My 2012 review: Reflections on how it went

These are my general thoughts on how this past year went, lessons learned or learning, and points to watch in the future.

On traveling, I took a bunch of pictures, probably more than any other year of my life. I like pictures. They help serve as markers in time so I can look back at them and remember some of what I felt in the moments surrounding the moments when I took the photos. Particularly with travel, photos come in handy for me because I won’t travel forever.

On writing, my style has changed this past year. I’m not sure it’s noticeable to anyone else. I’m not even sure I could notice it rereading my posts. I notice a difference, though, in how I approach writing on Marshallogue. Writing “how I” instead of “how to” is a small sample of this switch. I also learned a lot more about stories, especially writing scenes.

On experimenting, this has been the year of trying out secret projects. I started last year, but now that I’ve disclosed two of them – the adoption fund experiment and the Master’s – I can talk more about how they’ve gone. In a word, wonderfully. I already have a couple more in the works for next year, and I’m totally pumped about keeping them secret now that I’ve tried that approach already and enjoyed it.

On health, well, I didn’t run into any peanut butter problems, let me just say that. Still, it’s probably been my least healthy year in a while. My last eight days in Asia, I slept a grand total of like 16 hours, some of which were on airplanes and in coffee shops. And that’s one of the things I don’t regret. Next year, I’m looking to change that up. What’s interesting to note, though, is how different the first half of the year looked compared to the second, since I walked to work each day in Korea but didn’t walk much at all in America. A simple change in routine made a big difference.

Professionally, since I’ve planned from the beginning of the year to teach in Saudi Arabia, I’ve spent a lot of effort getting qualified. That’s been both fun and challenging. At this point, as far as ESL/EFL teaching goes, I’d have to get a degree in education to get any more qualified academically. The rest is experience. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say for now that I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be an English teacher abroad, but I’m sure the experience will help move into the next chapter of my life too.

Financially, I spent a bunch of money on travel and education and friends. I don’t regret that. In other news, I opened a retirement account with Vanguard, using the money I got back from retiring in Korea. I also tried getting a credit card for the first time – I called back just the other day. Evidently, credit card companies don’t appreciate people with unstable incomes living in other countries.

Socially, I ramped up like crazy at the beginning of the year and then kind of did a bell curve and slowed down at the end of the year, as far as meeting new people and really growing relationships. Overall, though, I’m thankful I’ve been able to keep up with friends all over the place with Skype and Facebook.

Spiritually, I’m going into the deserts of Saudi Arabia feeling kind of dusty already. Someday, I’ll write publicly about this. For now, it’s still too close. One of the lights at the end of this year’s tunnel for me has been the Scripture verse exchange initiated by a friend in the Growth Group from Korea. The first verse I saw from the exchange wasn’t mine, but it was a good one for me anyway:

“He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” -Philippians 1:6 (song version)

That’s what I’m holding onto for the start of next year and moving forward.