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On a global level //
It was a year in flux.
Beyond all political rankings, one could say that the year was an uneasy year. There was a tension in the air from a social standpoint. 2017 was an abusive relationship marred by feelings of self-doubt and fear, looking over your shoulder, and anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop.
But within times of dissension, a catalyst is often born. It starts as a small, wavering voice in the din. It coaxes out more timid souls-- those who have had enough of what they have been served. Suddenly there is an eruption of change and evolution occurs. In some ways, 2017 is the year many realities shattered with utterances of "me, too" and the realization of the disparate state of the world. It has been the year of the bottom dropping out-- but when you hit rock bottom, the only way you can go is up.
And up we went this year-- into the unknown to the farther reaches of space. We also reached deep within ourselves and debunked countless longheld scientific theories. We are coming to terms with a reality of being small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. We also collectively have wrestled with our own frailties and the realization that things we thought were sure and true were simply band-aids placed on larger global issues. It had been a year of excess and poor planning. A year where that which grounded us simultaneously shook us to the core. But it has been a year of growing, of collectively seeing errors, and change can be seen on the horizon as the curtain of current events draws to a close.
On a personal level //
This year was formative for me in so many ways. I think up until the last few years I had been quite malleable— changing frequently to satisfy others and preoccupied with relationships and objects. I was dissatisfied, constantly in a state of proving my worth, and utterly exhausted. I was a workaholic, consumed with my career, and could not slow down for anything for fear of experiences escaping me. I was in ill-fated relationships with people that, although may have been okay on their own merit, were not good for me creatively or spiritually. There was an ongoing theme where my creativity was stifled, I was expected to fit inside a mold of their choosing, and everything I was became folly for criticism.
I felt suffocated, restricted, and complacent in so many aspects of my life. I was separated from my creative spirit and drowning in messes of my own making. I was troubled, in a perpetual balancing act of people and places, and somewhere within the chaos lost who I was and my purpose. A few years ago I was merely a shell of my best self, jaded, and vulnerable. I felt my creativity blocked, was confused, and also intensely lonely because I placed my worth in less stable hands. I always thought I needed someone else to ground me, to balance me-- I now know only I was capable of that.
A few years ago I went from making $40k a year to $15k almost overnight. I barely slept, I barely ate— I lived and breathed architecture, work, relationships, and socializing for almost six years. It felt like the death of my soul because everything was a fog and I was just going through the motions or what was expected of me at that point. When I found out I was pregnant, I saw everything I had worked so hard for come to a grinding halt. I was scared and for the first time in my life I lacked a trajectory or system. I no longer knew what my future would hold or what my place in the world was. I stopped trusting my own intuition and going with the flow. I stopped and the world became very still— until it wasn’t anymore.
As I began the process of rebuilding my art portfolio and getting back into fine arts, I realized there was this huge empty space in the truly creative aspects of my life that had occurred sometime in the past decade or so. I used to create and draw and do all the time-- it was my lifeblood and what defined me as a person. And I recognized that I was much like clay— yielding, limitless, and adaptive but still clay nonetheless. Indented, fragmented, able to be shaped and reshaped over and over again. And I was-- over and over again.
It was in 2017 that I entered the fire and came out a beautiful object— brazen, hard, impenetrable. Strong. Fearless. Brave. All those things I thought out of my reach. When everything else fell away, I was still here and more alive than ever before.
No longer limited by anxieties, fears, or opinions I have become the phoenix I always knew I could be.
I stopped caring what others thought of me or how I was perceived and began validating myself while continuing supporting others. I stopped letting other people’s opinions about myself transform my own. I was no longer preoccupied with the things that confined me. I was so limited by trying to be everything to everyone all of the time, buying into ill opinions and feeling the sting of being abandoned and ostracized by some. It took me a while but I now know none of it mattered and the smoke and mirrors of other people or the pictures painted do not define me as a person. I used to think it was selfish to validate myself but now I know better. I was too dependent on their criticism to realize that I was doing just fine as a human being. I thought I needed to be accepted to be loved or have value and I was so wrong. I did not love myself or respect myself enough then, putting my passions and needs to the wayside, and it should never have come to that in the first place. It wasn't my standards that were the problem (they were surprisingly minimal and realistic)-- it was the fact that the people I chose and the standards were not compatible.
I developed a thicker skin because I chose to do so— not because of what others thought I needed and threw my way. I developed an incredible amount of patience. I gained more compassion and more reserve. I saw clearly where I was wrong in so many situations and right in so many others. I became connected with the universe again in a way I could not see for so long. I began to appreciate how small I was in this vast world of ours and how much joy came from the simplest of things. I learned to focus on the meaningful and disregard most everything else. Living life with an amazing, brilliant, hilarious toddler has made me see the world through her eyes in a new and vibrant way. I am constantly amazed by the challenges and rewards of motherhood and found that, even if I failed at everything else, being her mom is the definition of happiness for me.
My life is almost unrecognizeable from my previous one but I am now a more satisfied, more polished, less frail version of myself. The past few years have been a wake-up call of priorities— for the first time in my adult life my career is no longer #1. Everything took a backseat to my family and finally my “self” which was all long overdue. I stopped taking on projects and obligations that I could not maintain. I stopped focusing on relationships and friendships for the most part— which although wonderful in their own ways were a huge source of stress and ultimately draining for me. I stopped being a social butterfly and began developing skills with the excess energy I had been devoting to that. I was always "good" at everything so I never really mastered anything. I want to master some things while I still can.
I journeyed back into creating for the purpose of creating. I found that though my time to do so is more limited the feeling of creating is transformative in itself. I learned to tune out the dissonance and change up the frequency in my life. I found my strength of purpose came from being a mom, bringing beauty into the world, and from being happy in the moment. I still don’t have all of the answers and I still have a LOT to do in this world and in this life. I have a lot of growing to do yet to be sure.
But the main takeaway from this year was that I could adapt to constant change with ease. I could become better, stronger, wiser. I gained confidence last year but this year I gained more strength of character than I ever thought possible. This year found me making choices that were painful, going against the grain, and paving my own way. This year meant letting go and finding joy in cracks of sidewalks and in the laughs of babes. My daughter brought back the “song” of my life and this year brought back the color and the wonder. I found my purpose, not only through motherhood but through getting back to basics. I dusted off the pages of my life and am ready to experience it again with passion and tranquility. I now have the awareness and fortitude to succeed because I have peace and a wealth of experience at my fingertips.
2018 is a big year for us, not only because we are moving (closer to Asheville! Woohoo!) but also because it is a chance to grow new roots, to establish new habits, and to be closer to nature. In essence to build a new life as a new person, which are both scary and exciting prospects. As we renovate the new house, I've been painting everything white and I think it is such a symbol for new beginnings. It is the feeling of getting a new sketchbook and opening it to the first page--a blank slate within the realm of possibilities-- and there is something very exciting and invigorating about that. Things like losing weight and eating better are also on the agenda, of course, but exploring life with my little one and spending more time with family are the top priorities this year.
Wishing all of you a joyous 2018 filled with great experiences, growing, and the fire of new beginnings. Much love to you and yours in the coming year. Thanks for sharing this journey with us.
Now if you’ll excuse me— I have more growing to do. :)