An Arbitrary Day

January 1, 2012 was a momentous day. In a matter of minutes on that first morning of the year, my life changed dramatically. Forever. I became a completely new person, virtually overnight.

In the final months of 2011, I spent a great deal of time and energy building a foundation and officially launching my company COsewn. I’d already been working full time from home for 2 years as an independent contract seamstress, primarily sewing custom men’s suits for a bespoke clothing company in Denver. The tailoring work was evolving into sample sewing and patternmaking for other local fashion designers, and I decided to build a company based on the concept of collaboration with other skilled professionals in the apparel industry to offer product development and small batch production sewing services to indie and startup brands.

I had outlined my business plan, talked at length with various industry contacts, compulsively researched small domestic garment factories, and begun examining commercial spaces ranging from small studios near my home in the mountains 45 minutes from metro Denver, to sharing a warehouse workspace with other garment makers in the heart of the city where I’d have more room for equipment and employees.

Then, in the final days of 2011, I began to feel a growing sense that something inside me had changed, a gut feeling that I couldn’t ignore. So, when I woke up the morning of January 1st, I decided to take action. I sought out external validation in an effort to uncover whether these new and unfamiliar feelings were rooted in substance and required attention, or just a figment of my imagination. And the answer to that deeply internal question was different than I’d ever received prior or since: the self-administered test results were positive. The plus sign was clear. I was pregnant.

Deep breaths. Just thinking about this time in my life brings up tidal waves of intense emotions. I had been married 4.5 years and had changed career course 2 years prior in order to pursue the flexibility of working from home as I was anticipating the possibility of eventually becoming a mother. My feelings were mixed; I didn’t have an overwhelming desire to have children but had come to the conclusion that if it was meant to be, it would happen. And by the end of 2011, I was inclined to think perhaps motherhood wasn’t in my cards.

Well, happen it did. Pretty much right after I decided the chances were slim and began to take more concrete actions to gestate and birth a new business, I found myself literally growing a tiny human as well. My daughter was born that August, and my independent life as I knew it would never be the same again.

Here I am, 8 years later, a single mom and birthing a new baby at the start of 2020. This baby happens to be a blog, and the infant stage is filled with exciting and terrifying moments. Frequent feedings are essential. New clothes are necessary. Schedules have shifted. My 7 year old sapling continues to interrupt my plans and demand a great deal of attention. And even though some moments are more frustrating than fun, I’m grateful to be a mother and creator and wouldn’t have it any other way.

The concept of this blog came from seemingly out of nowhere the first week of December 2019 and rapidly consumed my thoughts to such a degree that I was compelled to take actions to register several domain names and build a new website. I’m prone to overthinking and analysis paralysis, but the concept of committing to a year-long continuing education project and attaching the significance of clear vision and reflection to the numerals 2020 came with a clear deadline that required immediate action in order to set up a home (or nursery, so to speak) for my thoughts where I could welcome visitors and introduce them to the newest visible extension of my core.

The past few weeks have been a flurry of writing and reading and reflection and planning, all the while surrounded by a plethora of other media posts and articles about year and decade-end roundups alongside resolutions, aspirations, and excitement for starting a brand-new decade. The click-bait headlines are everywhere, and most of us, myself included, sound like we’ve forgotten how to count.

Technically, some mathematicians argue, we still have a year to go before the new decade begins. After all, you don’t start counting with zero, do you? Isn’t 1 the first digit? The definition of a decade makes for a friendly controversy based on semantics. Since a decade simply refers to a 10-year span, you are free to define the start at zero or 1, depending on whether you take a numerical or calendrical stance.

In a recent YouGov survey [of 13,482 adults], 64% of Americans said the next decade will begin on Jan. 1, 2020, and end on Dec. 31, 2029. But nearly 20% said they weren’t sure – and slightly fewer people said the next decade won’t start until Jan. 1, 2021.

And speaking of calendar conflictions, I spent several years immersed in learning about the Hebraic mindset and Jewish culture, and while January 1st marks the start of the new year in contemporary culture based on the Gregorian calendar, the Hebrew new year Rosh Hashanah is celebrated in the fall while the beginning of January is considered a more arbitrary date.

Personally, I tend to view many so-called significant dates and holidays on the calendar as arbitrary and share a similar sentiment to Derek Sivers:

“I can understand using moments like midnight and January 1st as coordinators, so cultures and computers can agree on how to reference time. But shouldn’t our personal markers and celebrations happen at personally meaningful times?”

– Derek Sivers

The timing was convenient for me to plan and start a 2020 project on January 1st, so I seized the opportunity. But other than my commitment to this blog project, my goals and the calendar dates that I attribute meaningful enough significance to mark are deeply personal. For example, when I reflect back on 2019, May 7th was the pivotal point that divided my year and perhaps my life’s trajectory in general, and is a date I plan to observe this year as a celebration of the day I quit drinking. It seemed like an impulsive decision in the moment, and I still haven’t attached any time limits to whether I will reintroduce alcohol in moderation in the future or continue to abstain completely indefinitely, but I can certainly link a cascade of consequences, many positive, to the act of changing the one habit of drinking daily that had defined my adult years (with pregnancy being the only exception longer than a few days).

As far as the new decade is concerned, in my case, I am fixated on a deeper personal meaning behind the year 2020 and will focus on the interrelated themes of Hindsight is 20/20 and the clarity of 20/20 vision, and strive to do so poetically through a numerical and mathematical lens as I officially mark the start of the #2020MathProject today. Carpe Diem calendar counters!