2018, It’s Been Real

"Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change."

~ Tony Robbins
"Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change."

~ Tony Robbins

So I’ve decided to fire up the old blog again.

Back in late aughts, when personal blogs seemed de rigueur, I was a “mom blogger.” For reasons that are still inexplicable today, I was lucky enough to have a swift rise up the ladder and within a few months of starting, I had joined a cast of a web series and was interviewed by a few print magazines and on cable news. The money started rolling in (not a lot, but a decent amount) and I am pretty sure, if my head was in the game, I could have leveraged it into more – maybe a book deal, speaking gigs and so on – not because I am the best at anything, but when given a purpose, I can seriously out work anyone that I know of.

But as the years passed I kept asking myself – TO WHAT END? Money has never been a motivator. Stability, yes. Survival, yes. But money beyond living a comfortable existence has never been a draw. So after about the 10th soul-crushing sponsored post about crackers that I would never eat in real life – I said enough is enough. Just as quickly as I entered the blogging scene, I packed up and left.

2018 marks a full decade since I started my first blog and as my last act of this year, I am pulling the trigger and starting another one. It’s been a nagging call in the back of my mind for a few years and now it feels like an imperative. When I look back at the last 12 months, I think I get why it feels that way – life itself feels fleeting. Obviously there are a lot of reasons for that – getting older, namely – but it’s more than that. I keep feeling like I’m at the 50-yard line of my life, and there’s so much more I want to do.

Before I look towards 2019, I wanted to take a moment to look back on 2018. What was it all about? What is really the dumpster fire  it felt like? Pretty much.

What Went Wrong?

Hypertensive Crisis
Five days into this year, I went in for a routine check-up and ended up staying there because my blood pressure was 200/120 – aka hypertensive crisis. This triggered a bazillion meds (which made me feel worse) and 3 months worth of tests to diagnose what’s wrong. At the end of the day, we believe that a very small noncancerous tumor on my adrenal gland is affecting my ability to regulate salt and potassium levels. Happily, I am at a point where I’m down to one medication that mostly controls my blood pressure – but it’s not perfect. I can still gain 10 pounds in the course of a few days because my sodium levels go haywire, but I’m no longer falling down for no reason because of unpredictable blood pressure or feeling the need to spend most of my nonworking hours in bed as a result of medication side effects. Compared to January, I feel alive and human and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Truth to Power
I can’t decide if I’ve experienced more instances of racism or I’ve just become more keenly aware of it. Here are a few choice nuggets from the past year –

  • Getting randomly called out on the street by someone screaming at me to, “Go home! Go home!”
  • Someone “complimenting me” by telling me that I was a really good writer even though English was my second language. English is my only language.
  • Being told that when an “American looks at me, they don’t seen an American.” Oh hi there, I was born in Texas. 
  • When a co-worker was describing someone to me, they said that the other person looked like a typical mom. I responded by saying, “You’re going to have to explain a little more because your mom probably looks different than mine.” They replied, “You know, a typical “American” mom. 

The positive from these experiences is now I call out all forms of microaggressions when I see it – in the workplace or even when I look at myself in the mirror. I don’t give a shit if I come across as angry – because I am angry.

The Break-Ups
I experienced a few friend break-ups this year, including one that spanned over two decades. It’s really  hard, but it I totally see what went wrong and have learned from it. I’ve come to the realization that so many of my expectations about relationships and friendships (and life) have transformed (see therapy). Not everyone who was with me at the beginning is going to be there at the end and I’m going to have to be okay with that. I think, at least I hope, that I’m better at bringing people in my life whose definition of friendship is better aligned with with who I’ve become and where I want to go.

What Went Well

52 Weeks of Therapy
2018 marks the first year I fully committed to therapy. It’s actually been over a year now and I can truly say that it’s been transformative. I wish that everyone had access to mental health care and I feel beyond lucky that I not only have stellar health insurance but a work environment that supports taking the time off to go to my appointments. This year I’ve unpacked a lot of emotional boxes that originate from my traumatic childhood and have started to fully understand how very much its impacted my life and my ability to connect with others. And I shared my dark and twisty secret stuff with my girlfriends – which is beyond HUGE.

I’d like to say I’m all patched up and ready to take on life, but therapy is like navigating the Titanic, slow-going and heavy. I think I’ve moved past the worst, though and hopefully most of 2019 will be focused on re-calibrating what it means for me to be more open and free.

I Found a Hobby
This year, I found something that makes me tremendously happy – sewing. I’m 44 and it’s taken this long to find something that I actually love doing. When working on a project, I found that I could sew for a kajillion hours and never notice the time. For me, it’s like putting together a puzzle that you get to wear. It’s total zen. #selfcare

Be Here Now.
One of the biggest things that I learned this year was how much my time is focused on the past and future. I’ve been completely ignoring the present and therefore my life seems busy but sometimes joyless. I don’t make enough time for the things that I want to do, but instead, fill my time with things that I have to do. And Netflix marathons. Way too many Netflix marathons.

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One Comment

  • Hello, Giyen–Stumbled across your site through Linked In. I think we are kindred spirits. Happy to hear your 2019 is headed somewhere fruitful and fulfilling. Look forward to hearing more of what you have to say.

    Be well:)


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