2015: my year.

There are many words I’d use to describe 2015: exhausting, exhilarating, terrifying, empowering. But most of all, I’d call this year mine. More than any other year of my life, this is the year in which I’ve learned more about myself, been true to my own thoughts and needs, and said the things that needed to be said. I know, I know, that sounds terribly narcissistic and self-gratifying, but it has been a necessary correction to the years and years of denying the truth of what I knew was inside of me.

It all started in January by saying the words that I’d been thinking in my head and heart for years, but had never actually said out loud: “I think I’m done here. I think we need to get a divorce.” I had been dreading those words, but when I said them it was as if all of the weightiness of the truth that had been building in my body was released through my tongue and freed me from drowning in denial. Of course, that was just the beginning of a long process of walking down that separation road, communicating that with family and friends, crying over splitting up the dogs, and asking awkward questions about which spatula I should take with me. But there was never a moment when I regretted saying those words. Those words had created a new future, one in which I was free to explore the new me that I had started to come in contact with over the past few years, but hadn’t fully realized as I felt so stuck in a marriage that just didn’t fit right.

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing I could write for days upon days about this year. I probably shouldn’t do that to you. So, what follows are glimpses of each month of the crazy, wacky, explorational 2015.

February saw me move into my first ever home where it was just me (and the superbly cuddly Tucker). Even though I’d moved away from home at the age of 19, I’d never lived on my own. I’d always lived with roommates and in interesting experiments in communal living, and then with my husband. The night I moved into my new space, I kind of thought I might break down and cry. But as I laid down in my bed, I burst out laughing. The explosion of emotion that I was expecting was not expressed in deep sadness, but an outburst of uncontainable joy.

It was in March when I started full-time at a job that has continually exceeded my expectations. I had been working at First Congregational for 7 months, but in a part-time position, and in March I was finally able to spend my days focusing on ministry and community building, rather than making ends meet by cleaning houses. Working at FCC has been an exercise in rebuilding my trust with church and God. And it has been so rewarding.

April took me to Boston (adding a state to my list of traveled to places) for a training to prepare me to facilitate a curriculum called Our Whole Lives: Sexuality and Our Faith. This incredible comprehensive sex ed course has radically changed my life. Its core values of sexual health, responsibility, self-worth, and justice and inclusivity have helped me unpack the negative messaging around sexuality that had so informed my identity for so many years. I’m so grateful to be able to teach middle and high schoolers about healthy sexuality in a way that is sex-positive and LGBTQ-inclusive. It’s something I wish I had had while growing up.

And in May I turned 30. Whoa buddy. I spent the day surrounded by dear friends who have become family, both at work and at my local “Cheers” (aka The Wild Goose) and then I took off the next day on my first ever solo road trip. I drove into the mountains to a sweet little town called Salida. I spent the next couple of days exploring the art galleries and distilleries and restaurants and hot springs…all by myself. And I discovered that being alone is not as scary as I once imagined. It was liberating and lovely and full of life.

June allowed me the opportunity of leading 19 youth and 5 other adults to New Orleans (another new state!) for our youth group’s annual mission trip. After having traveled extensively through Asia in my early 20s doing relief, development, and missions work, I wasn’t too concerned about a domestic trip like this, but it turned into one of the hardest weeks of ministry of my life. We learned about systemic racism and poverty and gang violence and the challenges of inner city life through the incredible humans we came in contact with. And I was able to encourage and push my youth to deeper levels of compassion and empathy, which was a privilege and joy.

In July, the divorce was final. It was a moment of sadness and joy. My ex and I sat in court together that day and whispered and laughed and apologized. We fist-bumped as we left the courtroom and hugged as we said goodbye on the street. A few days before, I had gotten my first tattoo, a picture of a sailboat, to commemorate the occasion, and the words he had said to me the day I told him I wanted a divorce: “I don’t want to be an anchor to a ship that needs to sail.” I showed him the tattoo that day and shared with him my gratefulness for his understanding and grace throughout the whole process. I continue to be so grateful to him for the way we’ve been able to walk this path together even as we were separating and going our own ways.

August was a blur of awkward Tinder dates, my first musical theatre performance that debuted in the Springs and went on the road to the mountain town of Crested Butte, and my first trip home to Oregon post-divorce. August was…beautiful and weird and uncomfortable all at the same time. I’ll just leave it at that.

September saw me survive my first post-divorce wedding anniversary. My dear friend Ryan (who blogs over at Focus on the Beer) saved the day by having an extra ticket to the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival which serendipitously happened to be over the anniversary weekend. I drank amazing Colorado craft beer and jammed out to the likes of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and took in the beauty of that gorgeous Coloradan valley. It was just what I needed.

And October introduced me to Connecticut for the first time (I was expecting much more from the NE in the fall, but it did not deliver such awesomeness to me) for a work conference. It also introduced me to the interestingness of my first ever boyfriend other than my ex. That relationship has since ended, but it was such a pivotal point in my life and I learned a ton about myself and what I’m looking for in a partner.

November took me to Durango on a Thanksgiving weekend road trip with girlfriends. We hot springsed, mourned a mass shooting in our city, hiked, shopped, slept, and relaxed. We rescued dogs off of the highway and commiserated about life and boys. We ate a lot of mashed potatoes and drank whiskey and definitely, definitely sang a lot of Adele.

And that brings us to December. Sweet December with its lights and carols and snow and darkness. It’s been a month of reflection, of eating too much sugar, of drinking too much gin (I blame you Lee Spirits), of laughing too hard, of battling mice, of snuggling deep under the covers, and coming face to face with reality.

Through it all have been the constants: my friends who have become family, my baristas and bartenders who’ve become friends, my colleagues who’ve become confidants, my youth who’ve become my kids, my ex-husband who’s become a friend. For each of you and the way you’ve influenced and shaped me…thank you.

Here’s to the year of exploring…me. To growing into my identity and accepting myself and making my own way. And here’s to a new year of doing the same. 2016…bring it.

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