Celebrate the Firsts

Earlier this year, my sister reminded me of how refreshing and inspiring it is to "celebrate the firsts."  My mom and my sister both celebrated milestone birthdays in 2017.  When my sister, mom and I were on a 3-way-phone call for my mom's 70th birthday, my sister asked my mom "what are some things you did for the first time this year?" It sparked an enjoyable discussion, and we each took turns sharing our "firsts" from the year.

Firsts, I think, are oftentimes considered the territory of the young. First words, first steps, first birthday, the first day of school...first love...first job...first house. The firsts we tend to celebrate become fewer and farther between as we age. But, it's a nice life philosophy, I think, that no matter how old we are, we can strive to lead a life of never-ending learning, to witness its unfolding with fresh eyes and through a lens of curiosity. The firsts we experience at any age during our brief stay on earth are worthy of celebration.

My Annual List is a way that I try to encourage a personal philosophy that celebrates a lifetime filled with firsts, although it wasn't until the phone call with my mom and sister that I made the connection. And 2017 was filled with some massive, MASSIVE firsts for me.

Here it is, a recap of some (but not all) of my 2017 year of "firsts." (caution - it's a long recap!)

1. Visit a Cat Cafe:  Ann Arbor is the home to Tiny Lions Cat Cafe, and I've been wanting to visit since it opened. Last summer I finally got my chance. I loved it so much that I went twice. The first time, I went with B for coffee and cat time, and the second time, I participated in....CAT YOGA, a magical combination of two of my very favorite things. Worth it!  I've heard buzz that a cat cafe is opening here in the Twin Cities, and when that happens, this kitten will be smitten.

 This little cutie was up for adoption at the Cat Cafe.

This little cutie was up for adoption at the Cat Cafe.

 naMEOWste. The cat in me honors the cat in you.

naMEOWste. The cat in me honors the cat in you.

4. Diet Coke free for a full year: I wrote about this item earlier this year, and I'm now coming up on 18 months DC free (and all soda, for that matter). This is an all time record for me, and a streak I plan to keep up for at least a little while longer.

12 Start my own business: This is one of my biggest, most impactful and life-changing firsts of 2017. Technically, I branched out on my own about 14 months ago in late '16 when I somewhat stumbled into my first freelance gig. Until that point, I only half-heartedly considered striking out on my own. The first project was successful, so I decided to go for it. I filed the paperwork for my own LLC in January 2017, and I officially opened for business as a part-time consultant. I set some modest financial goals, found an accountant, and grew my business over the course of the year. As 2017 came a close, I surpassed my goal. On my way to that goal, I found strength, stamina, courage, and backbone that I didn't realize I had. It feels good to be at the helm of my career.

14. Take a calligraphy class: My friend RP enjoys calligraphy, and offered to give me a lesson. So, early on in 2017, B and I went to dinner with RP, her husband, and their adorable daughter. After dinner, we cracked open some (more) wine and broke out the calligraphy pens. It was a lot of fun, and something I'd like to do again. Because that's the kind of rock and roll lifestyle I live.

15. Get a logo and header designed for my blog: I am in love with my 20-10-30 blog header, and the artwork on my "about" page that depicts me, Little Cloud (on the right), and the late Timmy (on the left). My talented cousin Hank Ewbank designed it for me. He also designed my business logo. He's a talented graphic designer based in Kalamazoo who just scored a full-time gig, but I think he still side gigs on occasion, and I'd recommend him to anyone.

20. Visit a winery I've never been to before: I checked this list item off during my 3-week residency in Santa Cruz last summer with a trip to Regale Vineyards. B and I somehow managed to score access into the members-only, private access terrace, and it was lovely in every way.

 CHEERS from Regale!

CHEERS from Regale!

25. See a comedian perform live who I haven't seen before:  I've included this on my annual list for a few years now, and in 2017, the comedian B and I saw was none other than...Trevor Noah! B and I love watching him on the The Daily Show, and my admiration for him grew, even more, this past summer, once I read his book Born a Crime.  Tix were sold out for the early bird 7p show, but we put on our party pants and hauled our party butts to the 10p show, and laughed to smart comedy for a few hours. Fantastic.

 We were a part of the 10 PM crowd. 10 PM! Go Trevor!

We were a part of the 10 PM crowd. 10 PM! Go Trevor!

42. Achieve a yoga headstand: I did it and earlier this year I wrote about it! I'm now working on consistency and moving my headstand away from the safety of the wall.  That's a long-term goal....maybe this year...maybe further out.

48. Go to a Twin Cities Wine Education GastroVINO event: it was a frigid day in early Feb when B and I hit up the "Bubbly and Fries" edition of GastroVINO, a Twin Cities Wine Education event. We've been taking wine classes with Jason of TCWE for years, and this event was just the sparkly warm up we needed.

 CHEERS....again!

CHEERS....again!

52. TV free for a week: This is another one I completed in Santa Cruz over the summer, and also wrote up. This one was hard, since I heart TV a lot.

57. Become a certified yoga teacher: This is another first that falls into the LIFE CHANGING category, and that I wrote about in 2017. One of the best ways I have ever cared for myself was to become a yoga teacher. What a gift. A sappy sentiment, sure, but true nonetheless.

66. Make something artistic out of sparkling wine corks and/or cages: This isn't really my accomplishment, but B's. Since we bought a house, he's discovered a handy talent for building things, and it's an artistic gift that also helps him to de-stress and decompress. And, as his partner in life, I get to reap some of the benefits as well. Here's the Dart cork board he designed and built with sparkling and still wine corks.  I will let you know when B's Etsy shop goes live.

 Photo cred: B   Handiwork cred: B    No cred: me. maybe next year!

Photo cred: B   Handiwork cred: B    No cred: me. maybe next year!

67. Teach a yoga class: Not only have I taught one yoga class (and wrote about it in 2017), but I've taught a yoga class...times 120! I almost cannot comprehend that I have taught one-hundred-twenty classes since I received my certification at the end of April, 2017.  113 vinyasa classes and 7 chair classes. 107 hour-long classes, 13 classes where I assisted, tandem taught with another teacher, or taught a shortened 30 minute class. I've taught classes outdoors in parks, in back yards, in studios, for free at the library, in health treatment centers, and in a senior living community.  I've taught private classes, small classes of 2-5 people, medium-sized classes of 10-20, and even one class with over 100 students. I've taught classes to friends and to the community for free, and I've taught for pay. I've taught adults age 20s through age 80s. I've stumbled over words, forgotten sequences, given awkward adjustments, felt like a failure, and wished no one would show up to the next class. And, the opposite is also true in every way, where the words came easy and the sequences flowed smoothly,  where I've given caring, well-delivered adjustments, felt completely confident and clear, and felt pure excitement to teach the next class. 

79. Do a cartwheel: It wasn't pretty, but I did it, goofing around in the basement, and I'm thankful that there isn't a scrap of photographic or video evidence. You'll just have to take my word that it happened.

86. Learn how to play darts: This one isn't exactly true...B has explained the rules and the scoring to a couple of different dart games, but it hasn't stuck. I'm more of an observer to bar games than a skilled participant. Unless it's beer pong. I'm pretty good at that one.  And, I've had some shining flip cup victories as well

87. Join a trivia league: This one isn't exactly true either, but last winter on a visit home, B and I joined my cousin's Trivia team, The Rude Ghosts (booooo!) So, that kind of counts, right? We played at the famous Bells, one of my favorite bars in Kzoo, and I think I answered, like, maybe one question. Ah, but how do they live without my talents each week?

Bonus Items

101. "Get Gonged" at a full moon gong bath: I've participated this one twice now, but never wrote about it. I'll sum it up in 3 top of mind words: Strange. Crowded. Vibrations.  And yes, I'll likely take part again some time. Have no idea what I'm talking about? The event takes place each month on the night of the Full Moon at One Yoga, lead by Kundalini instructor Nicole Nardone. You can check out her workshops to learn more.

106. Take an Iyengar Yoga classI checked this one off during my Santa Cruz summer.  Sadly, very few options for Iyengar (or Iyengar inspired) yoga exist here in Minneapolis, otherwise, I'd keep it up.

107. Take a Bunny Yoga Class:  Yep, yoga with bunnies, to benefit the Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society. It was soft, fluffy, friendly, and surprisingly free of bunny turds. Quite naturally, I loved every minute of the practice, lead by my yoga bud, DR. Check out the event photos on Flickr, and see if you can spot the little black bunny, mid yawn (this photo also features my feet)!

 Fluffy butts!!!!

Fluffy butts!!!!

108. Visit the Hill House: This is an historic location in St. Paul that I visited with my Dad and B. The place is definitely haunted. Next year, I want to visit around Halloween for their ghost story tour.

 Whoa! Do you see the ghost in the 3rd window from the left on the 3rd floor? Just Kidding!  Or....am I?

Whoa! Do you see the ghost in the 3rd window from the left on the 3rd floor? Just Kidding!  Or....am I?

109. Complete a Juice Cleanse: A yoga teacher friend of mine talked me into doing a 3-day Juice cleanse with her. It was actually easier than I thought it would be...freeing to not have to spend time thinking about what to eat or hunting down food. Also, I peed a lot. Also, I lost like 6 lbs. Also, Ive since gained most of those lbs back. Also, I'll definitely do it again. It helped me to perceive my relationship with food a bit differently, in that I was able to let go of some of the deep, emotional attachment I have to eating. I also realized how much better I feel when fruits and veggies are more prominent in my diet, and when I am fully hydrated.

 96 oz of juice + 96 oz of water each day. 

96 oz of juice + 96 oz of water each day. 

 Mission accomplished! Did I mention I peed a lot?

Mission accomplished! Did I mention I peed a lot?

110. Seed a Pomegranate: I found a YouTube video that explains it. (which I now cannot relocate, but there are lots of similar ones). Basically, you cut along the 6 ridges, peel it open and submerge it in water to get the seeds out. It was an oddly satisfying exercise.

 Literal fruit of the labor.

Literal fruit of the labor.

111. Vote/Volunteer in a Municipal Election: I admit it, 2017 was the first year I've ever voted in a non-Presidential election. Well, not only did I vote, but I worked all day, from 6a-10p as an Election Judge to help other people vote, too. I'm proud to live in a state where voter turnout is among the highest in the country. 

And...that's a wrap on 2017! I've playing around with my 2018 List, and am taking suggestions, if you have them. And, if you're interested in joining me for any of these firsts, I'd love the company. Let the new year of "firsts" begin!