Reflecting on 2017...
I've been putting this post off for a while (is February already right around the corner?!) because it seemed like a huge undertaking to look back at 2017 and honestly, a lot happened this year. This post kind of feels like one of those cheesy Christmas card inserts your embarrassing uncle always types up to share but, if you're interested in knowing what 2017 was like for me, here 'goes...
It seems like we all went through a pretty transformative year. With the current political climate being what it is, an endless stream of devastating news everywhere you look and an undercurrent of uprising afoot, how could we not?! The mood changed all over the world and, at the same time, I was going through some of the hardest stuff I've ever had to navigate in my personal life.
2017 was a period of crazy growth. Most of the year I could feel myself changing and stretching and breaking. There were high highs and even lower lows. Throughout it all, this space, and you, were there for me. Writing, sharing and snapping photos of our adventures gave me a sense of purpose and stability flickering faintly somewhere in the background.
The most obvious thing that changed for me this year was my mom's passing. It stopped me in my tracks and turned the whole world on its head. Grief and I became friends; we got to know each other well and I spent a lot of time in her company. I grappled with a sense of loss... not only the loss of someone close to me but a loss of self. I waded through a feeling of not knowing how to carry on or move forward in the world as a woman without a mother. I didn't recognize this person. I felt cheated and confused and raw. I still do. I'm someone who has always struggled with anxiety; social anxiety that felt crippling at times (like the time it caused me to drop out of college because I became so anxious about walking into the wrong class that I had to give up altogether) and anxiety about the trivial and the mundane. But this year I experienced anxiety unlike any I ever had. I lost my vision. I couldn't hear. I was catatonic. I had crippling panic attacks in mall parking lots. I was thrown off kilter. As we approach the one-year anniversary of February 10th I find myself apprehensive. Sometimes I feel weighed down by anxiousness but mostly, I just don't know how I'll feel when that date finally does come around. What will I do when the loss is no longer new? When I become the woman whose mom died two years ago? Five? Ten? Will the rest of the world move on while I'm still treading water? We'll find out together.
In 2017 my husband and I made a huge decision. On the heels of that loss, we packed up our life and moved halfway across the world. We settled into island life easily enough and although it has been a challenge, it has also been an adventure. I've talked about our move ad nauseum but for the sake of this recap, I'll say this: I'm in two minds about our little island. Part of me loves it. I revel in the quiet and marvel at the lazy breeze that rustles palm fronds during my evening walks with the dog. I'm amazed that we were given the opportunity to shake up our world like this. I'm grateful that Lorelai gets to paddle into waves and collect tropical shells on what might as well be her own private beach. The sunsets are unlike anything in the world. The other part of me is so homesick that I don't know what to do with myself. It's small, I mean REALLY small and you start to feel just how isolating it is when you need a friend or are missing the creature comforts of home. Island life can be inconvenient and simple things like dish soap are commodities to be hoarded and traded like gold among the locals. I'm also painfully aware that sometimes it feels like I'm running... running from a hard year and putting off dealing with the realities of life until later. Can I ever really heal when it doesn't feel like we're a part of the 'real world'? My two minds wrestle with each other for top billing but more than anything I take to heart how truly lucky we are to be here.
This year (not too long ago) I made a big leap of confidence in myself and I went back to school. I'm feeling empowered and fantastic about the timing. Being on our little island allows me to really put my head down and weed out all the distractions. I also feel vindicated in waiting as long as I did because I appreciate the opportunity to learn so much more now than I would have in my late teens or early twenties. I'm a big proponent of doing things in your own time and I'm happy to be doing this in mine.
In 2017 I changed the way I read blogs. Where I used to keep a pretty hefty blogroll of aspiration, I whittled down the sites that I regularly check to include only informative, inspirational and relatable content. I shifted my focus to things that really speak to my heart... blogs that share stories I connect to and are worthy of my time. Some reads, a lot of them dear friends, withstood the shift and others just didn't. I love visiting my sweet friend Natalie's blog (always inspirational and supremely real) and LaTonya Yvette (she has a way with words that I admire so much) as well as a handful of others. I tried, more toward the end of the year than ever, to make a similar shift with my own content. I opened up in a big way and wrote about a lot of really personal things this year. I began thinking of this space as an outlet to share parts of myself that have grown and matured over the last couple of years. I talked about racism (Let's Talk About Racism + 8 Ways To Help After Charlottesville), parenting after losing my mom, body insecurity, sexual assault in the wake of the #metoo movement and abortion. All of these discussions forced me to be vulnerable and I feel so much better for it.
I fell out of love with social media this year and I think a lot of you did too. I got lost in algorithms and the overwhelming illusion of it all just kind of killed Instagram for me. What started out as a fun way to snap and share pictures turned into a giant popularity contest and it got to be too much in 2017. Numbers started to matter more than ever, feeds became too curated and the pressure to post the perfect picture was deafening. I think a lot of you will agree that there's not much joy in it anymore. While I still love scrolling and keeping up with my favorite 'grammers, I'm not as into the whole thing as I once was. I recently unfollowed THOUSANDS (isn't that insane?) of people that were no longer sparking anything at all for me and I can't believe how much lighter something so simple made me feel. This year I'm committed to sharing if I want to, stepping away if I want to and, at the very least, not caring so much. It's just an app, after all. Instead, I'm much more interested in pinning lately! I like Pinterest because it feels anonymous and I don't really do it for the benefit of anyone else... just myself. If you want to, you can follow me there but I won't be checking the numbers and I think that's so freeing.
On top of all of that I took on two pretty big projects this year! I started writing for the Glitter Guide and am super excited to be a contributing lifestyle editor for a site that I've loved since the beginning. I remember following Taylor's blog (way back in the day) and being so excited when she announced her new site and I've loved following along since. It's so great to be a part of something that's run by an amazing group of strong women! In addition to that I recently started working for my absolute favorite bridal company, LOHO Bride, as an ETA and order management specialist. This new responsibility allows me to keep my feet wet in the world of bridal and again, I can't get enough of amazing female-run companies. The hustle is real right now!
At the very end of the year we took an AMAZING trip to Japan and Thailand. There's so much I want to share about it and so many pictures to pour through that I don't even know where to start. It's all a little overwhelming but the trip itself was one of those "high highs", for sure.
Looking back on the year is always a strange assignment... When you're in the thick of it, and days are flying by, your year never feels quite as grand as it does when you reflect on everything at once. 2017 was anything but boring and there's no way I could have predicted what might happen. It was only at the very end of the year that it became obvious... sometimes when things are falling apart, they're really just falling into place. This year I can happily say that I came into myself more than I ever have. I feel so unbelievably content in knowing myself better than I did prior and giving myself the freedom to have opinions and take up space. To exist as a woman in all of my glory without apologizing for myself. I've let go of a lot this year (good and bad) and I think it took some of the hardest hardship to get to a place of peace.
Here's to 2018... may it be far from boring!