Before heading down to Copacabana for last year's countdown, I sat with a very good friend on the balcony of our apartment in Rio and, from a deck of Osho Zen Tarot cards, selected the card that would indicate my karmic/spiritual/essential theme for the year: "conclusión" (that would be "conclusion" in English). As these mystical consultations can be from time to time, my selection proved prophetic. 2009 did indeed become a year of conclusion, from ending a challenging work situation in a difficult environment and completing one of my major life goals (for the first time, anyway) to bowing out of a few long-standing but unhealthy relationships and transitioning from an archaic dependence on CDs for the more modern MP3 musical format.
During the first few months of the year, I was confused about continuing at my job as a high school English teacher in Barranquilla that offered me financial security, versus pursuing artistic goals that may not provide immediate remuneration. Added to the uncertainty was a severe case of incurable vagabond neurosis, so I chose to not renew my contract and embarked on my first round-the-world adventure. Between June and December, I traveled to 16 countries:
- Brazil (Rio and São Paulo)
- China (Hong Kong and Macau)
- Colombia (Barranquilla, Bogotá, and Cartagena)
- Egypt (Alexandria and Cairo)
- Germany (Berlin)
- India (Agra, Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai)
- Ireland (Dublin)
- Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)
- Panama (Panama City)
- South Korea (Seoul)
- Sweden (Stockholm)
- Turkey (Istanbul)
- UAE (Abu Dhabi)
- UK (London)
- USA (Chicago, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington)
- Venezuela (Caracas)
- American Airlines' Black Atlas
- Black Expat Magazine
- Writer Anja Mutic's blog, Ever the Nomad
- Matador Network
- Scottish travel blog, Sharing Experiences
- Yes But No But Yes
And I've expanded my social network exponentially, crossing paths with blogging luminaries like Farsighted Fly Girl, A Brother in Sweden, Adrianne of Black Women in Europe, Nikita the Traveller, Felicia of This Time in Seoul, Stacy of Bisous from Paris/Baci from Rome, Anja Mutic, Brian of No Debt World Travel, The Green Pharmacist, and Brandie of Out and About Africa, in addition to forging new friendships and creating new memories.
Lastly, I've found a pair of investors who are interested in seeing Fly Brother soar to greater heights. You'll learn more about that later.
"Comienzo" means "beginning" in Spanish, and though I'm using that word for the title of this particular section since it applies to new projects coming down the pipe as well as renewed energy and focus (and it fits nicely with last year's word, "conclusión"), I'm lifting my official word for the year straight from the prolific Lola of Geotraveler's Niche: discipline!
Regardless of whether or not we're talking about staying on task, on budget, on diet, on an exercise plan, on time, whatever, it ain't gon get done without discipline. So with that in mind, here are some of the upgrades and objectives I've plotted for 2010:
- A deepening and diversification of what you can find here at Fly Brother. This includes a fresh and clean podcast where I discuss issues related to travel, culture, history, and music, and interview interesting and otherwise fly folk, appearing bimonthly (on the first and the fifteenf, naturally). I also plan to update the blog with text, photos, and video at least ten times per month (allowing for one less in February, of course), and to monetize the site through travel-related products that I produce and sell directly, as well as inspiring products and services produced by others and available through affiliate marketing.
- An increase in overall presence and name recognition. I'll accomplish this by submitting articles to both print and web-based media (my goal is a minimum five articles published on highly-trafficked websites and five published in print during the year), creating fan pages on MySpace and Facebook, participating in travel writing forums, and establishing Fly-Brother.com. I'll also work on increasing my own personal accessibility by tweeting more frequently and responding to every email personally within ten working days.
- A shorter, yet exhilirating list of international destinations for the coming year. Living in Brazil means trips to cities I've not yet visited, such as Brasília, Florianopolis, and Recife. Argentina rises to the top of the list, with non-stop flights to Buenos Aires from my new homebase. This summer may bring a two-week volunteering project in Haiti, followed by a week of R&R over the border in the Dominican Republic. And on tap for next Christmas, should the stars align themselves appropriately, is a Southern Hemisphere Round-the-World trip featuring Australia and South Africa. Who's down?
With my readers as motivation, cracking the whip whenever discipline fails me, 2010 will rock. So get them seatbelts fastened and those tray-tables in the upright and locked positions. It's time to get fly.