2023 retrospective featured

January 9, 2024

I discovered a new writer this past year (so far in the distance now 6 days into 2024) who talked about life in seasons rather than years. That resonated deeply with me, perhaps because I tend to cultivate change in cycles so much shorter than years. Seasons drifts to the surface like dust motes in the afternoon sun as I sit to write this retrospective on the prior year.

It may have been one year. But it wasn’t one thing.

  • It was a season of chaos, change, excitement and possibilities.
  • Then it was a season of connection, reconnection and unexpected work (at least more than I bargained for).
  • It was a flurry of writing–creating new stories in an established world–and putting theories to the test.
  • There was the season of discovery and routine, of searching for those possibilities that hadn’t made themselves known.
  • There was a sundering because of that routine, trying to stay afloat and the sacrifices that came from serving responsibility rather than creativity.
  • And finally there was too short of a season of rest that carried the hope for renewal and creativity.

2023 was so many things. Goals realized and fighting toxic mismanagement and searching for something new in the midst of everything being different.

Year of

Kairos – the right time and right place. The idea of “happened upon” in the Bible is sort of a joke because the implication is that God orchestrated the right time and right place.


I took a chance, and a mini-family trip. I’d been considering moving to California for a while so a few of us took a trip to explore. A home finding and interview trip provided a few days escape from the Colorado cold.

I didn’t find the home I hoped for but the interview was the right place at the right time and I received a job offer.


Another trip to California for a more serious home-finding trip. I found a place at the last minute. The last place I visited, barely in my price range, the building is old (but not too old) and the community is beautiful and convenient. Most importantly, it has room for people to visit.


I moved to CA in a matter of days. I know. I KNOW. It’s California. The land with a ridiculous cost of living, chaotic politics, pollution and traffic. I might be slightly out of my mind. It’s also a place where I have a lot of friends. The warm and temperate weather means I can take Kira on long, comfortable walks all year long. Also the position I got is as an adjunct professor at a university so for the moment, California is the right place to be.

That all being said, the move was more than a bit of chaos. I moved into a place with a gas leak, and a fireplace, and did I mention heat that wasn’t working? On a rainy day. Not the best first day in a new place ever. But the gas company fixed the gas leak (which I’d previously reported to what would turn out to be a rather inept property management company). Toward the end of the week the heat got fixed. A couple of guys helped move all my heavy furniture and I unboxed all my comforters, blankets and pillows first, so I survived. Eventually, it stopped raining and Kira relaxed enough to enjoy being outside. She loves the snow, hates the rain.

Two weeks later I received my first guests and spent a day working at the beach.

2023 banner


Work’s travel season kicked into gear right on the heels of moving and settling in. I discovered the downside of my new location is I’ve lost the simplicity of nonstop flights out of a major airport.

So, Minnesota was by way of Denver in one direction and through San Francisco on the way home. 4 major cities and 2 time zones in just under 24 hours.


I wasn’t especially looking forward to the trip to Toronto, except that I got to introduce some friends to Prince Japanese Steakhouse! When I used to go to Toronto, I’d stay at a hotel near Prince Japanese Steakhouse and walk over to get takeout. It was different this time, but still delicious. My sister gave me a lift to the airport so even though I crossed all four time zones in the US, I flew nonstop which helped.

Dallas would have been a quick trip…with nonstop flights. Instead it was three days–one in, one working and one out. Not too much worth mentioning except I met up with a coworker at Hard Eight BBQ and it was fantastic.

On the last day I flew to Colorado for the illusion of a vacation.


It wasn’t much of a vacation since I kept working the whole time. Which was a ridiculous choice. I needed some time off after working through the move and traveling in May. I didn’t really realize how much I needed to relax until Friday, though and it was too late by then. I did still enjoy time with my family, and my brother’s birthday.


Back to Colorado for a week of pet-sitting and work. Bearded dragons can be kind of intimidating considering how much smaller they are than a person, or a dog, or you know.

Even though I didn’t relax a lot, travel creates space for writing. Through the first half of the year I plotted 6 new episodes of The Helion Chronicles s2. Then I wrote the dialog iteration pretty fluidly (I only got stuck once or twice). I enjoyed putting an agile first draft methodology into practice.


I officially started teaching after MONTHS of lesson planning and figuring out assignments. I thought putting together a syllabus was tough until I started to work out all the class lectures and assignments and process of working students through writing academic essays and then coming up with visuals.

Also, I bought a Mac. I hate macs. Maybe hate is too strong of a word. I dislike macs and would quit a job that forced me to work on one. They’re great computers for some people but for me they don’t think right, and the keyboard is all wrong (and I know you can get a PC keyboard for a Mac but they still don’t function the way keyboards work on a PC). But I want to build apps and Swift has a lot of very easy tutorials. I like the dual-pane of Xcode that lets me preview what I’m coding. It reminds me the way I learned html all those years ago with a coding tab and a preview tab (on some software I can’t even remember because I won’t admit how very long ago it was). If you want to build Swift then you need Xcode–hence the Mac.


nada. Well, teaching and working so no extra-curricular activities.


Arkansas for a week for work. The best part was they let me bring Kira who loved running around the office and getting to know new people.


A new brunch place with a friend but otherwise nothing exciting or interesting.

Well, also my nephew shared a playlist with me that took over my spotify play for the year. For real. My annual number one artist? Zack Bryan who I just started listening to on the shared playlist and he played so much he was my number artist OF THE YEAR.

facepalm patrick stewart


I spent the whole month looking forward to the break–trying to finish work and also trying to put work off until the new year. When I finally started break I balanced relaxing with keeping busy, I think fairly well. I got one week of rest back home with family. It was glorious to have a full week and it wasn’t nearly enough.

The downside is I didn’t recover the writing spark I hoped for. But then I read a trilogy that ignited that spark again…but that’s a 2024 story.

Friday playlist

I genuinely thought I didn’t have a Friday playlist for the year but when I went to check, apparently I did. I did not listen to it much and I think only 2 or 3 songs were actually new this year so it seems like a pseudo-Friday playlist. I definitely discovered more new music on my nephews playlist but that’s his list, not mine.

Posted in: Books, Helion Chronicles, Life, travel ~

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