It seems like for the past few years (four, if my memory serves me correctly), I’ve ended each year thinking, “this has been the most difficult year of my life.” Which is saying something because it means that each year got progressively harder! Death of a loved one. Huge personal changes (which I may or may not write about here someday). Broken relationships. Physical pain, injuries and illness. The list goes on…
But this year, for the first time in almost half a decade, I am not looking back and thinking, “this has been the most difficult year of my life.” Oh, it was hard. Believe me. But instead of being hard due to painful circumstances (although there were plenty of those), it was hard because I did hard things. Good things, mostly. But things that required stepping outside of my comfort zone. Things that required me to put on a brave, confident face even though inside I was shaking with fear. Things that made me choose between cowering in my fear and mustering up courage despite my fear.
I remember about two and a half years ago (so the summer of 2013), I was canoeing down the Little Miami with friends. We happened upon a tree on the shore that was used for climbing up and jumping off into the river below. We paddled our canoes over to the tree and one by one, everyone climbed up the tree and jumped into the water. Soon I was the only person left who hadn’t made the jump. I sat there in the canoe, with the two sides of my brain duking it out. To jump and risk falling, getting hurt or looking foolish? Or to stay in the canoe where it was safe and comfortable, yet miss out on the potential fun? I knew if I didn’t jump, I would regret it. And regret is one thing I don’t want to live with. So, despite the butterflies in my stomach, I got out of the canoe, climbed the tree and jumped into the river. And you know what? It was awesome.
I share that story because it’s reminiscent of what this year has been like. It has been filled with choices: stay in the proverbial boat where it’s comfortable, or get out, risk failing and jump?
For me, 2015 was awesome. It was awesome because it helped me to see that I am strong. I am capable. I can be who I want to be and create the life I want to live. I don’t have to let my fears and insecurities dictate who I am.
Making those jumps is rarely easy. But it’s almost always worth it.
So it is with a heart full of gratitude that I leave 2015 behind. This past year has taught me so much, about both myself and what is most important to me.
Not only am I grateful for all those lessons learned, but perhaps even more, I am immensely thankful for the amazing support network I have. I know I’ve said that countless times here, but truly. I am so lucky to have the family and friends that I do. They encourage me when I feel lost, overwhelmed and sad. They revel with me in my successes. They help me to be strong even when I feel broken. They are my biggest cheerleaders, my most trusted confidants, and my most ardent supporters.
And now, it is time to embark on a new year. A new year that will inevitably be filled with challenges as I go back to school, navigate the world of single parenting, send Anna to preschool (in the fall) and generally adjust to this new (and sometimes crazy) life of mine. I am nervous, yes, about being in school for the first time in eight years. I am nervous about the balancing act of being a good student while also being a good mom (not to mention friend, daughter, sister, etc.). I am nervous about all the uncertainties the future holds. But most of all, I am excited for these new adventures.
I hope that a year from now, I will look back on 2016 and be amazed at how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown and everything I’ve learned along the way. I hope that 2016 is filled with lessons learned, adventures had, memories made and life enjoyed.
Happy New Year!