Dear 2017: thank you for teaching me courage, compassion, vulnerability and whole-hearted, authentic living.

Dear 2017,

Wow. What a wild roller coaster ride. It started out with me going on medical leave for a second time for health reasons. The month I took off was intensely difficult to say the least, but my body needed to rest and heal. I continued to struggle off and on with anxiety and depression, and this coupled with my other health problems made working full-time at my stressful, high-pressure and fast-paced nonprofit job increasingly challenging.

I decided to give love another try even after being burned so badly before. I entered into romantic relationships, only to find that when things got too real, the other person disappeared. This helped me learn more about myself in the process and what I need and want out of a partner. It also showed me how much more healing I have to do, but that there is still a balance: I can continue to work on myself, embrace my imperfections, and be my own “Wonder Woman” hero while I date others. Life is messy and most of us are still trying to figure life out. We all have our own baggage and issues. None of us are immune.

Heartbreak. 2017 was full of it. I learned forgiveness for myself and others and opened my heart again. When I did, I learned that you can love someone and give them your love, but that doesn’t mean they will give you their love in return. Heart broken to pieces. And I picked up the pieces again and moved on.

This year, I learned to put self-love first, letting go of long-time friendships and opening my heart to new ones with soul sisters who lift me up and allow me to be my vulnerable, authentic self — and still love me unconditionally with no judgement. I rekindled friendships with others who I’d lost touch with and made sure they knew how much of a positive impact they’ve made in my life.

Most significantly, I’ve learned to become friends with my demons and be at peace even in utter darkness. I’ve learned that resisting what is only causes more suffering. Thank you 2017 for teaching me to surrender and embrace the pain instead of running away from it, like I did so often the year before. In the depths of my hopelessness and despair, when the pain had me on my knees believing I wouldn’t emerge from this alive, slivers of light and hope would appear and I would find my way back again and again.

I connected with Mother Earth more, with the moon, with the forest and the ocean. This was a big part of why I reemerged each time. This and my spirituality that I practiced more regularly this year than ever before.

I traveled. I realized new passions I have that light me up. New endeavors I want to pursue. New callings that ignite a burning fire within me that I cannot simply ignore.

The Universe has a sense of humor, yes. It also never hands you something you can’t handle. It gives you signs and wake up calls. 2017 showed me that I can’t keep doing the same thing I’ve been doing an expect things to change. So I had a breakdown. Breaking point. Wake up call.

I turned 29 years old, and shortly after I ended my job at SACNAS of three years and checked myself into True North Health Center, where I did a 9 day juice fast. And now I am on a path to recovery and healing. I finally have hope.

In 2017, things had to fall apart for them to fall back together again. More than anything, it’s taught me the healing power of gratitude. I wouldn’t have been able to get through any of this without those ray of sunshine humans (you know who you are) who helped me through the dark times.

2018…I am ready for you and the adventure and change you will bring. I know that pain will be inevitable, but I am hopeful that this new year won’t be as heavy as the previous. I am ready for this new chapter of my life. I am ready to be brave. I am ready for growth and new life experiences. I am ready to live a whole-hearted, authentic life.

Namaste. ❤