A Year of Hope, Beginnings and Endings, & The Taco Bracket


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What a year. I’ll be honest with you, 2018 wasn’t very nice to me.

There were some major letdowns. Those dreams that didn’t work out, the late nights of feeling stuck in the same place while everyone else’s life moved forward. There were some lonely places, wondering where that rich sense of community I used to feel went off to. Then there were the anxious times, feeling like wave after wave of bad news just kept crashing.

I mean, the year wasn’t without its good moments. Great travels. Some fantastic meals. Encounters with fascinating people. My dog doing weird stuff. And that’s what usually populates my feed. But here’s some lip-service to the other side of all that. The struggle.

If you know me, I’m pretty much the person in the world who most needed to learn from the movie Inside Out. I’m not a fan of giving sadness or anxiety more stage time than necessary. But at its worst, the past year tempted me into thinking that my best days and best stories might just be behind me.

If nothing else, my biggest win from this year might just be being here, having made the decision to reject that idea as a lie. There are unbelievable adventures ahead, but getting to them means taking a walk through these low points. Sometimes it’s harder to feel thankful for them, but the journey wouldn’t be complete without them.

This Psalm (126.6) became my jam–
Though one goes out weeping,
Carrying a bag of seeds
He will surely come back with shouts of joy
Carrying the harvest

Happy to put this year behind me and to put the next one into God’s hands. Seeds into good eats. Anxiety into wonder. Emptiness into openness.

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This year might not’ve been my best year, but it still put out a few gems:


Atlanta caught me by surprise with how much I liked it. Meeting some new friends and learning from leaders in the present (at Plywood Presents) and the past (at the Civil Rights Center).

Nashville. Getting to hang at the Wonder Workshop and then STORY. I took a big step forward at my job and in my creative life.

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Good times with old friends; like camping in these quirky hipster huts in Cuyama.

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Vancouver made me fall in love with it. Whenever the wonder of nature wraps itself around the energy and culture of a city, I feel right at home. Also, I discovered Kim’s Convenience on this trip and that is important.

Haiti. I felt unusually able to connect with our Haitian participants and they taught me a ton about hope on this trip.

Iceland. Talk about a dream come true. Deanna and I spent just a few days around Reykjavik, I was still so happy to go on glacier walks, to try and convince her to keep walking in search of a hot spring, and to save money eating pylsas and skyr.

Returning to Siena eight years after I spent one of the most fun summers of my life there as an exchange student was blissful. Getting to continue on to Cinque Terre was great too.

I ran my second half marathon and I’m thankful to have a body that can do stuff like that. I hit fitness goals I never knew I could this year.

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Finally, I got to participate in group activities that helped me learn how to love and serve my neighbors. Things like Fiesta de Reyes in Tecate, the Women’s March, and La Posada Sin Fronteras at the Border were all meaningful ways that helped me respond to a crazy world.

INTO 2019

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Oh hey 2019. You look good as a big, wide-open trail.

After everything last year taught me, I believe more strongly than ever that hope isn’t optimism. They’re both good things, but if you’ve got to choose one, choose hope. It has little to do with the way you feel and everything to do with the decision to keep going. To keep trusting.

Compared to previous years, I have very few set plans for the next 52 weeks. I’m relearning how to be open, how to hold things loosely and how to receive the unexpected. Thanks for hangin’! 


First of all, these hats are flattering on nobody.

Also, can you believe we’re now less than a year away from the roaring twenties? And just about a year left in my own twenties.

This past decade has been such a wild one for me. It’s taken me to some unexpected places, towards incredible people, and to do things that legitimately seemed impossible.

Right now, at a moment that feels both like a beginning and an ending, I’m letting go of more expectations. But I’m holding on to the truth that even when things seem stuck, empty, or fixed, you never really know what good lies right around the next corner.

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Every year I pick an extremely attainable resolution that makes my life better. A few years ago, I resolved to stop saying the word ‘manatee’ when they also go by ‘sea cow.’ Another year, I planned on putting pictures in a frame I owned for six months that still had the generic sample photos in there. Nailed it.

Admittedly, my plan for 2019 is a little more ambitious- to use a 32 seed bracket to determine my favorite taco shop in San Diego.

I believe I’m living in the country’s best city for tacos. And there are about eight places I call “the best in town.” Clearly that’s a crowded number one spot and a March Madness style bracket is the only way to solve that.

I’ve got six more slots I’m looking to fill before we start with round one between a couple of North Park faves: Carnitas La Michocanas and El Zarape. Any suggestions? Should I just institute a wild card? Wanna guest judge?


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This week has been restful. It might be a bit tough to go back to those five day work weeks, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

I like this time when the year is in its infancy. I like hearing people’s hopes and goals and projects. I also like the mystery and the anything-can-happen vibes. Compared to this point in previous years, I know very little about what to expect and I like that.

The small handful of things I do anticipate excite me. Lake Tahoe at the end of this month. The High Water Festival in the Spring. Wyoming. New projects helping people pursue purpose and embrace sustainability. More camping and tacos. And that’s about all I know at this point. The best parts are most likely still unknown.


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A quick little flash sheet I drew to rep the DRC. Catch some of the references? Working on a few more pieces like this.

While I’ve got you here, keep the Congo in your prayers, will ya? They held an election last week to determine their next president, but unfortunately it’s never really that easy. The risk of unrest goes way up. The election results are still in a state of ambiguity. Here’s hoping for peace and fairness.

Philippe Lazaro