Personal Post: On Change, Growth, and Rebirth
I've thought about writing this blog post a hundred times. Part of me told myself to not write it because I thought it would seem like a feeble cry for attention. Another part of me was afraid of how to carefully word phrases, and how people would perceive them. But thank God for the other part of me that exists, the one that said, "Speak up. Share your story. Stay humble, show grace, and exude love." So after walking my pooch in the swirling snow and pouring myself a beer, here I am.
Let me begin by saying that we all exist in this world together. We have private battles that we fight in the confines of the walls we sometimes build around ourselves, demons that we wouldn't wish on our worst enemies. Some people go through really dark times and experiences, and some of us are more fortunate. I am a firm believer that if we share our stories, we can release some of those burdens and help each other grow. I don't think that sharing our experiences in a heartfelt manner is an attention-seeking act, I think it is a form of therapy and it can be a uniting purge. On some level, we all want someone to say, "I see you. I recognize your pain, and I will share it with you and relieve you of even the smallest part of it." Empathy is an incredibly beautiful trait, one that can greatly impact the world in a positive way. I want to promise you, dear reader, that I will make every attempt to empathize with you while I share my story.
I thought about saying that 2016 was the worst year of my life, but that is a melodramatic phrase. Two thousand and sixteen was simply the most challenging year of my life, and there is a difference. I started 2016 with ideas and dreams of the journey I thought I was taking. A few months in, that wasn't the case and I changed my priorities. My fiancé and I put wedding plans on hold to adopt a puppy and search for a home. It seemed that great strides were being taken to better the lives we were creating, including seeking professional help for the hurdles we were trying to overcome. I feel that this country has a stigma about therapy and counseling, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is incredibly trying, but cleansing. We came to another bump in the road when our counselor left the practice, in turn ending our time in therapy.
During that valley of progress, we adopted a beautiful pup named Bella, and roughly two months later, I signed paperwork and became a homeowner. I've just got to say it, buying a home is a bitch. I'm going to whine for a second and say that between running two businesses and searching for "Home Sweet Home", I just about tore my hair out. I had some push back from people close to me in regards to purchasing a home, which was stressful and disheartening. Looking back now, nine months into home ownership, it was one of the absolute best decisions of my life.
Even if the home is only in one partner's name, it is taxing on both parties in many respects. Summer of 2016 was a dark time in many ways, and I stayed sane through the support of incredible parents and friends. There came a point where I had to make the most difficult decision of my life. I was forced to grapple with the choices laid before me, none of them easy. I had made a commitment of love and grace and forgiveness before any vows were uttered, but in the end, I knew the path that I had to take, and that it would be the healthiest choice in the end. To this day, I know that I did the right thing. That doesn't mean that it was easy. So many of us take the passive route to avoid disrupting a habitual or easy lifestyle, even if that lifestyle isn't happy or productive. We forget how important it is to love ourselves and be the best version of ourselves first. That doesn't make us selfish in any way, that makes us more capable to give ourselves to another person in a complete and fulfilling way. Realizing this was a huge turning point in my life.
By fall of 2016, I was experiencing a period of rebirth. I met new people, realized massive dreams inside myself that I had been suppressing, and frankly, I grew some balls. I became determined to make myself a priority in my own life. We are only given a certain number of trips around the sun, and it is a downright shame to waste any of them not learning who we are, what our strengths and weaknesses are, and what we deserve in our lives. I have relieved myself of a lot of guilt and am increasingly proud of the person I am becoming. I don't think that makes me conceited for recognizing that, either. I know what I bring to the table and what I can offer the world and another person. Women are often forced into constricting boxes that society builds for us. We are told to be submissive, to be quiet, to make ourselves be lesser in the presence of men. I will not stand by quietly and let a government, a society, or another human being make me feel any of these things. I say without vanity that I am a good person, and a fantastic woman, and I am surrounded by women and men far greater than myself. I challenge you to see these people around you and empower them. Make them whole in their times of sorrow. Rejoice in their triumphs without jealousy or ulterior motives.
We were delivered a massive blow in November of 2016, and the coming change in administration has the potential to make or break friendships, let alone make or break this country. There are times where I feel physically ill about the results. I am terrified of what will happen to women's rights, and our precious environment and land, but I mostly fear the war we are starting amongst ourselves. I hope that we can come together during these difficult times with open hearts and arms. This country was built on rebel beliefs, intelligent minds, and passion. I am choosing to put my faith in humanity and believe that no matter what, we will still be decent human beings. We will open our doors to our neighbors, even if they are different than the face we see in the mirror. We will be a UNITED country. I am continually inspired by the influential people living here that use their status as a cry to arms, like Meryl Streep, or Leonardo DiCaprio, or the stars featured on the National Geographic hit series "Years of Living Dangerously".
After sharing my journey in 2016, I sit here with you tonight feeling contented, comfortable, and hopeful. As I reflect on the past 365 days, it is calming to know how much progress I have permitted myself to make. The message of this post may not be clear, so let me fix that. You alone are in control of what you feel and the choices you make. You may be influenced by experiences or people around you, but you ultimately have the power to rise above any situation. You deserve to be happy, to become the person you want to be, and to change the world. I believe in you. If I can sit by and think that my world was crashing down, and then see that I made it through and the scars are healing, then I know that you have the potential to be much stronger than I was with my spineless demons. I want to make a commitment to you that I will be here to hear your story and support you in any way I can. Taking the first step towards a life of change can be the most difficult part of the process. Once you step off the ledge, you'll see that you can fly and that the view is even better than you expected. I am going to promise myself that I am going to make my life even better than it is, and part of that promise begins with showing more compassion and leading with love. My word and mantra for 2017 is RISE. In all aspects, rise above expectation, rise above conflict and negativity, and rise above the past. What word will forge you this year?
I may not have met you yet, but if you've made it this far, you are a kindred spirit to me. My heart goes out to you, and I thank you. You are an inspiration and a light in the dark. I am going to own this year as a boss-ass bitch, and I want to help you do the same. Share your story with me. Let me buy you coffee, or a Skype date. We can make each other stronger through personal, real connections focused on positivity and love. Let's lead by example.
I can't wait to get to know you. Until next time,