Worst Year Ever?

worst yearWhat did last year bring? Does 2017 feel like a sight for sore eyes? The arrival of the New Year is always exciting and generally welcomed by most. My wife and I attended a 2016 Can Kiss My Ass party at our home away from home, The Venue, in Orlando. The truth is it could have been called anything and we still would have been there.

The night was special because it was the first time my wife and I had attended a social event since her surgery. We spent the evening surrounded by the most supportive, loving, and fantastic group of our closest friends. The conversation, entertainment, and company was the perfect way to mark the social return of the Waters Chicks and was exactly what we needed.

For weeks leading up to the ball dropping on Times Square the prevalent sentiment on social media revolved around how awful the year was and the need for it “to just be over.” Last year personally challenged us in ways we never could have expected but it was not the worst year ever.

Let’s think about this. Was it really the worst year ever? Or did it just feel that way? What are the parameters for this bold statement? It is natural to remember the difficult moments of a year. However, do these moments override all the good things that happened as well?

Putting 2016 out of its misery was quite a popular sentiment. Focusing on the negative events, loss, sickness, or general blah is oppressive and suffocating and extinguishes both optimism and hope. It is like trying to get light in a room where all of the light bulbs have been broken from the sockets and the switches have been removed. With bare feet.

If you see yourself in this scenario, fear not. Good news awaits. There is a way out of this room. Each of us has an escape room challenge which is open year round within the confines of our minds. No Groupon necessary. The clues to get out are there. Successfully locating them depends on our chosen mindset.

How we move through our moments, all of them, determines the quality and meaning in our journey. The choice is ours. The way out of the room depends on our choices. Certain moments are more difficult and making a choice to concentrate on the positive is easier said than done. But experience teaches that dwelling on the negative only delays and blocks the view of the good things.

Since I came out, I am highly aware of and adverse to negativity. One whiff of external negativity and my reaction is to move as far away from it as I can. The days where my own negativity factory gets fired up are the worst for me, those who live in my house, and drive next to me on the road. It is easy to let pessimism run a muck.

For me, being negative takes zero energy. If I am not careful it creeps in and the game is on. Learning to choose to shift how I think has been my greatest challenge and is a task which requires self-awareness and self-control. These two skills are among the few that are always within my control. Bummer, I know.

Everyone experiences moments of negative thinking in their lives, however staying stuck in this space for extended periods of time is one of the most self-destructive habits humans engage in.

The changing of a calendar year is nothing more than a mental marker of time. Each day, minute, and hour that passes can also be mental markers. I am not shy in sharing my dislike toward resolutions or waiting for a future date to begin something. It is the classic “I will do something when” or “I am waiting for this or that” mentality.

Simple fact. Believing that the passing of one year to the next is going to magically change anything is misguided and incorrect. What changes is our mindset. The idea of a clean slate is lovely, but unrealistic.

There is value in reflecting upon the events of our lives in order to learn, grow, and move toward healing. Processing the things that happen in our lives is part of the journey. So is moving forward. Making peace with the reality that life will always include challenges, trials, and tribulations is step one. Accepting the inevitability of bad news, sadness, or pain is step two.

Our lives are messy canvasses that begin the day we are born and end the day we take our last breath and includes all things. Good and bad. Being married to an artist has taught me that the beauty of art is not in the finished product, but rather in the process of creating it.

Accepting when things work out as we hoped just as happily as when they do not is step three. What medium are you using to create your canvas? Fear? Negativity? Apathy?

Waters Chicks New Years Eve 2017Waiting until the end of the year to make changes or become resolved is a wonderful plan, but not the only option. Every moment is an opportunity to begin again. Become schooled in the fine art of “Chuck it in the Fuck Bucket” and your mindset will follow suit.

Write this next sentence down as you make your way through 2017. The mind, body, and spirit can be renewed on a daily basis. Put it somewhere where you can see it or record it and make it your ringtone. Just remember it.

The final step is to ponder the freedom possible when the plan is successful. Practice gratitude and looking for the silver lining in the clouds even if hurricane force winds are blowing. Resist the temptation to throw the baby out with the bath water when reflecting on the totality of your year.

Learn the wisdom in balance and be patient with the process. Time and practice have proven to be the most effective route to building a life that is filled with love, joy, and most importantly, peace.

I am beginning the year with an appearance on a talk radio show this Friday 1/6 from 4:30-6pm. I will be taking calls from listeners and chatting with Tracy Fort and co-host Chef Apple . To listen live go to: http://tobtr.com/9726857

To call in dial 215-383-3795. The show will be available on the show website and iTunes after it is finished.