2016 was a garbage dumpster year, start to finish. It began with my (now ex-) boyfriend being sick last-minute and unable to celebrate with me. He insisted I carry through our plans to attend a couples’ party. On New Year’s Eve. Alone.
He then dumped me 3 days before my birthday, but I still went on my scheduled 4th of July in Tahoe couples’ trip. For my 29th birthday. Alone.
I returned to SF and was spit on by a homeless man that day. And lost my 80-day meditation streak. Namaste.
All of this pales — of course — in comparison to the traumas and tragedies that shook our world this year. Terrorist attacks, hate crimes, unfathomable violence, ignorant and misinformed movements, Brexit and Trump’s election, more celebrity deaths than I can even recall.
I lost a friend to brain cancer. I lost another to kidney failure. But friends lost their spouses and siblings and parents and children. They experienced pain I can only imagine, pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
I also gained a niece. I gained more vacation time than ever. I gained friends through various volunteer and social efforts. I gained understanding beyond the SF bubble about just how marginalized so many feel.
So in an effort to resolve the shitty-shit-shit of a year this was, I’m turning what I can into positive can-dos:
- Understand the world: I traveled more than ever this year, but it was all domestic and I’m itching for stamps on my passport in 2017. If I can make it to Asia, South America or parts of Europe I haven’t been, I hope to gain a broader view of how millions of people live. What experiences are part of their everyday lives? What can I do to understand my privilege more, both at home and abroad?
- Spend smarter: All of that travel left me in some tight financial spots, as I sometimes neglect to budget for living in the most expensive U.S. city. Rather than “Say Yes” to everything (which went full-force after my breakup), I need to be thoughtful about what each Yes costs me. I don’t ever want to be in a position where I can’t donate to my favorite causes or help those in need, so a finance fine-tooth comb is in order. First up: I’ll be the last person in SF to stop paying for cable!
- Use my voice: I tend to shut down during heated discussion and debates, often because I feel most are set in their ways and not willing to listen — only shout their perspectives. I see, though, how damaging silence can be. I choose to approach 2017 thoughtfully: speaking up when I feel compelled, understanding I may be the only one listening in a dialogue, and removing myself when necessary. I don’t have to be vocal on every single thing I care about, but I can use my voice with conviction, knowing I’ve done my research and will remain respectful.
- Take care of myself: The quintessential resolution is getting a makeover of its own from me at midnight. Yes, I’d love to finally hit my goal weight. But more important, I’d like to feel as good about myself as I do after a Toastmasters speech or a volunteer event. From continuing meditation streaks and therapy sessions, eating foods that nourish my body, challenging myself with new fitness goals and being cognizant of my needs in a relationship, I can take on any garbage dumpster 2017 throws at me.
What are your resolutions for 2017? As always, you’ll inspire me to be the best Wittyburg I can be.
And however you’re celebrating the New Year, please be safe out there. Here’s an actual rendering from the future, of me at midnight:
I knew it could happen. I just didn’t want to be right.
I can’t recall the last time I woke up feeling so uneasy and unsure, so desperate to talk but wanting to keep my mouth shut, so vulnerable and disgusted and helpless.
I didn’t care what the candidates wore or about their hair or if they sniffled or had a cold. I cared about what example the candidates set, as a standard, to hold the highest office in our country.
I couldn’t say I didn’t care who you vote for, because I did. I’ve largely stayed out of social media debate, because I believed minds were made up and there was no convincing people otherwise. Because I didn’t want to damage relationships or get into endless arguments or hurl articles back and forth to prove a point. I was proud to say #ImWithHer. I still am.
So how did we get here?
I read this essay about five months ago — before half of this circus even came to a head — and while it’s quite lengthy, I think many will find the time to try and understand how this could happen… and did.
2016 has seemingly become the year of the anti-, with droves of people, particularly in rural regions, being vocally anti-establishment, anti-government, and truly believing someone with no professional experience is better than someone with an imperfect 30 years of experience.
These people have felt marginalized, as minority voices have taken center stage and action toward the promise of equality for all.
Trump said last night he’ll be a president for all people. How are we to believe him when he’s openly bashed and berated nearly every human but the Christian, white male?
I check two of those three boxes and find it hard to go about my day today. How can I expect my fellow women, friends of other races and religions, LGBTQ allies, and all others who don’t fit this rhetoric to be OK?
I live in one of the most progressive and liberal cities in the US, yet I’m conservative compared to many of my fellow residents. And if I feel unsure, unsafe today — how does someone in my home state of Florida feel, who wears a hijab or who is not white, or who had the unfortunate circumstance of being born a woman?
The pains in my stomach could be blamed on period cramps or a woman’s intuition, but I know it’s the fear of what this means for my future; for my Muslim and black and Hispanic and Hindi co-workers and friends; for my nieces; for my LGBTQ peers; and countless others.
I’ve taken great pains to refrain from speaking in absolutes or extremes this entire election cycle, but I’m exhausted. I feared this could happen — this would happen — and the only thing I fear now is every day of the next four years. I hope to all that is holy, he proves me wrong. That we can have forward progress and make real changes with thoughtful debate, care and compassion.
We have to do better for our fellow humans. We cannot sit idly by and allow people of any race, religion, gender or economic status to be marginalized simply because of that checkbox on their identity. I’m prayerful the system of checks and balances will help keep policies and legislation from being extremist or exclusive, but it’s going to be a while before I can do so with both eyes closed.
Resources for those struggling today:
- Suicide Prevention Hotline
- What Do We Tell the Children?
- Cory Booker’s uplifting message
- Bible verses about hope
And while I’m all for healthy and productive debate, I kindly invite anyone with hateful commentary to please show my site the same respect I’ve shown yours by moving right along.
Is Daylight Saving Time kicking anyone else’s butt? I love how long it’s light out at night — don’t get me wrong. But every morning this week, I’ve woken up to my alarm in disbelief at the time. Le sigh. Here’s what’s getting me through:
- “The Bachelor” Finale: I managed to stay off social media for 24 hours to avoid spoilers and watched the season finale with a friend last night. I’m not happy with Ben’s choice, but I’m glad that it allowed his runner-up to be the next Bachelorette! I’ll be tuning in when it premieres this May.
- Cocktails for Candidates: I’m pretty sure everyone could use a nice, stiff drink with the circus that is this year’s Presidential election. Lucky for us, a bar in Austin has just the fix: candidate-themed cocktails. Cheers to The Townsend for this creative twist on political parties.
- St. Patrick’s Day: Get your green gear ready for tomorrow’s annual ode to the Irish. Whether you’re downing pints of Guinness or keeping it low-key with whisky 😉 , here’s hoping you have a safe and happy celebration.
- “Cake by the Ocean” – DNCE: I can’t seem to get away from this earworm, so I might as well embrace it. The high-pitched vocals don’t pain me as much as Adam Levine’s “singing,” and the hook will get your body moving. Now, what exactly does it all mean?
The end of each year becomes a time of reflection, reevaluation and sometimes, redemption.
I’m happy with what 2015 brought in many ways: a new relationship, rekindled friendships, new destinations, career development and more.
But I’m excited for what 2016 could bring — and that promise of the unknown is one of the few times my Type A tendencies subside into excitement for the unplanned.
I hope you’re each facing the New Year with hope in your hearts. If there’s anything this year has taught me, it’s that we could all use a little more peace and understanding.
Wishing you and yours a very safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and a prosperous 2016!