The social media world seems to collectively agree that 2016 was the worst year. Yes, it certainly stole a shocking number of celebrities from us, and true, the world seemed to have collectively voted poorly for things (Brexit, Trump, etc). I do have a few friends who legitimately had very difficult years. But when I reflect back on my last 12 months I see a year well spent, filled with happiness, adventure and people I love.
Was 2016 my best year ever? No, I wouldn’t go that far. I think 2009/10 and 2015 outrank it. But it had a lot of highlights and only a few things I think I would have done differently.
For Christmas 2015 my dad gave me this cool, indestructible journal (for real – the pages are waterproof and fireproof and everything). I used to write all sorts of things growing up (journals, stories, poetry, everything). Writing had been important to me and my Father wanted to encourage me to get back into it. I decided right then and there that I would write every day of 2016. Well, I sat down with the book on New Years Eve and saw I’d filled only about 10 pages. Oh well, I did start this blog (largely motivated by my father) so ultimately, I still wrote substantially more this year than any other year. While looking through what I had written I stumbled across the resolutions I’d made for 2016:
- Circus regularly (I was pretty good for the first half of the year and abysmal the second half)
- Enroll in a Spanish Language Class (this I did do)
- Learn to use a DSLR Camera (still pending)
- Write Every Day (well, you know how that went)
- Stay Positive (check)
- Bring lunch to work at least 3 times a week (this was spotty at best).
Heading into 2017 most of the above are still things I’d like to continue to improve upon. But instead of focusing on the things I didn’t quite do, as the new year begins I choose to reflect on the positive instead, for what 2016 really was for me:
2016 took me on adventures to Cuba, NYC, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Algonquin
2016 was filled with laughter and silliness and countless wonderful times with my family and my best friends
2016 allowed me to do more canoeing, skiing and rock climbing than any other year of my adult life
2016 I discovered cycling again
2016 I ate a LOT of amazing food and learned a lot about whisky
But most importantly:
1) 2016 was one more year I got to spend with my Dad
My father was diagnosed with ALS four years ago. The average life expectancy of this terminal disease is 2-5 years so he’s doing pretty good. But he was not doing so well at the end of 2015. He had a tracheotomy to help him breath and moved into a hospital. Things seemed bad and I felt going into 2016 that there was a large possibility I would lose him before the end of the year. But then in the fall when I was visiting him, for the first time since his diagnosis he seemed stronger and coping better (he’s not getting better, that isn’t possible) but he still seemed less sick than a few months earlier. For the first time my perspective shifted and I started to see that he is living with ALS instead of dying from it. While things could take a turn for the worse at any time, I feel optimistic about 2017 and very excited that he’s been given the OK to move home and be cared for there.
2) 2016 was the year I stopped being foolish and allowed myself to fall in love with Dave
I started dating Dave back in June of 2015. I wasn’t looking for anything serious and neither was he. And besides, he was from England, only here for a few years, so getting serious seemed like an astronomically poor decision. Except we liked each other’s company and had a lot of similar interests and just had a really good time together so we didn’t become a couple but we didn’t stop dating either. Eventually, despite my best efforts, I did start to think of him like my boyfriend, and after 10 months of this, we finally decided to call a spade a spade and admit we were a couple. I’m not 100% sure when I actually fell in love with him. It was certainly long before I admitted it to myself (and waaay before I actually told him). I think the love really just kind of crept up on both of us (despite our best efforts to stomp it down). Eventually, we stopped being so silly and embraced the special relationship that we’d found in each other, and I’m so glad we did because with him life is so much more vibrant and exciting and happy. With him, nothing is impossible.
3) 2016 was when I finally found my way back to happiness
I spent the years after my father’s diagnosis in a constant fog of depression and anxiety. In June I realized that the fog had begun to lift and I was slowly becoming genuinely happy again, which prompted me to write:
Today I am happy.
The last couple of years have been difficult. I’ve battled some real serious sadness. At first, it was a constant battle to keep from drowning. Then, slowly, things got a bit better and because it had gotten so bad this small improvement felt monumental. I was finally managing instead of struggling so I decided I was ok enough; that this was happy.
But over the last 6 months or so I started singing again, absently, just to myself while I’m going about my day. This is something I’d always done until I hadn’t. I wasn’t even aware that I’d stopped until I noticed myself start again and realized it had been a very long time. Slowly real happiness started the creep back. I finally started to actually feel good again. I was out for lunch a few weeks ago and my friend told me that I looked really happy and it felt amazing to genuinely agree that I was .
Things are still tough and that’s not about to change, but I’m no longer consumed by it. The sadness is only a part of me.
I’ve found my way back, finally.
Since then, my happiness and ability to cope has only continued to increase. I feel true happiness most days. My sadness is still there (I’m not sure it will ever go away completely) but the feeling I am most of the time is excited and happy and optimistic for what will come.
2017 is going to be wonderful. I just know it!