A Jumbled Up Mix of Thoughts on This Past Year or the Tried & True New Year's Letter
As 2017 comes to a close I find myself reflecting on the events of this past year and would hedge a bet…that you are too. There is something about finality that allows us the gift of contemplation. We can process, brood, celebrate, cry, or even laugh over memories and events that have occurred.
We all have experienced different things this past year. Wonderful events, heart-shattering moments, love has touched us in ways we never thought possible renewing our faith in our fellow man, pain has ripped breath from our lungs making us wonder if we would ever be able to breathe again without crying, we have been left scratching our heads at the actions of others and laughed until our faces hurt because of the good people who bring merriment to our lives.
For me, to say this year was a roller coaster is an understatement but probably the closest I can get to describing it accurately.
When people say, "Pick one word to describe…<whatever>", I find that utterly frustrating. One word does a poor job at summarizing anything...let alone a year. And, as someone who uses run-on sentences and is a wordy writer…even though I know better….I feel it can be limiting. To say this year was painful is true but it was also beautiful. Just as true that this year was tiring as well as rejuvenating. There is a duality of emotions that we cannot deny. Yes, we can be upset but we can also find joy in the little moments. So that one word thing…can be confusing to say the least. That being said, I'm still going to try because why not challenge ourselves, right? Right.
If I had to pick a word to describe my 2017, I would pick uncomfortable.
This year I was blessed to spend the time with mom and truly live life. What do you imagine when you read those words…live life? People laughing? Vacation? Family? Eating the most delectable treats imaginable? Rock climbing? I cannot tell you what trips your trigger or what defines a life truly lived…but I can tell you…you should go do it if you haven’t recently. Yes, I'm going to pull the tried and true saying that, "Life is too short", because EVEN if we are lucky and get a 120 years out of this terrestrial plane, that is still a teeny tiny blip in the timeline of existence.
In 2017, living life meant having girls weekend's with my family. It meant going to North Carolina on vacation and watching mom's face light up with joy (and a little fear) as we made our ascent. Living life consisted of taking picnics with dear friends, making the most out of our Fridays (treatment days) by refusing to censor ourselves and joking with the staff, we had transparent conversations, taking serious and goofy photos to capture the moments that were not going to last forever with people who wouldn’t be here forever, we were open and honest about our hopes, our fears and the reality we were facing. Living life meant having all the paperwork organized, I's dotted and T's crossed so we could enjoy the day and not waste any moments digging through history sheets or life decisions when need be. Living life meant eating dessert first and putting worries on the back burner. Living life meant putting our self-care first so we didn’t get burnt out. Living life meant small road trips and stopping anywhere that caught our eye. Living life meant cutting out the obligatory 'how are you's' and getting down to the real stuff like what makes your soul sing or why don’t you go for that job promotion or stop refusing to see your own beauty. The time for holding our tongues were long gone. Living life meant talking about past loves and future hopes while holding hands and wiping away tears into the wee hours of the morning. Living life meant getting weird with it and not giving a care to what anyone thought about it-who cares if we decided to sit out at the beach at midnight so we could look at the stars while in our pajamas? It made us happy, so we did it.
It was uncomfortable, in many regards. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Mom was bloated, in pain, cramping, trembling, and tremoring especially the last few months. She was miserable but so happy at the same time- it was inspiring. She wanted to do things with friends and family because she knew time was short so she refused to waste a drop of energy. It was uncomfortable for her to move around…to breathe…to lie down…to do much of anything but she kept going, because she wanted to live while she was alive.
It was uncomfortable for me…to see her that way. I could offer minimum relief with medicines or rubbing/itching her back when her liver toxins became too high and her skin broke out. Hospice was a godsend but it was uncomfortable to not have our 'own space' in our own home but I cannot imagine this past year without them in there helping making mom comfortable.
Everything we go through truly does grow us and this year has offered a lot of growth. Man, has it ever offered a lot of growth. Is there things I wish I could change? Oh, most certainly. Can I change the past or how it has unfolded? No. Not even praying every night or wishing on every star in the darkest of velvety skies will change the past. So it does not behoove me to wish away hours or days for a different reality.
Uncomfortable does not mean bad. I think that’s very important to remember.
There is a quote that says that being uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth….and I think that there is no denying that truth. Because, you find out who you are when you hear someone crying and there is nothing you can do to ease their suffering. You find out who you are and who you want to be when you grapple with a reality of a future without your loved one, your best friend, the person who has always (and I do mean always) had your back. Being uncomfortable, being in pain, demands transition, it makes us pay it attention, it makes us change.
Now, how we change…is up to us.
We can look back at this year and pick out only the struggles and let it sour how the see the world. We can be bitter and angry about how things did not turn out in our favor. We can hold onto the pain and let it transform us in ways we cannot even imagine. And, if that is what we desire, if that is what we want, it can happen. The feelings we have deserve to be felt.
But…those emotions also deserve to be worked through and processed. Unpacking and living in pain is no good for anyone.
We can acknowledge the struggle, we can admit the pain has shattered us into a million pieces and we are rebuilding ourselves into a brand new person, we can have nightmares occasionally but at the same time we can still enjoy the days to come. It is not one or the other. It is not only pain or pleasure. It is not only happy or sad. It is not only good or bad. It can be both. Accepting that we can have devastating pain AND knowing there will be the days where we will laugh until we cry tears of happiness is just real.
Guess what I'm about to do guys? Yep, I'm about to throw yet another clichéd quote in here. Although we cannot control what happens to us…we can control how we react. Does this mean that I am encouraging people to walk around with a fake plastered smile on their face while singing songs from The Sound of Music? No. (Although if you want to sing musical songs please hit me up, you know that's my jam.) Does that mean that I want you to deny your pain and pretend to be happy for the sake of others? Oh goodness no, never! Working through feelings whether they are happy, depressed, anger, disgust, shame, guilt, love….whatever they are is healthy and everyone has to work through things differently. I am simply saying, we can take the power back into our hands from an overwhelming situation by controlling our attitude towards whatever it is that is throwing us for a loop. In controlling our reactions we are working with the change rather than letting the change work us over. If there is a toxic relationship that is dragging you down, it is okay to say goodbye. If work makes you miserable, it is okay to search elsewhere. If you are unhappy with who you are, you alone can make the changes you want to see in your life. If your tongue feels heavy because of all the words it wants to say…free it and be lighter. If life feels like it needs to be spiced up, feel free to try all the things that scare you. If there is a certain issue or problem that simply riles you up and you cannot find a way to control your reaction…take the hint and accept that there are some things that may not be meant for us and perhaps it is a lesson to let go.
Take those words to heart…or don’t.
I am no therapist, I am not a counselor or a social worker. I am nowhere near perfect. I am just a person who is writing a letter about her year with a gentle reminder that although this roller coaster ride can be crazy… it does end. So why not throw your hands up when you have no clue what's going on, feel free to scream when you are scared and laugh and smile when it feels good?
As always, I wish you happiness and joy from this year into the next and all those that follow. Although, I do not wish you uncomfortableness or heart breaking moments, life tends to throw those at us, and whether we are prepared or not they change us so I pray that in those moments you can react how you need to so you can move forward in your life.
If you are reading this, I love you and am happy you are in my life.
Thank you for being here and much love to you,
Jenn, Your Sparkly Poetic Weirdo