The Coaster That Was. The Coaster That Is.

The Coaster is a tradition of New Year’s Resolutions I brought with me to Oz from my friends in Austin. You can see last year’s coaster blog as well as 2016/2017 and 2015 (which also explains the tradition).

It’s been a long time since I hit 2/3rds of my coaster goals, so 2018 was generally a good year, though one cynical, whinging friend commented that “Oh, all you need to do is quit your job and not work for six months to hit your goals.” Ahem.

✅ 4MUM: My goal was to do four special events with my mom while I was in the states. There were four special events (including a birthday concert in her apartment complex, and seeing the musical The Color Purple at The Kennedy Center), however the time just being with Mom, watching TV, or eating lunch, or grocery shopping, was even more special to me.

✅ Not in your face: While I did not fully disable facebook (because my Spotify account was linked to my facebook account, and only just in the last week did I finally get them unlinked), I did remove the facebook app, shut down notifications, and only left email notifications on if I was invited to an event. And, the improved happiness continued, as I spent more time 1–1. Due to unpopular demand, I did use insta to post pics from South America, but I spent very little time in insta itself.

✅ Affairs-N-Order: Done! US and Aussie will, along with all the complicated health care paperwork, is signed, sealed, copied, ready. But I plan to be cryogenically frozen so my will won’t ever be used.

✅ 8-Is-Enough: I could tell you all eight things I did outside of my comfort zone. but that would be a ninth item out of my comfort zone. I will give you a few vague highlights: dog collars, breathing through a new orafice, and trying to be social in a foreign language.

Collect all the religions: While I did go to a Wiccan meetup, I didn’t attend a Mormon or Sikh service, and I did not visit a Synagogue. While I’m not putting this on the coaster for 2019, I should still do these activites as a learning experience.

Cinquenta y dos: I studied at least half an hour every day for 4 months, and was studying 15–30 minutes a day before that, so I more than doubled the goal of 52 total hours of studying Spanish before my South America trip. And, it’s definitely helped. I am capable of conversing in Spanish with almost anyone here in Chile. As… long… as… they… don’t… talktoofast.

Aimless creativity: I only spent about 2 hours this year writing without a goal, instead of the goal of 12. It might have been because the three pieces of writing that I sent to friends, I got close to zero feedback, which usually means “This is not very good.” It is interesting that most of my protagonists seem to be pretty far along the spectrum, and devoid of endearing characteristics.

“1 Pill Vasily. 1 Pill Only”: I could declare victory here because I’m not taking any supplements in South America, but that’s only because I don’t want to carry them with me. So I need to work on this next year.

Mental health: I stayed in therapy and went regularly, and it made a massive difference. I published my blog on the crisis I had in 2017, and the response (with one exception) was incredibly supportive and wonderful.

2019!

The coaster for 2019 has two major themes and then some misc items.

The first theme is starting my new life in Australia, which of course requires completing my year of travel and then establishing a new life in Australia.

The second theme is about living healthier and happier each and every day. A big part of this is connection to the people closest to me, because the more research I do, the more that connection to the people who you care about and who care about you, is the solution to so many challenges in life, including mental health, which of course has been a big focus for me in the last 12 months.

Now, normally the “Coaster Ceremony” happens in a restaurant or in someone’s home with enough wine and banter to make sure it’s both fun but provocative (provoking each other to improve in ways that we didn’t quite think of ourselves). But, since I’m in South America, I couldn’t be there to emcee the ceremony. Most people worked on their goals independently.

Tash and Wendell and I tried an experiment, where we shared our ideas with each other well in advance, using either Trello or Notion. This created some headaches since sharing is caring but is also rarely easy, and the bandwidth in Southern Chile is slow and lean. But we managed to stumble forward and get to a decent proposal by New Years.

Last year’s Trello board, after all coaster items were scored

We decided to wait to have a mini-ceremony once I had a decent data connection. The ceremony only had three of us, and was done on hangouts with me using my data “sacks” (long story, bad Chilean branding) to call in on my mobile from Villa O’Higgins, Chile (yes, that’s a real name of a real Chilean pueblo). I may have used an entire sack of data on that call, but it was worth it. Hopefully the Chileans will recycle the sacks once they are empty. I look forward to being there in person for the Coaster Ceremony next year.

Without further ado, the 2019 BJR Coaster

Theme 1: A New Life

I will start this year in Chile and hopefully end it in Australia, while visiting at least Ecuador, Peru, and Los Estados Unidos. But this year really represents the transition to a new experiment for me, in living and where my life is focused. The best part is that I don’t know where I’ll be living of what I’ll be focusing on yet.

In order to make this transition, I can’t get myself killed or permanently injured during my visit to South America and the even-more-dangerous United States of America. This goal will help me be conscious about making smart decisions each and every day. It’s not about eliminating risk, but it’s about not being overtly stupid as I am prone to be on these sorts of trips.

Metric: Avoid hospitalization, broken bones, skin cancer, or permanent injuries.

I am more convinced that I want to dedicate a large portion of my time to helping minimize the impact of climate change. Right now I don’t understand where I can make the most impact in Australia, and so I am going to find 10 people who can help guide me in the right direction.

Metric: Have 10 conversations with people in Australia who’s careers or lives revolve around trying to prevent climate change.

By mid-July, I will have lived out of a suitcase, bicycle, or backpack for an entire year. I need to make a decision on what city and where I will live, at least for the next six months. I need to make a small nest.

Metric: Have a home (minimum six month lease) by December 1st.

Theme 2: A Better Life

This year I want my life to be more honest, more connected, and to continue my pursuit of better and better physical health.

This year I will write a blog about an important topic that I need to out myself on. Last year’s blog on mental health was a big step for me, and I don’t want to stop here. I’ve picked the topic, and it’s a very difficult one for me to write about, though to many people it won’t be a surprise or all that contraversial. Coming to Medium in 2019!

Metric: Write the blog and publish it on Medium

Sam Harris’ podcast with Johann Hari on mental health reminded me of what I learned the hard way in 2017, that connection is the best preventative medicine for mental health. I am lucky to get to visit the US again from May-July, and will get to see some close friends along the route. With each close friend who I visit in the US and Oz, I want to have a deep, connected experience with them, where I am present and not just thinking about where I have to go to next.

Metric: Connected experience with each of the people on my list for 2019

I’m going to keep this one private as well, but it involves a specific connection that’s become more important to me in the last few years. Just to be crystal clear, this does NOT involve dating, much to the delight of some and much to the chagrin of others who enjoyed watching me flounder in past years attempting to get a date with a zebra.

Metric: Not telling.

The time and connection with nature in South America has been wonderful for me. I want this to continue each month this year.

Metric: Have one experience that deeply connects with nature every month. A hike to North Head does not count. Must be overnight camping, a long kayaking trip, or learning a new wilderness skill like Outback first aid (Chapter 3. Responding to infant thefts by dingos in the wild).

Tash astutely demanded a frivolous goal for me this year. So, she will be forced to witness my first ever spa day. Yes, mani, pedi, facial, all that stuff. Somehow Tash sees these goals as “growth” for me and I see them as ”humiliation.”

Metric: Spa day with Tash!

I’d been looking for a book like How Not to Die for a while, and thanks to Sundeep, I found it! I want to apply six specific lessons to my diet, to make sure that I’m focusing on the right nutrients to keep me living until I’m at least 48. How Not To Die is a fantastic, entertaining walk through of all the research that shows that plant-based diets are the way to living healthy for the longest time possible.

Metric: Weekly audit during the 2nd half of 2019 of how I’m doing against the “Dozen” nutritional categories from How Not To Die.

2019. A whole new set of 365 days. Can’t wait.

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