Friday, December 30, 2016

Like sands through the hourglass

A few things have been constants for me the past few years: the desire to see and experience; an insistence on not waiting for tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year to do something I want to do; the need to view myself in the context of what I am doing for others while still maintaining a safeguard on my self care; the feeling of a continual sinking into myself and becoming more and more myself than I've ever been, which is weird as I've always felt like someone who was fully and fiercely herself; and the knowledge that time is slipping through my fingers faster than I ever thought possible.

At the end of each year, I like to look back over it and think about it in relation to other years. On a personal level, part of me feels like I flew this year and part of me feels like I spent much of the year poised on the precipice of flying on to something new, getting my ducks in a row for whatever that might be. I'm not being intentionally vague. I feel change coming and I am one to always trust my gut. I don't know exactly how it will manifest itself, but I know it's always better to meet new opportunities with your house in order.

In comparison to 2015, this year I tried fewer new recipes, read more books (128 so far this year, 104 last year) and less magazines, watched less TV and went to the movies zero times. I was less productive but more centered, less organized but more open to operating differently. I worried less and lived in the moment more, became more cognizant of my aging dogs, accumulated more eye wrinkles, and felt more tied to the shore than I felt tied to my home.

This year reminded me that there are people who will think critically and connect the dots and people who won't; and people who fear everyone different from them and people who don't. It has upped my activism ante. It has shown me that I can coexist with people who think differently than I do if they can converse intelligently but that I don't gel well with fear mongering or stupidity. I spent a lot of 2016 being tired in my soul of a lot of things not directly related to politics or politicians - but more related to the reactions of people I personally know to things - we don't exist in a vacuum and at some point your viewpoints are who you are. And when someone shows me who they are, I believe them.
Personal experiences in 2016:  I saw a family of baboons scampering along the road in South Africa and watched the sun rise in African skies on safari; I tapped my feet to music in New Orleans; slept out for homeless youth; spent my 39th birthday largely unshowered but happy; joined Jana on The Armchair Librarians podcast even though I detest recording my voice (we're on hiatus until the new year, check out our old episodes here); lost a friend I've had since junior high; gained three new members of my aunt army - Natalia, MBD, and Libby; visited the Chinese Lantern Festival, Magic Gardens, and Liberty One Observation Deck in Philly; celebrated my mom's 60th birthday on the beach; attended Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel + Sting, Counting Crows, and Bruce Springsteen concerts; lost my Gamma; spent MFD's birthday in the butt of a large fake elephant; freaking MET Bruce Springsteen and Jodi Picoult at author events at the library; enjoyed girls weekend at the lake, one up the mountains and two at the shore; went tubing for the first and possibly the last time and went whale watching for the first of a few more times; celebrated my niece's first birthday; looked back on a year of shore house ownership; stood on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland with my Dad on his 60th birthday; heard bagpipes played in Scotland; proudly sent MFD off to deliver supplies to Standing Rock and soon after experienced the distress that is being many miles away when your partner has been injured; exchanged countless hilarious and WTF texts with my people; started wearing leggings; and so many other smaller moments.

Smaller in relation to those bigger plucked out and listed above, but smaller overall? No. Life is lived in the small moments, not the highlight reel. Mine is, anyway. It's in every grain of sand. I'm betting yours is too, which is why it pains me when people get caught up in the illusion that everyone else's life is more grand than theirs is. Bullshit. We all have a sun dappled existence with light and dark spots. I will venture to guess that people who appreciate it all, big and small, light and what they can bring forth from the dark, enjoy the ride more though. Something to think about.
I'm a sucker for the year's best nine on Instagram. Instagram is where I am most active on social media - follow me there!

Worldwide 2016 is viewed as a dumpster fire, and on many levels I agree. No year is all bad though, and even when it's more grind than glory, there is something salvageable. This year I am reminded that character is built in the trenches and not on the mountaintops and that we can all use some more character.

August 2017 will see me enter my seventh year of blogging in this space. Seven years (waiting for my best friend Laura to check my math). In a lot of ways, it feels like I've always been doing this. And my reasons for doing it haven't changed - I like to have a place to document my life and thoughts, whether zero people read it or 10 or 100 or you get the picture. It is as true of a reflection of my life as it can be without sharing shit that I don't personally want on the Internet. I am a what you see is what you get person both face to face and in this space. So while what appears here content-wise changes based on what's going on in my life and what I'm into at the time, one thing that doesn't change and that never will is that when you open this website, the real me is here. I appreciate you for reading. If you ever want to drop me a line, you can find me at lifeaccordingtosteph@gmail.com.

I'll catch you in 2017, eh? If you're going out tomorrow night, be safe. If you're driving don't drink and if you're drinking don't drive and all that jazz. If you are interested in mummery and what MFD does on New Year's Day, check back on January 1 for a post on where to find him on TV or streaming TV.

15 comments:

  1. You had a lot of great memories in 2016 - lots of wonderful travel too! Happy New Year girl! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  2. My best memories are the shore weekend you arranged for my 60th birthday. I know I don't like a fuss but that sure was awesome.
    Does Instagram determine your best nine or do you? I am trusting in the universe that all is happening as it should even though it hurts my soul when I see many things. God bless and heal all everywhere. Love. Your. Momma.

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  3. "ut more related to the reactions of people I personally know to things...". ALL. OF. THIS.

    Cheers to 2017 and whatever it may bring us. May you enjoy more sunrises, more books, and all the things that bring you joy.

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  4. You always have such productive years - with travel & your beach home.
    I cant believe you went to zero movies. That's impressive.

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  5. My friends & I were just talking the other day about how easy it is to get caught up in how perfect other people's lives seem. My one friend was saying how a girl we mutually follow on IG, but I am also friends with on FB & used to work with, that her life always seems so perfect & Instagramable & how is that possible. I had to remind her to look at her own FB & IG...of course things look perfect on social media. I think people would be a lot happier if they stopped comparing themselves to others in general but also if they took social media with a grain of salt.

    I can't wait to see what 2017 brings you!

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  6. I love what you said about everybody having a sun dappled experience. It's what we choose to do with the dark and light moments that makes us who we are, and we shouldn't envy others for what they have and we don't have. Social Media definitely makes the comparison game that much worse. Your year sounded so awesome, and I know the shore house was one of the highlights of the year! I hope that you have fantastic New Years!

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  7. I love that started wearing leggings made the list lolol... I am a fan. Sounds like a fabulous year overall, Happy New Year Steph!

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  8. I started wearing leggings this year too. But in all seriousness, you did some pretty epic things for 2016!!! I have read so many people say that they cant wait for 2017 because this was such a bad year, but I can never think badly of 2016 because it was my greatest one yet with the birth of my daughter so I enjoyed reading all the good you had for your year too! I wish all the best for you in 2017! Happy New Year!

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  9. I really take that "have your house in order" thing to heart. I always feel like I'm prepping for something but I don't really know what. Yet.
    I've become more cognizant of my aging self and have realized that I'm better now in health and in mentality than I was a few years ago. It's really that whole youth-is-wasted-on-the-young thing. And, again, "youth is not an accomplishment" as you posted yesterday.
    And regarding dogs, I love mine more every day and appreciate their need for me a bit more with each year.
    Happy New Year to your family!

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  10. What a year. Sounds like some big things are ahead for you in 2017. I agree, there were a lot of majorly terrible nationwide/worldwide things that happened this year, but when I look at my life I see a lot of moments where I laughed and was loved and happy and also moments where I struggled, but learned from that. So while 2016 wasn't perfect, it was still good. Happy New Year!

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  11. Dear Steph, I look forward to reading your blog every day with my morning coffee. I rarely post comments but i want to express my gratitude for your kindness, honesty and innate ability to articulate so often what I am thinking and feeling. I found your blog as I was looking for reading recommendations and love hearing your opinions you write about as well as your podcast with Jana.Your summations of what has transpired nationally in 2017 have been so on-target and let me know I am not alone with my thoughts and concerns about the state of feminism and the political climate in our country.
    Please know that your work is greatly appreciated !! Wishing you a happy, healthy year ahead.

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    Replies
    1. Lauren, thank you so much. This is one of the nicest things I've read all year. I'm glad you're around reading. Happy new year!

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  12. I love this, Steph! And when you dissect an entire year you'll be sure to find great, happy moments (lots of them, actually) and you'll realize it wasn't so bad after all. It's also been a great year for self-discovery and change and fighting the good fight. I feel more inspired than ever to do good and be an activist for positive change. Here's to 2017! Keep up the good work! You're an inspiration to me in this whole of blogging!

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  13. I too love that wearing leggings made the list. My Christmas ones are my favorites so far and will still be worn (inside only) until it's too hot. You write about the everyday and the small very well. You don't drone and you keep it interesting. It really is a skill that you can write about meal prep almost weekly and still engage people. I mean that as a compliment!

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  14. love this post and everything you said about 2016 and life in general. especially the people getting caught up in the illusion of what other people share. everyone has highlights and lowlights. i'm more likely to share highlights because sometimes i need to deal with the low things a different way and that does not include sharing it with the world. but it's not like the lows don't exist. and i also agree about the people and their reactions to political things. i totally respect everyone's right to their own opinion, but when someone shows me the kind of person they are and it's not just an opinion, but they are being hateful or horrible in a way i can't relate to? that's hard for me to forget or forgive.
    anyway, cheers to 2017!

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