2017 - A year in photographs
I’m writing this blog from a dear friend’s couch this chilly Nashville morning. I can’t lie - I was tempted to write an ambiguous blurb about how 2017 had her ups and downs. I was tempted to leave some of these photographs out because of the memories they evoke. I was tempted to leave a little note about how each curveball thrown this year shaped me for the better & how I had a life epiphany that sprouted into greatness after every valley.
But I just couldn’t do it. The truth is that 2017 has without a doubt been the biggest rollercoaster out of my 25 years waltzing on earth. I wish I could tell you that every curveball was met with grace and understanding. I so dearly wish that I could say that every misstep I made was corrected. I wish I could say I’ve forgiven every person I’ve been hurt by. And I desperately wish I could say I have apologized to every person I’ve hurt.
It’s easy for me to paint out a perfect life on Instagram with a pretty travel photo, but going back to an empty hotel room when you’re feeling lonelier than ever still sucks - no matter how many beautiful landscapes you post.
It’s easy to let people think you have the perfect life because you have your dream job, but trying to work out relationship problems via a call or even worse text still sucks - no matter how many dream contracts I score.
It’s easy to make traveling for a living look like a 24/7 vacation, but going on 2 hours of sleep from back to back red eye flights because I can’t seem to grasp what the word “no” means still sucks - no matter how many humblebrags make it on my Insta Story.
The first half of this year was spent running myself into the ground until my body physically and emotionally couldn’t take it anymore. My inability to find balance has cost me relationships, jobs and friendships. I have had to learn that there is no such thing as life without compromise. Saying yes to something always means saying no to something else. (Shoutout to my sweet friend Gretchen for that truth nugget.)
In the middle of this year something switched. For the first time in years, I was quiet. I got off social media completely for 8 weeks. I needed silence to figure out why I was saying yes to the things I was saying yes to - and just as important - what was I saying no to.
I will never forget walking down La Push Beach in late July. My mind and my heart felt clear for the first time in years. I laid down a lot of hurt that day. In that moment, I was humbled and could finally see beyond the wounds of the previous season. That day was filled with a lot of tears, because in looking past my own hurt, I could see the hurt I had caused others. There it was staring me in the face.
I realized that the people who were getting my no were the people who should be first the yes line. I realized that through focussing on the turbulence of the previous months, I had hurt so many of those close to me.
Coming home from the PNW, I felt like a new person. My heart, spirit and body felt aligned for the first time in a while. However, if any of you have ever had to have your body physically realigned in any way, you know it comes with its own host of pains. When you’ve trained your mind and heart to respond to certain patterns in certain ways, no matter how out of balance those responses are, it’s going to be hard and painful to correct. It feels like the emotional equivalent of having my hips realigned after a climbing accident years ago.
I had trained for months on a bum hip. My leg muscles had aligned themselves to the misalignment in my hip. Getting everything untangled was complicated. Yes, my hip pain was excruciating but in order to put it back in place, my physical therapist had to basically pull every muscle in my left leg. It was the most physically painful thing I’ve ever experienced, but I would never have gotten better without it.
In the same way, I felt like my emotional fibers had be pulled out of their tangled webs.
Some days it feels liberating. Some days I’m angry because healing isn’t happening as fast as I want it to. Some days I am so overwhelmed by the growth thats happened in so little time. Some days I just want to cry - but most days I am humbled by the amazing people in my life & the gift of their presence.
A few months later I found myself on a mountainside in Southern California with my dear friend Sam. We had taken the day to hike and climb after I wrapped up a book cover shoot in LA. I found myself tearing up again - but this time it was only gratitude. I realized I have wasted years trying to fill a hole that never existed in the first place. I will never forget driving down the mountain that night listening to John Mayer with Sam’s Jeep top back. I watched the hills transform from a vibrant green to a golden purple as day turned to dusk. In that moment, I realized that every curveball of the last year was a season preparing me for something. I realized that while I wasn’t done letting go of some things, I was progressing & that was more than enough to celebrate.
As someone who struggles with patience, letting go of perfection and replacing it with a genuine contentment with progress is a freaking milestone.
Sometimes we have to let go of relationships to make room for new ones. Sometimes we have to walk away from projects to make space for other things.
In the sunset of 2017, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how much has happened in the last 12 months. I was just having a conversation with someone the other night about how his year had felt like ten years rolled into one. Going back through this year in pictures has made me feel the same way.
I’ll end this long winded blurb with a few lines from my favorite Sleeping at Last song, “Snow.”
“Let our bells keep on ringing
Making angels in the snow
May the melody disarm us
When the cracks begin to show
Like the petals in our pockets
May we remember who we are
Unconditionally cared for
By those who share our broken hearts
The table is set and our glasses are full
Though pieces go missing, may we still feel whole
We'll build new traditions in place of the old
Cause life without revision will silence our souls”