Looking Back & Crossing Over
When 2018 dawned, I determined to gather experiences with the same resolve with which we draw breath. Looking back as dusk unfurls, I can honestly say that 2018 certainly brimmed with a plethora of opportunities grasped. Here are 5 highlights.
Finished Writing Hail! This year I completed the manuscript for my debut novel. An 82K word young adult action thriller, Hail is the first novel I am trying to publish in earnest. I’ve often said that I’d be the artist who’d trip the alarm at The Art Institute circa 2:57 AM to make a (slight) change to her exhibited work. Over the years, Hail has gone through multiple full rewrites as I honed in on articulating the story that demanded telling. Eventually, we have to say done is done. I’ve set down my editors pen, and have now turned to the (equally) arduous next step on this publishing quest—finding a literary agent. Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive over the past year, from beta reading Hail to adding to the discussion here, on twitter and even Instagram. Look for an upcoming post in the New Year chronicling the road to getting published, and all I’m learning about best practices along the way!
Launched the SAFE Network: Chicago! One of my greatest personal passions centers on how distributed ledger technologies are fueling the decentralized revolution that will transform how we live, work and play. In 2006 a Scotsman by the name of David Irvine “thought the Internet had become a very unnatural design and could not bear to see people lose control of their identities and personal thoughts.” He founded MaidSafe to build The SAFE Network—the world’s first autonomous network that will not only decentralize but also steer the internet back to safety. Inspired by MaidSafe’s aim, I became increasingly involved with the SAFE Network community. That involvement lead to my organizing and launching a local meet up group in Chicago. We kicked off in July, have grown to 90 members, and have great aspirations for 2019!
Learnt to Ride a Bike! Just before we left the old country (that would be England), I had started to learn to ride that great icon of freedom—the bicycle. Then we made our transatlantic voyage by way of aircraft, proceeded to move every 1-2 years on average, and the lessons ceased. So it was that I came to harbor a dark secret: I never learnt to ride a bike...until this September when I slayed the dragon (in 90 minutes to boot), and shortly thereafter got my first bike (thanks to a great tip from a new friend I met on the way to number 4). It’s never too late to learn something you’ve always wanted to do. Really, it’s the little things in life.
Participated & Placed in my First Hackathon! Starting the SAFE Network: Chicago introduced me to a lot of really awesome people, including a developer who invited me to join his team for Factom’s Hackathon. We started as a team of two, and while my experience spans quite a few spheres (strategy, marketing, operations), I can’t code to save my life. At the event we recruited a couple of other devs and together breathed life into an idea I pitched to leverage smart contracts to power UBI for P2P car sharing. We took third place, winning $3K. Plus, one of the devs we met day of, helped me acquire my first bike.
Globetrotted from England to Singapore! One life isn’t enough to see all the wonders this world holds; still I endeavor. This year I returned “home” to England, where I visited Oxford to watch my sister present her awe inspiring research on sickle cell. The next day we decided to make a day trip to Bath. As we waited on the platform for our train, I asked my sister whether—in a world where she could have only one—she would rather have power or influence. A vigorous debate ensued, during which I noticed a man edging closer and closer. Finally, I paused the conversation to say, “I believe someone wishes to join the discussion.” Turns out he was an Oxford grad student, and he joined with relish. The debate continued all the way to Bath, where after we bid him adieu, my sister and I went on to visit the Roman Baths and the Jane Austen museum.
Later on in the year, I made my way to Singapore for the first time. Look for an upcoming post on the numerous merits of solo travel, and my personal guide to One Week in Singapore. For now I’ll say, Singapore in mid November can’t be beat.
2018 brought a multitude more experiences, like a career change, seeing Turandot at both the Lyric and The Met, lots of learning—from candle and soap making to Ebru painting—getting into kickboxing, (faux) skydiving, seeing Paul Simon, Charlie Puth and Florence + The Machine, making Festival Friends at Mamby, going to the US Open for the first time, and so much more!
Dreams are ever dynamic. Though their essence may remain the same, the final form of what we wish almost never ceases to surprise. So, for 2019, I’ll keep it short and sweet. As I cross over into 2019, these dreams—some new, others expanded—journey with me.
(Re)learn how to swim. There’s a story here about how at a time I could swim exactly 100 yards, but let’s just say I once again essentially swim vertically. Having conquered the bicycle, I’m two thirds of the way to being able to compete in a triathlon. Goal: knockout the last third by learning how to swim (permanently this time).
Organize a SAFE Network: Chicago Hackathon. Participating in The Factom and Mars hackathons in 2018 really was all about reconnaissance. Now is time to put those learnings into action.
Find the right Lit Agent. In December I participated in a publishing seminar at The University of Chicago, and the instructor told me “Hail is competition ready,” provided me with really encouraging feedback, advised me to start attending writing conferences, and provided me with a wealth of pointers I can’t wait to put into action.
Explore countries I haven’t yet visited. I’ve been tying to make it to Iceland for 5 years running. Maybe 2019 will be the year. Other contenders include Denmark, Prague, Morocco, and/or Greece. Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments.
Continue to reconnect with creative pursuits. Over the years, some of my hobbies have gradually fallen to the wayside. If we don’t invest the energy to stay connected with what makes us tick, we’ll eventually find ourselves lost in the doldrums of life. In 2019, I’d like to get back into dance, design (chainmail/jewelry/fashion & more) as well as drawing with greater frequency.
There you have it—a retrospective on 2018 and resolutions for 2019. I often say that achievement begins with expectation. What are you expecting in 2019? Share in the comments below. You never know just who you’ll inspire. Here’s to another turn about the sun!