Saturday, December 31, 2016

Notes from a Year Named Thrive: Epilogue

Thrive was a word picked in a dark, cold time—something to give me the strength to keep pushing forward. To throw myself, perhaps defiantly, into the future. At the end of 2015, I was scared and exhausted and I didn't know what came next. The year had not been easy and while it was full of growth and learning, it had also not gone the way I expected.

I can't stay where I am, I thought on Dec 31. It's not good for me. And thrive was not just surviving, it was doing well even when surrounded by harsh conditions. It was doing what I had to do to do well. 

None of us have the delusion that 2016 was a year without hardship, but here are some of the things I accomplished:

1. I finished a draft, and RJ Anderson provided great feedback that I implemented to revise the draft. This is the closest I've been in years to being genuinely ready to return to publishing. While that's an ongoing thing I have to decide how I feel about, it's good to have the option again. Kate and others offered support and encouragement—I couldn't make attending a workshop or a retreat work, but they let me know the options existed.

2. I spent more time with my friends. Michele and I went to the Symphony twice. Bianca and Jason joyfully spoiled me forever with an introduction to the Cineplex VIP Theatres. Jenn was always ready to offer a place for the weekend or stop by for crepes. I still got to see Nat, Trev, Kate, Tina, and Carol. Angel and Ardo invited me to the Read Harder Book Club they host for Book Riot, which helped me reconnect with the book blogger community in new ways.

3. I got to see really great things happen for people I know—marriage, New York Times Bestseller lists, Hamilton, return to school, new jobs and ventures. Friends pushed forward right alongside me as our lives took us all in different directions.

4. I got a job. It took me to Florida for the first time ever, and reminded me of how much I miss palm trees. It took me to Vancouver for the first time in years, and I finally got to spend an afternoon in Stanley Park.

5. To thrive you have to have a good foundation of support, because someone or something had to teach you to believe you can keep going, be ok, and do better. This is the year I really came to appreciate the love and faith that my family has always provided me (even when imperfect) as I witnessed the lasting damage growing up without it can do.

6. I started the year with an Oh Wonder concert, added in BLAJK & Banners!, and saw Bastille play their second album all the way through live in October.

7. I moved to The Junction—with a lot of help from Trev. Getting to stay in the nighbourhood kept me close to friends and the part of Toronto that I love. Living on my own isn't always easy, but it has been the right thing for me at this time. Being able to make my own choices and feel agency again also significantly contributed to me doing better this year.

8. Getting to embrace loving pop culture again. Whether it was livetweeting the Robbie Amell, Jason Isaacs, Hayley Atwell, and FXV Flash panels or high-fiving a pikachu in Vancouver. I was in the photo pit for the FantasticBeastsTO event, and got to confirm that Eddie Redmayne's face is that fancy IRL. These are not things I would have expected to be part of my life, and it's really mattered to be around people with enthusiasm.

9. I started writing something new. I fought it for most of the year, but I found where it begins and I trust I will follow it through to its end.

10. Started thinking about what comes next. Thinking about the future and having things to look forward to, goals and rewards, is so vital. My world was shook to its foundations earlier this year, and many of the plans I had made ceased to be viable. I didn't want to stop, but I realized I was going and going and going... without really understanding where that would put me. I had let someone else have too much control over my life and my decisions—because it felt safest for us all to let that person have control.

I suppose what I learned from a year named Thrive is the importance of self-determination. We have to understand that we're all making choices, good and bad, and try to do the best we can. We have to want to keep making choices, keep finding solutions, and keep accomplishing goals.

When something breaks or leaves or ends, we have to find things and ways to keep us going. Hold them close. Let them illuminate the path, step by step, towards where we go next. All the while hoping for bigger and better.

I used to know someone who thought it was beneficial to ask what was the worst that could happen. It was meant to help get over the fear of doing things, and while it does work to some extent, it's never motivated me to focus on the worst. It motivates me to strive for the best.

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