Reflecting on 2014: A Look Back Over One CRAZY Year.

2014-2015-new-year-eveThis year has been a wild ride, to say the least.  I can’t say that it has been an exceptionally good year, in fact a lot of negative things have happened, but it wasn’t nearly the worst of my life.  For the past few years I’ve taken the mindset of always going into the new year with a positive outlook.  No matter what happened during this year, during the last few months of the year, or even on December 31st, I reset myself and start anew.

With that said, I don’t put a whole lot of stock into New Years being a new start, new beginning, or a good time to start to change your life.  I feel like waiting to start the ‘new you’ on January 1st is just a way to procrastinate making the changes that you know you should.  This is why I don’t make New Years resolutions (listen to our New Years episode if you haven’t already for my outlook on them), I make resolutions any time of the year when I feel they are necessary in my life.

This year, after a very hard end of the year, I am making some resolutions that just happen to correspond with the new year, but if the same events had taken place in August, I’d be making the same resolutions.

So as I sit here, reflecting on 2014, I realize that this year has been very segmented.  Usually I can look back on my year and think of all the things that happened, but this year I’ve found myself asking did that happen this year?  No, it couldn’t have been this year.  I think this is in part due to there being multiple major events which happened this year.

Infant Mina

The year started off with the birth of my beautiful niece, Mina, my brothers first kid.  She has been the highlight of this year and has already became one of the most important people in my life.  I cannot wait till she’s a bit older and I can spoil her!

Other than that, the first 6 months were pretty uneventful.  I was finishing my first school year working in education, which was absolutely crazy, but all together pretty straight forward.  At the end of the school year, I found out that for the 2014-15 school year, I’d be working in a different district and actually teaching.  I also found out that I’d be going to Boston for almost two weeks during the summer for training.

Looking back on that it was an experience I’ll never forget.  For the first time in my 30 years on this planet, I was away from home, alone.  I did not know a single person that I was going to be in training with and I was to share a room with a complete stranger.  I was nervous and actually tried to get out of it, but in the end went and had an amazing time.  I met a lot of amazing, intelligent people (including my roommate!) and got to do a bit of sightseeing around Boston, my Boston from the airfrist time on the East coast.

I actually didn’t go to Boston except to drive though it (I rented a car on our one day off).  I ended up driving to Salem, the infamous city of witches.  I took the self guided tour, participated in a witch trial, walked through a dungeon, and went to one of the biggest comic book stores I’d ever seen!  Like I said, it was an experience I will never forget and when I returned home, I felt like I’d grown up a bit, which is a bit odd to say.  Oh, and did I mention it was my first time on an airplane?

Soon after we got back from training the regional training started, and then the campus training, and finally the school year.  I absolutely love the kids I’m working with (most of them anyway), but I also think that I’ve figured out being a teacher just isn’t for me.  I can do it, but I don’t think I’ll be happy doing it as a career.

salemSomething I almost forgot that happened this year was that I became a published author!  It is only a short story, but it’s something I’m very proud about.  I vowed I’d become published before I turned 30 and on August 11th, my 30th birthday, I published Sinesol: Burden Episode 1.  It felt amazing and I can’t wait to publish more next year!

August was also my 10 year anniversary with my amazing wife, Desiree.  We decided we were finally going to have a church wedding, so it was also a renewal of vows for us.  I’m not religious, but her family is Catholic and it meant a lot to them.  There was a lot of prep, and more money than I could believe, but the experience has really strengthened our marriage.

I think back to it all and the most amazing part wasn’t being up there saying I do or partying with my family after, it was a few weeks before when we were participating in the retreat that we had to do prior to getting married in church.  It was 3 days long; Friday night from 6PM to 9PM, Saturday from 8AM to 8PM, and Sunday from 8AM to 3PM.  Yeah, we were not looking forward to it.

The retreat was meant for those who are engaged, most likely haven’t known each other very long and haven’t lived together, but we’d been married and living together for over 9 years, what could it do for us?  But something happened there, something that neither of us expected.des n jer

I honestly cannot put into words what that means, but we left that weekend closer than ever.  Our love grew to a new level, a level I had no idea it could.  More than anything, it made me realize why I am married to her, why we have been together for 10 years, and why I want to spend the rest of my life with her.  She’s the reason I am able to get through all the hardship in life, and the reason I am looking to the future with a smile with the confidence I need to pursue my dreams.

This year was also the hardest year I’ve ever had and without her, I don’t think I could have gotten through it.

A week before going to Boston, my wife had a medical emergency and it really scared both of us, not to mention it was 2 days before she lost her health insurance due to switching jobs.  She’s OK now and it shouldn’t have any long-term effect on her health, but it was a very stressful week.

At the same time my father’s health had started to get progressively worse.   He had been sick since about May 2013 and, despite being referred to some of the top specialists at Stanford, it took them a long time to figure out what was wrong with him and even longer to have any plan of action as to helping him.  He needed a new liver and to have heart surgery, but they weren’t sure if he was strong enough for either.

jer and dadSadly, on November 23rd, 2014 he passed away in his sleep at home.  Even though he had been so sick, it was unexpected.  He had a surgery planned for early 2015 and, even though it was a very risky surgery with low chance of success, we had confidence he would pull through.  I got the call from my brother while my wife and I were on vacation, visiting Hearst Castle.  It was the most unrealistic moment of my life and by far the worst 48 hours to follow.

But, after the first few days were over, and reality had set in, something amazing happened.  My dad left me with one last life lesson, or more accurately a lot of smaller lessons, that has changed the way I see life.

You see, he was an amazing man to his last days.  He always believed in treating others right, even if they didn’t treat him that way.  He was always kind and caring to those around him and made friends wherever he went.

He has made me realize that there is no reason to live with anger, to let things go and always have a smile on your face.  Forgive those who have wronged you and try your best to make up for your own short comings.  He taught me that life really is short, and I don’t mean just the years you have on this planet, but the time you have with those around you.  He taught me to live my life to the fullest, pursue my passions and what makes me happy.  Essentially he taught me to live in the moment and don’t waste even a second.

This realization threw my life for a curve ball.  As mentioned above, I have realized that teaching kids isn’t for me, and this is one of the reasons.  Instead, I am going to pursue my passions and what makes me happy, which is why I’m (hopefully) going to be going back for my Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Fiction Writing next year and finally finish writing the novel I started a few years ago and continue towards a future as a novelist.

Losing my dad has been both the hardest and most life-affirming moment I have had in my time here on this planet and I know that 2014 will forever be a bittersweet year.  While I would do anything to have him back in my life, I do realize that what he has given me is something that I probably could not have gained in any other way.

He has made me realize that you should always tell those around you that you care, especially your parents and siblings.  Tell them you love them and that they’re important to you.  I was able to visit him two days before his passing.  I told him I loved him, gave him a hug, and told him I’d see him soon and I wish more than anything I could see him one last time.   Whenever I think of this, the song below comes to mind.

Sorry to leave this on such a depressing note, but that’s kind of how my 2014 ended.  Here, have a pallate clenser, it’s the newest picture of Mina I have!

mina 2

Feel free to leave comments below about anything I’ve said or reflecting on your own 2014.

Here’s to a great 2015!

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