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Posts Tagged ‘2016’

Well, 2016

I tried to write about 2016 this past week and I couldn’t do it. I wrote some words, but then I thought, these words don’t matter to me, and I let them languish unpublished. Instead I spent most of the week alone, reflecting and resting and, perhaps most of all, listening, giving myself the deep focused listening I craved.

When I think of 2016, the first memory that comes to mind is a day in early August. I was lying on one of those vaguely uncomfortable exam tables in a small private room at Urgent Care, wearing jeans and a thin cotton hospital gown. I was cold. I was frightened. I kept accidentally beginning to cry, not a loud sobbing with lots of tissues but more of a silent scream where I’d suddenly find tears plastered to my cheeks. My head hurt so badly, I was so confused, my brain kept betraying me again and again. I was alone.

I was waiting for my CAT scan to find out if my brain was bleeding. If my brain was bleeding I’d go in for brain surgery. At least that was my understanding from the brief forbidden peek on the internet I’d allowed myself. If I went in for brain surgery, who knew if I’d come out. It didn’t sound particularly promising. I knew I’d do whatever the doctors said without asking questions because I wasn’t capable of making any important decisions and there was no one else there to help. At that moment, it was out of my control and all I could do was sit and wait and try to hold myself together even though it felt like I was watching my brain disintegrate.

I wish somebody had been with me then. And I know some of you reading this right now are wishing you had been there, and in my imagination I edit it so you were there holding my hand. There is some comfort there. But at the time, of course, I wasn’t able to imagine things, and I couldn’t even access or control my own thoughts properly, and I was very alone, and I thought: “This is what people mean when they say everyone dies alone. I never realized quite how horrific that idea was until this moment.”

But I didn’t die. Instead I got some valuable practice, and maybe next time I’ll do better. Maybe next time I’ll find a small core of peace inside myself. Maybe next time I’ll have more grace.

When I think of my 2016, I think endurance. I endured, and I’m proud of what I accomplished. I made some difficult decisions that led to big changes that I believe will make my life better down the line. I suffered from the worst injury of my life and I didn’t give up. I learned a lot. I didn’t close down, and I held onto my vision of a brighter future. I found moments of joy and connection even in the midst of tremendous struggle. I went to great lengths to take care of myself and to respect myself, and I feel like, even though it was very hard for me, I did a better job of it than perhaps I’ve ever done before. I’m very tired, but here I am.

I didn’t like 2016, but I’m grateful for the time I’m getting, even when it really sucks. I feel lucky to be here.

For all of you who had good years, I’m so glad. You keep my hope strong. And if you had a bad year, I admire you for hanging in there, and I really hope the next year is better for us both.

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I’m sitting here typing this on the longest night of the year. After this, the nights will be a few minutes shorter, and then a few minutes shorter again. At some point in the not-so-distant future, it won’t be dark at 4:15 in the afternoon. The sun will make it till 4:30 and then even 5:00.

I can’t give you words of comfort about the state of the world because I don’t have any right now. What I can give you is comfort on a more personal level.

Every year I make a photobook of highlights from the year that’s just gone by and give it to myself for Christmas. This year I didn’t want to make one. I put it off, and then I put it off some more. I thought it would be depressing. 2016 was such a challenging and difficult year for me personally, what photos would I even have to choose from? But finally I forced myself to sit down and start the job by telling myself I could always just make a whole book of cute Nala pictures. No one else might enjoy looking at a book like that, but I would like it.

What I found, though, as I started putting photos onto pages, was that there was still plenty to be happy about in 2016. My book wasn’t a lot shorter than usual, and it wasn’t a lot sadder than usual. There was still joy and love and silliness to record on its pages. There was still hope.

And I realize, when I think back on the year, how much of my joy derives from the people I care about. It’s been easier than usual to forget this year because there was a lot going on, and much of that was disappointing or ugly or just plain tough. But when I think about the year, I don’t just think about all the hard times. I also think of all the people who were there through the hard times.

I think of friends in the Bay Area who took me out, who danced with me, who listened to me without judgment, who fed me sushi and waffles and peanut butter pie. I think of those friends who supported me moving to Seattle one hundred percent even though they were personally sad I was leaving. And I think of the phone calls and messages since I moved, and how those friendships haven’t gone anywhere.

I think of my friends at Rainforest who helped me figure some stuff out. I think of my friends in LA who I hadn’t seen in years who welcomed me back into their lives with open arms. I think of my high school friends with whom I shared a special reunion. I think of my friends at Worldcon in Kansas City who looked out for me since my health wasn’t good.

I think of my friends in Seattle and how humbled I have been by their kindness and generosity. I had only been living here ONE MONTH when my life completely fell apart, and you all stepped up to the challenge, even though many of you barely knew me. I can’t think about it without crying. Your willingness to show up and be there for me and help me means everything to me. And there were many people supporting me from a distance as well. You showed me how good people can be and how little it sometimes takes to make a huge difference in someone else’s life. You have forever changed my experience of the world.

I think of my close friends, my inner circle. The ones who know me best, who know my faults as well as my strengths and love me anyway. The ones who walk beside me as we share what we think and how we feel. The ones who understand the less obvious things about me, the ones who validate my feelings, the ones who I trust. I feel so lucky to have met you.

And I think of Nala, of course, who is loyal and sweet and mischievous and empathetic. And who was so scared of being left when we’d moved to a new state that she learned how to grab onto my legs with her front paws while standing on her back paws. There is no one more concerned about my welfare than that little dog, and she brightens my life every single day just by being herself.

When we go through hard times we learn a lot, both about ourselves and about the people who are around us. What I learned this year is that even when everything is going to hell, some people will be kind and they will be true. And there are an awful lot of people out there who love and care about me, and who I love and care about back.

On the longest night of the year, I think about all of you, and then it doesn’t seem so very dark.

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We are on the eve of 2016.

I like that number.

As previously stated, I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, per say, but I do think the end of the year can be a good time to reflect on goals and priorities and potentially re-focus on the things that matter to you. So I’ve been thinking about what I’m looking forward to in 2016 and what I want to be keeping in mind.

This might sound kind of funny, but one of the things I’m most looking forward to is to have some time when not much is going on. The last few months have been a veritable whirlwind of excitement: all the holidays and their trappings, a trip to Disneyland, big concerts, the French Laundry, a few big movie events, etc. And it has been great! I’ve had such a good time!

And now I am very tired. And I am so looking forward to getting back to my normal schedule. I can’t wait to start working in earnest on a new writing project (right now I’m in the brainstorming stage, which is fun but also drives me a little nuts). I can’t wait to get back to dancing every Thursday night. I can’t wait to reconnect with friends when I’m not on constant excitement overdrive. I spent some time with one of my close friends a few nights ago, and we sat quietly with some hot cider and talked about our lives, and it was the best thing ever. I’m looking forward to more of that.

I’m looking forward to doing a bit more writing travel in 2016 because that means I’ll get to spend more time with many dear friends. And I miss my writer friends. Often I get to see them two or three times a year, but this past year I only got to see most of them once, if at all. And I just got my panel schedule for ConFusion, which is happening only a few weeks now, and I get to talk about such interesting things!

I’m looking forward to continuing to work on personal growth as well. The other week a friend of mine told me, “You’re really good at boundaries now!” and that felt really good to hear. And I am a lot better than I was. But the truth is, my starting point was very low. I’ve progressed a lot, but there is still more room to improve. One of the hard truths about change is that sometimes it takes a long time. But one of the great things about change is that you can see what a positive impact it is having, which is very inspiring.

On a more mundane note, I am looking forward to having (hopefully) improved health insurance, after doing the work to switch to a provider I hope will better meet my needs. And I’ve finally done the work to update my calendar/scheduling system, consolidating everything into one place instead of…um…four, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that works. It’s color-coded and everything!

Mostly, my hope for 2016 is that I get to spend time doing the things that are important to me: writing, singing, dancing, playing with Nala, spending time with the people I love, learning about myself and the world around me, and pursuing my hobbies. I hope I get to try something new. I hope I move through my difficulties with grace. I hope I remember to appreciate all the good things. I hope I am kind, both to myself and to others. I hope I am joyful. I hope I make the space around me a little bit brighter.

Here is my wish for us this New Year’s Eve: May we all have a positive and meaningful 2016. And thank you so much for sharing 2015 with me.

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