2015: A Year in Review

Here it is. October. October of 2015. This is kind of an important month for me.

In case anyone didn’t know, it was in October of 2014 that I joined Weight Watchers. The first step I took towards improving my life. In November of 2014 was when I finally admitted that not only was I depressed enough to seek help, I was able to finally admit that my lifelong self-esteem problems were not just personality quirks, but actually seriously self-damaging problems, and that I needed help for them too. That’s what led me to my psychological therapy, which was the next big step in becoming a better Ando.

If you look back to the post I made in December, I talked about these steps and how 2015 was going to be the year of taking care of myself, and it was my intent to become a man I could be proud of being. If you look back further into my blogging history, you’ll see that I made some similar comments and hopes in past years, and in every one of those cases, I basically failed. Whether it was life situations beyond my control (like losing jobs) or my own laziness or lack of motivation, time and time again throughout my adult life, I’ve pointed to the future with hope, and each year the hope died. Not a huge bang, just a quiet whispered “OK, guess not…”

Not this time. Not anymore. My friends and loved ones, even though there are still a few months left in 2015, I am already looking back on this year and what I have learned, how I have grown, what I have accomplished, and for the first time since I don’t even know when, I *DON’T* have to shrug and figure I’ll try harder next year. I’m *NOT* discouraged by a pattern of missed goals and letdowns. And I *WON’T* have to find ways to explain away or apologize for basically not making any progress toward self-improvement.

This year (going back to October), I have lost over 50 lbs, going down from a size 38 pants to probably a 32, if not a 30 (still wearing my 34s, but they’re loose), and dropping my shirt size from a 2XL to a L in T-shirts, and even (depending on the style) a M in button-down shirts. This year, I have finally begun fighting back against my self-hostility, recognizing that I *AM* the kind of person who deserves great things, and will go after them. This year, I have rekindled my musical career AND my closest friendship by spending a week and a half in Texas for a long-overdue reunion with my best friend Jeff, during which we did some freakin’ justice to 13 songs I’ve written in the past 13 years. This year, I have learned how to be mindful and live in the moment, giving me an overall happier view of life and my place in it.

In summary, even with another few months left to go, I am going to go ahead and say that for the first time probably in my entire life, I have *ACCOMPLISHED* the goals I set for myself a year ago. In 2015, I have embarked on journeys both internal and external, and I *AM* a better man for it. This was a year of discovery and it was a year of love.

And that hasn’t come without some adjustments. After all, when you make time for the things and people that you love, sometimes that means that you spend less time doing things like playing video games or watching TV. Maybe I’ve “missed out” on some things, but you know what? I think what I’ve gained by putting my time and energy into living my life in a way that makes me happy so far outweighs missing a few episodes of Once Upon A Time that I’ll live with that trade-off. Spending quality time learning how to appreciate and communicate effectively with my wife is so much more important than the plots of TV shows or movies.

I’m sure that I’ve cried more times this year than just about all 32 years of my life prior to 2015, but those tears were not all sadness. I’ve learned how to experience the gamut of emotions, and I love feeling like I have the freedom to *FEEL* those emotions. I’ve rekindled friendships – Jeff wasn’t the only friend I haven’t spent enough time with in recent years – and made some wonderful new ones as well.

If you’re one of the people who have been by my side and supported me during my journey in 2015, then I thank you and I love you. In fact, you know what? Even if you *WEREN’T* by my side, I still thank and love you. Hell, I’ll take it a step farther: even if you’re some random stranger on the Internet who has no idea who Ando is, but you’ve stumbled across this blog post somehow and made it all the way to the bottom, then guess what? Thank you, and I love you too! Why? Why not – you’re a human being with hopes, dreams, loves, a past and a future as well as me. That alone is enough for me to wish you love and happiness. It’s ridiculous how much hatred and anger gets thrown around, and all because of superficial differences in opinions and beliefs. Well I won’t participate in that – there’s enough pain in the world that I’d rather be known as someone who loves, even if you believe literally the exact opposite of everything I believe. Just because love shouldn’t care, so neither do I.

Maybe some of you are shocked by the attitude of this post, or by that last paragraph. That’s OK. This is almost like a different life for me, and I’m excited to see what the future holds, because it’s practically like I am seeing the world clearly for the first time and so many things are new.

So on that note, and with hope and optimism for the year ahead, I close out with words of wisdom first sung in 1968 by a man who I come to respect and admire more and more the older I get, and whose death I now feel I mourn in a way I never could have understood before this year: John Lennon.

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It’s easy

There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made
No one you can save that can’t be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It’s easy

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be
It’s easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need