This morning, I woke up to warm house.
On any other day, in any other year, this wouldn’t have even been noticed. Two days ago, however, our twenty-three year old furnace stopped working and our house hovered around eight degrees for much of that time. Several days of stress and $2500 later, the old gal is humming away like nothing happened.
The last few weeks have been interesting to say the least. I smashed my cell phone, lost my Garmin, and then this furnace thing happened. It’s left me wallowing in self pity. Crying and lamenting “why me?”. Feeling challenged and at my wits end.
When I woke up this morning – on Christmas eve nonetheless – I felt a sense of clarity that I’ve never felt before.
This year has been a challenge, but I made it through. To quote the prestigious modern day poet, Ms. Kelly Clarkson, what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. (Yes, I know that song will be stuck in your head for the foreseeable future. You’re welcome.)
As I’m sitting here, drinking a tea, buried deep in blankets, with a purring cat nested against my legs, I am grateful for 2017. Something that I never thought I would feel. Here’s why:
I fell in love with my friends
A few weeks ago, I went bowling with some friends. As I was sitting there, I instantly began crushing on all of my friends. Hard. The ones who were surrounding me, the ones who weren’t. The ones I met this year, the ones I’ve known seemingly for ever. It may seem strange, but in that moment I fell in love with each and every one of them all of them all over again.
They are all so adorable, strong, hilarious, and imperfect. This year, as a group, we have dealt with the loss of family, physical and mental health struggles, career changes, housing changes, new hobbies and passions, friendships and relationships lost and found. Growth. Success. Failure. This year has been horrible for a lot of us, but look at us all still standing. I know everyone says this, but my friends – the family that I have chosen – are the greatest group of individuals who have ever existed and I love each and every one of them beyond words.
My health was horrible, but then became less so.
I struggled hard this year. Mentally and physically. Chronic migraines and hives. Overwhelming anxiety and depression. There were moments this year where I didn’t want to exist anymore. I took a total of three months off of work – something that I never thought I would do. It may be shocking to some people, but for years I refused to take sick days even when I was practically coughing up a lung.
But as the year comes to a close, things are starting to fall into place. I am seeing a naturopath. I am still on anti-anxiety medication and likely will be for the rest of my life. I am on what I’ve deemed to be “voodoo medicine” – supplements what are doing what no western medicine has been able to do. I am sleeping again. I am happy again. I’m feeling joy.
I rocked therapy
In January, I decided that enough was enough. I had dabbled in therapy over the years, but I decided, once and for all, that I was going to really commit to it this time. I found a new psychologist, who I saw for most of this year. We came up with a plan. I read books. I did the homework. I came up with coping strategies. I delved into my uncomfortable feelings. I learned to sit and feel my emotions. I cried a lot. I thought about quitting therapy after every single session. I became more comfortable with being uncomfortable. More aware of my fight-or-flight responses.
At the end of October, my psychologist and I came to the decision that I was done therapy. I still have some stuff left to deal with – including newly diagnosed PTSD stemming from a car accident I was in over a decade ago. But for now, I’m putting into play all I learned this year.
I found meditation
In passing during one of my therapy sessions, my psychologist mentioned that one of her other patients had fallen in love with a local mediation studio. It was August. I was currently on my first month of my leave from my work. My migraines were bad. My hives were out of control. I literally had nothing but time, so I figured I would look into it.
I read the Lifestyle Meditation website from top to bottom roughly 172 times before finally making the leap, signing up for a month of unlimited sessions, and booked myself in for my first one. When I got to the studio and met the staff, saw the space, I finally exhaled. There is something magical about that place. There is a sense of calm that radiates from the walls. I went to quite a few sessions, dragging along friends and my partner.
While I’ve been focusing more on practicing at home by myself, I decided that this was a path I wanted to further pursue. In February, I will be taking the Intro to Meditation 3-day teacher training and I couldn’t be more excited.
Running became a pleasure again
I had two of the worst races of my life this year. I also signed up for and did-not-start two 5ks. After a half marathon that left me physically and mentally drained, I decided that enough was enough. I started running, not only as a form of exercise, but as an outlet and for a sense of joy.
I started this blog and my related social media accounts. I decided to focus on running happy. I decided to not run another half marathon in the foreseeable future. I started working on building up my base. Strength and cross training. Consistency. I created a plan to work on my favourite distance – 10ks.
In a few short days, this shit-show of a year will be behind us all. 2017 has been a miserable, challenging, uncomfortable bitch for many of us. But as we are ready to put a bow on it and jump into the unknown future of 2018, I – for one – want to pour one out for 2017. Thank you for challenging me. Thank you for humbling me. Thank you for showing me what is really important. Thank you for the clarity. But, smell ya later.