Dec. 8th marked the one year anniversary of me renting this tiny studio apartment in Paso Robles. It all happened so fast, I'd been looking online for six months at least, searching for something close to or under $1000/mo. That was all I thought I could afford on the bus driver salary I had in Colorado and the even lower salary I'd been offered here in California in August. I applied within hours of the initial posting, had Sarah take a tout, paid the deposit online, and drove from Colorado in a rented Toyota 4x4 towing a U-Haul trailer with 90% of my stuff all within a week. I drove back to Colorado to return the rental car and trailer and lived in a mostly empty apartment there for another month to finish out my lease and exit my old job gracefully. I came back full-time on January 8th with the rest of my things in a packed-to-the-gills new (to me) 2013 Fiat 500c I'd bought from a co-worker in CO, and whammo: I was a Californian.

I found out this week that Dec 8th is also the anniversary of John Lennon's death, which I didn't realize when I moved. It feels oddly symbolic now, especially after the year I've had here. There have been so many changes. Of course I expected changes, but it's been the unexpected ones, really. I never expected to move here and not play music, that would've seemed almost absurd to me then. But here it is a full year later and I haven't set foot on a stage. I also never expected to stop drinking alcohol, but here I am 4 months into a new sobriety experiment (only 3-4 alcoholic drinks in the past 4 months, plus 4-5 O'Douls NA beers at the Pour House), and I keep re-discovering each day how much I enjoy it. As part of that journey, I doubled down on therapy and have been going through what feels like monumental introspection on my values, beliefs, and biases (both implicit and explicit). Its definitely felt like a death. The death of so many leaves and branches and roots. Bewildering in so many ways. Uncomfortable. Confusing. Awkward. And incredibly eye-opening.

I haven't taken stock of or catalogued my accomplishments from the past year in a detailed way. I've just let them happen day by day, trying to not to create goals or expectations that I can't keep or accomplish. I just keep waking up in the morning. Accomplishing tasks. Going to sleep at night. Sometimes the tasks are simple, required, necessary, like cooking bags of dried garbanzo beans and black beans in the Instant Pot, transferring them to the Crock Pot to simmer with onions, garlic, broth, spices. Slow cooking chicken or pork overnight. Spooning it all into meal-size containers for the freezer. Grocery shopping. Watering the plants. Sweeping the floor. Pouring vinegar into the toilet bowl.

And sometimes its the big things. Researching core values online like I'm cramming for a a test the next morning (my 9am therapy session), writing these blog posts, pouring through the logistics of accepting a new job far away, visualizing moving again, visualizing packing, driving, flying, changing, restarting. Asking the big questions. What do you want? Why? What are you now? What do you want to be?

I've been moving in and out of certain habits, rituals, schedules, routines. Long walks down Spring St at night have given way to shorter walks from 4 to 4:45pm on the bluffs above the beach in San Simeon on my break at work, scrambling out onto the mussel-encrusted rocks at low-tide, searching for and taking photos of sea stars and tide pools. After switching to a strict black coffee ritual, I've slowly begun to add milk and chocolate to my morning coffee, still keeping my afternoon coffee black. When I play, I've predominantly played only one latin-infused drum pattern on my drum kit, eschewing the other available patterns. I've continued with my online shoulder therapy 3-4 times a week. I've been taking B-12 supplements and preparing more meals with frozen spinach, sauteed brussels sprouts, fresh spinach, steamed kale. After two weeks of drinking two glasses of water every 4 hours in order to get to 96 ounces per day, I've veered completely in the other direction (per doctors suggestion) to drink less so I don't have to pee ten times a day, especially at night. And then there's this blog, its been a month since I've written. Feels good to be back.

Yesterday was the hardest emotional day in recent memory, the early morning therapy session was as rough a session as I've had in a long while. This process of defining and redefining my core values has proven to be very disorienting for me. Rather than freeing me up to make better choices like I've hoped it will do, its felt more like I'm figuring out ways to be even more judgmental than ever. My therapist recognized this and reminded me that core values are for me, not for others. I can't require others to live by my core values. But its challenging to differentiate. If I'm defining my core values to help lead myself through my choices from the smallest to the largest... how can I not judge *their* actions according to my core values so that I can act accordingly? Sure, I know that's not the desired goal, but man, easier said than done.

I started my list with Communication and Integrity. Those felt important because I see how good I feel if I do my job well and communicate well, but I also see how riled up I get if people don't say what they mean or do what they say. Then of course I murmured under my breath "dude, just do your fucking job" and whammo, I was in judgmental mode. That felt fucking horrible. So immediately, first thing in the fucking morning, I'm feeling like crap while I'm doing something THAT'S SUPPOSED TO BE GOOD FOR ME.

Yes, yes, yes, I know this takes time, I'm not bailing on the project or anything. But I definitely feel like the next couple of steps have to find some balance. Focusing on values that light me up, like Enthusiasm, Discovery, Adventure, Learning, Creativity, Empathy, Curiosity, Love. I'm looking forward to those.

Love you. Talk soon. -Charlie