Posted by: julia
on Dec 31, 2011
I’m sitting on the couch of a rented house, looking out over the gray and foggy ocean out here in Stinson Beach. I’m here with my extended family on our annual holiday vacation, and I’ve finally found a moment of calm in the midst of the competing demands on my attention to sit down at the computer and start my ritual of year’s-end reflection.
So what was 2011 like? Well, just like every year, it was a continuation of many of the previous year’s patterns and issues, mixed up with some new influences starting up and some new patterns which began to coalesce and become clearer as the year ripened. If forced to summarize (which is kinda the point of this type of blog entry), I would say that this past year was the Year of Becoming. I started out the year feeling like I’d been doing a lot of wrestling with mid-life crisis and identity issues, and I was getting more optimistic and clearer about where things might be going, but I still wasn’t feeling totally crystal. And now, at the end of 2011, surprise! I’m still not totally crystal (are we ever?), but things are feeling more solid now—or at least, less like a crossroads and more like the next leg of the journey.
There’s been a lot of identity work and a lot of happiness work this year, epitomized by a lot of processing changes in career and desired direction(s) for how I spend my days. At the beginning of 2011, we were dealing with the scale-back of Archer Web Solutions; here at the end of 2011, we’ve just finally closed it down for good. I’ve retained a handful of clients for whom I’ll still do occasional web site maintenance or consulting work, but as an individual freelancer rather than as a business. Josh has pulled out completely (though thankfully he’ll always be a resource for me to help troubleshoot when and if I need it) and is looking ahead to his next venture, Iocari Games. With AWS finally about to be in our rear-view mirror, I feel like I’m finally beginning to get some perspective on how the four years or so of effort, activity and meaning that our business represented fit into my overall life story arc. I’m grateful for all the lessons that our business taught me and for the epiphanies I gleaned from our challenges and triumphs, and I’m just now, finally, finding myself able to unclench and let those four years and all that effort go now, and look back on all of it with more compassion and appreciation than regret or anxiety. (This sounds like it should have been a pretty easy or obvious process, but like many life lessons, it only seems easy or clear in hindsight.)
Posted by: julia
on Dec 21, 2011
(Yes, Parentheticals has been distracted by the holidays. But I’ve been *thinking* about blogging, doesn’t that count? Yeah. I know. I didn’t really think so.)
Anyway, today’s seasonally appropriate topic comes out of various experiences I’ve had over the last month with feeling especially aware of my Jewishness—and therefore, my outsider-ness—in the midst of a Christian-centered culture. It always comes up this time of year, when no matter what your beliefs about or relationship with Christ, the Christmas season is an inescapable cultural force. Most of the time I just go along with the inescapable force, and try to enjoy the ride from a tourist’s perspective (“look at the quaint local customs! Isn’t that pretty/heartwarming/fun? I can relate to that.”) I find my own comfort in the repetition of the seasonal decorations and activities, the familiar smells and sounds and tastes. Most (if not all) of these really have nothing to do with Christ or his birth, and I can enjoy them aesthetically without feeling attached to them, the same way I enjoy, say, a Taiko drum performance or Thai food.
But there are also times during the Christmas season where I am forcibly reminded that I am different, that my family is different—that as fun as all this holiday fuss can be, it is not *our* holiday, and no matter whether we join in the reindeer games or not, we are always on the outside. It’s not that I feel discriminated against, or repressed in any way—far from it, I’m always very grateful and appreciative of the way that in this place, at this time in history, I am generally free to believe what I want, worship how I choose, and observe the holidays I want to without fear of repercussion or repression. There’s something going on though, that’s more subtle, that I want to note and put out there.