Every year, as the end of December closes in, I feel as though I am reaching the finish line staggering, and out of breath. The last handful of years, I see the start of a new calendar year as a refresh, sort of like clearing your browser history and cache. I have felt alone in my struggles through each year as I look around at others’ recaps. I miss the days when I used to read (and enjoy) blogs. I miss the days when friends I made through blogging used to blog. I would read their summaries of the year that ended and feel as though I was alone in having a difficult, struggling year. I gave up hope that the next (new) year would bring about more happiness, because things always just tended to pile up on top of what was already a suffocating weight on my shoulders.
However with the end of 2016 I can finally say I am not alone. I don’t know what the heck was going on, but I don’t believe anyone had a good 2016. I’m not talking about the astonishing amount of celebrity deaths (of those there were way too many), but my own friends and their personal struggles, the rest of the world and all of the horrid, awful, evil things that have been going on. Loss of innocence, and hope, and a general loss of positive anything when you look online.
I left facebook for a while. I left twitter for a while. I went back on both, but I have very limited access because I removed apps from my phone. I mostly update facebook through instagram – the one social media platform that brought me joy. Until it didn’t – when they removed chronological order for posts. I don’t get that AT all. I don’t browse it as much anymore. I just post my own photos. I like their filters at least.
And I was struggling myself. Between all the negative in the world, and bad things happening to good people, and not being able to fix problems of others with a magic wand (I wish), I was drowning in an ocean of grey, and apathy. I was fading as a person. I was questioning everything – who I was, why I should live, why hope for anything.
And I couldn’t stomach that feeling, or those questions anymore. I knew I needed to do something. Anything. I needed to finish this story and start a new one.
And so I did.
I held my breath. I took a leap. I took a chance. And I was suddenly less lost than I was earlier in the year. And you know, using the leap/jump metaphor isn’t an easy one for me. But I needed to associate leaping off the edge of something with thoughts that were less horrific than a man jumping off a building and almost hitting me. I needed to associate taking that leap with something positive, and courageous. I quit my job because I couldn’t find ME anymore within the walls of that office, or cubicle. I have been working at the bookstore for a month now and I can’t recall when I was last happy like this.
Leaping is now about courage, and passion, and realizing dreams, and less about death and trauma and fear.
I don’t want to go into 2017 holding on to the fear that has been surrounding me the past three years. I want to start 2017 with the joy of sharing my joy with others. And this is what I found with the scary, difficult decisions I made in the fall.
I was so lost, but I refused to stay lost. In taking chances, and making life a little less comfortable financially, I found myself again and I feel as though I can finish putting the still broken parts of myself back together.
I have zero idea what 2017 will bring. I am not convinced that it will be a better year than 2016. It does have the added bonus of not being an even-numbered year. (You all know how much I do not like even numbers!) There is still so much lost out there, and I think that perhaps the world needs a little more courage to take the leaps it needs to take to be found again. Cheesy, I know. But I think more people need to focus on what can make themselves, and others, heal and find their paths, rather than settle for what is taken for granted as “well, that’s just how it is.” Life isn’t like that anymore. Life isn’t something you settle for. You need to take your leaps and find your answers. Spread happiness. Spread kindness. Spread joy. It might mean you won’t feel as lost as you thought you were.
In 2016 –
I didn’t read nearly as much as I thought I would. 45/50 books in my challenge. Many of those in December were picture books, or early readers.
I quit my job.
I got a tattoo.
I decorated my Happy Planner every week since the end of June. I took an hour or two every Sunday to update the week ahead and used colours that I was feeling at the time. It was a healthy dose of crafty therapy that I desperately needed.
I went back to therapy.
I sang in a band, in front of people. It was amazing.
I blogged more than I had in the past, but still not very much. Turns out I didn’t blog at all in May.
I lost two friends too soon, who made the world spark. I could only go to one memorial.
We moved Jinx’s Garden and grew our first ever watermelons. It was nice.
I got a bird feeder and watched birds in my backyard.
I turned 40.
I realized I needed to change my life or I would drown.
I changed my life. I started a new story. I ended the year happier than I have been in a long time.
Happy new year, internet. I hope it’s a better one than the one before.
Find your happy place.
We certainly had snow for Christmas this year. Not like last year. And after a rather rough year, we managed to have one of the best Christmases I can think of. Stockings were full, and there were more gifts under the tree than I thought we’d have. And as always, Shawn won Christmas yet again with the best gift ever.
Every year Shawn manages to give me one gift that makes me cry, or at least tear up. He’s made me photo frames, and cards, and thoughtful gifts, but this one is hands down the one that hit my heart the hardest.
Once in a while silly little ads on social media sites work. In this case it was something Shawn saw (and I saw, too, actually only not this particular title) and thought it fit me. It fits. So well.
It’s no secret that I have been struggling since March 2013. And maybe even a little before then, but certainly since the trauma things have been a mess. As much as I have worked hard to put myself back together again, I was still feeling slightly broken, and very lost. Just the cover of this story made my breath catch. The title. The purple. The little girl with dark hair and polkadots.
Then I opened it. And the second page stopped me in my tracks.
A magic rainbow trail.
Seriously. When this entire year I have been surrounding myself with as many colours of the rainbow as I could. In a year when I felt like everything around me was grey and I was desperate for those rainbow moments. This little girl, with the lost name, found a magic rainbow trail that she had to follow.
So much me.
And on the story goes as the little girl meets random animals, and magical creatures, whom she helps with their problems, and in return they each give her a letter in hopes to help her find her name. Words like courageous, and splendid, and spellbound, are tossed around. And with each page my eyes grew even more teary.
And in the end…
The girl who lost her name, finds it again and falls asleep wrapped in that magic rainbow.
And I cried. And I hugged my husband tight. And I cried. And I pick up this book and hug it every day. Because this story, this book, this gift… it was all so apt. So perfect for everything I have been going through and feeling since the start of this year.
– – – – –
Our tree wasn’t up as long as it normally is, and will come down this weekend. Our house isn’t as decorated as it has been in the past. I didn’t listen to Christmas music on repeat for a month (instead I shuffled my entire music library and had the Christmas tunes appear at random). I wasn’t feeling un-Christmassy, but I wasn’t feeling as overtly festive as I normally do. This was a quiet, and simple Christmas. I am working in retail now, and at the moment am not exhausted by it. It was nice to be out of the house during a time I’d normally be sitting on the couch dreading going back to the office once the holidays were over.
One year I’ll win Christmas with a gift that makes Shawn’s heart sing. He always outdoes me. He won with wedding vows, too. Dammit. Never thought I’d be out-sentimentaled on a continuous basis. It’s a good thing I love him. heh
The above photo accurately depicts how I am feeling these days. Rainbows, and stars, and magical, sparkly happiness. Me. Who I am. Who I have always been, but lost.
I have completed 7 full shifts at the bookstore and aside from sore feet (and lower back), I have never felt better. I feel like I am floating through the aisles as I wander the store and help customers, or tidy up books on the shelves. I can’t stop smiling. I am so genuinely happy that I feel like sunshine and rainbows.
I have been lucky enough to be scheduled for 40 hours a week, and during weekdays only. It’s nice to have my weekends off to see Shawn since I have been working afternoon-into-evening, and getting home way past my bed time. This coming week I’ll be working until 10pm or 11pm. I am slightly worried about exhaustion and driving in the winter, but I have been managing so far. I sleep well at night. I think I’ve only had one headache in the past 2 weeks, instead of one every day.
Even with the exhaustion of relearning how to be on my feet for 8 hours a day (and having to talk to people!), I feel as though I have so much energy to want to do things again. I read a 400+ page book from cover to cover in a day this weekend. I have shovelled snow. I feel bright and light.
I know this is a seasonal contract, and I can only hope to be offered part-time work after it’s over, if they ever need more help. But I am such a happier creature once more. I knew I wanted to do this, but it’s been like night and day the changes I feel and see in myself. I love the store. I love the books. I love the customers. Even when you get the occasional grumpy, negative client, I still take it all in with a smile. I am there because I WANT to be, not because I have to be. I am there to talk books (and other cool stuff) to people and share my joy and enjoyment of books with them. I love recommending titles to people looking for YA or MG books. I love sharing my thoughts about mysteries and fantasy novels. I am just loving every single second of this job and I am so happy to finally feel happy again. To finally feel like MYSELF again.
For the four or five of you who still read this (ha), you know how much I have been struggling the past three years. You know how lost and broken I was after the stupid jumper trauma. I just wasn’t me. I didn’t love anything about anything or myself. I was lost, I was apathetic, I was sad and scared.
But now I am feeling so much joy. So much…just right. Like things are clicking back into place. I am seeing colours and sparkles everywhere, and not only grey, colour-draining monochromatic surroundings. I feel as though the above amazing rainbow, star, unicorn onesie (the best gift ever from Monkey!) is a reflection of my soul right now. So cheesy and pathetic, yes, but true.
The decision to leave my old job was so difficult because of how it was a safety net for health benefits and money, and leaving my friends there was the hardest part. Leaving the job itself wasn’t difficult. I haven’t looked back yet, and not once have I thought I made the wrong choice. Retail isn’t easy, it’s not for everyone, and many think I am going backwards and not doing something important. To that I say – titles, and positions are just labels. Why focus on what your title is when you’re not happy with what you’re doing? Pay cuts are terrifying and difficult to work around, but not impossible, and I am so lucky to be able to choose what I want to do even though it will be a bit of a challenge to re-budget things.
I have the most patient, and supportive husband in the world. He might not get why I would want to go back to retail, but he gets that I want to be (and need to be) happy. And he knows I am happy. And we will make this work. And because of how fulfilled this bookstore job makes me feel, I feel as though we can make anything work. Always.
I’m still slightly lost in some ways, but I have found the right form of healing I needed to follow. Happy. I am so very happy. I love my new (but old) job, and I am so thankful that I found the courage to make this change.
Currently on my piano: one of my many piles of books TBR!
It’s no secret that I love books. I love the feel of them, the look of them, the smell of them. I love to read them. Books are like candy to me. Granted, with everything that’s gone on in my life the last few years, my reading progress has been scattered, and little. But that doesn’t stop me from buying books, borrowing books, collecting books, or staring at the piles of books I have in the house wishing I could read one of them from cover to cover.
I’ve done a little better with reading this year, well in the fall anyhow. I read way more once I made the decision to quit my job an official, final decision. I read a lot in October, even though I was still working, and in school. I didn’t read much at all in November though I was home. I was finding it difficult to sit still and focus on a book for any period of time. I did buy a bunch of new books, and I received some as gifts, but I have been so full of nervous energy that I couldn’t get into many books at all. I even took some of my regular comfort-food books back to the library without finishing them! *gasp*
I’m at 34 books read, out of the 50 I challenged myself to read for the year (both on Goodreads, and the 50 Book Pledge). I managed 40 last year. I am hoping to make it at least that far this year. Who knows. I only have 3 weeks left, and…
I’m going to be WORKING a lot! Wooo! I got a job at the bookstore, and though it’s seasonal right now, I couldn’t be happier to be back working with books. I start training this week, and then have a full, busy schedule next week. Christmas rush at a bookstore is my favourite time to be working with books. There’s just something about the atmosphere that fills me up with joy and excitement!
I admit to being a little nervous about going back to book retail after all these years. Being on my feet all day will be difficult, and exhausting, at first, and I’ll have to remember all sorts of new things because the company has changed immensely since I was last an employee with them. Also, I worked in a smaller format mall store, not a giant format store like this one, so it will be a learning curve. And I’m trying not to think about the fact that I am currently old enough to be the mother of many of the other people I will be working with. I was that young, hopeful girl back when I first worked at the bookshop, and now I’m… not young or hopeful anymore. ha ha!
But internet, I was so happy during the tour of the store this week that I thought I was going to burst into tears in the middle of the sales floor.
Fingers crossed that I am actually as happy about this job as I think I am. I’m pretty sure my instincts are on point though. But still, new things are scary and exciting at the same time. I’m just so happy to be going back to working with books. And I am hoping this will help me with my reading issues, because I’ll be surrounded by books, and people who love books just as much as I do, and I’ll want to be reading all the time soon I am sure!