2017 is in the rear view mirror — I’m really not sorry to see that crazy year go. You? From historic wildfires, horrific terrorist attacks and political scandals, to the solar eclipse, 2017 was a doozy. Walls and bans were touted and torch-carrying white nationalists marched freely. In stark contrast, across the world people walked in never before seen numbers in peaceful Womens Marches. Symbols of hate were toppled and guns continued to flourish with little constraint. Harvey and Irma decimated tropical oases and long overdue awareness of sexual harassment gave birth to the #MeToo movement. The rich have gotten richer still while the poor get poorer.
Yup, 2017 was really a whopper – and not always in a good way.
Even in the worst of times, (and this year ranks in the top ten) we can grow, be humbled and learn. Looking back, I need to unwrap and process a few things about last year before I throw the door wide open on the new one. While I still write 2017 on checks, my oh-so beautiful Christmas tree stubbornly still stands and too many sweets linger. But, if my pharmacy’s shelves, stuffed with hearts and candy boxes, are any indication, apparently Valentines Day is around the corner. Knowing I’ll have to make peace with the old before I can welcome in the new, here are a few tiny reflections on the year that just left the building:
• Awareness. Before last year, I was literally a political sleepwalker. I never watched or read political thought, and my voting behavior consisted of little more than flipping all the switches on the family party of choice. It wasn’t until my granddaughter cast her first vote 5 years ago, that I stopped short. It was a shock to realize just how blithely I had ‘opted out’ of wanting to know. My sweet girl’s interest in learning about issues that affected all of us ignited my shame at never having given that mature move a thought! In that election, I left ‘mother may I’ far behind and reading, listening, discussing have become part of my persona. MSNBC is my go-to TV, NPR in the car and I’m as aghast as anyone else at what has become the ‘norm’ in our political theater. Ignorance is no longer an option. Vive la resistance!
The first step toward changed is awareness. The second is acceptance. Nathaniel Branden
• Independence. This past year made no changes in my living arrangements. I’m still living solo; I just have made a wary peace with it. I’ve learned that I can stand for myself – and I do. I found Sheryl Sandburg’s ‘you have to embrace the suck’, to be pretty darn true. Unless you step into that suck, accept that this is your life now and try to adjust to your new, revised space, the limbo is even more painful. Being alone is being vulnerable but not necessarily lonely. There is usually a village in the wings waiting for your knock on the door (or a text). This year found me with an appreciation for a few Netflix British series (who knew?) and thinking differently about my borderline, pity party dinners-for-one. I realized I no longer had a reason to make pork chops or other foods I dislike, but made for my man, — ever again. Hell, I can eat dessert first if I felt like it – every single night. (My butt won’t exactly thank me for it, but I have license to do it) I’ll never stop missing that guy beside me but to find some level of contentment in the void, is a miracle of sorts I can deal with.
Fear. I can be the biggest scaredy cat in the world. Left to my own devices, I can easily opt out of all sorts of probably interesting adventures from fear of the unknown or my own phobias. This year I challenged myself in a few small ways (it’s the thought that counts) and was surprised to find I survived quite nicely. I’m sure some of them would not impress you in the least but then, just like beauty, some things are only fearful in the eyes of the beholder. Living with a restricted view is like breathing with one lung; you’re never able to expand your breath properly. I try to remind myself that I’ve lived through the scariest, damn event in anyone’s life – finding the one you love dead. After that trauma, what should scare me enough not to at least attempt to scale the fear? Opening ourselves up is the only way we can create a new path. Fear is what keeps us stuck. Don’t think I have plans to zipline through an Amazon jungle or bungee jump any time soon. I’m just going to try not to sweat the small stuff. Fear will always pop up whenever we want to stretch, or get out of our comfort zone but if we can be assured that most of the stuff we fear won’t ever happen, we have the key to say ‘yes’ more than no.
Awareness is the greatest agent for change. Eckhart Tolle
• Woman Power. Merriam Webster declared ‘feminism’ as the 2017 word of year. Cool. It’s about time the word is framed in the lexicon of the day. In second place, I think you might find the ‘Great Reckoning’. That Womens March? That happened on 45’s first full day as US president in more than 70 countries and it set the stage for women to finally have their say. This past fall, the allegations of sexual harassment and violence leveled against a Hollywood producer tripped off a deluge of accusations against dozens more prominent men across the globe. Women worldwide are done with being treated like objects, being disrespected after years of imposed silence, and I have a feeling it’s just the beginning. Protests are both visible and global yet, on the cusp of the new year, it’s startling to find that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Economic inequality is still alive and well in the workplace. Health and reproductive choices are on the political chopping block. The gap between women and men in health, education, politics and the workplace has worsened. Health and reproductive choices are on the firing line. Sexual abuse, #MeToo, has finally come to the fore. As a woman, I am finding my voice, my awareness and my solidarity. Like Rep. Maxine Waters, this may be the year for all women to ‘reclaim their time’.
The tumultuous 2017 evoked strong opinions, gut reactions and a hefty dose of anger and fear. I had no problem waving goodbye to it. But, it also brought awareness, sensitivity, understanding and some timely fire in our bellies to stand up for what’s right. There have always been wars, one race, one religion against another. Ethnic cleansings, religious fanaticism have flourished throughout history. This year, the hate has just been more visible and virulent than most, especially in this our great nation. Bigoted rhetoric has been seemingly accepted, greed has proliferated, politics teeter on dangerous historical territories, dividing us all in the process. Protests are inevitable, sometimes even necessary. How we handle and grow from them are the challenge.
Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity. Bryant McGill
The year 2017 recalibrated the way we saw the world, each other and ourselves. What do we do now? Take a deep Namaste breath and allow yourself to be present this new year. Allow yourself to enjoy, observe, experience your life – every single minute. Be present to the people around you and the beauty in small moments. The year that was has nothing on the year that could be, so have hope, try new things, see the good, say ‘I love you’ more, enjoy today, and forgive more, especially yourself.
So, to 2017 – ‘Bye, Felicia’, and to 2018, let’s get this party started.