the new year and the year that was

Happy New Year! Resolutions have always eluded me - why resolve when you can just DO? I ask myself this question often, mostly because I come from a family of doers. We're not dreamers. We just make lists, and jump right in, and try things.

I used to be unsure of how to make myself "happy", which seemed, somehow, to be the goal of all those resolutions. There was no way to PLAN for that or to just DO, like it was a box on a checklist - it just seemed like it was a magical equation that I'd seen other people have success with, but the equation was a nonsensical formula of hoops to jump through that had no labels, no timing, no structure.

And then I realized that the secret to being happy was saying yes. Was saying "Yes, I'll do that,"  "Yes, I will go on this adventure," and "Yes, I have no idea what I'm doing. And I don't care." In the end, it's always ok, even if ok means failing spectacularly. Failing makes for great stories.

The last few years of my life have been an exercise in saying yes. To Montreal. To a new life. To making friends and leaving behind the old ones, and building something where there was nothing before. To adventure and uncertainty. It's all been a bit like jumping out of a plane with no parachute, hoping for a soft landing.

And in 2012 it's only going to get better.

This year I learned to surf. I started to REALLY SERIOUSLY learn french (and use it to do more than buy groceries). I started teaching classes where sometimes, the students were really teaching me. I went to SXSW, which had been a long time coming, and didn't stop loving it even after 100 bands and a diet of scotch and tacos for thirteen days straight. I learned to love swimming again. I re-learned how to say no (which is like saying yes to more important things), how to tell a great story, and made plans to get what I want out of my work. I said yes to some fantastic opportunities and then no, when it wasn't really right (even though I really wanted it to be). I learned how to live with regret and that it was ok to be scared and vulnerable sometimes.

I celebrated my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary, my father's 60th birthday (he will one day get revenge for all those flamingos), had great visits with family and friends in all sorts of cities, went to New York, Austin, Toronto, Halifax and Ottawa, ate at the CIA, ate tripe (and chicken hearts and beef tongue and duck gizzards, and boudin!), learned more about the inner workings of Facebook than I care to admit, daydreamed about a new life on the west coast, in Toronto and even contemplated a return to Ottawa for good measure. I made good friends, family, and myself a priority.

And then, as the year wound down, I made another list. And based on that list alone I can tell you that 2012 is going to be amazing.

Happy new year, friends. Go do big, amazing, unexpected, adventurous things and share them with the world.