My 2017 In Review: A Year of Extremes and New Beginnings

So Whew, what a year! Maybe it’s the leaps in personal growth or maybe it’s the rocky political climate here in America, but 2017 felt like perhaps the longest, most transformative year of my life.

It was no doubt a year of extreme highs and extreme lows. There have been times of soul-shattering sadness and times of unprecedented clarity and peace. And with such great extremes and so much progress, the end of the year makes for a great time to reflect and process while planning key goals for 2018.

A Snapshot of 2017

Previously, sometimes from busyness and sometimes from stress , the years had seemed to somewhat drag by. This year, however, took it to a whole new level (in a positive way). I never knew how much growth could be accomplished in just one short year. I can say that this is truly the year I learned about grit, time management, and self-love, even if this year was not without its struggles.

But let’s start this review off on the right foot and go over the wonderful positives first. 🙂

2017: The Pros

I often evaluate the “success” of my years in regards to the Life Wheel. In that sense, 2017 brought unprecedented growth in the areas of romance, self-image, and career.

Career

Ever since I was young enough to join the work force, at about 15 years old, I’d felt “off” about the traditional work environment. While the idea of traditional work has never drawn people in, it was downright revolting for me. I could never willingly trade 5 days of my life for 2 while doing something I didn’t believe in or care about, no matter how “secure” or stable it might seem. And while I’d had several traditional jobs before – from bartender to psych unit attendant – this was the first year I’d finally taken the leap into freelancing.

As a new copywriter, I still have much to learn and still make plenty of regrettable mistakes. But the freedom to work whenever and wherever and with only the clients whose projects I believe in can’t be measured. I am in a fairly constant flow state, happily balancing my writing work between clients and this blog. Even if the income has not been to my ideal level (which, being my first year, isn’t to be expected anyway), I feel quite confident that I will be on-target for my income goals next year. 🙂

I was also quite excited to have produced my first Kindle book, although on a subject unrelated to the content of this blog (as of yet). It gave me my first taste of passive income, which I hope to include more of in the upcoming year.

But most importantly, in my opinion, is the beginning of this blog. Already I’m very lucky to have a budding readership with you all, for which I’m immensely thankful. I hope I can provide some value for you all with my little articles.

Romance

In terms of relationships, this year has also had the most ups and downs to date. As a result, I’ve uncovered many surprising revelations about my attitudes regarding love and relationships, which I will detail further in an upcoming series.

The most prominent development this year has been the termination of my long-term relationship of three years with J and the successive beginning of my relationship with M. I believe this is a direct reflection of my new-found dedication to self-love, growth, and positivity.

While J is by no means a bad man, “water seeks its own level,” as they say. When I first entered into a relationship with him, I had been in the heat of an eating disorder, keeping myself in a web of chaos and negativity. He likewise lived in chaos, fleeting from alcohol-fueled party to alcohol-fueled party in between caring for his declining mother. When we later moved in together to provide round-the-clock care for his mother, it in many ways felt that we were made for each other – that our inner chaos complimented or mirrored one another.

New Understandings

What I came to learn over the years, and most dramatically this one, is that your inner world will inevitably be mirrored in your outer world. Most especially in your intimate relationships.

After doing significant, deep work to heal my self-perception and negative biases, I realized that the relationship with J was no longer beneficial to me. Rather the opposite – I found myself poisoned by his negativity and poor, fear-based outlook. So with a heavy heart and much love, I terminated our relationship to pursue my own growth.

Surely enough, it wasn’t even three months after that day that I had met M, with whom I’d eagerly begun a new relationship. It’s not in my nature to dive into relationships, as I prefer a slow and organic path to intimacy. Regardless, I find that he thus far is virtually everything I’d look for in a partner: adventurous, intelligent, kind, and someone who challenges himself. I’m hopeful that this will develop nicely, and I’ll give you the full run-down in an upcoming series. 🙂

Change in Outlook

While this accomplishment is more amorphous than the others, it is also the most profound. Having seriously begun my consciousness journey this year, I’ve consumed over 50 books this year, mostly about business, self-image, and all varieties of relationships. Consequently, I’ve made some important changes in outlook that have not only massively reduced my stress, but made me more effective and results-oriented in every facet of life. While these will probably be laid out in another post, here is a summary of the most important lessons I’ve learned.

You Can’t Change People

I admit it: for most of my life, I’d been a bit judgemental. Somehow I’d unknowingly taken the role of everybody’s mother, thinking that I knew what was best for everyone.

This was most apparent in my relationship with J. Whether I wished he’d be more productive or wish he’d stop drinking so much, I was silently but powerfully judging him. Quietly the resentment grew until it completely overshadowed my feelings of compassion and love for him.

The truth is that you can’t love what you resent. After terminating my relationship with him, I tried to get to the bottom of this nasty, recurring issue in my love relationships.

Together But Separate

I finally understood that these men are not required to live as I do. They are separate and perfect in their own way, coming from backgrounds and mindsets completely different from my own. And as long as their habits aren’t directly limiting or dangerous to my livelihood, it is not my place to “should” them into anything different. Furthermore, many of the silent judgements I placed on these men were reflections of what I hated in myself.

For example, I hated how much time J wasted on video games. Sometimes it would be more than 5 hours every day. I’d roll my eyes, wondering how someone could be so lackadaisical with their time. And yet, looking back, I was likely projecting my own judgements on to him.

Having just begun my new copywriting business, I never felt that I could measure up. There was constantly some new thing to learn and a slew of to-dos to cross off. Every minute not spent on establishing my budding business felt like a waste and a failure. I then subconsciously resented my then-boyfriend’s freedom.

While I overworked myself, tended to the house and children, and cared for my health, he would lounge around for hours at a time, enjoying video games and alcohol round the clock. My self-criticism and jealousy were projected onto him, when in reality it was his right to pass time however he saw fit. Going forward, I will recognize mine and my partner’s separateness in all areas, which was a habit I didn’t even realize I had. Largely because of the following point.

Elimination of Codependent Characteristics

One of the most powerful personal discoveries this year was that I had many codependent behaviors. I discovered that these weird, faulty quirks of mine were part of a curable “disease” rather than some inherent brokenness. Already I’ve been able to make massive leaps in the quality of my relationships with family, friends, and potential partners just from understanding the nature of this very common but insidious issue.

This was much like not knowing just how hungry you were until you had a filling dinner. I had never realized that many of my relationships – from familial to romantic – were based on an underlying sense of fear, lack, and insecurity.

While I could go over the millions of little insights that have led me to this wonderfully happy, abundant, fearless place, here are some of the highlights I’d like to share with you.

  • You have permission to say no to anyone, about anything and still be a good, caring woman.
  • If you are feeling resentful or angry, it means you should talk about it. No matter how much it might put someone out.
  • Not all selfishness is bad selfishness. You can’t help or care for people if you are running ragged yourself.
  • You don’t have to empty your cup (emotionally, physically, spiritually) to fill somebody else’s.
  • There are no “shoulds” for an adult.

I have no doubt that all of us struggle with this from time to time. I’m still learning and making mistakes. But when I need a little bit of extra help, this poem does a wonderful job.

Greater Belief in Capabilities

For much of my life, I’ve been a little shaky in my self-belief. I always had a bit of performance anxiety, somehow believing that everybody can do things better, faster, or more intelligently. I’ve long been a perfectionist, refusing to display my skills at all for fear that I would let someone down or be ridiculed. This made my debut into the freelancing world extremely scary, to say the least.

I am quite happy to report that I’ve had nothing but happy customers thus far, giving me confidence that my self-taught skills might be of value. While I might not yet be a true ace at any one particular skill set yet, my freelancing and my work here at the blog have given me solid experience in creating graphics, posts, pages, websites, and social media management.

And, of course, I’d love to extend my services to you, should you need them. You can reach me here. 🙂

2017: The Cons

2017 was not without its struggles. On the personal front, this has been my first year experiencing death – twice within a week of each other. Additionally, and to a less impactful extent, I lovingly separated from a long-term relationship, which rocked the boat a bit too.

The first experience with death may, to some, not be considered a death experience at all. I, however, am considering it one because of its earth-shattering emotional impact.

Around this time last year, I had begun to experience the worst flu symptoms of my life. For three weeks, I was sick to my stomach, warm, and utterly exhausted by the simplest task. I must have slept 10 hours a day every day back then, barely keeping my eyes open in between naps.

By the end of those three weeks, I figured that any natural stomach flu must have passed by now. Why was I still feeling so weak?

I began to fear the worst. An agonizingly long road trip later, and my suspicions were confirmed.

I wasn’t sick.

I was pregnant.

Never before had I understood the feeling of your heart skipping a beat. In that moment, it was as if time had stood still. Was I ready for this? Would I be able to rise to the challenge? What would my boyfriend say? Would would my family say?

To make matters worse, this happened on the morning of my boyfriend’s birthday. Surely I was going to ruin his 21st.

Contrary to my suspicions, he was overjoyed. With tears in his eyes, he rejoiced in a ray of hope amid the depressing state of our house, his mother, and our political environment.

Bad News

Shortly after, I did fall ill with one of the worst flus of my life. I was officially bed-bound, barely able to stay awake for more than three hours at a time. I’d lost ten pounds in spite of already being rather thin, unable to eat from my weakened state.

With my body in terrible shape, I awoke to horrid news a month after my discovery.

My pregnancy had failed.

Just barely at the “safe” threshold, my body was unable to sustain the pregnancy. As much as we were reeling over this loss, my boyfriend and I had even more grave news within just a few hours.

A Turn for the Worse

My then-boyfriend’s mother was first diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer shortly after he and I had first met nearly 7 years ago. While the first round of treatments had gone over spectacularly, sending her into remission for several years, the doctor had informed her that it was a matter of when, not if, that the disease would return again.

That day came in early January of 2015. Her condition remained stable for the large part, until it began to rapidly decline at the start of October 2016. From then on, he and I shared round-the-clock duties to feed, wash, and comfort her, as she was barely strong enough to eat or walk for long distances. As time wore on, it became evident that the end was near.

Shortly after my unfortunate discovery, his mother took a strange turn for the worse. From confusedly asking for people who weren’t present to sudden outbursts of screaming or tears, it was clear that her mental state had deteriorated almost instantly. After a brief consultation with her doctor, we began making calls for dear friends and family. This was surely it.

Six days later, early in the morning, she had left us. Suddenly, unexpectedly, our prospective family was cut in half. Huddled together in the cool winter air, we entered a time of deep reflection to understand what had just happened.

Lessons from Loss

While that was certainly a challenging week, I deeply believe that everything – the good, bad, and ugly – happens for a reason. That our suffering is not so caustic if we are able to learn from it.

Strangely, the deep losses suffered this year has softened and expanded my heart.

I once had a deep well of resentment for my then-boyfriend’s mother. Not only was she a poor manager of her health, smoking and drinking heavily during her cancer treatments, but she was also quite bitter and dictatorial in her relationships.

She often treated my boyfriend, her son, as though he were an annoyance and a lackadaisical caregiver and treated me as though I were an unwanted intruder in her family. Often I wondered why she seemed so dedicated to treating both herself and her caregivers with such bitterness, and grew to have a less than friendly relationship with her until just before her passing.

Love vs Fear

Then it hit me.

People very rarely treat people better than they treat themselves. Perhaps she felt unworthy of kindness. Perhaps she felt sheepish that she was losing her strength and required the help of others. Maybe she felt that I was going to “steal” her youngest child from her, leaving her to pass in loneliness.

People have two basic motivations to all their behaviour: fear or love. Everything they say or do can come from the perspective of fear: of scarcity, loneliness, rejection, or any other negative emotion; or from the perspective of love: of togetherness, understanding, and vulnerability.

Having passed at the young age of 57, she had a terrible early life. From abuse to alcohol addiction to an early teenage pregnancy, much of her life was spent just getting by. In her early forties, she lived through the brutal murder of her mother and the suicide of her eldest son. Perhaps she never knew how to relate in a whole, loving way without fear of loss.

Looking back, I can see that fear and I am thankful that she was brought into my life to teach me these important lessons. She gave me the gift of learning to live consciously with more love more often. She taught me that it’s better to have your heart sliced and delivered on a platter than to freeze it entirely.

If there’s the option to do something from a place of love or do something from a place of fear, choose love.

Always choose love.

The Year Ahead

All in all, my hopes are up for 2018. Here are some of my primary goals for each major Life Wheel segment for the upcoming year.

Business

I’m quite happy with my copywriting gigs, but would like to move out of the “rookie” phase and move up to something more substantial – a full-on business.

Finance and Wealth

This year, I would like to eliminate all debts and reach a new, but challenging level of income. To this end, I would like to monetize the blog further with useful courses or ebooks. Likewise, I’d like to expand my writing business to a new level.

Health and Fitness

I’ve noticed a surge in energy since I’ve cleaned up my diet. However, I’d like to transition to a full vegetarian diet by the end of this next year. I notice I need less sleep and think more clearly without meat, and I personally feel it’s a more kind way to live.

Social and Friendships

I must admit I’ve fallen prey to entrepreneurship loneliness. I no longer have coworkers or regular faces to see on my day-to-day, so I can go several days with email- and text-based relationships only. So I must be more mindful to keep up with meetups and such. I’d also like to make a new ring of friends, since many of mine fell to the wayside this year as a result of my new outlooks.

Romance and Love

I’m highly interested in learning more about M and determining if we’d be compatible partners. I feel for the first time like this man pushes me to do more and be more rather than weighing me down. Lets see how this develops!

Likewise, I’d like to continue to grow my self-love. While that may sound selfish and narcissistic to some, I have discovered that as my self-love and self-compassion deepens, so does my love for the whole world – friends, family, strangers, and even those deeply, terribly opposed to my values. If we can recognize with love our own humanness, we can learn to do so for others with greater depth and less boundaries.

Recreation

All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl! This year, I’d like to reach an intermediate level on Swedish and at least a comfortable introductory level on Russian. My dreams of being a polyglot will yet be realized!

Contribution

This was my first year giving blood due to the minimum weight limit. I’d really like to donate as much as possible this year, a maximum of 7 times.

Back to You

How about you? How was your 2017? Do you have any special goals for 2018?

Take an hour sometime this week and set a vision for 2018 set. Plan your goals. Who do you want to be this time next year?

And be sure to let me know in the comments!

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