Are you here?
Did you survive 2016? If you’re reading this, you must have. Congratulations.
I’m proud you, and me, and us. We’re at December 31, 2016. We made it.
2016 has been a scary, sad, overwhelming and tumultuous year. It’s also been an exciting, triumphant, beautiful and adventurous year.
…I just listed a whole bunch of contradictory adjectives that could easily be fit into a single day – and that’s usually how it went. Humanity 2016 has been a hot mess. A lot of people died, systems were disrupted, dreams collapsed and change came quickly. I struggled. Everyone did.
But like many of you, I’m trying to focus on the good stuff.
In 2016, I worked hard and was blessed to be a part of some truly wonderful things. I also failed a lot, found weaknesses I hadn’t dared to notice prior. I quit, started over and asked for a lot of help. Many things I thought I’d finish this year might never see the light of day, and a number of things I never thought I’d do – well, I did them. It all led me this far, and I’m grateful for that.
-I was invited to model for PinupGirl Clothing
-Hosted some fabulous live shows
-Came very close to a certain brand of success and admitted that it wasn’t what I wanted
-Wrote & Co-Directed my favorite music video ever with my best friends.
–Started this blog out of extreme vulnerability and honesty
-Began writing in earnest, and had some deeply powerful encounters in response to my pieces featured by the Huffington Post
-Road tripped from California to Canada and enjoyed a lot of ‘first time’ adventures
-Survived a darkness of the deepest kind
-Found an unexpected day job and grew greatly as a result
-Left everything to join the Standing Rock community, which overturned my world again
-Jumped out of a plane, overcoming fear of flight & falling
This list makes my life look awesome…and it is. But I could have easily focused on the horrible things. There were many, for all of us…but that should not diminish the things worth celebrating.
I’ve experienced things I’m deliriously happy and proud of. I’ve also experienced things that devastated and rattled every part of me. I’m grateful for it all, but unsure of where to go next.
2016 was the best and the worst year of my adult life. Today, I’m stuck on a thin line between welcoming 2017 and dreading it completely.
If I care too much, I struggle so hard I lose myself. But if I let apathy take over, I careen too far in the opposite direction. Control is hard to find on either end of the spectrum. My happiness lies somewhere in the middle….but mental illness, self-doubt and perfectionism hate the middle. My faults feel safer baring their teeth through extremes. It’s been a struggle to keep those ends at bay while I plan and organize for 2017.
At the end of most Decembers, I like to do a little “year-end review” where I go over everything (good and bad) that happened during the year and set new goals. Sometimes, a certain word will stand out and repeat itself, until it becomes the word for my year. And this time, the word ‘strategy’ kept coming up. It sounded good, so I went deeper and kept scribbling the blueprint for 2017. I put ‘strategy’ at the center of all my plans.
But the harder I worked at planning, the more strict and unforgiving this ‘strategy’ became. My plans grew more ego-centric and achievement based. Before I knew it, I’d spent three hours writing insanely detailed plans for things that might happen six months from now. And again, I was a wreck.
Had I learned nothing from this crazy, unpredictable and totally humbling year?
On the edge of a 2017, I’d once again swamped myself in that frantic, competitive and totally miserable state that I had fought all of 2016 to overcome. I was comparing myself to others, seeking validation in the unrealistic future version of myself that I was currently constructing. As I continued over-planning, my ambition morphed to masochism and tore me down in minutes.
I’m going to skip the crappy bit where I broke down in tears and panic took over. I’m skirting around the section where I fell into old patterns again. And I’m not going into detail about the part where my husband called me out on what I was doing and it was embarrassing.
I’m skipping ahead to the good part: “F*ck it.”
Those two words are directly responsible for the biggest highlights of 2016, and I’m taking them with me into the new year.
Almost none of the best things this year happened because I planned them. The most life-altering events came along uninvited, and that’s a good thing. My favorite accomplishments and biggest milestones of this year were totally unplanned. I just did things because I wanted to do them, and the outcome always exceeded my expectations. Why? Because I had no expectations.
2017: Expect nothing, just be kind.
The world doesn’t need more strategy. It does not need more bestselling authors, hot-shot screenwriters or movie stars. We need more people who create, share and communicate with love. We need more honesty and respect.
Sure, I’d love to become wildly successful and never worry about money or validation again, but it wouldn’t change what’s inside. It wouldn’t change what’s happening around me, either. The world doesn’t need more #goals. It needs more actual kindness – to ourselves, and to others.
In June of 2016, I started this blog as my personal initiation to an Unrestricted life. The goal was to reject anything that’s held me captive, including my own negative patterns. I wanted to find freedom in choosing my humanity instead of building a false image. I came here to be authentic, compassionate, and present – whether nobody’s reading, or everyone is.
And it was hard. It’s still hard. Sometimes, I forget and slip back into that LA mindset of constant acquisition, comparison and ego. But the foundation is here, and it’s time to keep building.
I’m recommitting to my vision. That familiar soul-sucker called Fear can just f*ck right off. It’s never worked, and never will. I will never be better than anyone else, because that’s an illusion. My only competition is the person I was this morning, and she wasn’t very nice to herself.
Letting go is not my resolution. It’s my revolution.