Looking back on 2016

2016 has been a year of push and pull. There were weeks that seemed to stretch on for years, then months that clipped by at the speed of light. A lot of moments happened this year that put me where I am, on this path, got me here, but that being said, I'm ready to see it out. 

I hope that because I've put so much work in 2016, that next year will be like living on top of a confetti cupcake. Sprinkles, color, happiness as far as the eye can see! 

I remember that in January we spent a lot of hours focused on (my nephew) Solis' birth. First the walking miles a day to get labor moving, then the birth itself, then savoring that he was here and so tiny and beautiful. I didn't get very much sleep that month. He was due on Christmas Eve, but something about the way he joined us at the beginning of the new year fits well with his personality. I'm so happy that he's here. Also coming in for January, we started house hunting because the dark, dreary condo was bringing us down. And the hats! I was still knitting to stock my shop and they were selling quickly. It was successful and fun and I'm glad I have that little chapter tucked away in my book. 

In February, as we were moving and I was still knitting to fulfill orders, I hit a snag and started feeling very low. I remember there were panic attacks, some days where the depression was too much, and I was wedged pretty deeply in a comparison/overwhelm trap. Suddenly things that I was doing with my life and my time felt wrong, and amidst all the unpacking, this was the month that I began the slow climb out of that dark place. This was also when I thought that I should get serious about starting a photography business, so I began taking a class and assembling a portfolio and working at that, a little bit every day.

March was a big month, and we kicked it off with a last minute trip to Chincoteague. It was cold, I was depressed, but it was also a really special trip and we had a beautiful time. I came up with a few things to focus in on as we drove home from that vacation, to pull me out of that dark place, and those things were almost all that I did for the next thirty days. I started a tight regimen of tinctures, supplements, sleep, walks, and meditating. I joined Weight Watchers and started carefully tracking my food, water, and activity. On good days I worked on my photography business, decluttered the house by the car full, and one evening while I was sitting outside with Nellie, chatting long distance with my friend Brandilyn, I heard that quiet voice that reminded me, I wanted to go back to school. I had spent the past few months floundering, and this idea felt like the lightest, brightest, most genuine thought I'd had in ages. 

Push, and pull.

By the time April blew in I had lost over 15 pounds, had added a few activities to my days like participating in a soup club, making a second pass at clearing the house of clutter, and I'd begun preparing for a different small business. This time, I put photography aside and focused on handmade goods, like crocheted baskets, and other little things like that. I had a strong desire to work on paying off some bills, and I kept trying on ways to make that happen, one way or another.

May was the first month where it felt like I was coming up for air. My sister and I signed up for a table at our local Farmer's Market, so I transitioned my making efforts to that booth and closed up my very new online shop. I loved that booth, and the selling in person was more fun than I had expected. I also went on a road trip down to Georgia with my sister and the kids. We took them to the aquarium, ate this one particularly amazing pasta dinner, and listened to musicals from our childhood on the road. It was a crazy fun trip, and I hope we get the chance to do it again next year. As I was beginning to see the light again, I started realizing how hazy things had become for me. Kind of foggy, like I was getting places I never actually set out to be. I took another pass at the house, somehow finding more things to clear out and donate, and while the clearing was feeling so good, I took the same approach to my online life. Throughout all the purging, we were planting some steady seeds at home. T and I did a lot of cooking together that month, sourdough, homemade yogurt, kombucha, family dinners - all excuses to spend hours in the kitchen, talking about where we were and where we wanted to be. I took more walks, tracked more food, and lost more weight. We drove out to the country to see some land, and for several weeks, thought we'd move forward with buying it. We never did, and I'm thankful for that. What seems like a downer at the time so often turns into a moment where I look back and think i'm so glad we never followed through on that.

The first half of the year, looking back, was just me bouncing from thing to thing hoping to find a fit. I never did, and only now do I see more clearly that what I needed was simply a break. A time to trust in life, have some fun, and be quiet enough to hear the Universe speak. I figured all of that out over the summer, more by accident than effort, and the second half of the year was different for me in the best ways possible. Push, and pull. 

In June, as we continued on with our weekly market table, we started making some money! I went out with different friends for different things, from coffee dates to evening walks to weekend brunches, and once to a movie premiere. It was such a fun excuse to get dressed up and go out, and it's definitely one of my favorite memories of the year. Thomas and I were beginning to shift gears, and we took off one Monday to an amusement park, a place we'd never been together and a place he swore he'd never go. Hah! 

July saw more market days. Towards the end of the month we (Mackenzie, me, and our best friend) packed up lots of frozen dinners and all the kids and rented a cabin on the river for a week. It was the best sort of getaway one could hope for with that many little people in tow. This was also the month that I stumbled into a brand design project! I learned so much in the process, and really loved working on all the different aspects of branding and design for a food truck. I thought design work might be the next step for me, and as our market table was coming to an end, I thought about shifting gears and starting a little design business. On a more personal note, this was the month we decided to put the breaks on adopting, for the time being.

Next up, and what ended up being one of the best months of the year, August! Push, and pull. I brushed out my dreads (with significant help from people who like me way too much) and got a hair cut for the first time in three years. I turned twenty six and took myself on a trip to Boston, Rhode Island, and then to Vermont where I stayed for two weeks on a little campus in the middle of nowhere to begin my grad degree. I was there for the first two weeks of September, and then came home to sleep for several days. I don't think I did anything besides read and write and wonder what the hell I had signed up for over the next four weeks. 

In October we got rid of our hand me down sofas, replaced them with two that I'm in love with, road tripped through Maine for almost a week long vacation, celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary, saw the Avett brothers in concert, and spent Halloween with all of our favorite people. It was a busy month of running around, going out, having fun, doing one more thing, and it left us pretty damn exhausted, but grateful for every bit of this life we have together. I took my nose ring and several of my ear piercings out, and felt a little more like myself with them gone. 

November came in with a lot of uncertainty. I was tired, unsure of what I should be doing with my life (oiy. recurring thought of the year.), and struggling to adapt to how early the sun was setting. The election happened. More accurately, the day after the election happened. We cried, we processed, we ordered a pizza, we were scared, we held still. Thomas left for Singapore a few days later, before I was ready to see him go, and on the way home from the airport, I came down with the flu. I was sick in bed, unable to do much more than pull the blankets up, open the vitamin c bottle, and tell Netflix I did indeed want to watch another episode. Eventually, Thomas came home. I felt better. We baked pies for Thanksgiving. My cousins stayed with us and I had the realization of how quickly time is passing. I sat in bed with my sisters and watched the new Gilmore Girl episodes. I thought about how much my family has been through in the past ten years, since there were last new episodes of our beloved show. I fell behind in school this month, and Thomas helped me pick myself back up. On a very cold Monday morning, I opened my computer and began writing again. It felt like I was returning to my body.

In December, I took stock of my life. During the day I worked diligently at school, and at night I watched Friends with Olivia. In the in between moments I fought for clarity. I decided to delete social media for 2017, I did some weaving, I fell in love with photography again. I sorted all of our digital photos from the year, we decorated the tree, we didn't sleep in one day all month. We celebrated Thomas' birthday with massages, sushi, and then another fever-bug hit the house. We got giddy excited about Christmas, and wrapped a lot of presents up for the ones we love. We celebrated Christmas with time off from school, turkey pot pie, and family time. On December 26th I started my first Whole 30, and we hosted T's family for another Christmas celebration day. We set some financial goals, I labored over the last week of school, the nights got so cold, and only one time have we seen snow flurries falling.

On December 31st, at 11:59, Thomas met me in the dining room where I was sitting, editing my second to last paper for the semester, for a happy new years wish. That moment exemplified the exhaustion, hard work, and support we've given each other this year. And a few minutes after 12:00, I set my paper aside, filled my water glass, and walked upstairs to bed. May that moment of gentleness with myself indicate much of what is to come in 2017. 

A year ago I begged for direction, clarity, inspiration, peace, anything. I wanted to be out of our condo, to have some financial security, to lose some weight, to travel, to try some business ideas, to know myself even just a little scrap. All of that happened this year. I also made a few friends, started grad school, and learned a lot about myself. 2016 taught me things, so many things, things I want to spend 2017 acting on. In the last year we moved into a bright, beautiful house with a yard, trees, and windows all around. Beyond just having this house, we've truly made a home here. Every room is bright, cozy, and feels like us. Thomas found a groove with his job, and we're really thankful for how much that job has given us. We made progress on some of those financial goals, I lost over thirty pounds, I travelled - with friends, with Thomas, alone. And through all of that, I really did get to know myself a whole lot better.

That's all for me in 2016. Push, and pull.