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I just hung up the phone with a mortgage broker in Eugene, Oregon. While Zillow communicated to her I needed financing, which I don’t, what did happen was that we made friends. She gave me priceless advice, and I am increasingly committed to finding a place to live in or near Eugene. We’ll see.

This has been one hell of a year.

Decade, that is.

This morning I’m sitting at my dining room table (my office is largely packed away). All that’s left in my house are a few pieces of furniture and a great many dust bunnies. A few pieces of clothing. Only what I have to have going into the New Year, getting ready to leave for another Huge African Adventure. When I get back in early March, the house goes up for sale. I pack up my car and hit the road to look at properties.

Whew. What. A. Fucking. Year.

Decade, that is.

What are your rituals for a New Year? Do you beat the crap out of yourself for not only failing to lose those ten pounds, but instead, gaining twelve more? Not finally finding The One? Getting that promotion? Finishing your degree?

Or do you take the time to honestly and truly take stock. Really take stock. Where did you begin? Where are you now?

Hey look. Some of you began the decade a teenager. You’ve got an excuse.

The rest of us…well.

If I may.

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One superb ritual — since we do note the passage of time in the decimal system, and the passage of a decade is kinda important- is to note where you are now as opposed to where you began this decade.

As it is our human habit to engage in self-flagellation for what we didn’t achieve, especially in our comparison-crazy Instagram world, I might suggest a pleasant change of pace. Stay with me here.

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Light a candle or two to honor the passing of this Big Chunk of Life.

Get a piece of paper (not your computer, don’t cop out on me here). Let’s get to it.

First, look back, and take stock of where you were. In this case, since I am a regular chronicler of what’s happening in my little life, I leapt back to the very first computer entry I had for a New Year.

On Jan 1 1999, I wrote a painful journal entry (this is the immense value of journaling, you can see how far you’ve come. Or haven’t, as the case may be.). At the time I was still struggling with eating disorders. I had just gone through a divorce. I was living in Spokane. My beloved dog Buster had been killed by a stupid driver. I had just filed for medical bankruptcy and my credit was trashed. I could go on. I was 46 at the time, and boy was I unhappy. I spent a lot of time talking about how This Was The Year To Get Rid of the Demons.

Okay, I had to take a break to fall off my chair laughing.

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Um. That didn’t happen, at least that year. Or by the end of the next decade.

On Jan 1 2010, I wrote, and dear Christ did this make me laugh out loud, hard and with genuine gusto, that this was the decade I would find a mate.


You wonder why we oldies end up wearing diapers? Because when we look back over what we wrote in previous decades, holy shit that’s just FUNNY. We leak when we laugh.

Aye, but there’s the rub, if I may pilfer from the Bard.

Now. To what I did do. This was a bit of a surprise, too.

Within the first year of the past decade, I wrote and published my first book, which went on to win three prizes. Then another, which also won a prize.

Fist bump, please. Mark that on my list.

I had also written, as I had said untold New Year’s Days before, that this was the year I would kick the eating disorders habit.

By the end of January 2011, I had. Forty fucking years. No more teeth. But I was DONE. Forever. Never looked back.

Fist bump, please, mark that on my list.

That year I decided to stop working 90-hour work weeks. I decided to give myself a vacay. A month in Thailand. I studied the language. I went. Life changing. Because this: I realized that was much more of what I wanted to do. So I did.

Fist bump please. Mark that on my list.

Deposit photos

In 2012, I won a national award for the diversity work I was doing in supply chain. That was the end of that career, albeit I didn’t know it at the time.

By 2013 I was on a roll. That year I put Kilimanjaro on my list. Trained my ass off. Became a bad ass athlete- the year I turned sixty mind you, and summitted the damned thing. That changed my life’s direction forever. I started doing epic adventure travel, and largely left my corporate life behind. I began doing what I dearly loved. Had always dreamed about.

Fist bump please. Mark THAT on my list.

I returned to much more regular horseback riding with a passion, with a vengeance, and with great glee. I am good at this, I found out, always had been.

The author and a sleepy steer in Ethiopia Julia Hubbel

I began working on animals. I am really really good at this, I found out, always had been.

Fist bump, please. Mark those on my list.

In April of 2018 I began writing for Medium. Slow start. That’s okay. But then I began to parlay those articles into international business with my adventure clients. That has led to work, trades for trips, and a lifestyle that many envy. And in which I thrive. I found my online community, dumped Facebook, regained my freedom from social media. And time.

Fist bump, please. Mark that on my list.

This past decade I developed a wicked sense of humor about- as my Medium buddy Ann Litts would say- All. The. Things. Yes I did. That ability to filter all the shit through the sieve of the silly has fundamentally changed my life. Made me a much better writer. Made me a better friend to those whose friendship I really do care about. And that laughter is the perma-cushion onto which I keep bouncing when Life kicks my ass. She will keep right on doing it, and I will keep right on bouncing back up. That’s. Fucking. Priceless.

Fist bump, please. Mark that on my list.

I finally found the courage to tell the story of my rapes, my sexual assaults, and the sordid history of how men have treated me. By shining the light on those things, I have begun to truly heal them. And in doing so, help others do the same. That is the very definition of Sacred Work.

Fist bump, please. Mark that on my list.

By the end of this year, I had let go of a number of toxic relationships. Packed up my house. Dumped a serious shopping Jones. In fact have gotten rid of nearly all my unnecessary uber-expensive clothing and all the trimmings and trappings that I never wore, never would wear, and which only weighed me down. Finalized my decision to move and did every single thing I needed to do to make that happen. My credit cards are at zero. My FICO is 846 out of 850. (Take THAT, Credit Counseling)

Fist bump, please. Mark that on my list.

the author on Sophie, just after I gave her mudbath, in Laos. Julia Hubbel (we’re on our way to swim in the river)

My body and face are walking advertisements of two things: the dedicated work that I am willing to do keep myself in top condition, and the roadmap that Nature and Adventure have carved into my aging visage as gifts, proof positive of One Hell of a Life Being Lived. At almost 67, I can still hit the floor and do sixty men’s pushups. And all that stuff that is in my basement? I moved every bit of it. Every fucking bit of it by myself.

It’s impossible to express my gratitude for my strength, my endurance.

I gave myself the gift of superb health. If nothing else, as I hurtle inexorably towards my seventh decade, that is the supreme gift. Most women my age take an average of fifteen prescriptions a year. Dear god. I can’t even imagine.

Because on multiple occasions this past decade I have been horrifically injured. Not long afterwards, I am right back in the mix. You cannot put a value on that kind of health.

Fist bump please.Mark that on my list.

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I am right in the middle of writing a third book, building a brand new business, moving to a dream place (near the Oregon Coast), considering classes in animal massage, and celebrating the appearance of four Incredible New Female Friends that I met on Medium.

Fist bump, please. Mark that on my list.

With love, affection, and a great deal of regard, I have settled into the Body I Have, not the Body Society Tells Me to Have. I’m ten pounds up from my skinniest. And damn it all, I like it this way. I’m healthier, happier and I am not struggling to maintain a 34-inch ass. Which, by the way, hurts after nine hours in the saddle. Note to self: having a bit of your own pillow, my dear, makes a huge difference.

I am not rich, I am not model-thin, I do not have a long string of admirers, I am not famous, I am neither in love nor in a relationship, and I don’t have millions of followers. But God damn, am I happy. Incredibly so.

Dear god, what a year. Dear god, what a decade.

See where I’m going with this? Especially if you keep a journal or diary, you can choose to tease out those changes, events and life-defining shifts that indicate your growth. That prove that you are indeed moving forward. That yes you are reaching goals, that life, while sometimes unpredictable, moves you where you need to go.

Here’s what I am NOT going to do. In the soft light of the scented candles that are filling my empty house, I am NOT going to concentrate on:

  • I still don’t have a mate, and if anything, the last one was an unmitigated disaster
  • My savings account is woefully empty
  • I am getting older. No shit, Sherlock
  • I lost a bunch of once-treasured friends this past decade
  • I can feel damned lonely at times
  • My body aches like a banshee when I get out of bed

I could go on. Yeah, this stuff is also true. But what I chose to focus on are the Huge Rocks that I finally accomplished. I am living my Dream Life.

If I focus solely on my fuckups, my losses, my hurts, my pain, they grow. They overwhelm all that’s good, and feed the childhood Story that I’m not worthy. Where you put your attention, things grow. You can pour kerosene on your fire or you can pour clear, sweet water on the burgeoning garden of your possibilities.

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But again, here’s the rub.

It. Takes. Time. It took time for me to release those awful compulsions. It has taken time for me to rebuild my credit rating. It has taken time and hard work for me to build a strong, athletic body. It took time for me to let go of a hundred thoughts, ideas, beliefs and habits that simply did not serve.

And it has taken even more time for me to give myself permission to have the life I most wanted to live. But during that time- in this case, those decades-I did the work. I made the changes.

I did it. Fist fucking bump. I DID IT.

And of course there’s this:

There is no happily ever after. I still have to exercise, eat responsibly, take care of my aging body. I still have to write every day, sell market, push and train. I still have to question bad habits and poor choices, I still have to risk rejection. I have the suffer the deep pain of leaving a place and friends of fifty years, and risk everything on a brand new place full of strangers.

There is no Arrival. There is only Becoming. Ask any successful Medium writer about this. Any successful anyone. The work never stops. If anything it gets harder, because the better you get at life, the more life throws at you, because you deserve to know what you’re made of. You deserve to reach Mastery.

I am not there yet, but the journey is a helluva lot more fun than it was in 1999, and 2010. That’s what makes it worth it.

As you wrap up your last day of this decade, I would invite you to take stock of who and where you were when it began. Honor and celebrate those changes you did make. Give yourself well-deserved credit for progress on Big Hairy Ass Goals that can take years and years to achieve. You ARE getting there. Give yourself credit for redirecting when it’s obvious that a goal wasn’t for you. That’s not failure. That’s noticing that you’re shifting. You have to. Shifting is what it takes to find where you belong, do what you came here to do.

While it’s not mine to tell you not to do this for tradition rules, I might offer a suggestion: rather than do what too many of us do, which is stay up too late, drink ourselves into oblivion, poison our bodies and wake up (if at all) to dire pain, perhaps it’s time for a different ritual.

You have every right to a brag fest. What you did right this past year. This past decade. You have every right to your fist bumps and big wins. You have every right and I might add, a sacred responsibility to acknowledge what is absolutely, positively RIGHT in your life.

And, consider keeping a journal, if you don’t already. Boy does it come in handy for Comedy Central. But more importantly, for being able to see how far you have come. For you have.

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So as this year/decade winds down to a finish, I would like to acknowledge all of your for your hard work, your efforts, your striving. As someone who has paid a lot for my perspectives, such as they are, all I can offer is what George Carlin said about guys who shave their heads to look sexy:

“Do what I did,” he said. “Wait a while.”

The best things take time. Celebrate the wins. Honor the losses. Release what doesn’t work. And take the time to be supremely happy you are here to being yet another brand new year, brand new decade.

Happy New Year.