don’t let the door hit ya, 2016!

Fresh start to the year with a fresh organizer! {similar}

Oh hey there – it’s been a while! We have officially said goodbye to the shit show known as 2016 and there’s A LOT to reflect on. So let’s reflect, shall we? This past year was a doozy.

It was this time time last year that I started this blog as a warm and fuzzy little project where I envisioned writing about our home renovations and lifestyle, under the umbrella of honesty and authenticity. I wanted to pull the veil back a bit from the ever-present idea of attaining perfection and boy, did I ever! A year later, I absolutely still think that there is a sweetness in embracing the imperfections of life and finding joy in the mess – maybe more than before. I also still enter each day with a heavy dose of sparkle, but this year changed me a bit. I felt a general heaviness or heightened awareness of things happening in the world, and I couldn’t push it aside in my personal life and that came through in my writing.

For better or worse, I opened up myself online and I got some criticism and a lot of questions about WTF I was thinking. Some people ultimately pushed away from me, but others pulled closer. I learned that it’s easier to play the “everything is AMAZING!” game, in an effort to fit in and not make any waves. Apparently, my subconscious had other ideas about the importance of not making waves. Funny, or actually not funny, that even in my mid-30’s, I’m still playing little games with myself to make sure people like me. If I learned anything throughout this last year, it’s that the status quo doesn’t work for me anymore. I decided to face {mostly} every messy, confusing and uncomfortable thing head on.

The events of 2016 became a flashpoint of connection that created new or more substantive friendships. It highlighted the importance of meaningful relationships and mended some old friendship fractures and strengthened already strong bonds. Because I was so open, casual friends reached out and shared their own experiences with me. Those connections have turned into some of my most treasured friendships: the neighbors I didn’t know very well, the friend from middle school whom I haven’t seen in two decades, colleagues and more people than I can count on two hands. Other close friends offered a different perspective on the things I wrote about, which broadened my outlook.

2016 also drew a line through some relationships; like a line through the middle of a shared bedroom with a sibling – your side/my side. You can still live in that same space, but you’re always aware of the division that creates a comfortable distance. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have lost friendships and relationships with family members, due to dormant issues that bubbled to the surface. Now that they are out in the open, those issues feel like a fundamental game changer. That is a difficult thing to process. Like a teenager, I definitely noticed when a few friends stopped “liking” my photos on FB or Instagram. It took a while, but I finally learned to stop second-guessing myself for just being… myself.

2016 hit my marriage too. There was a moment when I was really worried. That worry was straight out of one of our favorite writings that we have hanging up in our home. The Desiderata poem has been an important work for both of us since before we met, and somehow I completely missed a major point and how it was impacting our relationship.

“But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.” – Desiderata

The print of the Desiderata that we had made, emphasizing specific phrases, even though we love every single word of the piece. This is hanging in the most high traffic spot in our house, with the idea that we should be reminded of it every time we pass.

I was most certainly distressing myself with imaginings. It turns out that 2016’s effect on our marriage was to bring us even closer and show us our strength. For the 13+ years that we have been together, I thought I was somehow tricking my husband into thinking I was an unblemished version of myself. This summer, I learned that he knows me far better than I ever gave him credit for and even better than I knew myself in some cases. I had a few epiphanies and thought “WOAH. That makes total sense now!” but when I told him, expecting shock and awe, he responded with something like “Ummm… yeah? Duh. I’ve known that about you for years!” I married the right guy. I married my best friend. What excellent foresight I had 8 years ago!

None of this was my resolution for 2016. I can’t even tell you what my resolution was last year. But, I think it’s important to continue setting goals and checking in with ourselves as we make our way through each year. None of us know what challenges, successes, heartbreaks and joys 2017 will bring in each of our lives or in the world and we can’t control it. What we can control is how we respond to those things and how we choose to begin each day. For now, I’m going to continue down this road of authenticity and see where it takes me. I’ve cleaned my desk, and I have a few things up my sleeve that I’m ready to set into motion. If I see something I want to accomplish, change or be a part of, I’m going to get after it!

So, I guess this year didn’t change me so much as it provided a choice: stay safe and take the path of least resistance or not. I chose the latter and it was uncomfortable. Last year I dug deep, and analyzed lots of experiences and how they have influenced who I am. It was intense. It was lonely, but it had to be lonely because it was work I needed to do by myself. At times, I felt like I had a first class ticket aboard the Hot Mess Express, but I was reminded by a few amazing friends – old and new – that I wasn’t a mess. Life is messy.

Sending everyone a heavy dose of New Year sparkle.


Published by laurenlehmancarter

Heart on my Sleeve // Social Justice Fighter // Survivor // Mama // Wedding Planner

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