The thing about 2023 is my plans for it were derailed almost as soon as the year started because of work. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to devote the first half of my year entirely to a campaign we were about to launch while our team was heavily understaffed. Adjustments were made, but because of unplanned circumstances and a deadline we couldn’t push back, our team really just had to put our heads down and get the work done. 

I realized early on (like in late January / early February) that the only way I was going to get through the campaign sane was to accept the circumstances I found myself in and just brace myself. So that’s what I did. To be honest, I had gone through worse work conditions. This time around, the work, though heavy, was still confined within the eight hours (alright, sometimes ten) of my work day. I never worked on weekends. I was still able to get time off (and even got to go on a much-needed 8-day vacation to El Nido which was perfect, and a few more beach trips and day trips). It was really my mindspace that I just couldn’t devote to anything else that required me to be productive. Unfortunately, that meant that what I had to set aside for the first half of the year was my writing. 

But by June things at work were close to getting back to normal. I thought there were no more surprises that would come our way until the launch of the campaign, but I was wrong - the week before our launch, on our busiest week, Mom got Covid, and eventually Dad too because he had to look after her in the hospital. So on top of work, I had to look after the house and also run errands for my isolated parents in the hospital. It was the most trying week, and I particularly recall the Friday night of that week, as we were working on the finishing touches of the campaign before launch (if you’re in marketing you know those last few hours are the most intense). It was raining hard, thunder and all, and I was on a call with a counterpart in Germany, getting approvals for German translations I had worked on with an agency (imagine? I was working on German and Dutch materials without knowing either languages, because our teammate who spoke German fell ill and was on medical leave while our Dutch-speaking teammate had just resigned). At the same time, because of the heavy rain and thunder, Elio was cowering and shaking, under my desk, afraid of thunder. So there I was, trying to stay in the call and sound completely calm and focused while my counterpart was politely telling me that the translations the agency made were very faulty, and could not be published, all while comforting a very scared dog. Looking back, it didn’t seem so intense, but because it happened towards the end of a very intense six months, it felt like a very big, dramatic deal. 

Thankfully, my parents recovered from Covid without any lasting effects, the campaign was launched successfully, and my company and teammates were understanding enough that for the rest of the year, things were a little more relaxed. In a way, the stress and workload for the year was frontloaded to the first half of the year, which has its perks, because it freed up the second half of my year. 

And that was when I was able to focus on my writing. I didn’t wait for NaNoWriMo - by September I was already prepping, and by October I had started a routine that I carried on until November. I thought I would be able to continue until December, but I realized you can still get burnout even if you’re doing what you love, so I decided to give myself a break. This, while I also had two other non-related big projects I wanted to get started. 

A lesson I still have to teach myself regularly is the lesson of allowing myself to take a break and rest. I had gotten so used to using my time out of work to work on my other projects that I don’t know how to use my downtime for time to actually relax. But I was able to do that in December, over the holidays. And being able to rest and relax meant watching the shows I wanted to watch, reading the books I wanted to read, getting back to playing video games, and getting enough sleep. I did all of those in December! That said, as the year and the holidays end, I’m still getting flashes of guilt about not getting any work on my manuscripts and my other projects done, so it’s still a lesson I’m trying to learn. 

Another thing I made sure to do during the second half of my year was take care of my health, knowing that I didn’t do it during the first half of my year. Similarly, I made a promise to myself in 2022 (after I spent a week in the hospital) that I would avoid hospital visits and look after my wellness in 2023. Thankfully, my annual medical exam results showed improvement from the previous year, but there is still a lot to do, and I still need to be more consistent. BUT, I also don’t want my journey to wellness to be miserable, so that’s another thing I need to watch out for. 

It’s my age showing - already talking about health. It’s really not something anyone can escape, and the passing of time will find ways to let you know that all of our clocks are ticking, something I was exposed to more times than I have been before, and in succession. It’s still something I’m trying to come to terms with. Something that weighed on me in the last few months, if I’m being honest. 

But you know what? Maybe it’s something we should look at in a different way. I read something that stuck with me this year, about not borrowing grief from the future. Because that’s what worrying is, isn’t it? I’m quite good at not having regrets about my past, but not very good at not worrying about my future. 

And maybe that’s my biggest resolution for 2024. I realize it’s much easier when you’re young to not worry - but as time goes by and as you get older, worrying finds more effective ways to rear its ugly head and take up space in your mind. Maybe we shouldn’t let it. There’s probably a difference between planning ahead and borrowing grief from the future. It’s something I want to do better at in 2024. 

And, I want to travel again. After the pandemic, I’m ready! Thankfully, I already have a few trips planned in the coming year. 

To end on a lighter note, I’m also pretty happy at all the content I consumed this year, lol. Weird flex, but I think it’s indicative of how I’ve been able to take a step back, relax and unwind! 

The books I read are on my GoodReads account so I won’t list them here (I read/listened to 55 books this year!), but here are the shows I watched:

  • Succession Season 4

  • The Last of Us Season 1

  • The Gilded Age Season 2

  • Yu Yu Hakusho Season 1

  • Artful Dodger Season 1

  • So many episodes of Gilmore Girls lol

  • Only Murders in the Building Season 2

  • Queens of Mystery Seasons 1 and 2

  • Miss Scarlet and the Duke Seasons 1 and 2

I’m pretty sure I watched several movies this year, but only one made an impact: Saltburn. I will say, I quite enjoyed all the Hallmark and Hallmark-adjacent Christmas movies I watched this year! 

I think I’ll end this ramble here - see you next time, in 2024!

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