Last year when I wrote my post for 2016, things were pretty bad. I had sort of lost my mind for a minute there. All of the stresses of work and life came to a head at once, and they led to what I can only describe as a nervous breakdown.
So when 2017 started, I wasn't in a very good place. And it was kind of a bad time for me to not be in a very good place because I had a lot going on. I joke with friends that I ate my feelings during that time, which is actually pretty true.
Before I knew it, I had a puppy. But still the same old problems. I found out that even a puppy can't make all your problems go away. Sorry for the spoiler alert.
I knew that 2017 had to be different than the prior year. I could not possibly live the way I had in 2016. I had to learn to set boundaries and to not be afraid to maintain them. I had to figure out a way to truly leave work at work and not let it prevent me from enjoying not work. I had to learn to lean into the relationships in my life that matter most, and actually make those relationships matter most.
I was successful. Not perfectly and not perpetually, but today, as I write these words in my cold snowy city, I can say that I found a level of peace that I desperately needed 12 months ago. I can say that although all of the above continues to be a daily struggle, it's one that I am much more adequately approaching today than I was one year ago.
In 2017 I got locked inside a dark Polish church at night. I invited strangers into my home for money. I got a puppy and named him Mr. Duncan Doodle. I attended my own funeral. I recovered from a nervous breakdown. Mostly. I gained 30 pounds and lost some of it. I got detained on a Slovakian bus. I started a storytelling show. I learned to knit. I helped someone apply to medical school. I had a panic attack under Delicate Arch in the middle of the night. I installed new flooring in my house with the help of competent friends. I got threatened outside of a courtroom. I lost a case that really mattered to me. I surprised myself by donating money to the ACLU. I got really tired of child abuse. I went to yard sales in Walla Walla. I sweated on a boat in Boston. I worked from home. I wandered a Hungarian shopping mall by myself on a weekday. My last living grandpa passed away on Christmas. I foolishly threw a party after running a marathon. I befriended a flight attendant. I drove on ice in Oregon. I got yelled at by an Uber driver in Vienna. I planted a tree. I told a very awkward story at a very awkward dinner party. I laughed in a recording studio. I sent a Snuggie off onto a great journey.
This year I learned that everyone is a little incompetent, and that's ok.
I learned that humor is necessary life sustenance and there are very few situations where at least a little of it is not helpful.
I learned that you can love just about anyone if you are willing to understand their story.
I learned that the happiest people are the ones who are the most grateful, not the ones who have the most to be grateful for.
I learned that most things can't hurt if you decide not to feel bad about them.
I learned that the more time a person spends trying to figure out ways they are a victim, the more they'll be one.
And more than anything, I think I learned that it can be really really good to fail at something. Don't get me wrong. Failure can feel terrible very easily. It's exhausting and demoralizing. And I'm certainly not hoping for more of it. But looking back over my highs and lows, I can see that I've only ever really become stronger because of the lows.
There's some comfort in living in whatever feels like "rock bottom." I think that's because, like most things, rock bottom doesn't seem so scary once you've visited it. And sometimes it's the only place that can truly motivate you to build something new or explore something better.
This was a great year. I hope it was a great year for you, in some way. And I hope that the next one just gets stranger for you, too.
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