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Reflecting on 2016

A few days, ago I decided to take up keeping a journal again. So, I headed to our local Tuesday Morning store to look for a new journal. They always have such cute things for great prices, so I was pretty hopeful. I was right! I found a gorgeous set of journals for just $5!

I bought these gorgeous journals from my local Tuesday Morning

Yesterday, I decided to break in the one that says Anything Is Possible. I chose that one for two reasons:

1. I LOVE the quote and 100% believe in it. I was just talking to someone yesterday about one of my role models – J.K. Rowling. I have looked up to her since I first read Harry Potter on a train in 1999. The story spoke to my 14-year-old literature-loving soul. My admiration of her has only grown over the past 18 years as she went on to become  the epitome of a best-selling author. The person who got the world to read. As someone who loves writing and has wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember, Rowling has been the best role model. After I became a single mom, I also started to admire her history as a struggling single mom. I think that she epitomizes that idea that anything is possible. She went from being as poor as you could be without being homeless to being one of the richest people in the world, writing a story that became an international book, movie, and franchise phenomenon. A bonafide rags-to-riches story. And the epitome of the idea that anything is possible.

2. My “one word” for 2017 has a great deal to do with butterflies. More on that later. 🙂

Anyways, back to breaking in the journal. I wrote a few entries yesterday that had been on my mind and wanted to share the gist of one of them with you guys.

You see I decided that I needed to reflect on 2016. At first, when I did this, I couldn’t think of anything positive. 2016 was tough. There was a lot of fear and insecurity about a lot of different things.

I spent much of the year feeling tense and fearful about race relations and the ugliness surrounding the presidential elections (as well as what is going to happen because of those things). I’ve been stressed about the state of my freelance business (the holidays have been historically challenging with the market I was catering to). I’ve been very unhappy with my weight and health. I’ve worried about whether homeschooling my son is the best thing to do. I’ve also debated getting a traditional job  and putting him in public school.

It has just been a year full of stress.

I am not alone in reflecting on the year. Many people have taken to social media to voice their feelings about 2016. Some viewed it as their worst year ever, for a wide variety of reasons: lost loved ones, lost jobs, war, rampant acts of violence and hatred. Many were ready for it to be over.

However, you also had the people who were on the other end of the spectrum. People who thought 2016 was pretty good. Great, even. People who talked about how amazing their year was and how they were tired of seeing people complain that their year was bad.

I admit – I was annoyed with the people in the latter part of the second category. While I have nothing against people who had good years, I am generally against policing other people’s emotions, devaluing other people’s feelings, or disregarding/minimizing other people’s experiences. I feel like everyone should be aware of and respectful of the fact that our feelings, emotions, and experiences will vary.

However, when I saw a friend post something about it, I was forced to think about it. I admit, when I first read the status, I thought it was written in an insensitive and rude way. However, one part of it I could agree with – and that was the idea of FINDING something positive. While I still disagree with policing people’s emotions, I do agree that when you purposely seek out silver lining in bad situations, it can help you adjust your outlook. Sometimes the good things in life are pretty well hidden underneath the big, bad things. But if you actively try to find the good, you will often find it (that’s me channeling my inner Pollyanna).

So that is what I did. After venting in my journal (lol), I turned to a fresh page and titled it “Good Things About 2016”. At first, I could only think of one thing: “My family is alive and relatively healthy”. Then I wrote about how I was finally able to break into the copywriting industry.

Then I was stumped.

After staring at the mostly blank page for several minutes, I messaged my friend, Michelle, telling her that I was trying to think of ways that 2016 DIDN’T suck and was drawing a blank.

She almost immediately responded  “Money always appeared when needed”.

YESSSS!!!!

I mentioned above that this year has been stressful enough business-wise for me to seriously consider getting a regular job. Things got really rocky financially. I felt like a failure at business and like I would be better off (though not happier) just getting a 9-5 job. But, as Michelle reminded me, I always got the money I needed when I needed it. Sometimes it would be a new client. Sometimes it was a very timely blogging opportunity. Other times, I had to borrow money (which is not always a viable option in my family). Even though I HATE HATE HATE borrowing and owing people money, I know that in those times it was necessary and that I was fortunate to have it as an option. So even though my financial situation sucked a bit, the fact that I was still able (by a variety of means) to stay afloat is still something worth acknowledging as a good thing on my list.

After that, I was able to shift my mindset while thinking of more positives.

You see, sometimes your good things are hidden in the bad.

For example, some other entries were:

*”Christian got everything he wanted for Christmas.” There were two things that Christian REALLY wanted for Christmas. I’d been planning to buy them for him. But then my business hit the wall and suddenly, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to afford one of them, let alone both of them. However, a lovely Secret Santa came through and bought them for him (a telescope and “Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare”) as well as a dvd and a space book. I was able to supplement those gifts later when money came in (early, at that!), but I will never forget that feeling of gratitude and warmth when some unknown soul on this planet made sure that my son would be happy on Christmas morning. Especially since this was the first year that he announced that he believes in Santa AND that he told “Santa” what he wanted. I also got some really awesome Harry Potter (and unicorn) gifts from my friend, Michelle. That was another awesome thing because I rarely receive gifts.

Merry Christmas 2016

This is what happens when I ask my son to pose, lol. P.S. Some of those gifts were for his cousins and my parents. And some were for me (thanks Michelle for the Harry Potter gifts!) 🙂

*”Moved on from TDT” For much of the past 10 years, I have been in a rather complicated relationship with a friend. One of those situations where one person has feelings for the other. O_O The past 4 years have been a bit tense and I wasn’t sure where it would lead. This year I gave myself space to accept and embrace it for what it is – friendship. I’m still not quite sure of what will happen in the future, but at least the complicated aspect of it is no longer relevant (for me, at least).

Eventually, I had a full page of good things written down: friends who have motivated, encouraged, and supported me (as well as provided countless hours of conversation and entertainment); we adopted a puppy (a goofy yet loyal black lab who is aptly named Luna Lovegood); I fell in love with designing printables and other fun things; I’ve had some cool things going on with my blogging (such as being selected as a brand ambassador for Central Arkansas McDonald’s for two years in a row);I started drawing and painting more often; we became even more active in the homeschool community by officially joining 4-H and joining another homeschool co-op; I learned more about web design and started redesigning my business website; I learned more about networking amongst entrepreneurs.

Then there were the small things that made me happy like Gilmore Girls FINALLY getting a new season that gave fans closure on a few things and Netflix coming out with hit after hit that had social media in a positive uproar. I also became part of an awesome community of creatives and entrepreneurs who use bartering as a way to help each other out and get some cool services and products.

Good things about 2016

After finishing my list, I saw that 2016 wasn’t a complete wash. Some truly terrible, tough, and scary things happened. But some awesome, unexpected, and beautiful things happened as well.

I imagine that 2017 will have that same mixture of great, good, bad, and awful things. Some of it will be out of my control. But the way I interpret and react to those things is something that I can at least attempt to control. So that is what I take with me into this year. Acknowledgement that whatever happens, a few things hold true:

1. I am a survivor.

2. I am resourceful.

3. I am loved.

4. I am capable of greatness and of evoking change. I just need to take consistent action.

 

What lesson did you bring with you into 2017? Let me know in the comments below. 

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