My 2019 In Review

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I have a habit of underselling my life story. At first glance, I usually say that my life has been boring, which is fine with me because boring means no drama. But when I take a look beyond one of my preferred defense mechanisms, I see that I have been hit with plenty of drama and therefore also with plenty of excitement. This conclusion also aptly describes my 2019 in review.

2019 brought its fair share of challenges, but it also brought some rewards. In those ways, 2019 was a typical year.

Now, let’s get to the highlights.

Hello, baby girl

The LaCaze family closed out the first quarter of 2019 with the addition of a baby girl. She has given us an abundance of joy, but a new child does bring stress, as even the best child brings about change.

Bringing another life into this world was a great opportunity to revisit certain existential questions and to flirt with nihilism—shoutout to the brand! After learning of my daughter's pending arrival, I pondered life and death and the meaning or meaninglessness of it all. Ultimately, the arrival of my daughter was another reminder that life goes on. That we have no choice but to face whatever lies ahead, no matter our fears.

Thank you for the lessons, baby girl. And thank you in advance for the lessons that lie ahead.

2019 was the year I got my grief in check

I can’t be so bold as to say that 2019 was the year I got over my grief because grief is a long, tricky process. I would argue that real grief is never ending. Just when you think you’re over the trauma, you will be caught off guard by something that re-opens your wound. Maybe you stumble upon one of your loved one’s favorite songs. You know, the one the departed played on an endless loop that nearly drove you into a homicidal rage. But every time you hear the song these days you can’t help thinking about the person who’s left a giant hole in your heart. And now, here you are—a terrible emotional mess—and everyone around you is wondering why you’re crying to “Thong Song”.

I hate when that happens.

With a lot of hard work and a bit of time, I was able to move my grief from the front of my mind to somewhere in the back. It’s still there, ready to pounce when I least expect it, but it no longer dominates my day-to-day life. And that’s progress.

Got laid off

Layoffs are not fun because that usually means you’ve lost your primary income source. But for me, the event may bring a sense of relief because usually I know it’s coming long before it happens. And once the axe has dropped, the anxiety of waiting for the inevitable and the tug-of-war of the “Should I stay or should I go” exercise are gone. At least when you get the notice that your services won’t be needed anymore, you know where your future lies—or rather, where it doesn’t lie—and so you have no choice but to move forward into that great unknown.

It also helps when the layoff isn’t your first and you’re at a point in your career where you’ve been forced to accept that it won’t be the last. So you prepare for such events. And on to the next one.

Got a new job

I was fortunate to be able to do some contract work for an old boss after a week-and-a-half post-layoff staycation. And in less than two months I had a new full-time job. I’ve enjoyed the last few months with my new employer and I’m excited to see what we do in 2020.

Established a healthy sleep/wakeup routine

For the first 34 years of life, I let my FOMO ruin my sleep schedule. I stayed up way too late engaging in unproductive activities, only to suffer the next morning when I had difficulty waking up at a decent hour. I wouldn’t get up and get moving until the last minute, which meant I started my day in a rush. This made the rest of the day exhausting. Every. Single. Day. Rinse and repeat.

These days, I’m often showered and in bed by 8PM. I may spend a couple of hours writing, journaling, or reading, but I’m usually on my way to Dreamland by 10PM. And then I wake up at 5:30AM to have my coffee and hopefully get some writing in before work.

Revealing this schedule isn’t likely to impress anyone. It’s the antithesis to the party animal routine. But it’s healthy, and I love it.

Started writing again

Because I established a better routine, I was able to find time to start writing again, which has made me feel more nearly whole as a person. Writing is something I need for myself as it is a selfish activity. Maybe one day I can make some money as a writer and then I can tell people that I do it for the fam, but for now, writing is something I do for me. It’s a vital part of my self care package.

Started taking better care of myself physically

I’ve already documented how exercising nearly killed me. After a few months, I’ve moved past that. Losing 15 pounds helps.

In addition to workouts with my employer’s personal trainer, I’ve also started going on more walks. While I don’t count calories, I do try to be mindful of my physical health goals and resist the urge to have that extra cheese danish. Every little bit helps.

Lost a dog

A couple of months ago, our family dog passed away unexpectedly. She appeared perfectly healthy until she vomited a couple of times and then her breathing became labored and then she was gone. While the vet threw out a few possibilities, ultimately she couldn’t verify anything without expensive tests, so we will never know why the dog died suddenly.

Unfortunately, sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Got a new dog

After a few weeks, my wife decided she was ready to adopt another dog, so she searched online for our next mutt. I did my part by becoming irrationally attached to a certain dog way too fast and hijacking her process and making it all about me.

One day I hope I can be the person my dog thinks I am.

Fell in love with Sturgill Simpson

I’ve known of Sturgill Simpson and have enjoyed his music for a few years now, but for some reason, 2019 was the year I fell in love with his music. My daughter seems to enjoy karaoke time with Daddy—or maybe she doesn’t have the ability to protest yet—and even though the song is written for a son, “Welcome To Earth (Pollywog)” was one of her early favorite tunes.

In September, Sturgill blew everyone’s mind when he abandoned his country roots and released a dubstep rock album called Sound & Fury. The album feels like a much-needed middle finger to the country music establishment, and I love it. Sound & Fury is a reminder of why fans fell in love with Sturgill in the first place—the man is not afraid to take a chance and to push boundaries.

Also, data has confirmed my love of Sturgill Simpson as Spotify revealed that he was my top music artist of 2019. Spotify also reported that “Call To Arms” was my song of the year, so Sturgill cleaned up some hardware at the 2019 Jakey Awards.

But wait, there's more

This post hardly includes all that happened in 2019, but it's a nice snapshot of a few highs and lows. This time of year has always been interesting to me because we find ourselves in limbo, saying goodbye to one year while anticipating (or dreading) the new year just around the corner. I hope you have a great holiday season and I hope you'll join me next week when I share what I'm looking forward to in 2020.