Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone, but here we are: January 1st. There’s a saying about not looking backwards because that’s not the direction you’re going, but – while I understand the sentiment and would agree that you don’t want to keep your head turned forever – I think it’s essential to reflect on where you’ve been to more clearly see the path forward.
2017 was a rough one, as I know it was for many people. Now that I’m on the other side of it, though, I realize that sometimes it’s life’s greatest challenges that show you what you’re truly made of. And, of course, no matter what life throws, there are always many, many things to be grateful for. Because it was a strange year for personal blogging… a circumstance that I still can’t believe I found myself in made it uncomfortable to share all that I had become accustomed to writing about… and I didn’t write much about my year other than what I read, I thought I’d share some highlights before looking ahead.
People I Met
I had the privilege of meeting some amazing people this year. From several authors, to a gold medal olympian, to the stepsister of Anne Frank (that one still blows me away), I’m proud of myself for taking advantage of these opportunities that were presented to me, and I’m thankful for my village, who helped free me to attend events.
Places I Went
Finally, I got myself to the beach! It’s my happy place, and I had been away from it for far too long. I also got back to Florida – twice! – again, after far too many years away.
Almost as exciting, as anyone with a toddler can attest to, I got to stay in a hotel room BY MYSELF during a conference in a beautiful part of rural Maryland.
Things I Did
I read. A lot. I saw the Foo Fighters in concert.
I viewed a total solar eclipse. I threw a birthday party I had never planned to have in less than two weeks after Little Bit told EVERYONE he was having a Peppa Pig party with cupcakes.
I actually made a few things. And I even wrote a little.
Goals I Achieved
I learned to SWIM! I can’t tell you how big of an accomplishment this is for me. I achieved a lot of goals at work this year, all of which were important to me, but the magnitude pales in comparison to finally ditching the “non-swimmer” label.
Lessons I Learned
This year I spent a lot of time and energy on introspection. It was hard work, and it was almost never fun, but I’m in a good place on the other side of it, so it was well worth it.
I learned how to use my voice to stand up for justice.
I learned how to act bravely while feeling afraid.
I learned how to use my words to spread light.
I learned how much I have to offer.
I learned what I’m made of.
Times I Surprised Myself
Beginning in the summer of 2016, I spent time each week with a personal trainer to increase my strength and flexibility in response to a diagnosis of arthritis in my hip. I felt like a disaster. I was incredibly out of shape, couldn’t get the form right, and never remembered what I had learned the previous week. But I didn’t give up. I liked my trainer, and I liked this new TRX thing she was having me do. By the end of the year, there was definitely an improvement, though a seemingly small one, so I laughed when she suggested that in 2017 I take her TRX bootcamp at 7 AM twice a week in ADDITION to our day of training… but my name appeared on the signup sheet before I realized I was writing it. You know what? I kicked ass. The first few weeks were hard, but the more I did it, the more I liked it; and the more I liked it, the more I wanted to push myself. By the time summer of 2017 came around, I was in my late 30s and felt physically stronger than I ever had.
Once upon a time, I was a teacher. In a classroom. Reading essays about The Outsiders. Almost a decade ago now, my career path took an unexpected turn to the field of Community Relations. Three years into my current position, I found myself lobbying for a bill to be passed for the betterment of our community. I found myself writing testimony for a State Senate Subcommittee Hearing and being quoted by our Federal House’s Judiciary Committee. I found myself speaking to newspaper reporters and at a local press conference. All of which left me asking, WHAT. IS. MY. LIFE?! Needless to say, all of this comes as a surprise. Also of surprise is the way I managed to act like I know what I’m doing all the while trying to still trembling hands behind the podium. I have no idea what other surprises my career has in store for me, but I’m more confident now that I can handle them.
What I Let Go Of
I’ve let go of a lot of STUFF. I became a little obsessed with The Minimalists, and while my life will never be a shining example of minimalism, I’m learning the value of LESS. Less stuff. Less obligation. Less distraction. I’m beginning to see how living with less can actually lead to MORE of what I value.
As I look ahead to 2018 (more on that later), I’m reminded through my reflection on the last year that life is made up of moments. These are the moments and the lessons I learned from them that I’ll remember and carry with me into the new year.
What do YOU want to remember from 2017 as you start a new year? Share some of your highlights with me in the comments!
This post is linked up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.