Dearest 29 and 30 year old Erika,
You set one intention beyond all others last year, and that was to practice presence. You came out of 2014 emotionally bruised and battered and exhausted by all the expectations you had for the year that refused to come to fruition. You felt your way through the start of the year tentatively, war-torn and bleary eyed, but determined to focus not just on the big stuff, but be proud of how you showed up for your everyday life.
2015 was slow and steady. At times it seemed uneventful and you were kind of bored. Initially as you looked back to recall the (lack of) milestones of this year, you found yourself thinking, “Was that it?” So let us recap what actually happened:
You celebrated four years of marriage, continuing to uncover what happens when you don’t marry your soulmate. You finished a year of marriage counseling, which is one of the best decisions the two of you have made because it has made you a stronger, more bonded couple than ever before. You realized that at the core of it, we all want to be known.
You turned 30 this year. (And rustled up 29 lessons you learned in your twenties to show for it!) You once naively thought this would be the year you would become a mom. When that goal was not met, you mourned the dream once again, because we do not always get what we think we are promised.
You spent countless hours with children you adore and families you love in Hoboken and were a surrogate Auntie. These kids made you laugh and sometimes exasperated, but spending time with them reaffirmed that this whole parenthood thing, one day, will absolutely be for you too. There is nothing quite like observing and participating in the unbridled childhood joy, and you must be grateful to have had so much of it in your everyday life in 2015.
You embraced the shifting seasons and gave yourself permission. You broke out of the identity box you constructed for yourself that says, “You have always been this way, so don’t bother trying to live another way. It will only make you uncomfortable.”
You made the most of the meantime. You camped out in the space between utter heartbreak and stubborn joy. You did not waste your days longing for the ones yet ahead, and in the process you learned what gratitude really looks like.
You strengthened your writing voice, and did not worry so much about being witty or interesting or even driving blog traffic, and instead, focused on being honest. Sharing about finding gratitude within the grief led to landing a byline at A Practical Wedding, of which you are incredibly proud.
And before the year closed, you were surprised and delighted to find you landed a job as a Junior Copywriter after playing the long game of following your dreams.
A “good” year is not made only of milestones – it is created by acknowledging the beauty of every day. At the beginning of the year, you promised to show up for your each day of your life, and looking back, dear girl, you did that very thing.
You savored hot cups of tea, (sometimes ;)) got up early to write, and read books that challenged and inspired you. You spent quality time with friends and vowed to move past saying, “We NEED to catch up soon!” You saw family that lives miles away and you even traveled to a few new places. (I heart SoCal!)
As you look towards 2016, I invite you to make plans but hold them ever more loosely, because they can change when you least expect. Keep moving forward: growing spiritually, intellectually, in your marriage, your friendships, and your healthy habits. Be open to whatever comes your way. At this point you know that joy and heartache are both inevitable.
Your pace is about to pick up tremendously, and you will be back to the hustle and bustle of NYC five days a week. I am asking you now to remember 2015. Hold on to what you have learned and do not scorn the little things, because it is in those that you will find what makes up a beautiful life and a year well lived.
You are known. You are loved. And you are capable of handling whatever it is that lies ahead.
Cheers to another blank slate,
Erika at the start of 2016
PS. Here is last year’s letter.