What would you do, you knew you couldn’t fail
I have no fear of anything, do everything well
I have no fear of jail, I was born in the trap
I have no fear of death, we all born to do that
It’s just life, I’m just nice, tonight I might raise my price

— The Carters

I was writing my 2019 plan, but then Shana showed up in my inbox and, well, I’m going to take a detour.

What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?

Felt unafraid to stand up for myself and others. I’ve stood up before. It’s the lack of fear that’s new and to do so in ways that remained true to me and how I operate. I didn’t imagine how someone else—someone I imagine as stronger than me—would do a thing, I did it as me. In my voice, in my way, and with the confidence that doing what’s right can be scary but doesn’t mean you gotta be scared.

I also worked with yeast in my baking for the first time, and it was a hit.

And, I had a case of gout. Shout-out to middle-age.

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions and will you make more for next year?

Mostly. The goal was to do the things that make you feel most connected to the world, and while I’m struggling with how much time Instagram and my iPad are siphoning away from me to close this year, I did find connection in 2018.

The act of gift giving this holiday season was, perhaps, my most explicit confirmation of that as, to a person, I felt like I gave presents that reflected what I knew and understood about them and our relationship, specifically.

Staying present enough to remember most birthdays, anniversaries, and other special moments felt great and is a behavior I definitely want to continue.

I’m inspired at the end of this year, though, by my friends that are committing so heavily to serve our communities. Those actively working to make the world a bit better for those who are most in need and leveling up their own personal development in the process. My 2019 mission will be centered around these broader ideas of generosity.

Did anyone close to you have a child?

Not in the immediate circle but there were babies this year, and I got a chance to babysit, even if only for a few minutes in Disneyland.

Did anyone close to you get married?

The only weddings I (virtually) attended were Royal.

Did anyone close to you die?

A great aunt passed, and I can sense that one matters more than maybe some others in recent years. There’s a sadness in my grandmother’s voice that hasn’t gone away now that this sister, in particular, is gone and it breaks my heart every time I hear it in our conversations.

What countries did you visit?

I stayed domestic this year, but there are discussions of trips south of the border for 2019.

What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?

More dancing.

What date from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April 29th because, “Yolanda, what the heck?!”

What was your most significant achievement of the year?

The best compliment I got was someone told me that they were not only a better employee but a better person for having worked on my team. I think that’s a reflection of a communication philosophy that I’ve worked on most of my professional life but became second nature in 2018: empathetic candor.

I want people to seek my counsel and know that they are going to get an honest conversation with no ulterior motives, ill will, or bad faith on my part. Kindness, honesty, and generosity of spirit is the vibe I think I most conveyed this year.

What was your biggest failure?

One afternoon, as I rushed to catch a bus I was running late for, I saw a man with a walker moving awfully slowly to cross the street to get to his destination. Maybe he didn’t need or want my help, but I didn’t even offer, choosing my convenience over kindness.

Every time I made that choice this year, I failed.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

Gout sucks. It feels like you’ve broken a toe and I do not recommend flying when you have it. Your foot is already swollen, and air travel will only exacerbate the issue.

I was full of foot ailments this year. I also had to correct plantar fasciitis with therapeutic insoles in nearly all my shoes.

What was the best thing you bought?

Mentioned above, but I really dug the holiday gifts I gave this year. Money well spent. I also like Apple TV and the series 4 Apple Watch is aces (as is the iPad Pro Tiffany gave me).

Whose behavior merited celebration?

My friend Melle has spent this year working so hard to battle food insecurity in Los Angeles through her own personal efforts and in partnership with local groups like Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every time I spend time with her discussing this work that she’s so passionate about, I’m inspired to do more and am reminded that giving time, effort, and energy to things with impact is the best way to live.

Where did most of your money go?

Who even knows? Basketball and bills? We saved more this year. I spent a little more on clothes. Lots of non-profit organizations and political campaigns got checks from.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Black Panther. I’m still really, really, really excited about that movie, the music, the experience, it’s success and how it wasn’t alone in the popular culture.

What song will always remind you of 2018?

Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. Happier or sadder?

I’m rarely very up or very down, but I lean towards optimism so let’s assume I’m happier.

ii. Thinner or fatter?

I weigh almost exactly the same as the beginning of the year, but I’m leaner.

iii. Richer or poorer?

We made that paper this year.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Journaling and meditation: my days were always better when I started that way.

Volunteering: I gave money and advice regularly but rarely did I give of my time in 2018.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Twitter and Instagram scrolling

Stewing in my own juices

How did you spend Christmas?

Here in LA with Tiffany and my family. The weather was gorgeous. The food was great. The gifts were delightful. There was so much basketball. I felt like the Björk song.

What was your favorite TV program?

Killing Eve was the best and most surprising show I watched all year.

Also worth your time:

  • The final season of The Americans

  • American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

  • Star Trek: Discovery

  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

  • The Good Place

  • Better Call Saul

  • The Good Fight

  • CW’s The Flash

  • Homecoming

  • Daredevil

What was the best book you read?

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

I also loved:

  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

  • Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

  • Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

  • Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

  • Saga, Volumes 8 and 9 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

What was your most significant musical discovery of 2018?

Rosalia. She is a late in the year find courtesy of many a best of list, but her full-length El Mal Querer is incredible and has become my entry point into the wonderful world of Spanish language pop. I’m excited to dig deep in 2019.

The rest of my 2018 music adventures.

What did you want and get?

A promotion.

What did you want and not get?

Enough no votes on Brett Kavanaugh.

What was your favorite film of this year?

Black Panther. That’s my shit.

The rest of my faves:

  • If Beale Street Could Talk

  • Crazy Rich Asians

  • A Star is Born

  • Annihilation

  • Widows

  • A Quiet Place

  • Sorry to Bother You

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

  • Mission: Impossible Fallout

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

43. My birthday wasn’t great.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

The Sparks going deep into the WNBA Playoffs. Despite knowing this wasn’t their year, the way they went out was disheartening.

What political issue stirred you the most?

Mass shootings and gun violence made me feel sad and helpless (but inspired by the actions of the youth in this country in their aftermath). The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and the way Christine Blasey Ford was treated by our elected officials, though, pissed me the fuck off.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Ignoring the obvious answer, we really gotta get Stephen Miller out the paint.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?

Age and income appropriate. I started using Stitch Fix to upgrade my wardrobe a bit and have found it to work for me pretty well, especially with pants that I wouldn’t seek out for myself and some statement pieces that get compliments every time I break them out.

What kept you sane?

Riding the bus every day reminds me that my daily worries are likely minuscule compared to many others in my community and it teaches me patience. Public Transportation in Los Angeles forces you to slow down and accept that most things in this life you can’t control but we all get where we’re going, eventually.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I thought Cardi B and Ariana Grande were the most exciting celebrities this year and Mona Chalabi’s data journalism and visualization are making her kind of famous, too. I think that’s hella cool.

Who did you miss?

Uncle Mike. Always.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.

Emotional intelligence isn’t just a work skill.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Go back to the beginning of this post.

What’s one photo that sums up your year?

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