed notions of ritual, belief, and positivity toward many of my fellow Americans, in 2017 I started to see Systems more clearly. I discovered this podcast by Rob Bell, and he frequently discusses systems, and how they bind us and blind us -- in families, in politics, in culture, and in religion. I studied Family Systems theory in psychology, so I understood it from the books, but this past year, I saw it in practice. I began to examine my own family of origin system in more detail, and it freed me. Without (too much) pain, I was finally able to unbind myself from some of the stories and patterns that have shaped how I see myself and interact in relationships. I see systems all around me now -- particularly in our political and religious climates, and it has given more more awareness and even compassion. We are all part of a story, and it's really hard to leave a tribe behind. Similar to that phrase, "Follow the money," just remember to "Follow the system," and you'll understand.
Athletically, I changed a lot this past year. My knees and back are quite happy about that change. Perhaps it's because I've been making peace with my inner world, I don't feel an incessant need to flog my body on runs and rides that last hours. I believe the connection is strong between what you put into the pavement and what's going on in your head and heart.
Instead of training for marathons, going on long mountain bike rides, and constantly keeping a tally of weekly mileage, I've settled into BBG (Sweat with Kayla, this fantastic ass-kicking workout app) workouts a few times a week and runs that rarely exceed 5 miles. Oddly enough, my body looks more toned than it did when I was running marathons and racing my bike. Mainly, though, I'm grateful to discover that after 16 years of pretty intense endurance sports, I don't have to do that anymore. Initially, training and racing completely rebuilt me and gave me confidence and camaraderie, so I don't at all regret those years, but it's nice to step away and know that I won't be any less whole without that identity trailing me.
I don't think it's an unusual trait to love traveling (particularly among those in my age group). I try to make it an annual goal to get to Europe and at least one tropical place, and this year, I exceeded my typical routine. In April, to accomplish a work assignment with Israeli clients, and to explore a country I've been long-curious about, I ventured off to Israel for two weeks. It was phenomenal. It's a tiny country, and I saw most of it, between client meetings and solo expeditions. Prior to the trip, I consumed
In October, one of my best friends and I headed to the Basque country in Northern Spain and France to sample hard cider, visit orchards, and -- let's be real -- bum around Europe. The highlight, for me, was San Sebastian. It is like Europe's version of California, with it's Big Sur-esque coastline, surf culture, and lovely climate. We felt quite at home, needless to say.
To check off the "tropical" box, my boyfriend and I hit up a resort in Cabo that was so perfectly stunning we immediately booked a trip back for New Years. (I'm counting down the days.) I love Mexico in the late Fall. No humidity, bugs, wind. We didn't even see clouds. The pool and ocean were perfectly warm. And though I don't live in a cold climate, I still spent most of my time thawing out by the pool and drinking in the sunshine.
For 2018? I'm setting my sights on France, perhaps Greece, and I'm sure more Mexico trips will be in the mix.
Money. Okay, I know it's rude to talk about money, but I've already riffed on politics and religion, so why not? I've always had a not-so-well-cozy relationship with money. For years, I've been building my skills, then building companies, and it's taken me a while to save and feel like I had enough to spare. I lost a big chunk after my divorce (which wasn't much), but it wasn't worth starting a war, so I focused on moving on instead of fighting him. I started my current company with what I had left, and put determination and scrapiness into building my business. Sometimes when you have nothing left, it's easier to bet the hand. In my case, it paid off, and I find myself in a new financial position that I've never been in.
My parents were extremely frugal growing up. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs (SIDE NOTE: I have NEVER been able to spell that word without spellcheck. I did a few projects this year with a group that has that title, and I must have written the word 80 times in one deck. I still can't spell it. Anyhow ...) Where was I? Oh yeah. My family is scrappy as f*&#. And it has paid off -- for all of them. The moral of the story is that I grew up in a household where we didn't buy many nice things or take luxurious vacations. Brand names were not a thing in our household, or my hometown, for that matter.
So I've continued to live my life, fairly scrappy, but not as scrappy as the way I grew up. But I live in the most expensive city in the U.S., and I'm surrounded by people who have nice things. I never cared too much about luxury items, until this past year. It took some coaching from the man I'm closest to, a few panic attacks, and an honest look at my finances for me to realize that it's okay to spend some money on myself. There is something commanding about walking into a business meeting wearing French designers and an expensive handbag and shoes. I can't describe why. But it works. And I effing love it now. So I plunked down my card on, basically a new wardrobe, and I have finally started dressing and carrying myself in a way that better reflects my income. Also, the fact that I'm a 37-year old not living in a surf town has also finally settled in.
It's a nice place in life to be -- to know that I'm financially capable of building a company, selling it (someday), and building a comfortable life for myself. It has added a level of fearlessness that feels palpable in my own spirit.
So what's on the books for 2018? That remains to be seen, of course, but I would like to spend some quality time in France -- my favorite country and culture, even though I can't spell words like entrepreneur. I have growth projections for my company that I'd like to realize. I hope and anticipate that my love relationship will continue to blossom. I would love to get involved with more organizations that empower and help women. I want to stay present, to remember to look around when things get gritty, and be able to tell myself, "I am so damn blessed." Because I know I am.
Thanks, 2017, for a great year. And chin-chin to 2018.