Sunday, December 31, 2017


"On days like today, when a new year is on all our doorsteps, I feel so clearly that I have never really known where I am going.  And I think I might be getting old enough to feel okay about that now." SC Lourie

I am fundamentally unsure of how to tell the story of 2017.  So I sought out resources, which ironically is exactly what this entire year is about.  I will tell the story of the last twelve months by utilizing a personal inventory, a map.  It's the only way I know how.  You can find this inventory or yourself at I Love Namaste.  

1. My personal mantra for the second half of 2017 was the word "momentum".  I began the year believing my word for the year was "fill", and a few months into 2017 I couldn't have resonated less with a word.  In May life began to change drastically for my small family and I kept hovering around the word and symbolism of momentum.

2. An epic quality I unearthed in myself this year was my capability.  I began the year struggling to acknowledge my worth and my ability.  I questioned myself, doubted myself, and for a while I allowed myself to remain in multiple situations, which did not bring out the best in me.  Throughout the year, however, I was able to acknowledge in myself a true capability I had not recognized before.

3. In 2018 the epic quality I want to unearth in myself ... is bravery.  

4. In 2017 my favorite self-care practices continued to be lifting weights in the gym, but also a newfound practice of mindfulness.  Through my courses in my graduate program, I was able to access endless information and resources, which helped me incorporate some Mindfulness Practice into mine and Judah's daily life.  

5. I am not sure very many people supported me in my self-care efforts this year.  I honestly feel I used up all my "help" to get through the hectic schedule of graduate school.  If anyone supported my efforts for self-care, it might have been my clinical supervisor.  But also myself.  I was my own best advocate this year in regard to what I needed to regain health or maintain a habit a self-care. 

6. In 2018 I hope to encourage the people I love to risk, to challenge themselves, but also to take care of themselves.  We have learned, by pure accident and despite society's definition, self-care does not look like massages and comfort food. More often it looks like quality time and listening and filling up each other's tanks.  It may look like a change of pace, paying attention, or eliminating distractions.  I hope this year I am able to listen better and anticipate other's needs, especially Judah's.  

7. 2017 was full of events I didn't expect.  My heart has worked long and hard at healing from most of these events, which will remain private.  Fear and loss were ever present demons in the first half of 2017 and the grief that accompanied them permeates most of my early year memories.  However, maybe the third most unexpected event in 2017 was being accepted into graduate school, into the competitive Integrated Behavioral Health program, being awarded a scholarship, and moving home to Winchester for the first time in eleven years.  

8. Noticeable changes, which occurred because of all of these events, include an obvious change in environment for Judah and myself.  For myself I developed an avid and intentional desire to pursue healing and process hurt in a way, which allows me freedom.  Throughout this year I have intentionally studied Buddhism and pursued simplicity and intentionality for both my physical and emotional health and wellness.  Mindfulness and my research on the Buddhist principles surrounding expectation and attachment have elevated me in remarkable ways. 

9. In 2018 I have new tools to handle the unexpected.  Specifically, these tools look like new knowledge and the ability and opportunity to obtain more.  Also the intentionality and continual development of healthy and secure attachments.  Mindfulness and the practice of loving-kindness also allow me to experience life with less judgment.  

10. My biggest health and wellness success in 2017 continues to be my pursuit of strength.  I have continued to research and identify weaknesses in myself, pursuing balance and power in the activities I have engaged in.  

11. My personal style has changed dramatically over the last few years.  In 2017 I sold almost everything I own and this impacted my style dramatically.  Not only my personal wardrobe but the items I choose to exist in my space have been pared down and for both style and practicality's sake, I am selective.  I own very few clothes and have changed the way that I choose products for my hair and skin.  I am more intentional these days and willing to invest, but also willing to go without.

12. This year was not one of clarity.  However, what helped me live in simplicity was when I began to associate simplicity with freedom.  Walking away from our home of four years, selling our belongings, parting with things which served no purpose or held no value has set us up for a freedom I've not been afforded in years. 

13. My top four core values this year are the same ones I teach Judah.  Kindness, bravery, generosity, and curiosity.  I wholeheartedly believe these are fundamental qualities needed for us to be our best selves.  

14. I want to keep all these core values in 2018.  I would like to cultivate creativity and discipline as additional core values in the upcoming year. 

15.Looking back, everyone I have encountered has helped me live out these core values.  Those who love me the most have especially encouraged my bravery and curiosity.  However, I honestly believe Judah has encouraged these qualities in me more than anyone else.  Teaching him what's important has helped to further instill these qualities in myself and held me accountable for exercising them as often as possible.

16. In 2017 I was given a laptop to use for grad school.  I was encouraged to take a risk and was given a sweet gift before it all fell apart.  Just a month later, someone stole that laptop out of the trunk of my car.  I was devastated, felt violated and discouraged, and my great aunt who is also a social worker sent money to me to replace the laptop.  I chose to invest part of that money into refurbishing an old laptop and saving the rest for Christmas for Judah this year.  I am forever grateful for her generosity.  I was shown kindness by Sprint employees, my family, classmates, and coworkers. 

17. In 2018 I can practice kindness by being patient, by paying attention, my affirming with my words, by keeping my word, and by showing up when and how I can. 

18. I don't know how to answer this question... but I will say I experience kindness through thoughtfulness, by being shown I am seen, and through encouragement.  Anyone who has offered an encouraging word, picked up Judah when I could not, bought my coffee, hugged me and let me cry, checked on me, told me to snap out of my moods, or fed me this year is someone for whom I am grateful. 

19, 20, 21. I keep my friends.  For years and years.  I am thankful for the few new friendships I made, and am continuously grateful for the long-standing relationships, which have changed and evolved over the years.  

22. I did not struggle too much in the latter half of 2017 with procrastination.  In the first few months of the year, I experienced an immense amount of hurt and I put off the hard work of healing until May when it all surfaced and had to be dealt with.  The last seven months of 2017 I no longer had room or space to procrastinate and I have healed dramatically due to intentionality and time.  One area I continue to procrastinate in is making changes to my dietary habits in order to obtain some physical healing and wellness.  I also put off going to the dentist/oral surgeon.

23. In 2018 I intend to graduate grad school with a cumulative 4.0.  I intend to find a job somewhere, sell my rental home, and continue to take charge of my physical wellbeing.  I am scheduled to have my wisdom teeth cut out next week.

24. My friends and family who helped me move, who helped repair my home, who helped take care of Judah on nights I had class, helped proof-read papers, and listened to me cry over research projects. 

25.  I did not reduce stress in 2017.

26. In 2017 I felt the most at peace when I pulled out of our townhome for the last time.  I knew it was the right decision and I knew what was coming next was what was right for Judah and me.  I was sad, but I felt an undeniable sense of peace and confidence in my decision. 

27. In 2018 I hope to cultivate calm by generating calm and peace within myself.  I hope to be able to tackle what comes next for us with a greater amount of grace and assurance regardless of the chaos or hardship, which may occur.  

28. In 2017 I felt confident about almost nothing.  I removed myself completely from my comfort zone and threw myself into an environment, which required astronomical amounts of humility and flexibility.  I do remember feeling confident in my interview for the IBH program. I remember thinking, I know how to work with doctors, I know how to be a social worker... and choosing simply to answer questions with honesty and humor.  I was told 24 hours later I had gotten into the program.  

29. I was bravest throughout the process of applying for grad school, quitting my full-time job, selling my belongings, and renting out my house.  That took more bravery and was one of the greatest risks I have taken in years.  I was also brave in walking away from multiple situations and circumstances, which were not best for Judah and myself.  For making the hard decisions for our family, and no matter how long it took me, removing us from anything which intended us harm or did not contribute to our best life.

30. In 2018 I hope to be more confident in my ability as a clinician and as a parent.  I also hope I am confident in areas of interpersonal relationships -- romantic, platonic, community.  I hope I am able to feel confident about what I bring to the table and what I contribute to a relationship as well as what I can hope for myself in the interim.  

31. I am grateful for Judah, I am grateful for my family who has sacrificed space and money to help us this year, I am thankful for best girl friends who live all across the country and answer my panicked texts at most hours of the day and night, I am thankful for a job that allowed flexibility even after I put in my resignation, I am thankful for a gym with childcare, I am thankful for a practicum site with doctors who value my time and experience, I am thankful for a new baby nephew and a baby cousin and a niece on the way, I am thankful for people who spoke hard truth (whether with kind intentions or not) which helped me grow, I am thankful for the College of Social Work, I am thankful for those who left and helped me create space for healing and progress. 

32. Gratitude journaling was particularly helpful this year.  As a mindfulness practice, gratitude helped me alleviate some of the pressures of anxiety and remind me to attend to the present moment. 

33. This year I hope to give back by finding ways to volunteer.  I am hoping to find a community of people we can invest in who could use the skills I have. 

34. The biggest change I have made in 2017 was our entire life.  Looking back, I am nowhere close to the person I was when the year began.  

35. Three qualities I've fostered in 2017 that will help me live an empowered life... are vulnerability, intentionality, and perspective.  

36. In 2018  I hope to graduate in May, take Judah on a vacation, meet my new niece in June, find a Social Work job before kindergarten starts in August.

Bonus: what word captures how you want to feel in 2018? 

I would like to rephrase this question, as I am not sure I want to put so much emphasis on a feeling.

One important lesson I learned in 2017 is the opposite of depression is not happiness.  

It is vitality.  I hope for vitality this year.