“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”

— Oprah Winfrey

This year was a tale of my companions Cranky, Weary and Hopeful. These were the wise men; they were my teachers.

2014 began with my intention to stop playing small. For so long I’d dimmed my light, hiding from the world in the shadows of a people-pleasing personality. Everyone else came first. My job came first.

Sometimes even the doorman came first. Did I ask him if he wanted coffee? OMG, I need to go back right now—never mind that it’s 10 degrees and snowy and icy and windy—I’m turning around to ask him! Because maybe he wants some coffee!!!!

People pleasing is exhausting.

If you let it, all of those needs and duties and responsibilities begin to spread like a wildfire through the mountains, beginning as a harmless spark but quickly taking over every inch in the landscape of your life.

Maybe I’m being dramatic. Maybe it isn’t THAT bad. But it feels like it.

Did I stop playing small? Nope. As well intentioned as I began, I tiptoed through the year, feeling my way through the darkness in search of some light.

These are the years where you learn who you are and the tough stock of which you are made. My three wise men each taught me different life lessons.

Cranky:  I have become that person yelling at taxi drivers whose cars roll dangerously close to me as I cross the street—bringing me perilously close to a crazy old lady muttering at passerby on the street. A glimpse of a rage-filled future? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just finally getting in touch with that part of me who can ask for what I want.

To this strange grumpiness which has taken residence alongside my nice girl persona, a very big thank you. I am wildly uncomfortable with you, but you dare to point out everything that doesn’t make sense, every complaint that is unfounded, every ridiculous conversation full of ridiculousness. You keep me honest. You urge me to point out when someone has said something hurtful or to walk away from the situation entirely. You challenge me to do better, to be better, to dare to dream of more than what’s in front of me.

For years I would roll my eyes when I heard actresses talk about how being in your 40s meant you didn’t care about what people thought anymore.  I get it now.  I still care, ever the people pleaser, but I definitely care a whole lot less than I did.

Cranky does have its eccentric benefits. It is teaching me dedication, and there are appointments with myself that are non-negotiable. A twice-weekly 6am “rooster” workout literally saved my sanity. If that meant pushing back a 9am meeting, then that’s what it meant. Thanks to Cranky, I committed and I accomplished.

Weary: I’m tired.

Don’t you hate it when people say that? I certainly hate it when I say it. But, that doesn’t make it any less true.

The only thing worse than that is when people say you look tired.

I tend to say this to my mirror reflection just about every other morning.

It’s not that I do too much (though, admittedly, I definitely do)—it’s that I don’t do enough of what lights me up. That needs to change.

Life can wear you down if you don’t fill yourself up.

Weary wore me down, keeping me occupied on one of those hamster wheels, just going and going and going and going.  He also held the important things at bay.

Romantic love—oh, you want that?  Nah.  A good night’s sleep?  Fugheddaboutit.  (Apparently Weary speaks Brooklyn-ese.)

To all those things and people who made me sad because you didn’t stay or you hesitated or you decided not to come into my life—I say, goodbye to all that. Enough.  I want things and people and situations that want to be with me.

It’s time to make room for the things that belong here.

Hopeful:  I often feel like I’m fumbling my way through the world.  Just dropping the keys, again and again, then not being able to find the lock.

But the keyhole is there, and when I peeked through it, right there in the dark of the night, there was a steady stream of sunlight.  Sometimes it’s dimmer than others, but it’s there.

And you know what?  Magic exists.  Magic and light and beauty are real and they are waiting in every single day. I know this because I have seen them, with regularity.

Here’s the trick: you’ve gotta be open to seeing them.

Love taught me that.  Love is everywhere. No matter how much I resist this idea—and I really, really, really do—the world keeps showing me otherwise.   It’s hard to not cling to hopefulness like a life raft when I’m spent and cranky and weary from this life and am confused about what my purpose is and I sit down and right in front of me is the word LOVE.  I’m not speaking in metaphors, either—the word LOVE often appears out of nowhere, like a beautiful bright beacon of hope.

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As I was talking to one of my dear friends this week, whom I call my West Coast mother, she told me a story about how she was sitting at a traffic light watching a group of birds—seagulls among them, many miles from the ocean—and as they flew away, the birds in flight formed the shape of a heart.

Love is contagious. YOU are contagious.  Sometimes I question the “signs of love” I see around me, but I know there is a purpose. If that is to awaken other people so they see it, too, then I feel hopeful that I’m being lead down the right path.

At the year’s end, I feel a deep hopefulness for what lies ahead of me, despite Cranky and Weary.  Maybe even because of them.  Because finally, I understand I have the power to make my life exactly what I want it to be.  Finally, it’s time to focus on becoming the person I’ve always dreamed of being.

And so, the dawn is the beginning of the year of me.  No more playing small.  I end this year with a fire in my belly and a jetpack to propel me.

2015.  Let’s make a happy year.  Let’s hold hands and walk through that door in the dark of the night and chase the light and go get everything we want.

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You know what, you guys? We got this.

xo, with goodness and grace.

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