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18 Things I Learned in 2018

1. The healing power of the right stone, gifted to me by dear friends, at just the right times in my life.

2. To really listen to my body. Not just to what it can do in order to push it, but more importantly, to what it can't do. There is empowerment in saying this is as far as I go, in setting my limits, in protecting what only I can know in my bones.

3. From Alexander Chee, during his keynote at the Writers League of Texas conference: "The things that matter are the things that you finish. The things that you feel urgently need to be in the world."

4. Work & joy in the dream, always. Work & joy in the daily life, too. One can't thrive without the other.

5. Witnessing is not understanding. It is a glimpse that should make you look back inward.

6. I may never know the names and the stories of my ancestors but I can honor them with every breath they gave me.

7. To all the people who ask me if I still get nervous before speaking in front of audience: No. Weird, right?! (Says the timid introvert.) Turns out the more you do things the easier they get. <-- does not apply to writing or burpees.

8. From all the traveling of book tour: how to pack four pairs of shoes, books, a laptop stand, keyboard, and 5 days worth of clothes in one carry-on suitcase. I'm still not sure how it happened.

9. The joy of unscheduled time.

10. From Fernando A. Flores, on the importance of art: "The avant-guarde is a weapon against totalitarianism...we have to be willing to push further."

11. From my journal, on a difficult day of my day job:

There is something powerful brewing beneath the sting of this failure and rejection.

Let yourself feel it

learn from it listen

as it says

i'm fully steeped

ready for you to drink

in all my more

my abundance.

12. From the many people who at some point asked me bewildered, "How is it possible that a young girl from Peru has done xyz..." The most violent part of whiteness is this idea that what belongs to you cannot possibly belong to me, too, without an acceptable explanation.

13. When you're grieving, words you knew become hard to spell and silence reminds you of too much that's gone.

14. At Miami International Airport, I saw a sign that said "Nunca olvidamos de quien es el dólar." We never forget whose dollar it is. But my mind initially misread it as "Nunca olvidamos de quien es el dolor." We never forget whose pain it is.

15. No shame in the selfie. In feeling beautiful. We are not vain we are mirrors of self-love for each other.

16. To embrace wearing dark and bold lipstick colors.

17. From Dr. Brené Brown, on the importance of saying no: "Choose discomfort over resentment."

18. It's hard to remember a year of pain. Memory clings to joy to survive. Survival resists forgetting.

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