New Year

The very first lettering I posted on my musings blog last year was this one:

I lettered it on January 5, 2016.

It was actually the quote that inspired me to start practicing my lettering. I had found the quote in the late fall of 2015, and I could see the door opening with hope shining through. After some thought I decided that perhaps it would be a good start to practice hand lettering, so in early January last year I sat down with pen and paper and illustrated and lettered the quote.

It came out just how I’d imagined it and I was so pleased to have been able to capture on paper what my mind’s eye had seen… I also thought it was the perfect sentiment to start out the new year. The quote really, really resonated with me… I believed that after what had happened in 2014 and 2015, the new year of 2016 *had* to be a happier year. It had to be.

But it wasn’t. 2016 was pretty miserable for me.

I think about that quote now and how much I believed it a year ago, and I kind of feel like a fool. Looking at this illustration that I once loved actually makes me cringe now. It’s sad. But really, just because I’m hoping life will be better doesn’t mean it will be. Turns out that when you think things can’t possibly get worse, sometimes they do…

And I know things can always get even worse, but I’m not trying to get philosophical or competitive. The facts are that 2016 sucked for us. It doesn’t matter to me what else could have gone wrong too, because in the end, it was not a great year for us. It was full of loss, grief, disappointment, bad news, and tears. Full of procedures, needles, and waiting, waiting, waiting. Last year was full of writing and reading about infertility, and trying (and often failing) to communicate to my loved ones about the extent of my heartache.

And on top of my personal struggles, I feel like our world in general had a bad year. I feel like our nation is crumbling… it feels divided and full of hate. I fear for our future. And the international community is struggling too, with wars and terrorism, refugees and immigration… Every time I turned around in 2016, I felt like there was another horrible thing happening somewhere, either in the US or abroad. 2016 was a tough year for us and, I think, for the world at large too.

And yet, despite all of our loss and heartache, our disappointments and fears, I have a full journal with an entry every day since February 10th of things that I am thankful for.

Life is funny like that sometimes… It may have been a really bad year for us, but because of my gratitude journaling, it’s also probably the year I’m most aware of the things for which I’m grateful. Practicing gratitude certainly doesn’t negate or remove the bad things; it doesn’t fix anything that’s going wrong; it doesn’t fulfill wishes and dreams… but it does remind me that not everything is horrible; it has helped me to be more aware of things that are good in my life; it has helped me to find some balance in this miserable time.

So while I do hope that 2017 will be better, I’m not necessarily counting on it. 2016 reminded me that sometimes things don’t get better. I have no idea what’s going to happen this year… and I’m trying to be realistic. At this point, we’re still trekking through a lot of misery, and we can’t see the way out yet — we don’t know where we’re going.

What I can count on in 2017 is knowing that we have the ability to survive our grief, and the ability to continue finding and creating peace and joy. As we move into this new year we will hang on to a bit of hope that things will in fact get better; we will to continue to look for the light; and we will continue to pay attention to the bits of joy and peace that are present in our lives. In this new year, in whatever comes our way, we will continue to look for the good.

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