I’ve written several drafts of this end-of-2016 post, trying to make sense of a year that made no sense. Nevertheless I’ve plodded along, stringing sentences together that were angry or incoherent or sappy or whiny. Or all of the above. But when I looked back in all my drafts, there was a single theme threaded throughout.

My year was weird. Maybe yours was, too?

For me, it was the most bi-polar 12-month period ever. Here’s my story of two very different years. One was super duper ugly, and the other was, dare I say, pretty good.

PART I: The Ugly

This part was all about the storms that rolled in.

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It wasn’t just the election. Though, much of it was—and what it revealed. People are angry. Though underneath all that fury, I think people feel vulnerable and scared and unsure about so many things. The world can seem frightening and uncertain, and because so many don’t know what to do with all those feelings, they lash out at the low hanging fruit. Which may be you.

Can we just pretend like all that didn’t happen? No? Mmmkay.

This year wore me out, you guys. I’m tired. Like, a Rip van Winkle kind of tired. Only, I also have insomnia and can’t go to sleep. (That’s a true story.)

I’m over everyone’s political opinions. Enough. Basta. Callate. Please. It’s nice that so many people are interested enough to have opinions, but good lord…do I need to hear every single one of them?

I’m also tired of being accommodating to everyone’s feelings. Now…I know this is not a Goodness, Grace and Grub kind of sentiment, but when I’m tired I get real. Too many times I’ve watched the quieter, tentative, thoughtful voices begin to express opinions, only to be resolutely shut down and shut up. I’ve seen it, and I’ve experienced it—and I’m done with that. So I’ve had to get used to speaking a little louder and a little more forcefully. Sometimes I forget to be polite; I talk over people when they are in mid-thought. Sometimes I speak just a little too passionately, where it makes people uncomfortable and they quickly change the subject. But you know what? Everyone needs to get over it. Because I’m all about owning my version of the truth, and it’s time for people to hear it.

So there’s that.

I’m emotionally exhausted from holding it all together. It takes a lot to make a life—patience, courage, grit, fortitude, and EFFORT, with a loud-mouthed, shouty E. Sometimes I just want to stay under the covers, jar of Nutella and spoon in hand, Food Network on the TV, easy summer read (even though it’s winter and I still haven’t finished it) somewhere in the sheets.

I literally can’t even with walking behind certain people on New York City streets—you know the ones, those who shuffle along with their heads stooped and eyes mesmerized by their phone, fully oblivious to the fact they are all up in my way. Is that you in front of me? Please stop. Because your life isn’t in your phone. It’s when you turn it off and look up.

I can’t handle losing any more icons. George Michael…what can I say? You were my adolescence. I still remember the day I heard your group Wham! was breaking up. I was 15, in the car with my mom, driving down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles with the radio on when the DJ made the announcement. At the time I thought my heart couldn’t be broken by a pop star any more than that. Now I know that isn’t true. Thank you for leaving a legacy of music; it means you can still be here for all those important moments in our lives.

I’m exhausted from all complaining, my own included.

But. I’m beginning to see all this as a blessing. Even the anger. Especially the anger. This year I felt all the feels, and I got in touch with deep dark rage hiding in the recesses of my everything. A few years ago, this would have made me uncomfortable, and I would have giggled the rage away. This year, not so much. I’m saying goodbye to all that. The anger and the rage and the fire in me burned bright and loomed large.

My good girl persona is learning how to co-exist with big gnarly feelings. I think it’s about time.

PART II: The Good

There was so much to be happy about. Really. And the good wakes me up when I’m exhausted.

First came Goodness. I traveled more than I have in years. The more I travel, the more I think it’s necessary. When you get out of your own neighborhood, you begin understand life more. When you see the world, it isn’t some big idea outside of yourself. You become part of it. You learn new ways of seeing life. Even in Vegas, baby.

After my trip to Portugal (see post here), I spent two days on my own in Madrid. Not gonna lie, it was tough. I missed my friends. None of my elementary school/high school/college Spanish came back like I thought it would, making it tough to communicate in a city where most people don’t speak English. Restaurants I wanted to dine in were closed, as so many places in Europe are in August. And I got lost on the way to virtually every place I tried to find.

In situations like this, I discover so much about myself, like how I react when I feel out of my element—and how I talk to myself during those times. (Spoiler alert: It isn’t good.) I was constantly challenged—hot and sweaty and cranky and tired and lost and unsettled—but I made it through. And then, I was rewarded with perhaps my most magical night of the year.

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Chasing the sun in another country is fun, y’all.

Then came Grace. This year, I found community. It came to me when I wasn’t looking, as most good things in life do. I now have a group of people in my life who are always supportive of each other, make me laugh, and don’t run when I say crazy things.

I made new friends. I reconnected with a few old friends. I strengthened bonds with people who’ve been in my life for ages.

This year, I found my people.

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And there was Grub. When I look back on this year, I realize I don’t write nearly enough about food.

My favorite meals of the year were colorful and full-flavored, yet homey and simple.

There were these clams.

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Oh, these clams. One of my favorite places in Manhattan is Via Carota, in the West Village. The menu is Italian-inspired, but I don’t really like to put a label on the food. It’s just good. The menu changes in tandem with the season. The clams—with corn, tomatoes and shallots—were one of the highlights of my summer. I know this sounds very dramatic. But they were gooooood, perfectly capturing essence of summer. Food tastes different when ingredients are at their freshest.

I’d say these were my favorite thing I ate all year, but then I remember this dessert from Wildair on the Lower East Side.

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I don’t remember what it was called, but the bowl held an airy panna cotta topped with what I can only describe as strawberry snow. Refreshing, cool, creamy, crunchy. Delicious.

The dessert wine was selected by my server. All I can say is, when you eat in a place known for their wine and you don’t know what to drink, put yourself at the mercy of your server. Their expert recommendation will not disappoint.

I think this is a good lesson for other areas of life, too.

How do you sum up a year so full of contradictions? You don’t. You keep living a life, one full of angst and confusion and joy and clarity—because the contradictions are the fairy dust of life.

Here’s to saying goodbye to a big glorious mess of a year, and hello to a new one where we get to try it all over again. Whatever you do in this next year, just make sure you LIVE it.

As always, thank you for being part of the Goodness community. Wishing you a beautiful 2017 full of dreams come true. Happy New Year!

with goodness and grace, XO.

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