A look behind, a look ahead.

Another year coming to a close.

Now’s the time that I generally sit down and just do a reflection post, talk about what happened this year, and I find myself unsure of what starting point to pick. There’s been a lot happening, and a lot of it is stuff that I’m still processing. You’d think, this girl’s got enough time to think, right?

No, not really. I’ve been in a runaround, busy-as-hell, keep-it-moving lifestyle, and this makes for a weird situation when it comes to actually not having something to do. Which is actually what I’m still processing.

I got temporarily laid off from my CPA firm not long ago. And no, it’s not the CPA firm where I spent five years and earned a mild case of PTSD as a chaser; no. I landed with a new accountant in 2013, and that job has been, honestly, my first example of a Good Workplace. I learned plenty, even though I was upbraided a good bit for when I got something incorrect, the pay was good, and most of all – they worked with me just as much as I worked with them. It was, in all, a dream location for a job. But they laid me off due to lack of things to keep me busy.

And this is, really, the first time I’ve ever lost a job for any reason. I don’t know how to digest that. I was so secure in that place that I even mapped out my next year’s budget under the impression that I was going to keep working there under the same conditions. That was a rug pulled out from under me, but not altogether terrible, because I know I’m coming back to that office. It’s already been worked out.

It did, however, shock me into thinking that I need to put in some work into getting my own accounting practice off the ground. I don’t say this lightly; I have made more money in accounting than in my any other venture. I’ll never give up my book series, nor my photography, nor the music world, but the fact remains that accounting is, truly, one of the most lucrative businesses in this country right now, and it doesn’t hurt to know my way around a tax return or ten. I’m thinking a lot more in terms of my own financial security.

So I’m studying for my EA exam. I’m researching the requirements, the exams are upcoming, and I need to at least muscle through another tax season before I’m ready, but this will be the step necessary for me to eventually become self-sustaining.

Musically speaking, though, it has been eventful. This year, I got a taste of working as staff for several photo gigs, and I loved every second of it. It’s very, very vastly different from being an audience member with a camera, and it is a certain sense of being in the grist of everything. Behind-the-scenes education is an ongoing thing, and especially in a business that’s as capricious and changeable as music, it’s important to keep an open eye, and an open ear. In the past year that I’ve been a photographer – staff photographer as well – I feel like I have achieved a new level of professional education. It’s been one of the best things for me.

I also learned the importance of Just Going For It.

Let me be clear: I’m a very brash person. I’m a very brash and open person; I do not hesitate before saying exactly what’s on my mind. I have no problem talking about personal topics, especially if I feel that my experience may teach or help someone. I’m one of those people without a brain-to-mouth filter, and I’m afraid that’s to my detriment, but it’s not something I have any intention of curving. But the one thing I have always had a massive problem with is gathering up the nerve to take action, especially if the change is drastic, and if it takes me out of my comfort zone. It’s not that I don’t like change or I try to avoid it, it’s more that it takes me a lot more than most people to gather up the nerve to take action, even if it takes me no effort whatsoever to speak up about something I don’t like.

Except this year. This year I had a single situation where I threw all my habitual caution to the wind, and the gamble paid off. Regardless of the situation, the number-one thing is that I took the initiative and did something, for once. It’s more than what I can say for myself in relation to being at this point a year ago, but it’s something that I am hoping to iron out of my system completely by this point next year. I cannot afford to not take a gamble, and not to take a chance. Life’s too short to have regrets and I have, unfortunately, far too much experience of having a regret at not taking the initiative and doing something about what I wanted at the time.

No more of that. No more what-ifs. If I have to throw my dice onto the table, then I’d rather throw them, because I know for a fact I’ll lose by default if I never take a bet.

Traveling is still my greatest love. I can’t tell you to which extent I have fallen in love with it all over again. No matter how much I hate getting up and out of the house to travel, I can’t tell you how much I love being in a plane and watching the world under my window. This year is four cross-country flights – four!!! – and while I’m a wee bit too broke at the mo’ to consider doing that again, I would certainly not object to this again, and to more destinations. This year was a glorious trip to San Diego, Phoenix, coming up on spending New Year in Tucson… what shall it be next? Chicago? I’d love to. London? Oh, good mother of cheese, please and thank you. San Francisco? I have some friends I need to visit. Likewise for Seattle. And who knows, maybe, just maybe, Atlanta. The possibilities are endless.

It got me thinking that this, the above paragraph, is pretty much the best thing about being on the edge of thirty: there’s enough experience behind my belt to curb, if not completely cripple, the remnants of blind youthful optimism, but still enough of that optimism left to make me look forward to the years ahead. I’m not yet such a cynic that I shut myself off from the world, and definitely no longer the girl I was ten years ago, who was coming out of a sheltered and convoluted upbringing and through yet another final quagmire to learn the harsher lessons of the world, and who knew absolutely nothing of the real world. But I learned, and learned to love it. I love the adventure and the devil-may-care of my life, but I’m not so reckless anymore that I rush into it head-on without thinking ahead. I do have a strong reckless streak, but one that I learned to control with a heavy hand. There is a lot of living, a lot of reckless adventuring, a lot of love left to experience, and I am glad, as I am letting this year wrap up and look forward to kicking off my thirties, that I am, in fact, looking forward to it and living it at my own pace, without worrying about where I am along the LifeScript (which I kicked out in the first place) or how I match to my peers (which has long stopped mattering to me). There are a lot of great things about this particular decade cusp, and mine are going to be peppered that much more with travel destinations.

I’ve long stopped worrying about where I am compared to my peers, though sometimes, I check what the generation is like. The only thing it reminds me of is that I’m much happier being in my own lane. I learned to work for what I want, to occasionally take my caution and tell it to shut up, and to go for it if it’s something I want badly enough. It’s something I’m still learning. I’m still a work in progress, though I like my progress very much.

And forward we go…