2018: A Year in Review

In modern astrology, there exists the concept of a Saturn Return, which is the point in time when Saturn returns to the same position in the sky that it occupied when a person was born. This process takes roughly 29.5 years, which means that most people have two Saturn Returns, and some have as many as three. The Saturn Return typically signifies the potential for a turning point in someone’s life, though it does not necessarily guarantee that a person will change. But I, an astrology hobbyist, wanted to take full advantage of this period in my life, especially since my Saturn Return spanned the entirety of 2018.

Can I say that I have changed since last January? I think so, in various small ways. In broad strokes, my life remains the same: I work at the same job, I have the same romantic partner, and I live in the same town. But I’ve learned a lot over the past twelve months, and I am going into 2019 with those lessons as my sword and shield.

In this post, I’d like to recap the things in 2018 that I consider significant. Maybe they aren’t life-changing, but they changed me in their own small, subtle ways, and they deserve to be showcased and remembered.

I wrote 450+ pages of comic book script. At the end of 2017, my friend Brooke and I decided we wanted to tell a story, and the best way to tell that story would be through creating a comic. We decided that I would write and letter, and she would draw and color. It’s a personal project; we aren’t getting paid to do it. But I attacked it with the same dedication and discipline a full-time job would have required, and I wrote over 450 pages (closer to 480 pages, really) of script in roughly eight months.

I learned so much about plotting a story, writing well-rounded characters, comic script flow, and writing dialogue that I will carry over into future projects. I learned about how to make deadlines — and how the breakneck pace I set for myself would eventually wear me down to nothing. I learned how to consume creative content in order to become a better content creator; I found inspiration in other comics, in movies, in video games, in books. I learned how to receive criticism.

Brooke and I have a lot to do before we’re ready to share this story. I wrote all of those pages, and they encompass only the first of three acts. I have complicated feelings about this project that I won’t get into, but my hope is that we can figure out the best way to proceed with it into 2019.

I started playing Degenesis: Rebirth with my friends. I could spend an entire blog post talking about Degenesis and why it is so phenomenal. Maybe I will at a later time, but for now, I will say this: Degenesis is the tabletop roleplaying game that has rendered Dungeons & Dragons boring for me.

Yes. You read that right.

I still love D&D. I will always play it when the opportunities arise, and I will forever cherish it as the system that got me into tabletop RPGs. D&D matters for its timelessness, its popularity, and its massiveness; it allows people of all backgrounds to enjoy a wonderful roleplaying experience. But D&D provides a colorful, fantastical world designed to turn the players into heroes, even if they’re a little gray on the morality scale.

But Degenesis? Degenesis is a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi/horror game that reminds its players again and again they are not heroes saving the world but survivors struggling for life at the edge of it. The books have a massive amount of brutal, fucked up lore that continuously blows my mind, yet there are huge swathes of empty spaces within that lore that play groups can fill with their own content. Degenesis: Rebirth fuels my imagination in endless ways.

Dan and I traveled to Iceland. Ever since I was in college, I dreamed of traveling to Iceland. At first, that dream formed because I wanted to visit the temple that the Ásatrúarfélagið was building. Since I have grown in Heathenry, however, I became interested in the country for its history, literature, and folklore. Needless to say, finally setting foot on Iceland was a dream come true, and it exceeded my expectations. I wrote more about my experience in this blog post.

I launched a new website, The Longship. Last September, an idea wormed its way into my brain: to compile all of the beginner information people need to learn in order to understand the basics of Heathenry. At the time, all of that information was scattered throughout various 101-level books, which can add up to a significant cost, and which can make finding the information difficult. I wanted to change that. I wanted to make Heathenry more accessible to everyone.

With help and feedback from various acquaintances and friends, The Longship was born. I spent nearly a year on it, at one point rewriting almost every page because my knowledge had increased and my hearth practice had grown. In the months that followed the website’s release, I wrote articles, conducted interviews, and partnered with The Heathen Underground on Facebook.

There’s a lot more I want to do with The Longship, but I will take my time. I have several more months’ worth of content to write, at least eight more interviews to conduct, and only then can I move onto Phase 2.

I bought a new car. I’ve had my old car, a 2008 Toyota Prius, for eight years, and it is falling apart. The gas gauge isn’t accurate, which means I have to guess when I am actually low on gas. The touchscreen display is no longer registering touches properly, which renders me unable to accurately use the climate control. The tire pressure light is constantly on, which means I have to manually check my tires every couple of weeks to make sure they aren’t actually low.

For a year, I talked about buying a new car. Finally, last Saturday, I went with Dan to the local used car dealership and test drove a 2016 Toyota Camry. It drove smoothly, like a dream, and the price was reasonable for its age and low mileage. I can control the temperature with precision, connect my iPhone to the audio system via Bluetooth, and even see how many miles I can drive before I have to fill up the engine with gas. It’s great.

I learned some hard lessons in 2018, too. I wore myself out. I worked too hard on personal projects. I swore off my other hobbies for the majority of the first six months, vowing only to engage with them once my writing was complete. Even when I freed myself from that mindset, I never prioritized my own self-care, though I advocated for it everywhere else, for other people. I did not have a single, whole day to myself for the majority of December — until the 26th — and it was so mentally exhausting.

So what are the lessons to bring with me into 2019?

  • Take things one step at a time. This year, I will set smaller, more manageable goals for myself. I’ll take a look at what I have for each week and work towards that, being as flexible as possible, if necessary.
  • Always engage in some kind of self-care every single week. For me, self-care looks like playing a video game or tabletop game, knitting for a few hours, reading for pleasure — anything that does not involve producing content.
  • Relax after my day job on weekdays and work on my side projects on weekends. Working for eight hours in the office, then coming home to work some more until it was time to cook dinner killed me. The quality of my content is better when I start it in the morning and have several hours to work on it over the course of the day. I will experiment with this and see how successful I am with it.
  • Only schedule one event each weekend, even if that means I only have lunch with a friend on Saturday and have nothing else planned for the rest of the weekend. It is too easy for me to overschedule my time off, leaving no time for myself.

As for my more tangible goals…

  • Read 30 books. This year, I read 50 books (24 of which were comic books), and I felt the pressure as early as October to complete my goal before the deadline or I’d be forever a failure. Dan told me I need to be less hard on myself. 30 books, in comparison to 50, is a piece of cake.
  • Knit six items. I recently took up knitting and have been really enjoying it. Six items — one every two months — seems pretty doable to me.
  • Beat 10 video games. Hah. Hah hah hah hah. Sure.

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