It's so easy to get caught up in the bad; to forget all of the good that happened in the span of one year. Or sometimes even one day. As soon as something unpleasant happens, it pushes all possible thoughts of joy and excitement clear out of our minds.
Looking back on 2015, it seems like I spent the entirety of the year sick, emotionally exhausted, or had plans go up in smoke before my very eyes. And it isn't all a matter of perspective; I did have a lot of crappy stuff happen this year. From the beginning of spring clear to the end of December, I've had colds, stomach bugs, laryngitis, sinus infections, ear infections, sore knees, backaches, twisted shoulders, torn Achilles tendons, bruised ankles, bruised hands - bruised everything. On top of it, I was getting positively no sleep because my mattress well and truly gave out, and my blood-work went haywire. And it's easy to get emotionally wrung out when one is physically exhausted. I had to change jobs, face bad memories at college, be a support system for a lot of people when I could barely be one for myself - quite honestly, the list is endless.
But is that really all 2015 has been?
The other night, I was clearing out my photo album, and I came across several slideshows I made of the two big trips I made earlier this year. Then I started looking through other photos from smaller, but just as fun, trips I made with my friends during the summer. Mara, I said, you have had a rough year; there's no denying that. But look at all of the amazing things that also happened this year. Look at all the things that buoyed you up when you were at your lowest.
I met so many amazing authors this year and I even flew all the way to Nashville to attend Sharon Cameron's launch party for her newest book, Rook. Ruta Sepetys was even there and she was so sweet and amazing and kindly signed copies of her books for me! I got to meet my amazing friend and fellow blogger/writer Hazel West, and spent five incredible days in freaking New York City with her! We went to BookCon and geeked out over all the bookish things and stayed up way too late giggling over smokey pretzels. We spent hours exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art; I saw the statue of Balto in Central Park, fulfilling a child's dream I've had ever since seeing the cartoon; we navigated the underground and didn't get eaten by rats!
I have taken my dancing to a whole new level and have met so many awesome people in the swing community. I never thought I would be pursuing a passion that I have had to put on the sidelines for my entire life. My swing group and I had a blast in Seattle over Labor Day weekend, riding the ferris wheel and the carousel; seeing the Gum Wall and the Fremont Bridge Troll; dancing 'til midnight at Seattle Swing.
The Renaissance Faire may not have had my favorite jousters this year, but it was still an incredible year! The faire has really grown and I got my first henna tattoo and just had a blast with my friend Rachel. The summer was filled with adventures in the kitchen as I endeavored to (successfully) learn real cooking and real baking. Fourth of July was spent with friends having an epic pool party. There were movie nights and writing club meetings and book club meetings and epic book shopping expeditions. My friend Catherine finally converted me to manga and anime, and it's become a beloved new obsession. It reawakened my desire to write once more and I have created my most loved world and set of characters ever.
Fall and winter saw a lot of tears - from both myself and close friends - but through the tears, I've made lasting friendship with some incredible people. And we've had fun even amid the sorrow; cookie parties and early morning breakfasts and plays and getting lost looking for somewhere to eat late at night. I was forced to return to the world of job hunting, but I got a new job - and it's one that promises to turn into a career, and it is the job of my dreams. I am so incredibly happy where I'm working now. I faced bad memories at college and triumphed, replacing them with positive ones. I spent an amazing Thanksgiving with a best friend's family - and though I was sick for Christmas and though a lot of plans were derailed, it was still a very good Christmas indeed.
A lot of good has happened alongside the bad. But I can decide how I allow it - both good and bad - to affect me. Do I solely focus on the bad and let it destroy the good memories? Or do I look at the good that came out of the bad and let it strengthen me?
I won't pretend that the year hasn't left its scars. I learned a lot of lessons and cried for a lot of friends - and for myself. I know that even now, I'll have a hard time focusing on the good things. But 2016 is a new year, filled with new experiences, new people, new adventures - and yes, new sorrows. But I believe there is a song that advises us to: Don't worry; be happy. And I want to take that advice.
Here's to a happy new year, my friends! :)