2019 Year in Review

Jan 27, 2020 / Photography / year in review

Bright hot day on the ocean with a beach resort on left and white clouds in far horizon
Beach Resort near Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia.


It’s almost the end of January and I’m just doing a 2019 year end review! Better late than never, so here goes.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote the following goals in my journal:

Written Goals for 2019


Retire from the Day Job

I retired from my day job this year! I’ve been thinking about leaving my job since I graduated from my MFA in 2014. The main reason was to pursue art full time, but I didn’t know how to actually do it. I struggled with creating art while working full time. I really tried. I’ve been writing about this for years, when I wrote about making art while having a day job, but over time I knew it wasn’t working.

In 2017, I accidentally discovered the FIRE movement. FIRE stands for “Financial Independence Retire Early.” I realized that I was already close to achieving FIRE! Doing the numbers, to my surprise, I calculated that 2019 would be the year when I would achieve FIRE. So I retired in 2019. I jumped into the unknown.

Finish A Million Suns

So after all this planning, did I create art in 2019? Someone told me recently that I’m a photographer who doesn’t photograph. The truth hurts. I wanted to finish the third part of the A Million Suns trilogy, but I didn’t. I was productive up until around June. But then my hubby and I started traveling during the summer and early fall: Boston, New York, Kuala Lumpur, Borneo, Toronto, and Los Angeles. Every time I got back from one these trips, I couldn’t motivate myself. Thus, a big fail in achieving my art goals this year. I will try again in 2020.

Blog Consistently

I was blogging consistently until around June and then nada. I have to be better this year.

Saving 86% of My Salary

During the last year of being an employee, I was saving like mad. I achieved this goal no problem. I set my savings strategy in auto-pilot with a pre-authorized transfer every month from my chequing to my brokerage accounts, and boom, it’s done. I used whatever was left for living expenses. Considering I have mental discipline in financial matters, I ask myself why it doesn’t extend to art. It’s a mystery.

Piano Practice

I bought a piano in March and despite not having played for the past 40 years, I’ve progressed nicely on piano. I completed a number of classical pieces that I’m proud of. I’m excited what I will accomplish in 2020.

Learn Something New Every Day (Read)

Even though I said “read” for this goal, I don’t recall reading novels this year, but I read, researched, and created a lot of new things! For example, I learned how to:

  • draw
  • create comics
  • write in Spencerian script (for my journal)
  • play the piano (I’m teaching myself)
  • sight read a musical score
  • fix a running toilet
  • cut and bleach my own hair

I know some of these are not art related. They’re not even related to photography. But it’s about creating something out of nothing. It’s about creation. The subtitle of this website is “connecting the dots through art” and that continues to ring true.

I’ve gone back and forth as to whether this website should only feature my fine art photographs (and everything else should be in separate websites which is the conventional advice). However, I don’t want to maintain two or more websites—that will be a unsustainable. I’m keeping all my endeavors under A Million Suns (with a million possibilities). Through all these explorations in writing, playing the piano, drawing, photographing (or more honestly “not photographing”), I will somehow connect the dots on something. What that something is, I have no idea.

What I’m doing reminds me of this quote:

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot

Cook More

Since I now work from home, I started to cook a lot more. The best recipes of 2019: Coq au vin, Osso Bucco, red lentil soup, french onion soup, Aloo Gobi, and Korean Style Beef Bowl. I now roast coffee beans, make ice cream, and bake my own bread. I got a gold star for this goal.

Spend More Time with the Hubby

The last goal was to spend more quality time with my hubby. As I’m now home every day, this goal was met with room for improvement. I have to be 100% present as opposed to simply being physically present.

Verdict

That is the 2019 year in review. Honestly, not much progress on my art-making goals, but in life-making, huge progress. The road ahead is wide open.

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About the Author

Jonah Calinawan

Hello! I’m Jonah Calinawan, and I create cyanotype art that makes you think and feeds the soul. I also blog about the quest for a meaningful life using art and positivity.

When not shooting photos or writing, I teach myself piano and recommend Josh Wright’s Propractice tutorials (affiliate link).

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