I’ve been sitting on the 2007 review for a year, but it’s time to release it into the wild so I can finish my review of 2008. I was working on the 2007 review just after New Year 2008, but then Arliin passed away, the cats moved in, I had to learn how to inject Beano, my last day at my government job arrived, and I became preoccupied with figuring out my employment situation.
Life was a little topsy-turvy at the beginning of 2008, but then the rest of the year TOOK OFF like a galloping horse. But, I’m getting ahead of myself — back to 2007. First:
Last October I was driving back from New York City, and I mentioned writing a ‘Year in Review’ while in conversation with one of my passengers (who I’d just met a few hours before). She commented that she didn’t do anything of the sort, that she didn’t believe in looking into the past, she only looked forward. I was a bit taken aback. “What about goals?” I asked. “How do you know if you’ve made any progress if you don’t review what you’ve done? What if a goal is long-term?”
Writing in this website has been very useful to me in terms of keeping track of myself. I believe in setting goals — a mix of short-term, long-term, easily-attainable, and relatively large-scale — but part of the plan is measuring and benchmarking in some way. Some things aren’t quantifiable or measurable, sure, but if I want to become a better photographer, for example, how on earth will I know I’m better if I don’t look back at my old photos? How will I know if I travel more if I don’t actually count vehicle mileage or boarding passes? How would I know if I wrote more or less this year if I didn’t compare my publishing stats? Perceptions are one thing, stats may say otherwise.
While I don’t think it’s necessary to share all my goals with the world wide web, I think it’s a morale booster to share the personal victories and accomplishments, whether large or small. There are hard times in every calendar year, but there is always something worth celebrating and there are always lessons to be learned from new experiences, taking personal risks, stacking up the gains against the losses.
I’ll probably add to this, but here’s the 2007 list for now, in no particular order:
- Sat in the pilot’s seat for the first time.
- Missed my first international flight. (Air Canada gave my seat away!)
- Slept in an airport overnight (Barcelona). Nearly twice (London)!
- Saw my first night of Midnight Sun.
- Stood beside a geyser as it was about to blow!
- Stood behind a waterfall.
- Sold advertising on my website (on individual posts).
- Attended an open-casket funeral. (Don’t want to do that again anytime soon.)
- First time in Quebec (I only ever got as far as Ottawa as a kid).
- First time in Nova Scotia.
- First time in Iceland.
- First time in Africa!
- Bought my first DSLR.
- Made my first external website (Vincent Sushi).
ACCOMPLISHMENTS/VICTORIES, BIG AND SMALL:
- Passed my Category 3 Aviation Medical after being told that my heart murmur might be too strong. After months of ground school, here’s an explanation for why I shelved flight training.
- Made it through a 10-week bereavement group therapy program without quitting.
- Was offered a contract by a branch of the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario in January, which was later renewed.
- Made it through two weddings without bailing.
- Made it through two memorial services without falling apart. There would’ve been a third, in France, had my passport arrived one day earlier.
- Moved house without incident. (The last mover was a crook.)
- My car broke down not once but twice in upstate New York in one weekend, but I came out of it with a brand new fuel pump for free (!) and got a memorable and unplanned visit to the Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport thrown in.
- Won a bidding war for the helicopter flight in Durham Region purely by strategy.
- Won my office’s End-of-Year Scavenger Hunt. (Competition was stiff!)
- Four visits to Vancouver!
- Posted 502 entries in my website. (There were 621 in 2006, but I didn’t work most of that year.)
- Uploaded 2,225 photos to Flickr: a mix of film, point-and-shoot, and DSLR.
- Taught myself enough Photoshop to work with RAW files.
- Shot my first wedding from beginning to end (nearly 20 hours).
- January – Vancouver
- February – Pennsylvania, Cambridge (ON)
- March – Niagara Falls
- April – Vancouver
- May – Pennsylvania
- June – Iceland, Paris, Halifax
- July – Montreal, Ottawa
- August – Kingston, St. Catharine’s (ON)
- September – New York, Pennsylvania
- October – New York, Pennsylvania
- November – London (UK), Barcelona, and Morocco
- December – Vancouver
(I would post links, but it would take me forever.)
Five trips involved flying, the other 8(+) trips were by road. I counted 20 commercial flight segments, 4 (?) trips to Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, and an exciting hour in the Durham Regional Police helicopter. I would’ve travelled MORE, except I maxed out my vacation limit at my government job.
Undoubtedly, 2007 was a much better year than 2006, even without having a “Year in Review: 2006″ to compare it to. Going to Cuba at the end of 2006 was the best choice I could’ve made at the time, because it completely reset my brain for 2007. Mentally, I was a different person when I returned to Toronto on January 1, 2007. If you know me in person, you’ve likely heard me say this more than once, that I attribute a great deal of personal growth to that trip and credit the people of Cuba with fortifying me in a way I still can’t quite explain, even today.
In 2007 I was a government employee for the first time in my life, at 34/35 years old. I was grateful for the opportunity, and the relatively stability it offered was likely what I needed to best make the transition from my former life in Pennsylvania to my abrupt reality of landing in a new city and new situation. But by the end of 2007 I knew I wasn’t government material, that I needed more creativity and autonomy in my work. I gave myself a year to see whether I liked it or not, and at the end of that time frame I could not honestly envision myself as a career public servant. When my job entered (restricted) competition in December, everyone expected me to apply for it but I didn’t. Well, technically I did, I submitted my CV at the 11th hour of the Friday deadline but retracted it on Monday. Then I did something else everyone thought was sheer madness: I told my manager I would stay on until they hired someone else, and I would train that person before I left. (It took until February 29 for this to happen, but I am a person of my word and gave my replacement nine days of training.)
I ended 2007 on an uncertain note, job-wise, but overall I felt better about life in Toronto. In June I moved to a better apartment in a great neighbourhood, met more people, travelled to some amazing places, and was relieved to reach the end of 2007 with more good stories than bad. I felt at various points in 2007 very down/angry/out of place, but these periods were mercifully brief in comparison to the year before. In 2006 I was quite a recluse and not working for the most part, but in 2007 I was working full-time and able to channel that energy in different directions — particularly aviation, travel, and photography. I took my Pentax K100D everywhere, hit the road every chance I got, and flew in every type of aircraft I could get a seat for.
2007 was when my life in Toronto really began, I felt. Tomorrow I’ll post about 2008.