The biggest change I made this year was to quit my corporate job of 12 years to spend the summer hiking and camping in the Sierra. I thought I might leave the wilderness with an answer to “what should I do next?” but, instead, I left with dozens of ideas and no decision. After talking it over with Dan, I decided to try all of my ideas and see what sticks. I haven’t earned more than $500 in the past six months, but I’m working my butt off pursuing writing, photography, acting, speaking, teaching, blogging, and military service.
In 2016, anticipating the end of my career, I focused on networks outside of my job. I joined a writing group and spent Saturdays typing and talking with a group of local writers. I also joined the Sierra Club Inspiring Connections Outdoors and supervised underprivileged youths on four outings. My favorite excursion was the trip to Pt Reyes when some of the kids saw the ocean for the first time. I joined the new Sacramento Fashion and Style group and planned and led a meetup at a local consignment boutique in early December.
The ICO kids at the beach
I have been working on expanding my blogger network, as well. I met up with the Sacramento Blogger Network and, through the help of the group leader, began a photography partnership with several local bloggers. I met new-to-Sacramento blogger, Olia, when attending the pop-up shop at her restaurant, Skool. I made virtual blogger connections, too. Sally of Already Pretty consulted with me on pitching a style segment for a local morning show and Allie of Wardrobe Oxygen gave me tips on working with sponsors. I even had the privilege of interviewing and featuring one of my favorite bloggers, Jennifer Heater of The Suburb Experiment, in a post on WhatIWore2Day.
I made the big move from Blogspot to my own domain for my blog (WhatIWore2Day), which turned ten this year! I bought KasmiraKit.com as well as WhatIWore2Day.com. I still love style blogging and have renewed my commitment to purchasing second-hand clothing as much as possible. I had some great finds at thrift and consignment stores in 2016! Some of my favorites: a white faux-fur vest, a pattern mash-up kimono, and a suede and faux fur jacket. The blog is a creative outlet as well as my visual diary of the past ten years. I plan to continue it indefinitely.
The blog is a record of my changing clothing tastes and also hairstyles. I started the year with a pastel pink pixie. In the spring, I shaved half of my head. By June, I was experimenting with blue tints. Over the summer, I let it go and hid the greasy, overgrown mess with a hat. After returning to civilization, I cleaned up the cut and corrected the color so that I can grow out my natural, gray hair. I turned 41 this year and am embracing my aging look. I can’t promise that I won’t dye it, again, but, for now, I like the low-maintenance color.
Speaking of tastes, I have abandoned the vegan lifestyle. As I pushed my body this summer, hiking up to 15 miles a day and working on my upper body strength, I realized that I simply could not improve without additional protein. I began eating fish and eggs and will occasionally eat ethical beef. I switched my diet from high carb to high fat (50%) and high protein (30%). I still eat tons of vegetables and do my best to ensure that everything I eat is respectful of the environment and the organism’s life. The diet has changed my body composition and I’m gaining muscle for the first time in years. I will need it when I take my first PFT this spring!
My Sierra trip was mostly solo, but Dan and I also traveled together, this year. We took an anniversary trip to Monterey. I accompanied him to his sales meeting in Carmel and got to enjoy the lovely Carmel Valley Ranch and Point Lobos. We also took a trip inland, to Lake Tahoe, for a friend’s wedding. That trip precipitated Dan purchasing a membership in the Disney Vacation Club, so guess where we’ll be traveling in 2017!
Anniversary trip to Monterey
Jasper and Jackson, the border collies of @sactowncollies fame, are doing well. Jasper continues to be a wonderful agility dog and won three blue ribbons at a Memorial Day match. Jackson was politely asked to leave agility because he’s too dog reactive. That Jackson is a troublemaker! He snapped two leashes this year. Both dogs worked with a trainer to reduce their reactivity to horses. Jasper was a model student and now loves the game of “find the horse!” Jackson learned to tolerate them, but still thinks a mounted rider is some sort of two-headed monster. We took both dogs to the beach in early summer and Jackson saw the ocean for his first time. Dan took good care of them this summer, while I was off hiking and camping. The highlight of my trip may have been seeing the dogs a week before the end and getting to keep Jasper for the final seven days.
Dan and I are still active in Toastmasters. In fact, he competed in the Humorous Speech contest and Evaluation contest this year and won first place at the first three levels. At the fourth level (Division), he placed 3rd in the Humorous Speech competition. He is also the Sergeant at Arms in the club and gets to bang the gavel at the start of the meeting every week! (I’m more jealous of the gavel than his wins. Who doesn’t want to pound a big wooden mallet?) I am now a mentor to a new member and may like that even more than actually speaking. This spring, I visited eight other Toastmasters clubs during my lunchtimes and discovered that my home club, Mather Toastmasters, really is the “best club in the free world.”
I am very grateful for my friendships this year. I met two of my best Sacramento friends through my salon sales jobs. Jerry (a salon owner) got me to try tango this year and we also spent a boozy day in San Francisco together. He connected me with Action Flip Books so that I earned a little money at the end of the year. Leah (also my stylist) is always up for an adventure, like paddleboarding on the American River, hiking in the Sierra, or driving over 200 miles each way just to visit me for a few hours this summer. I count my sister, Tabitha, as a friend, too, and had a lovely, winey (not whiney) day together in Napa in June. While on my summer trip, I reconnected with my old trail crew boss, Mark, and got to know him all over again as we hunted for crystals, explored Bodie, made burritos, and watched Ancient Aliens. I made a new friend, Bert, through his rambunctious mini-Aussie puppies, when we stayed next to one another at Obsidian campground. I saw my Sacramento friend, Ian, married and promoted this year. He’s helping me with my transition back to the military and I count myself lucky for having met him. Colette, from Cincinnati, made me feel very special by tracking down an out-of-stock fragrance for my birthday because she remembered how much I love the smell of black licorice. I’m not good at maintaining long-distance relationships, so I’m especially grateful for the friends who reach out across the miles.
My very bestest friend (my husband, Dan aka Beefy Muchacho) is doing well. He survived the summer without me and even found the material for his winning humorous speech. He kept the plants and dogs alive and began a walking routine for himself. He’s now obsessed with the activity tracker on his Apple watch and makes time for a workout on the treadmill each day. He has begun regularly podcasting, again, at Annie and Danny’s FastPass Podcast. He’s been supportive of my many projects and is even going to help me start a podcast of my own! I’m lucky to have him as my #1 fan.
I had to turn in the company car (Chevy Impala) when I left my job. At first, I intended to make my scooter my primary mode of transportation. I took a motorcycle safety course and earned a motorcycle endorsement on my driver license. I got a temporary registration for my scooter, but abandoned the plan when I realized it would be at least $500 to restore the Buddy to working order and that it wouldn’t be up to my Sierra summer. Instead, I bought a Subaru Crosstrek and lived out of that for 13 weeks. It’s safer than a scooter and can haul all my stuff (and dogs) around.
I discovered new pleasures and rediscovered old pleasures, this year. I had my first sour beer and was obsessed with finding more this summer. I binge watched four new-to-me shows on Netflix: Lost Girl, iZombie, The 100, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. At Easter time, longing for the Papas eggs made in Covington, Kentucky, Dan convinced his dad to purchase and ship 96 chocolate eggs to us. (Soon after, I gave up sugar, so we still have half of those, left!) I rekindled my passion for ballet after trying classes at The Ballet Studio, just a cool three miles from my house. And, of course, I rediscovered my love for the quiet solitude of the wilderness during my 399 miles and 67,785 vertical feet of hiking this summer.
2016 was like tumbling down a series of cataracts - an exciting, fun, but sometimes dangerous, ride. The biggest drops were by my career change and 13-week camping trip. In 2017, I expect my career portfolio to continue to flux, but to yield reliable income. I’m embracing the concept of “flow” and “yes,” moving towards the opportunities that seem natural and unforced. I’m hoping 2017 will still be fun ride, but maybe contain a few still pools in which to catch my breath and enjoy the view.