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Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Year of Joy

Before adventuring to see the sea turtles. Such an
incredible day!
I've spent the past 19 days in the presence of some amazing people. People I love more than I could ever explain.

First there was the family vacation... four siblings, two parents, a handful of sea turtles, a dozen gourmet meals, 5 days in the sun and a [couple] of cocktails here and there... it was incredible.

Then, there was Christmas. Another week with the family full of wine, games and more time spent with my favorite humans on the planet.

Christmas Eve with my truest soul mates.
Finally, I had the privilege of standing next to one of my best friends as she said "I do," to her perfect match. It was a week full of love, laughs and so much joy. Congrats to Dani and Jeremy. I am so happy for you both!

I can't remember what life was like before these 4.
They are my brightest lights.
Naturally, I was flying high with all of these amazing experiences that were taking place in my life. It's always special spending this time of the year with people I love. Then, yesterday I started receiving messages wishing me a "Happy New Year!"

Wait a minute.

It's New Years Eve??

Shit.

Of course I was aware of the date on the calendar, but in all of the craziness, I had failed to give myself any time to process the start of the new year (If you know me well, you know that this caused my blood pressure to skyrocket... processing is kinda my jam). So naturally, I started to panic, because in this moment the introverted portion of my brain (approximately 65% of me) needed nothing but alone time. So, I gratefully said goodbye to the friends I was with and headed home to check in with myself.

I've never been a huge fan of resolutions. Until last year, I always made them and I always failed at them. it's not hard to fail at a resolution. As human beings, we're ambitious creatures. The promise of a new year can create big dreams and set high expectations. Excitement runs high on a holiday, and when we are feeling our best, it's easy to believe that we have what it takes to make some amazing change in our lives.

I'm going to lose 20lbs this year.

I'm going to save $10K this year.

I'm going to fall in love this year.

{Insert ridiculous hypothetical resolution here}

Last year, a dear friend of mine told me she hated resolutions, and instead of setting resolutions, she chooses an all encompassing theme for the upcoming year, one to keep at the forefront of her mind as the months go by. This theme, like an overall blanket of good intention is something that she focuses on, to keep her intentions and thoughts on track. I thought this was a brilliant idea. Instead of saying, "I will journal twice a week for 52 weeks," I could instead say, "I will write with intention when writing makes me happy."

With this concept in mind, I thought forward as to what may bring me joy in 2016. I had always been a very cautious person, cautious with my life and cautious with my heart. When looking forward at the upcoming year I decided to name 2016 the year of Bravery. I wanted to take risks, to open myself up to change, to make mistakes and to become someone I looked up to. For me, a lot of the people I look up to and admire seem carefree and open to new experiences... you know, brave. I wanted to be like that... so bravery it was.

This dream team has my whole heart. After 10 months of
working together online, sharing a space with them was
the definition of magical.
Last night, as I was looking back on 2016 I couldn't help but feel disappointed in myself. Bravery was not at the forefront of my year. Now, I'm not saying I failed completely, because I did grow in this department this year. I had several experiences that taught me how to face a problem head on, instead of just shutting down (something I would have done in the past), and I'm very thankful for that. I also made several decisions this year to do things for me. I advocated for myself, sought help when I needed it, and embraced some truly wonderful mentors to help me navigate through some terrifying unknowns. I did brave... and maybe it wasn't as intentional as I would have liked, but I did it.

My heart has never been as full as in this theater. I don't think
I've ever cried so hard, experienced so much joy, or felt so alive.
I think more than brave, this year was spent learning more about myself, acceptance and growth. I learned to turn every experience, positive or negative, into a growing experience. I would ask myself,
"what did this interaction teach me," "how could I have handled this better," "what do I need to do to move forward," and a myriad of other questions. I don't believe I failed in my year of brave, but that my year of brave may have transformed more to a year of understanding. Understanding myself, understanding my needs and being open to learning in every aspect of the word.

Strangers who became friends, friends who became family...
these women have inspired me beyond words.
This year I gave myself the opportunity to grow on multiple occasions. I stopped making excuses for not meeting my own needs and started taking my life seriously. I gave myself vacations, sick days and time with people who lifted me up. I flew to the west coast 3 times in 3 months because I wanted to show up for some important people in my life. Yes, I wanted to show up for them, but I NEEDED to show up for myself. These adventures gave me the opportunity to expand my heart and step out of my comfort zone and I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am for those experiences.
2016 was hard. It was full of challenges, changes and uphill battles. I had inner struggles, outer struggles and fought alongside some special people who needed backup on their own front lines. Despite all of the ups and downs, I think there's promise in the turning of a page. 2017 is a blank canvas, for us to create whatever picture of our life we desire. The page we've turned is still there... we have the knowledge from it, the scars from it, and the joy from it, as we look toward the year ahead. And with that, I've decided to embrace the theme of Joy for 2017.

In 2017 I plan to make decisions based on what brings me joy. I will surround myself with people who bring me joy. I will do the things that make me the happiest. I will make time and space for joy on a daily basis. I will do my best to share joy with those around me, and I will make a conscious effort to remove the things from my life that do not. I know that I am the only person who can dictate my happiness... and this year, I plan to take that responsibility seriously.

My intention for 2017 has been set; The Year of Joy. It may only be January 1st, but I think that this is something I am capable of maintaining. However, should my journey lead me down another path, I will not consider it a tragedy, but merely a redirection of the path I'm on. Roadblocks occur everyday, but embracing gratitude and joy will help me to keep perspective in 2017. May you all experience boundless joy in 2017.

With growth, gratitude and grace,

Allison

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