Hello, 2014

And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass

–Counting Crows, “A Long December”

Sometime during the summer I heard this song on the radio and thought, I can’t wait until I’m slamming the door on 2013. I pictured kicking it in the ribs a few times on the way out. (I had some anger. Exercise helped.) I reflected on the past year just a few months ago in my birthday post, and I don’t have much more to add, except this: It turns out I’m not angry at 2013 after all. I’m grateful.

Just to be clear: I wouldn’t want to relive this year. Absolutely not, even though it contained some wonderful moments and experiences. But I’m grateful to have lived it. I wouldn’t have requested the situation to occur, the one that triggered such severe PTSD symptoms. When I picture the worst of the PTSD this past spring, when I try to remember, I see myself curled up, knees to chest, at the bottom of a narrow, deep hole. There’s light way at the top of it, but I’m stuck down in a close, dark place. Life is going along normally for the people at the surface–I can glimpse them going by–but down in my hole, clumps of dirt keep falling into my hair and I’m running out of air. It was like that. I don’t want to go through that again. But for most of my life I was having flashes of symptoms that I didn’t understand, blaming myself for overreacting to things, or not having gotten over whatever-it-was, guilty for feeling the wrong way. If it took that situation, this year, to trigger PTSD so severely that it had to be brought to the attention of someone who would recognize it (I will love her forever) so I could learn to understand what was going on and learn how to manage it–how can I not be grateful for that? Profoundly grateful.

Oh, 2013 was a terrible and beautiful year, all at once. I am wiser and more self-aware than I was a year ago. I like myself better. I’m more comfortable in my own skin. There was no way to get here, I’m convinced, without living through the terrible parts.

I didn’t choose a word for 2013 so much as a guidance. I hoped to remember to always choose kindness first. (The last half of 2012, it wasn’t so smooth either.) I thought if I could remember to start from a place of kindness, I’d be on the right path more often than not. I know I didn’t keep to this ideal in all situations, but it’s a good ideal, and one I will keep aspiring to. As the year wound down, I made myself a reminder. It hangs off the window that faces my kitchen sink. In other words, I will see this reminder quite a bit.

 be kind at amyhoodarts.com

I did decide to ponder a guiding word or ideal for 2014. I’ve been working on being okay with uncertainty–no small task for a control-freak Virgo who additionally thought for a long, long time that if I could just keep track of all the details, hold onto all the ropes, nothing bad would happen. (False.) I think I’ve made huge progress, but it’s going to be a lifelong practice, I believe, to embrace uncertainty. However, I didn’t want to choose “uncertainty” as a guiding word for the year. I wanted to flip it around, turn it inside out, and find a more positive-sounding word. This is what I decided upon.

serenity at amyhoodarts.com

I want to settle towards serenity in the face of whatever-may-come. Serenity, the state of being serene, that is, calm, unruffled, steady. That is my practice.

Happy New Year to you all. May it be full of good things, and remember, sometimes those good things require difficult times first.

18 thoughts on “Hello, 2014

  1. moongirl

    Ah yes, the deep dark hole that you struggle in and for some reason no one notices where you are. You are so fortunate to have a friend who found you and helped pull you out, perhaps just in time. Because once you’ve found your way to that hole it’s so easy to fall into it again, that’s a challenge. You are on the right track and I love the way you have chosen to deal with it, using supporting words and reminders, a serene sense of being. Lovely. May you find serenity a good friend and may it help this new beginning blossom into marvelous adventures!

    1. amy Post author

      It was actually a really good therapist (not as easy to find as they should be!). She’s retired now and moved out of state, unfortunately. Thank you so much for your good wishes~Happy New Year to you!!

  2. Teika Bellamy

    Your description of the ‘narrow, dark hole’ in which you were in is both arresting AND illuminating. Thank you for talking about this – no doubt it will help a lot of people who at some time or other have experienced darkness in their lives.

    I am so glad you found a good therapist to help you find the light at the very top of the hole, and I wish you many serene beatitudes for 2014. Best wishes x

  3. Angie

    Beautiful post, Amy. It was a difficult and full year, and I’m glad you gleaned from it wisdom which shows. I am so proud of you. Wishing you the best in 2014. Many opportunities for serenity. <3

    1. amy Post author

      It was difficult and full and necessary. Thank you for being there for it. <3 I am looking forward to your adventures in 2014 and hope for so many good things to come your way.

  4. Jen

    Sometimes these journeys remind me of the Helen Oxenbury book we have, “Going on a Bear Hunt”: “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it. We’ll have to go through it.” Ugh. BUT, the living through it does bring rewards. Thank goodness! Glad you’re looking back on it now — better angle ; )

  5. karen

    I wish you peace joy and happiness in this coming year!! Glad to have met you and become friends though the blogsphere!!!

  6. shelli : mamaofletters

    I read your birthday post a while back, and I always meant to write to you and tell you how much I appreciated it. As someone who deals with mood swings (in myself and others), I somehow found comfort in it. I love your idea of always starting from kindness, and I also love your word for the year. I hope you have a fabulous 2014!

    1. amy Post author

      Thank you, Shelli. We write for just that reason, don’t we? I’m excited for your 2014 plans and am looking forward to seeing them take shape. All the best for all of us in 2014!

  7. donna lee

    I had a year like that in 1992-94. They were not years would want to relive but I am so very glad I had them. They changed the way I look at myself and how I live my life.

    2013 was not a peaceful or easy year but I’m glad to have survived it. My goal for 2014 is to practice being more content with what have and being less judgemental. I wll remind myself to give people the benefit of the doubt.

    You, my dear, are remarkable. I’m proud and impressed at all you’ve done for yourself and your family. I’m hoping that you continue on in the positive direction you’ve started.

  8. alala

    Thanks for stopping by my blog; it reminded me to check in here and I saw some things I needed to see. 2013 was rough for me, and so far 2014 isn’t looking up yet, but your words will help me hold on.

  9. RoseRed

    You have chosen a great word for 2014. Life for pretty much everyone (especially those with kids) is full of uncertainty, but focusing on that is perhaps not the way to deal with it – whereas Serenity is a great approach. Hope your 2014 is full of Serenity.

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