In 2011, I was blessed to attend a national conference in Florida. Our campus covered the costs for a handful of specially selected students, and yours truly was one of those students. At this conference, the guest speaker was a man named Jason Connell. I had never heard of him, but was blown away but his speaking engagement on the final day of the conference. I was also one of the lucky winners of his contest where he gave each winner a copy of the book “Think Big”, which inspired him. Over the years, I have kept contact with him through his monthly emails where he provided inspirational, motivational words. In 2014, he sent out an email, that I still have, printed off in hard copy.
In 2015, I promised myself I would do this. I didn’t. In 2016, I promised myself I would do this. I didn’t. In 2017, I promised myself I AM DOING THIS! So I did, and here it is:
As I look back on 2016, I can’t really think of anything that went terribly bad. There were so many celebrity deaths that took a toll on me. As much as they were people I enjoyed, and looked up to, people whom as a child I would watch on tv or listen to on the radio, my cassette tapes, and even my Sony Disc Walkman. Ultimately though, I didn’t know them personally but they still held a large part of my youth, my young adult, and even my adulthood development.
I look at this personal review of 2016 as a way of getting rid of the past, so I can focus on my present, and prepare for my future.
The first memory of 2016 that comes to mind, is when WYES PBS New Orleans aired our two Mardi Gras Indian documentaries. I was blessed to actually be a part of “The Spirit Leads My Needle” documentary, where I was able to interview a variety of Mardi Gras Indian chiefs. Then in 2015, I was able to help edit, and do closed-captioning for the “It’s Your Glory” documentary on the Mardi Gras Indians queens. Our campus covered our costs of travel, lodging, and a few meals. The extra slice of this cake, was being able to spend my birthday in this beautiful city that has captivated my heart, mind, body, and soul in ways that I never thought anything could ever do.
The first day of 2016, I spent it with my closest friends from freshman year. We all went out to dinner at Kanji and then went to the Columbus Zoo for Wildlights. It was great spending time with all of us together again. It had been at least 4 years since we all were together.
Thanks to OSU Student Advocacy who covered my tuition and book costs for 1 more semester. My boss really came through for me. I am always thankful for her everyday for showing that it isn’t just a job for her. She sincerely cares for her employees, and the students on campus as well.
I got to spend a week in Atlanta with a great group of students, many who have since became good friends. We helped out a few families through the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge. I served as the President, and helped inspire service work during Spring Break. We had a great time, and still laugh at all the nonsense we did, and of course the importance of giving back to others in need.
In July, I got to spend a week with my best friend Ryan for his birthday in Key West, and in Ft. Lauderdale. As usual, we had our ups and downs, laughed like crazy, and reconnected for the first time in person since I moved from Florida in 2009. We had a brief fight, but we managed to solve the issue. We are basically like brothers so never stay mad at each other for too long. The best part of the trip wasn’t just the fact of spending time with him, but seeing that he is truly happy after so many years of seeing him struggle. He is doing quite well for himself, and this couldn’t make me more happier!
Another highlight of 2016 was when I found out our documentaries were nominated for an Emmy. I was literally blown away with this news and honestly thought my professor/advisor/mentor was punking me. I realized she wasn’t, and was in a blissful disbelief state for a while. Although we didn’t win an Emmy, we did win the approval of the Mardi Gras Indians, and that alone was enough.
I was approached by one of my former professors to be one of her research assistants, with one of my friends from the same class, on a very new, interesting, controversial project. I can’t wait for this new adventure.
We beat Bitchigan in the OSU VS Xichigan game. We went into double overtime. Thankfully I had enough beverages to get me through!
My friends keep giving me things every time I visit them: a new living room set (I finally got rid of that monstrously heavy couch- that I really loved, but can’t handle due to my health restrictions), a Keurig, a flat screen tv, clothes, Oakley shades, Beats, and assorted other items, in addition to feeding me every time I visit. A fat kid loves to eat! But seriously, it’s great hanging out with them, and being able to help them out when they’re in need, because I know they would do the same for me.
In August, we held a leadership conference at the OSU Newark campus. It was small, but really great. It was an honor to meet and greet fellow leaders from all over the state of Ohio.
In August, I was asked to be a part of the panel to speak at Convocation for OSU Freshmen. It was an honor, and a great deal of stress. Normally when I am on stage I can stand and move around. I was in a chair so my anxiety didn’t do well that day.
In late August, a few friends and I attended a student government leadership conference at Columbus campus. It was a joke, but we made our own fun, and a few new friends.
Early September my friends and I went to the Ke$ha concert. She was amazing, and I had so much fun, and definitely wore out at the end of the night.
My friend Beth held a cookout party at her house. Great time…except for Hunter mowing the grass. 🙂 We can’t let her live that one down. Haha!
A new student organization was founded in Fall, Naps Against Poverty. We started a partnership with House of New Hope, which happens to have been founded from another friend’s grandparents. We raised clothing for teens, winter wear, and even Christmas presents for the foster children. Our campus, the Newark Advocate, and the Columbus Dispatch covered the story! It just goes to show that naps pay off more than you can ever think!
I went to see author Wes Moore at Columbus campus with my friend. He was amazing. I got to talk to him briefly, and he autographed my copy of his book. Definitely an inspiration.
I had the pleasure of seeing Prudence Wright Holmes, from Sister Act 1 & 2, as she performed a one woman play about the life of Willa Cather at our campus. Later my roommate, her boyfriend, one of my favorite professors and I got to go to dinner with her. She had some great stories.
One World Celebration at the Davis Shai House.
I worked hard on getting the Gladiator Ball event to come to campus. It was a great success. We had over 75 students play! Looking forward to bringing them back to campus in Spring.
Spent a few days in Kentucky. Got to see some people I hadn’t seen in a while. Enjoyed being back in the country away from the city. Reconnecting with nature, and simplicity!
Attended the first Young Leaders of Licking County event with a friend. Ran into more friends I didn’t know were attending. It was an awesome event. So much laughter, food, drinks, and fun!
Went through the Pataskala Haunted Forest with my Campus Activities friends.
Fall Festival at Pigeon Roost Farm.
I hosted the first Deaf social by American Sign Language Student Organization with friends. It was a great turnout.
I presented at my first state conference at Columbus State Community College, on at-promise populations and student leadership.
Went to the Beer & Wine Fest at campus with a friend. Had a lot of fun.
Hosted another Deaf social with an ugly sweater theme. Donation required to participate. All donations went to the foster kids at House of New Hope.
Ended the semester with our BGLC end of semester party, and the ELC end of semester party. It is always emotional getting to see where the students started at, and where they end their first semester.
Had our office Christmas party at Applebees (courtesy of my boss). We did an ugly sweater party/Secret Santa. I ended up getting gifts for everyone since I had extra money thanks to the ACT test.
I spent a weekend with my sister getting her apartment situated. We went all the way to Cincinnati for IKEA. I had never been before and fell in love with it. It was great being able to help her out and spend time with her and my niece and nephew, as well as her friend from high school.
Our family delayed Christmas until sometime in January (maybe)? So I spent a few days at my parents’ house. My mom was sick so I was able to convince a few siblings to show. We all cooked dinner, had some drinks, and enjoyed our usual game night/movie night traditions. I helped my mom wrap presents for my nephew and my brother, who turns out to be pretty amazing on the keyboard…his singing…not so much.
I ended my year at home alone. I enjoyed the peace, quiet, and relaxation.
The most memorable failure is failing math twice…in the same year…one semester after the other. Although this was a failure…it can also be thought of as a success. I had my friend tutor me twice a week. I did quite well for the first month! Hell, I even passed my first exam…barely! However after that things went downhill. I got the content in class. I got the content in tutoring…but when it came to the third exam, and the final exam…I blanked. I missed the second exam entirely due to testing rules that I wasn’t aware of. I failed the course with a significantly higher failing grade. Despite my learning disability with math, I am happy with my failure. My failure showed me that I am not as bad at math as I thought I was. I am just not able to get it, and that’s ok!
Relationships. Hmm. Well I had a year of failed relationships. I dated 3 people all year, and 2 of them I dated twice. I truly cared for each one. One is just in a lifestyle that I can’t be a part of anymore. He is still growing and evolving into adulthood. I hope that one day soon, he can find the happiness he deserves so that he can leave that bullshit behind him. The second one was someone I thought I could really see myself with long-term. He was sweet, charming, and frankly…he was good in all the right ways. His downfall was his job. A truck driver has way too much time on the road by themselves to think. And thinking starts becoming toxic after so long. Eventually that relationship failed. He went crazy on me, and then I gave him a second chance, but he basically wanted a relationship of convenience. So that ended again. When he came home we would meet up, have a great night, and then I wouldn’t see or hear from him for a month until he was coming home again. It just got toxic and I needed to preserve my own self. The final guy was like dating an inanimate object. He had no emotions, no empathy, no sincerity, no affection. I recently found out that I was 1 of 3 guys he was dating. I am not hurt over it. I knew something wasn’t right, and I am just happy I ended it.
2016 wasn’t a bad year. It was actually a great year. A remarkable year even. The main lesson I learned this year was that when I reach my breaking point, I always find a way to just get by. I have learned that just because I give in, does not mean that I have given up. With all of the sad news regarding various family members in the past 2 months, I very sincerely wanted to drop out of college and give up. I was so close to doing so, but then a few friends randomly reached out to tell me how much I inspire them. They weren’t aware at that point that all I wanted to do was give up. It is because of their words that I did not give up. Knowing that if I can inspire others, I can inspire myself. I chose to champion on, and work harder to find alternatives. I had not just one back up plan, but two. Fortunately, I did not have to use either one.
The second lesson that I learned is how valuable meditation is for me. At first, I thought meditation was some New Age bullshit…ok it is still New Age bullshit, but it is New Age bullshit that works for me. I immediately noticed a huge difference in my body. Through those meditations, my body became relaxed for the first time in at least 20 years that I can recall. My anger diminished. My patience improved. I became more aware of the things around me that I take for granted on a daily basis. My self-esteem grew. Self-love began to blossom.
The third lesson isn’t necessarily a lesson, as it is a key. The Passion Planner, paired with meditation, has revived creativity, inspiration, focus, and good health. I currently have the free, printable version that I have compiled into a nice binder. The PP is the highlight of my days. I wake up and like an instinct, I open it up and begin to review and plan my day. I have never had a planner that I have used as much as I have with this one. Just before Christmas, I actually won a giveaway on the Passion Planner’s Instagram 12 Days of Giveaway contest. I won a Passion Planner, set of pens, a FitBit, some Quest Bars, and something else. I was so excited, and still am. My package should be arriving any day, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone when it comes!
In closing, I want to thank every single person who I encountered this past year. Some of you were a lesson, pun intended, some of you were a blessing, some of you were inspirations, many of you helped me when you didn’t even know you were doing so. I am always grateful for all of my family and friends, near and far, as we celebrate this thing called life (RIP PRINCE!) together. May you all have a better year than the last.
Leaving you with a year of good health, happiness, heart, and blessings of love.
…and remember, GO BUCKS!