At the end of 2015, I picked three words to focus on in 2016: strong, clear, optimistic. Looking back over the course of my year, I can see how I lived into these words, defining and understanding their worth and value.
The messy process of human existence is a fascinating topic. Our growth tends to be agonizingly slow and frustrating. It’s one step forward and three back, making us doubt any progress is happening at all, but if we give it enough time, eventually we can chart our halting, incremental changes.
I started 2016 with a smouldering restlessness. It was undefined and non-specific, but a fuse was lit in my spirit that signalled a need for a reboot. As the year wore on, it became apparent that Jason and the kids were also feeling this vague discontent, so as a family we actively sought what we referred to as a new start (actually, ANUSTART, which fans of Arrested Development will appreciate).
Then my appendix burst and made everything significantly more complicated, but it also propelled me onto a fresh track for deep personal transformation. In a very real sense, my appendix was the catalyst for a necessary life rupture for me.
Out of that painful, expensive, frightening and uncertain time came the opportunity to practice being strong, clear and optimistic. I would never have foreseen or designed this hospital stay and complex recovery period at the beginning of the year when I chose those three words, but in the way of most significant events in life, my appendix surgery gave me exactly what I needed to make those words real in my experience.
So as this (mostly) challenging, difficult, stressful year winds to a close, I am reflecting on what it means to be strong, clear and optimistic. I’m feeling grateful for the opportunity to live out these skills that I recognized as areas of weakness when I chose them to focus on.
I also stated that I wanted to let go of my deep-seated fear that I am not enough: a shame-fueled energy suck that has hampered me for my entire existence. I had many chances to practice this in 2016. Plenty of situations invited me to walk through my scalding fear that who I am was not enough, for myself or for others. And slowly I proved that I am indeed enough, just as I am, without having to distract people or fool them.
The relief in this discovery was as large as the galaxy itself. None of this was straightforward or easy, but so worth it when I look back and chart this growth trajectory. It feels inevitable, like it was always going to unspool this way and set up the new challenges and triumphs that 2017 is sure to bring.