Goodbye 2017 / Hello 2018

   We're approaching the end of this year with flirty eyes and an eagerness to see what comes next. I think we all know that this year has been a challenging one, with certain national events as the common ground in which we all have been tested one way or another. For me, it was the things happing in my personal life and business ventures that made 2017 a challenging, scary, frustrating, sad, and sometimes just plain awful year. But amongst all of the bad, there has been good, really good, things that have happened to me. A common thought that I've been having this past month is, you are so blessed, think of everything good happening in your life. And it's so true.

    At the start of the year, I was working at a thrift store, living at my Grandparent's house, and single. None of these things were bad, although I thought they were at the time. I later quit my job, and started this new life of self employment. My confidence was just starting to form, and I woke up each morning with the urgency to be productive, stay busy, and make money. I went from waking up thinking about how much I didn't want to go to work, to thinking about the endless possibilities and freedom I had. It was such a different mindset, it was scary and exciting at the same time.

Mt. Scott Trip

Our kitchen.

    As the year went on, the thought of moving out of my Grandparent's was turning into a goal that I had to reach. I was also dealing with a family conflict that had started last year, and to be frank, is still a struggle. It ripped a hole in my heart and hasn't left me the same since. Dealing with the whirlwind of emotions, thoughts, and memories that came along with that situation while also trying to maintain a business, gripping tightly to the other relationships I had at the time, and relying on myself to pave my own way, was overwhelming at the very least. So, with a bruised, cut up, and changed heart, I kept at my work and the things I needed to accomplish.

     But, moving to a happier subject, some fun things I did this year were getting my helix piercing (ear cartilage), volunteering at an animal shelter and photographing the dogs, went on my first road trip on my own to Missouri in the summer, going on road trips with Austin to Roman Nose and Mt. Scott, moving into this cute house with my lovely roommate, going back to Missouri for Thanksgiving, spending more time with Austin and his family, and more. Laughter and giggles, knowing looks from across the room, dancing in the kitchen after a long and productive day, beautiful sunsets and big hugs, roaming around Walmart and laughing, are all things that have stuck, and they fill my head and chest with warmth and comfort. 

    In October, I moved out of my Grandparent's house and into a house with my parent's neighbor's daughter. She has been so awesome, and the timing couldn't have been better. The freedom that I had felt when I first became self employed was magnified as I carried my boxes full of binders and paper, clothes, make-up and jewelry, and other crap that I had hastily shoved into the boxes. I carried everything to my name into this house, and laid in bed that night utterly exhausted but so happy. And that word happy was a word that I had been searching for all year. I couldn't wait to wake up the next morning and unpack everything, and start work in my new room.

Later, on Thanksgiving, my roommate and I had a scare when she got a phone call from the alarm system company, saying that the police had been dispatched to the house. We found out that someone had kicked in our front door, hurried inside, and made it out with only a handful of my roommate's things and left before the police had arrived. This of course was very scary for both of us, but I think this effected her the most. Still, this house is my little sanctuary. 

Christmas Eve

    Another challenge for this year was spending 1-2 weeks at a time apart from Austin. He travels for his job, so he has already seen more of the country than I have (yes, I'm totally jealous), but this means that I can't see him as much. We call each other on the phone when he is out of state, talking for an hour or two each time, sometimes full of conversation and laughs, other times full of tired answers to tired questions, chuckling at how out-of-it we sound. He has been home since the 16th of December, and we've spent so much time together, it's made my little heart so happy. On Christmas Eve we finished my pack of instant film, smiling at the camera. 

This past past year I have been so blessed, and this past month I have been so happy. I can't believe I have an amazing guy by my side, a supportive family, and some kick-ass friends (even if we haven't seen each other or haven't hung out in a while). There are so many things that have happened this year that have been bad or hurtful, and I could look back on them with a bitter taste in my mouth and a sinking feeling in my heart, but there have been so many good things that I can fixate on. God has been shaping me into the person he wants me to be, and that means getting cuts and bruises along the way. But he has given me so much freedom and supplied me with more confidence than what I started with. He has given me people to stay alive for, and good memories to act like a bandage to put over the wound and heal from the inside out, making me smile or tear up with thankfulness.

    I hope that I continue to learn and grow in this next year, and not lose sight of what is so very important.