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12 new chapters, 365 new chances

Cleveland Round 2
October 20, 2017

H onestly, I usually hate the wearisome New Year posts that flood my timeline around this time of year. However, when I put aside my cynicism, I realize that there is a special beauty behind taking the time to actually sit down and reflect on the past 365 days - the trials and tribulations, the heartbreaks and the sadness, but also the growth, the lessons learned, and the unforgettable positive memories that are so often overshadowed by the negative.

Knowing how incredibly fast the years continue to pass, it is so vital that we practice mindfulness and try our best to live in the present moment… but it is also important to see and acknowledge any and all impactful past occurrences and the ways that we can use these experiences to continue learning, growing and improving ourselves, WHOLLY, each and every day that passes, from here on out.

2017 was an incredibly hard year for me - one that proved to challenge me every single damn day. I lost three incredible beings that were so dear to my heart - and all within one week of each other. I lived my first full year in the middle of the Pacific, on an island I had never been to where I knew literally no one. I took on an incredibly eye-opening job that had me living in extreme poverty and saw, every single day, the severe struggles of so many individuals. I was in my first car accident, and realized how thankful I am to be alive…yet struggled every day with wondering if this is where I really belong.

…But there were so many positives, too. I traveled to the Philippines, China, and back home to Cleveland twice. I was fortunate enough to see my beautiful best friend get married, and embarrassed myself in the best way possible by bawling during my maid-of-honor speech. My mom found a way to come and visit me just this past week, traveling to an island for her first time ever. Not only did she get to see the island of O’ahu, but we also got to explore Maui and Kaua’i together AND spend Christmas and her birthday together. I have learned about so many different cultures and seen so many magnificent sites that I only could have dreamed about seeing a year and a half ago.

I’ve learned that with a large amount of loss comes an even greater amount of growth…even if not immediately. Past familial problems seem much more minuscule now, and the saying “tomorrow is never guaranteed” has never seemed to be more real or impactful. I have learned a hell of a lot about myself and my many flaws, with several specific issues that I will focus on addressing (personally) in 2018…but I have also started to come to terms with the realization that I need to begin accepting and loving myself in my entirety as the sentient, imperfect human being that I am. This upcoming year I will take all that I have endured and learned in 2017 and use it to continue growing, living and loving in the years to come. With that being said, I also acknowledge and accept that more mistakes are to be made in 2018 and these mistakes will allow for even more lessons to be learned and even more growing to be done - something that I could only hope for and expect for the remainder of my life.

What was the single most challenging thing for you in 2017 and what did you learn from the experience? How will you take this on into 2018? Leave a reply below!

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