Boy Bye, 2017!

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This year is quickly coming to a close, already it is like 2018 is literally knocking on our door so now it is the time when everyone starts to think what will the new year be like. What will I change? What resolutions will I make and then with any luck be able to keep past the third week of January? But this post is not about the future it is about the other thing we do at this time of year, we start to look back, reflect on what has happened in 2017, how are we different from the time we did this in 2016, what has shaped the way we see the world this year.

For me, this year was a year of major life change, we moved across the country, from the bustling, growing city of Denver to a TINY town in the mountains, when I say tiny I mean 300 year-round residents. So you work with the people that are your friends, your boss is married to your husbands boss (that is real life) and everything feels a little more connected. But it can also feel a little more isolated, and not just because the closest grocery store is an hour and a half away. No, it can feel a little isolating because even though in theory you should be surrounded by your 300 closest friends, sometimes you are not.

Now, I am not saying tiny towns don’t lend to the best friendships because I am finding that, that just might be the case. But I am in a town where everyone has pretty similar beliefs and similar upbringings so I often feel like I am putting on a contrived act of myself, not truly allowing all of me to show because it is a stark contrast to those around me, and not even realizing that I haven’t truly laughed in months. I believe many of the same things as those here, but definitely not all the same things, and I had an upbringing where those beliefs were not the only choice, I was free to find out what I believed in on my own. And I will be forever grateful for that.

So this year has been a lot of me finding myself and my footing what does it mean to be myself here, and who can I truly be myself with? It has been a lot of cringing at the news and praying for the state of our country. It has been a lot of tears over the gutting of education, health care, taxes, the lives of the dreamers, and so many other things I held dear.

This year has been full of weeks of longing to be anywhere but this small town, and then random moments of heartfelt gratitude for the place where we are and the people that surround us. It has been learning to dive into new friendships without reserve and finding the joy in old friends. It has been watching old friends go through new phases of life, some joyful like engagements and then some hard, like telling their parents they are in love with a woman when they are in fact also a woman.

And then the other night something happened that made me so grateful that we are in this place for another year, looking forward to 2018. The other night, a set of new friends invited us over for dinner with a group of people, it was like taking a deep breath after being underwater. I knew the minute she said #thefutureisfemale that I could relax a little more, I could shake off that contrived act and start to be myself. My soul that I hadn’t even realized was depleted began to be filled, in simple interactions it was revived and I thought if these friendships are what 2018 will be like, bring it on. Because in one night of soul filling I was able to reflect, love and realize what 2017 had been missing.

I hope that your 2017 has been filled with soul-filling, I hope that 2018 is filled with a renewed hope in America, in myself and in the people around me. I am ready, bring it on 2018 because in case you didn’t know #thefutureisfemale and that means the future is me, the future is now!

-Rae

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What 2014 taught me . . .

Are you ready for one of those life lessons you can learn in a year posts? Well I hope so, because it is coming for ya!

1) I can make a difference where I am right now. . . watching the struggle the minority communities are going through right now makes me want to change the world. I need to go out and save the world from itself, all alone right? Well that was my first thought, but then as I thought about it some more. I maybe can’t change the entire world from my facebook account but I can change the lives of my students. They are the future of our country and if I can impact the way that they view themselves and the world then my reach will be much bigger than it could be from behind my computer screen. I have learned that the behind the computer screen ” activism” ( which is what I am doing right now, right?) just seems to make people more angry, but if I can influence my students, and make them believe that they are smart, strong, beautiful and worthy. If I can educate both my white and my minority students about what type of place I hope the world will be one day they can make a much bigger difference than I can. And if that is the impact I make on the world, I will be forever proud of that.

2) I have learned that no matter what you prioritize in your life, that becomes obvious in your actions. When I entered grad school this year I was told over and over again that this would destroy my relationships with friends, family, but most importantly with my then boyfriend Ben. I was determined to never let this happen, I was going to do what they said was impossible, balance them both. And I did it! Throughout the first half of grad school, I missed the Friday happy hours, and the halloween parties in order to have a weekly date night and we made it work. The time we could take together we did it whether that was just making dinner and watching TV or hitting a coffee shop on Saturday so that we could both get our work done., and in that time we have gotten engaged, and began planning our wedding so it must be working.

3) I have learned that you must find the people that will match your effort, and hold onto them tight! I have only about 6 true friends at this point and that is all I need. Whether they are 1000 miles away or 2 minutes away you have to know who is worth it, and more importantly who is not worth it.

4) I have learned that planning a wedding does not have to be as stressful as everyone says that it is. I started planning my wedding during my 4th month of grad school. Another feet people kept telling me couldn’t be done. I learned quickly that tuning out other peoples opinions when they are not needed is the key. I figured out what I wanted and made it happen. Everyone tells me about the most stressful months of their lives, and I will tell you if I get there. But the key is too enjoy it. This is ONE day of your life,you have to focus on what is more important, the life you are going to build with your husband.

5) Love is a choice, everyday! This year my fiancé watched one of the couples he looked up to growing up, get a divorce. They made their strife and frustrations very public on facebook and this made it hard for him as we enter into our marriage.Growing up in a single parent household I never thought that love was enough, you can love someone with your whole heart, and yet that could not work out. That is something my mom deals with to this day, watching the man you love disappear from your life. It was tough watching my fiance learn this lesson, but  I think that it will be something that helps us during the hard years of our marriage. Knowing that everyday we have to choose this love, we have to choose “Us” everyday.

6) A new years resolution is just an everyday resolution with an easy date to remember. You have the choice to change everyday. You can make yourself a better person any day of the year. Don’t be boxed in by the January 1st fresh start. If in 2 months you need a fresh start you take one then. You are always making choices about your life, make sure you are making choices you would be proud of.

I hope that 2014 has taught you things you will carry into 2015. Welcome to the year from Back to the Future. Make the most of it.

❤ Kelsi Rae