A Better Year

Last New Year’s Eve I rung in 2014 with friends and tried to ignore the fact that I should have been celebrating my 8th anniversary. Still devastated from my recent decision to move out, I was thankful to be with friends who could both make me smile without expecting me to feel happy and acknowledge the pain I was feeling without increasing my sadness. At midnight we toasted the new year and made the obligatory resolutions. When it was my turn, I paused to try to put into words my hopes for the upcoming year. Ultimately, I settled upon the resolution to “have a better year.” These inadequate words were responded to with enthusiasm and smiles by people who genuinely wished the same thing for me. It would not take much for 2014 to be better than 2013 – the previous year had been the worst of my life. But I could not have imagined what an amazing year I would have.

Looking back, it’s almost impossible to wrap my mind around the past year, how much my life has changed and – most of all – how much I’ve changed. I began the year an anxious and worried person and have become someone who is, if not exactly easy going, willing to more completely trust that life will work out and to be open to new and unexpected possibilities. I went from a postdoctoral fellow to a for-real psychologist with an actual job. And that job is in Oregon. After making a last minute trip to Oregon in February, I decided I wanted to move there and then I was fortunate enough to see that happen.

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I went from the uncertainty of living alone for the first time to confidently moving halfway across the country in August.

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I travelled to Oregon, Arkansas (as many times as possible), and Tennessee, before taking a road trip through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, and Oregon with just my dog. That Grand Canyon thing? Pretty amazing!

IMG_2606My nephew was born and I felt my heart get a bit bigger as my family did, too.

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I rediscovered my love of hiking and the outdoors.

I also love my brother. Brother + hiking = one of my favorite days
I also love my brother. Brother + hiking = one of my favorite days

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My heart began to heal. I realized that it might be possible to one day love someone again and that, more importantly, I can be content and happy on my own.

I started to build a new life in a new place, a place I have only just begun to explore.

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My partner in crime.
My partner in crime and exploration.

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One of my brothers encouraged me to “become Cora with no apologies.” So that’s what I did. I embraced my love of wine with dinner and country music and the occasional fantasy or science fiction novel. I accepted my essential nerdiness without being embarrassed (yes, as a matter of fact, Doctor Who is my favorite TV show). I pierced my ears and got a tattoo (I am honestly still a bit surprised about that one).

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I became more confident both personally and professionally. I had amazing times with friends and began to look forward to the future with excitement and anticipation for the first time in many, many months. There was certainly loss this year – the loss of my grandmothers, the changing nature of friendships due to the move, the distance from family – but the loss was tinged with gratitude for what amazing people I have in my life and for their influence on the woman I am and will become.

The person now greeting 2015 would hardly recognize the person who resolved to have a better year. But I do know that I kept that resolution. Sometimes with heart-rending pain, I kept pushing forward without looking back (at least for long) knowing that despite the uncertainty of the new path I chose, that only along a new path was there hope for something better than what I left behind. I don’t feel like I can resolve to have a better year in 2015. Last year was so incredible that I can’t imagine a better one. But, I never want to live a life limited by my imagination. So, my resolutions are these: to live each day to the fullest, to be open to the possibilities, to be continually grateful. And obviously to travel as much as possible. What are your resolutions for 2015?

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