Photo Credit: Peter Szto, PhD
2016 has been a challenging year.
It has been full of role and life transitions for me as I turned 50 and sent my oldest child to college.
It has been marked by the loss of such brilliant stars in the universe as Prince, Alan Rickman, Anton Yelchin, Elie Weisel, Christina Grimmie, Leonard Cohen, Gwen Ifill and David Bowie.
I lost two friends from college.
I deeply grieved for Orlando.
I have raged and wept at the results of the presidential election and am still struggling to regroup, shake off my paralysis, step up to the plate and resist in a meaningful way the devastating unplugged racism, misogyny, islamophobia, homophobia, xenophobia and despair that has been unleashed in its aftermath. There is so much work to do.
I have struggled with one of the worst clinical depressions that I have ever experienced and have had to work harder than I sometimes feel like I am capable of to fight the insidious darkness that is not from without but from within. Betrayed by my own brain chemistry.
But 2016 has also been an astonishing year as well
I would have been lost this year without the support of the Mount Holyoke alumnae community that I have found on Facebook. You have encouraged me, supported me and shared of yourselves in deep, meaningful ways. You have been wise, human and generous. Your IMs, replies, posts and openness with me has meant more than you realize. I am so proud to be an Uncommon Woman.
I have reclaimed important parts of myself including writer and musician. The reclaiming of my voice has been the single most important thing I have done for myself this year and I thankful and grateful to everyone who has been willing to read my words, give me feedback, convinced me that my words needed a larger audience, and most affirming, told me that my words resonated for them. I am starting to build a network of other writers and poets who continue to tell me that voice matters, even on days when it is hard for me to remember that for myself. I am also reconnecting with my community of visual artists and entering new partnerships—thank you Peter Szto. This fills me with gratitude.
I have become a girl with a guitar again and I have been amazed how much a steel-string Fender guitar can make me happy. Even though I am still relearning, even though those bar chords are still kicking my ass, there is music. I am excited to play again, I am excited to sing again. And yes Jackie, I really am trying to remember to sing out of my unicorn horn.
I am more grateful than I can say for the friendship and support from my co-workers. You are awesome and a constant reminder that we do good in the world. That good still matters, that hope still matters.
I am grateful for the love and support of my cousins, my ex-husband, my old friends and the new. I am grateful for my partners in rebellion and general shenanigans (Julia, Michelle, Casey, Cynthia and others). I am even grateful to Brett for kicking my butt twice a week. The first time I was able to hold a full plank for 60 seconds was a complete bad ass moment for me. Take that 50!
I am grateful that the LBGTQ community has welcomed me back with open arms. I suspect that that door was always been open—ironic that it took Donald Trump and Mike Pence to encourage me to finally walk through it.
I am grateful and amazed for my children. They still kind of scare me a little—that whole world domination thing- but they also inspire me, make me think, make me laugh and give me hope for the future. Maybe I didn’t fuck up this whole parenting thing as much as I sometimes fear that I have.
I am deeply grateful for my husband. I suspect that I am never really an easy person to live with, but this year in particular, this year of tears, anger, wistfulness, impulsive behavior and me posting my truth (and sometimes our truth) for anyone and everyone to read, you have stood by me, even when it was uncomfortable, even when it wasn’t easy, even when I was prickly as a porcupine. Thank you for hanging in there and promising with your actions, as much as your words, to love me until I am me again.
I have listened to more music this year than I have in the last decade. I have read more poetry. I have dreamed bigger dreams. I have accepted the challenge of falling back in love with myself and the world. I have taken more risks and truly embraced what it means to be brave and reckless. I am so grateful to be here this Thanksgiving morning able to shout into the wind, “I am!”