Greetings from Detroit, Michigan!
I am super lucky to be here celebrating the holidays with Matt’s family. The past week has been full of restful sleep, yummy food, good conversations, and adventures around the state.
Yesterday we went to Point Pelee in Canada for the final sunset of 2016.
It was really cold and windy and looked like the arctic.
As always, the new year inspires reflection and dreaming and so Matt and I are taking a few hours this morning to reflect.
What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
Ah! So many good things happened this year. Two big ones include living and traveling around the South Pacific and getting accepted to medical school!
But! If I have to choose one single best thing — well, our wedding!
On October 29th, Matt and I said “I do!” surrounded by many of our closest family and friends.
We are so grateful to everyone who helped make the weekend a success.
We could not have done it without the help of our family, especially aunts, uncles and best friends!
We are also so thankful to one of my mom’s bestest friends who gifted the flowers for the day.
WOW!! They were the most beautiful flower arrangements I have ever seen.
In a future post, I will share more about the magical weekend.
The next three photos are courtesy of our magnificent photographers Nina & Wes Mullins.
What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
The death of someone way too young. The election. And a legal case involving one of my former youth pastors sexually assaulting underage girls in his care in youth group. I will write more about that someday, I promise.
Whew, it’s been a challenging year.
What was an unexpected joy this past year?
My students! Oh my, how I loved my students.
I often had to put on a tough face as a young looking teacher which probably fooled no one, but I loved getting to know my students as individuals.
Here are two of my classes (I taught five and loved them all, although some were better behaved than others).
What was an unexpected obstacle?
Fighting off packs of dogs regularly.
Pick three words to describe this past year.
Challenging. Exciting. Scary.
What were the best books you read this year?
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose.
That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
“The brain-disease model overlooks four fundamental truths:
(1) our capacity to destroy one another is matched by our capacity to heal one another. Restoring relationships and community is central to restoring well-being;
(2) language gives us the power to change ourselves and others by communicating our experiences, helping us to define what we know, and finding a common sense of meaning;
(3) we have the ability to regulate our own physiology, including some of the so-called involuntary functions of the body and brain, through such basic activities as breathing, moving, and touching; and
(4) we can change social conditions to create environments in which children and adults can feel safe and where they can thrive.”
The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
“Don’t be afraid. There’s the two of us now.”
In what way(s) did you grow physically?
I got more fit than ever before! But I lost my muscles over the past two months of holidays, travel, and cold weather. I find it especially hard to eat well and exercise when not following a schedule. And in the winter, I just want to snuggle inside with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book!
In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
I think I am more resilient and better at setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care. I take things a lot less personally than before. My time as the leader in a high school classroom helped a lot. I had students cus’ me out, make sexual gestures behind my back, threaten me physically, and push every button they could find. And all while I was intentionally trying to create a safe space of unconditional love! 😉
Also, this past election seemed to bring out the worst (and best!) in people. Taking things less personally allowed me to continue loving people even when they said offensive and factually incorrect things. Don’t get me wrong. It’s hard. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep loving and communicating with those who dismiss sexual assault as “just talk”, and those who vote for politicians who are actively trying to take away my rights to my own body, and those who are xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic—you name it. It is difficult to keep communicating, and sometimes I take breaks to protect myself, but it is the only way forward as far as I can tell and I owe it to my friends and neighbors more vulnerable than I (and future generations of course).
Also. The fact that I am writing about this at all is some sort of emotional growth for me. I know what I am writing is problematic, but I am writing anyway. I could take apart my words a million different ways (even these) but then I would never share anything ever.
Which leads me to one of my goals for 2017!
I want to share more of myself more consistently—especially more of my words and my photographs even when they are not perfect.
This first post is an effort to start 2017 off on the right foot.
The last sunset of 2016 was truly amazing. This is a photo of the sun setting over Lake Erie from National Park Point Pelee in Ontaria, Canada. The photo above was edited a little heavier because I want to be able to see our faces. But the photo below is with minimal editing. IT REALLY WAS THAT PINK!
It was unlike any sunset I had ever seen!1