I sit down to write another year in review, and it seems nearly impossible that a whole year has gone by. How drastically my life has changed in this turning of the calendar year. For the past few years on this day, as the world waits with held breath for the new year and a fresh start, I sat dreading the year that was to come. Now, for the first time in a long time, I wait with anticipation for 2016.
2015 was a good year. It marked the end of my first year at college, and the beginning of my second. It was in January of 2015 that I got my first tattoo, and in December of this year that I got my second and third.
On a magical day in January a handsome, charming and sometimes insanely awkward young man asked me to be his girlfriend, and I said yes. It wasn't until he left for the summer to go back to Calgary that I realized I loved him. Loving him is one of the craziest, most beautiful things I have ever done, and I don't regret a single minute.
In July of this year, I walked into a room filled with 80 odd strangers, and walked out with those strangers being my family. It was in these days spent at Choices that I got my ass kicked, literally and figuratively. I saw all the ways in my life that I choose others and neglect myself. I stared down my past, and the things I wish I could run away from. I danced, wild and free, for the first time in my life and it was beautiful. I began to believe that what I say matters, that I am beautiful and loved and strong. I learned about how to relate to the world around me, and how to create a little bit more of what I want in life. I could talk forever about the changes in my life since that moment, but what I do know is that I will never stop being grateful for my Choices family. I am a free woman, creating a space of sacred love.
It was also during the heat of the summer months that I participated in my first yoga challenge: #thisisagoodbody. It was a deep, brave venture into loving myself. It was scary, and at times I would have rather done anything than write out my soul and express the deep rooted issues I had with my body. But the work I did then was the beginning of something wonderful. I realized the work of saying this is a good body didn't end when the yoga challenge did. Now, as I face uncertain health issues, it is more of a struggle than ever to look in the mirror at my own self and say that this is a good body. And yet it is such important work, the kind that starts movements. I look at the little girls in my life - the ones I spent the summer playing princesses with and eating watermelon and laughing - and I don't ever want them to know the feeling of criticizing or hating your body. And so I do the hard work for them, and for me. Because freedom is worth it, friends. I am learning that.
The big moments are also peppered with smaller moments, smaller victories but none the less important and beautiful. It was the year I wrote a beautiful collection of essays over the summer, work that I am so proud of. I witnessed the birth of my cousin's baby (on my birthday none the less). I also said goodbye to some very loved people. I learned how to be on my own, which taught me many lessons about myself and where I fit in the world and womanhood and the kind of life I would like to have someday. I began telling my story, the one I have kept locked away for so long for various reasons and even now the telling of makes my voice shake but it is a story that has lived without a voice for far too long.
And in the midst of all the beautiful, there was pain too. There were (are) moments when my health is unstable, and it takes strength I don't know if I have to keep fighting. Coming face to face with my past, while beautiful, illuminated some things it would have been easier to keep in the dark. There was the moment when I realized love was a powerful enough force to gut me. As I walked into my second year of college, I met situations that had the power to shred me if I let them, and resulted in many tears, much frustration, anxiety attacks, and showed me more of what I don't want in life. This year while I laughed loudly, I cried in equal volume. I danced, but I also grieved. I spoke boldly, but there were also moments when it felt like my voice had been taken from me and all I could do was howl in mourning. I lived, and yet there were moments I thought that I would die. I loved, but I lost.
And all of it has brought me here, heaving and panting, to the finish line, to December 31, 2015.
When the clock strikes midnight, a new year will have arrived, with new memories waiting to be made. More tears, more laughter, more joys, more sorrows, more victories, more failures. And yet when the clock strikes midnight, I will still be the same person I was in this year. The memories I have and the things I've done will carry over.
It's nice to think about new beginnings, but to be honest I don't want one this year. I don't want a clean slate, a fresh start. I just want to move forward, another chapter, filled with more.
Welcome here, 2016. I've been waiting for you.
Thank you, 2015. You've served me well.