03 January 2011

Weekly Top Five - 3.Jan.11

In  High Fidelity, the characters compare their top fives in a variety of categories. Being big fans of both the film and novel, we here at the What bring you our Weekly Top Five, a feature focused on five fantastic things that you should become familiar with.

Good Decisions I Made in 2010
While many people are busy making resolutions for the new year that won't last past next week, I'd like to start off 2011 by reflecting on the positive things I did in 2010. Toward the end of 2010, I started falling into the trap of thinking the year was terrible and that the calendar changing would make everything better. But, after I sat and thought for a moment, I realized that 2010 was one of my best years yet, and here are five reasons why.

5. Snazzed up the wardrobe - Had you asked me prior to 2010 to describe my "fashion sense" in one word it would have been comfortable. I was known for wearing whatever I found comfortable with little consideration for how it looked. Beginning in 2009 I began making slight adjustments to improve my wardrobe, but 2010 was the year when I put a lot of effort into it. With help from sites like Primer Magazine, Dappered, and the Effortless Gent, I gradually improved my style. Instead of wearing a pair of New Balance sneakers with everything, I began alternating between Chuck Taylors, loafers, and dressier shoes. Graphic tees were replaced by solid V-necks and I began shopping at places like H&M and Banana Republic. While I still have a ways to go, in 2010 I made significant improvements to my wardrobe.

4. Maintained a positive outlook - In retrospect, I had every reason to have a terrible 2010 and just throw in the towel. I lost a job, an apartment, a girlfriend, and other things along the way. I had some flat-out unbelievable (and possibly illegal) experiences as detailed in an article I wrote for Primer, Tales of a Recession Graduate. Despite a number of speed bumps along the way, I continually chose to focus on the positive side of things. In fact, in one way or another, I accomplished most of my professional dreams last year. I had always wanted to see my name in the credits, and I did. I had always wanted to be a teacher, and between substituting and working at a science camp all summer I was able to do just that. So while 2010 may not be what I hoped it would this time last year, it ended up being quite a fantastic year.

3. Went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear - It would have been easy to go to work, not spend fifty bucks for a bus ride, and not wake up at 4:30, but I am so glad that I chose instead to do just the opposite and spend October 30th in Washington, DC. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert provided hours of entertainment all the while spreading a message of the benefits of being rational. I was able to see performances by the O'Jays, Ozzy Osbourne, Yusef Islam, Tony Bennett, Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, all of whom were backed by America's go-to band for all things amazing, the Legendary Roots Crew. Aside from all of the appearances and performances, Stewart's closing address should be one that is repeated for years, possibly even taught in schools. It was an inspiring and entertaining day, and more than likely the closest our generation will come to having a Woodstock.

2. Dropped 45 pounds - Last January, I found that my favorite pair of jeans were so tight that it hurt to wear them. So I weighed in, and was shocked to find that I had ballooned up to 240 pounds. I began making a litany of lifestyle changes to attempt to fix this problem. By the time July rolled around, I was down to 195 pounds thanks to  moderate exercise and counting calories. Granted, from Thanksgiving through New Year's I put ten of those pounds back on, but with the holidays now over I can focus on dropping another 30-40 pounds and trimming a lot of fat. I intend to detail this process with an article at the end of each month, so look for the first installment of Scaling Down in a few weeks.

1. Tried as many new things as possible - As I've gotten older I have been getting better and better at trying new things. In 2010, I shed whatever doubt I had left and threw myself head-first into a host of new experiences. It could take a few articles to cover all of the new stuff I tried, but most of it involved food, drink, and where to get said food and drink in Philadelphia. At this time last year, I'd likely go to one of two locales, get the same food, and probably order a Lager or Corona. BY the time fall rolled around, I had been to dozens of new venues, tried food I'd always turned my nose up at, and expanded my beer horizons to the point of hosting a Fall Beer Tasting. That reminds me, I also tried my hand at writing in 2010. I think that has gone pretty well too.

While no year is ever perfect, no year is totally bad either. I encourage you to look back on 2010 and zero in on the positive aspects of your year. For the less-than-thrilling moments, focus on how you could improve them in 2011 so that this year may be even better. Happy New Year!

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