Dear 2016

Dear Year 2016,

You were a beast. I admit, there were quite a few times I thought you were going to get the better of me. I lost people I cared for, both to death, and to different paths we chose to take. I lost parts of myself, and rediscovered others. I allowed people to get into my head and derail me from time to time, but also learned to more effectively use the word "No". You took from us artists, and dreamers, and inventors. You were the year for drawn lines in the sand, and finding the people you call your tribe. You, 2016, were a lot of things. But, you were not the winner. Though, you may believe you were.

I didn't push myself as much, or as far, as I could have in the past year. I made excuses, and that lead to plateaus and fluctuations in weight - especially the last 3 months of the year. I also stopped going to therapy, temporarily, to try to get finances under control - a double edge sword. I feel as though my therapy was sort of like my life goal buddy. It was my accountability. I was raw and honest there. I had to face up to my own bullshit because my therapist wouldn't have it any other way. When I fucked up - I had to own that shit. I couldn't just sweep it under a rug, and pretend it didn't happen. I had to look deeper into those things and figure out WHY I allowed them to happen. I haven't had that in months - and I feel my decision between finances and self recovery have been at war with each other. Now that it's the start of a new year, I intend to start going back to therapy again - because I need it still. And that has been evident the past few months.

I rediscovered my love for creating. Not just in my writing, but in painting, and photography. I haven't painted in over a decade. I always compared my work to that of my Mom, and I never thought I was as good as, or could ever be as good as she was. So I gave up. I put restriction on myself because I was trying to be like someone else. I wanted to be perfect, and I couldn't be. But I started painting again - and while I may not have the same technical skills she does - I am still really good at what I do. And painting has helped me relax. When I first started, I wanted to throw my paint brushes... but I stepped back, and allowed myself to breathe. Focus on one thing at a time. Don't try to make it perfect. Let it be what it is going to be.

I remembered the important things in life are not getting up every day and going to work, or making every meal perfect, or spending every free minute cleaning the house. The things that make this life so precious are the moments in between the static. A surprise snow storm in the middle of the night. The dead silence that the snow fall brings, where you can hear trees creaking, and the snow pack under your feet. Awakening that child in you that wants to go outside, and stand under the street light - letting the snow flakes fall and melt on your eye lashes. Laughing like a kid, and building a snowman with the person you love. I remembered why we love the north east part of the country, and even the blistery cold that it offers. Nothing else feels like this kind of magic. And it is magic, no matter what anyone says.

2016 offered one of the most beautiful Autumns I've experienced in a long, long time. I captured it's beauty and it's solace as best I could with a lens. I took trips down memory lane, and made new discoveries on roads not previously traveled. I marveled at the beauty of all that God has created and given to us. I found part of my soul in the woods of Vermont, and that my heart is still firmly planted in the soil of that state. Jordan's passing last March brought me home. It was his life that made me stop and re-evaluate my own, my own goals, what's important, and what I am fighting for. What we all are fighting for. 2016 took a great man from us - but gave me so much in that death. We were mechanical before this. We woke up, worked, kissed our family at night, went to sleep - and started again the next day. This loss brought pause to the repetition. We don't want complacency any longer. We don't want mechanical lives. We want to live with purpose.

2016 claimed our baby, Truman, who had been sick for well over a year with hyperthyroidism. No matter what we did, we couldn't save our baby. This loss stung quite a bit, and for quite some time. It's still hard for me to look at his picture. He was such a good boy. He talked - constantly. Sometimes, annoyingly so. But he loved us - more than himself, he loved us. He behaved more like a dog, than a cat. We couldn't watch him suffer, and the night we came home to find he had thrown up blood in his bile - we knew. He was just living for us. He was fighting for us. And that wasn't how we wanted him to live. I held him while he was euthanized. I felt his heart beat stop. And a part of me died with him.

2016 was a time for rebuilding friendships, letting go of the past, and focusing on building a better and more fulfilling future. It's the year that both Bj and I decided that Pennsylvania is just a stepping stone to where we want to be. It's been good to us, and we're grateful for the experience here - but our hearts belong somewhere else. And we are working toward that end. It's kindled a fire in both of us that makes going to work every day more purposeful. We know that someday, someday soon we hope, to be back in Vermont as permanent residents - and building the life we've only talked about while living here in PA. It will be sad to leave this behind - but we know that it's part of our path - that we have to discover what is next for us.

This past year was a time for firsts, and a time for realizing that no matter what other say or think - I am enough, and no one can take that from me. Bj experienced his first tattoo at 37 years old. It was a great first experience for him - and while I had already experienced mine in my mid twenties - I finally got my second tattoo that means so much more to me than just the words inked on my skin. We both over came many things together as a couple this past year - but also did many things for ourselves that we'd be putting off because of time, or money, or (insert excuse/reason here). I'd say we're becoming more comfortable in our own skin.

So, 2016 came to an end, and here we are at the cusp of 2017 - a brand new year, a fresh start, and a whole 365 more days to either live with purpose and passion - or allow the past to haunt us into complacency. I hope for you and yours - that you chose to live well, with love in your hearts, and goals in your sights. Smash the hell out of them, love with everything you have, love yourself - love others - be kind, be patient, and be open to new things. While we might fall from time to time in 2017, and experience heartaches, and loss... it's how we come back from those things that make or break our year to come.

Good-bye 2016, it was nice knowing you. Welcome home, 2017 - lets begin a new journey.


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