Dear 2017

Reflecting on this past year, and what's to come in the next.

Dear 2017,

You were the best of times, you were the worst of times. I can think of a few ways in which you were a year to remember. I can think of a few ways in which you were utterly forgettable. Here’s what springs to mind about you, first and foremost:

Work, work, work. Year five of business, and I was incredibly proud of how the studio evolved and grew. But, I’ll be the first to admit that I worked more this year than anyone should, assuming they wish to stay sane. That I stand on this side of your 365 days and “burnout” is the first word I’d associate with you tells me I may have overdone it.

This year, my new business ventures had true pros and cons, some of which I’m still digesting. With retainer services leading to a larger roster of active clients, I got to work with more businesses regularly, and feel like I could truly be a part of multiple teams. I loved that about you, 2017. On the other side of the coin, it seemed like I had everyone’s business strategy but my own floating around in my head. And like I did nothing but create for other people; certainly, I did less creating for myself and definitely less creating for the hell of it. It’s something I really want to change in 2018.

So if I had to sum you up in a nutshell, 2017, that’s it. I worked a lot — too much even — and have good and bad to show for it, including an acute case of burnout and a sense of wondering if I lost some piece of myself in the process.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you were a shitshow politically. And like every year preceding you since words could be written, bad, unthinkable things still happened in this world. You also brought about engagements, weddings, babies. Pure joy and meaning in the lives of those we love, so I can’t be mad at you for that.

From where I sit, here were some more highs and lows we experienced together:

Lightweight High: getting back into a real exercise routine. I let myself go after the election last year (the anticipated anxiety for the times ahead seemed treatable only with wine and takeout, you see), so finding a rhythm again felt really, really good. I’ve been spending Sunday mornings at Soul Cycle, and a few weekday mornings at Epic Hybrid Training, a local gym that’s a — well, hybrid — of CrossFit, TRX, HIIT, sometimes yoga, and sometimes even acrobatics and obstacle courses. Carving out this time for myself in the back half of the year was a small but significant thing.

Lightweight Low: I still adore living in San Francisco and it’s hard to imagine life anywhere else. But 2017, you saw a heavy increase in traffic in my neighborhood and increased drive times to get anywhere in this town. For the first time in 10 years, I found myself occasionally wondering how sustainable living here would be, and whether the quality of life was how I remembered it from just a few short years ago. We always assumed we’d move out of the city at some point in the far, far future, and this year, I wondered if far was nearer than we anticipated. Some weeks, living here felt harder than it used to.

Heavyweight High: After a series of tough life events that stressed us out immeasurably over the last 3 years, I felt you brought a lot of peace to my marriage, 2017. At your closing, Joe and I realized that we were more in love than we had been in 15 years. It’s amazing that you can be with someone so long and still have so much to learn about them, while at the same time, feel like you know them better than they know themselves. The greatest gift you brought to me, 2017, was a sense that a relationship could still surprise and even inspire me, in the best ways possible.

Heavyweight Low: This year, I decided I’d get serious about pursuing my origin story — that is, my adoptee story. You know, where I came from. I got some big pieces of information (like learning I was not, in fact, full Korean, which I’d suspected most of my life but finally received DNA results to prove it). I also learned how trying and arduous this process can and will be, and how impossible it is to look for a needle in a haystack (especially when that haystack is half way across the world and speaks another language). But despite moments of discouragement and despair, I don’t know if I can truly classify this adventure you wrought as a real low, 2017. Because while I’ve had to accept it’s entirely possible I’ll never know what happened to me during the first six months of my life (and truthfully, in the 10 months preceding it), the journey has reminded me of what it is to hope, over and over again. It has continued to bring out a quality I hold dear in myself — the ability to have faith in the future. And it’s brought into focus what it means to have a sense of self and to find a home in your own identity. So thanks for that. It’s been both the heaviest, most joyful, and hardest experience of my year. It’s also something I hope to continue talking about here on the blog (with greater detail, for everyone who hasn’t been along on the ride with us thus far, 2017).

Are you still following? My thoughts to you are a little jumbled, I know. I think I can attribute that to not having spent as much time in this space — the physical one, here on the blog, and the figurative one, in which I open myself up to an unknown entity on the other side of the screen. With no time or inclination to regularly unload and organize my thoughts, somehow all of the ideas in my head are scrambled up too.

To be honest, 2017, during this past year, sometimes I’d wonder if I had anything left to say in this space. The blog world is so saturated, and with our attention waning and diverted to places like Instagram, at times it didn’t seem as if I could contribute anything of meaning to anyone’s life. But every now and again, I’d be at book club or out with a friend and talking about something I found interesting, and friends would encourage me to write about it. 2017, is it strange that such reactions surprised me? That after nearly ten years of blogging it seems improbable that I’d have more to say? A good friend told me this past week that she thought I’d always have more to say; I hope she’s right, and I hope that at least a few readers might agree and better yet, might still be along for the ride. What do you think?

And this brings me to your neighbor, 2018. Next year, I’m really hoping to blog more. I know I’ve said that before, but as the year came to a close, I realized I’ve missed sharing my ideas and the things I love with more regularity. I suspect that because I was so busy, it was hard to even know what was inspiring me in my daily life. Or — gulp — if anything was. With a singular focus on everyone but myself, I had no time for my own creative nourishment. That was a mistake I made this year, and one I hope not to make again.

As you can probably tell from this letter, it’s ironic that I wrote here less frequently this past year since it’s pretty obvious I had a lot going on. So much change, so much that stayed the same. Sometimes I wasn’t sure where to even start to explain the complexities of my journey with you. Other times I wasn’t ready to talk about particular topics. More than once, I wondered if anyone would even care. But I think I’m feeling more ok with all of it now. I’m ready to share again.

Finally, 2017, I want to remind you of one of my favorite stories from this year: the petunias.

On our small patio balcony, Joe and I have a series of box planters that hang over the edge of the railing. When we moved in to this apartment nearly three years ago in the spring of 2015, we planted them with bright pink petunias, and they flourished. But soon, when summer arrived, they became infested with aphids and whiteflies, and shriveled into brown husks of their vibrant springtime selves. Joe was having a hard time at that point in the year, too. In fact, I can’t even imagine the letters he would write to years 2015 and 2016. We all have our personal trials and tribulations to go through, and 2017, let’s just say that those few years were some of the hardest for him.

Anyway, disgusted with what the flowers had become, one morning he silently went out to the patio and cut the stems down to the dirt. We didn’t plant anything in the boxes for six months.

But you brought about something miraculous, 2017. In your early spring, we noticed small shoots of fuzzy green stems and leaves bursting forth from the dirt around the succulents we’d planted months before. By May, the petunias were back: long, vining, covered in the brightest magenta flowers we’d ever seen. They were unstoppable. When we thought they could produce no more, five new blooms would appear overnight. They were reminders. Blessings.

We never found a single aphid or whitefly on the petunias all summer long. Time heals everything, and with enough of it — say, two winters worth — anyone can come back stronger, more resilient.

2017, there are already signs that the petunias will return in 2018. Despite a year that felt like a bit of a rest stop in my own life (a rest stop in which you do exactly the opposite of what the name implies), you were pretty okay. You showed me what it means to ground myself again, to take a step back, to assess. To be truly present, and with flashlight in hand, to open the final doors to the parts of yourself you have long ignored or wished away. You set me on a pillar rising from the center of a vast ocean, with every direction a possibility. But you also comforted me with the knowledge that it’s ok to be unsure of which way the wind might blow you next.

I can’t say I’m sad to see you go, but I can’t say I wasn’t moved by you either.

So take care, old friend.

With love,
VM

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22 Comments

  1. Michelle wrote:

    So sorry to hear that 2017 was rough for you. I think it was for everyone. But I’m choosing to believe 2018 will be a much better year. I hope it will be for you two!

    31 Dec 2017 · Reply
  2. Victoria, blog more. You’re a beautiful writer.

    31 Dec 2017 · Reply
  3. Alex wrote:

    2017 was a rough year but you remind me that there’s always good! Impressed by your bravery sharing your adoption research struggles. I always enjoy reading whatever you want to share. Happy new year!

    31 Dec 2017 · Reply
  4. Kim wrote:

    I’ve been following you for a while, and I have definitely missed your voice. This is a wonderful, heartfelt post. What resonated with me the most though is your adoptee story. I am also adopted (at 6 months old), at a time when they were sealed and while I know my nationality, I long to know more about where I came from. I can’t to wait to read more about the process. Wishing you and Joe a very happy new year! xx

    31 Dec 2017 · Reply
  5. caitie wrote:

    your story about the petunias is so beautiful. made me smile! like you said: time heals everything. happy new year!

    31 Dec 2017 · Reply
  6. Lauren wrote:

    I hope you are able to write more next year. You provide such unique content and I always look forward to your posts. Wishing you a Happy New Year! ❤

    31 Dec 2017 · Reply
  7. Sonya wrote:

    I love your blog. I hope 2018 is better for you. There were tons of highs and lows for me as well. Happy New Year!

    31 Dec 2017 · Reply
  8. Kayla wrote:

    Hi Victoria, I’m still listening and have missed your voice. This reflective piece is so lovely and I am happy to hear your beautiful voice again. Happy New Year!

    Kayla

    31 Dec 2017 · Reply
  9. Leigh wrote:

    My husband and I are going through our highs and lows tonight. Then we are going to write down our lessons learned. He said he wanted to burn the highs and lows and just keep the lessons learned. I read him Rupi Kaur words after he told me that. You came back at just the right moment for me. Thank you.

    31 Dec 2017 · Reply
  10. Courtney wrote:

    Thanks so much for sharing Victoria! I particularly loved two key points…first your heavyweight high! How amazing for you and Joe. Me and my boyfriend of 7.5 years are finally getting married this year after our own personal trials that have prevented it. I was nervous one of us would have the 7 year itch but I feel the same way. We are more in love now then we were in the beginning. It is an amazing gift! Enjoy it! Second, your comment on worrying you don’t have anything to say. There are very few blogs I check in on regularly and yours is one of them. So please keep “talking” – if it brings you joy – because you have an audience that will keep reading! And I for one would love to hear about your journey to discover your history! Please keep sharing! And here’s to an amazing 2018!

    1 Jan 2018 · Reply
  11. Lauren wrote:

    I’ve been a reader of yours for years and would so love to hear more from you in 2018. Thank you for this 2017 recap. Happy New Year!

    1 Jan 2018 · Reply
  12. Afyia wrote:

    At the beginning of each year I go thru all of my bookmarked blogs and decide which to continue following and which to scrap. Is there such a thing as a “blog phase”? If there is, then your writings have successfully carried me thru all of my many phases. I just love all of what you say and do. Don’t stop sharing!

    1 Jan 2018 · Reply
  13. Kelly wrote:

    This was beautiful, thank you. Please keep blogging whenever you find the time! Cheers to 2018!

    1 Jan 2018 · Reply
  14. Alexandra wrote:

    Agree with everyone below who is encouraging you to write more. Over the years I’ve slowly cut down on the number of blogs I visit regularly. Yours is probably only the last that I still remember to check regularly, both for your heartfelt writing but also your links and product reviews.

    And your sentiments about this past year resonated with me so much. I lost a good friend unexpectedly this year, and 2017 brought a huge wake up call that in an instant life can take a wild turn. As I somewhat anxiously await what lies ahead in 2018, your story about the flowers was such a good reminder that time heals, and at the very least, I hope healing is a theme for the year ahead.

    2 Jan 2018 · Reply
  15. Carly wrote:

    Victoria, you are such a beautiful writer, and the blogging space has been a darker one without your voice and musings. I’m so sorry to hear 2017 was a tough year for you, but I hope 2018 will be kind, relaxing, and good to you and we’ll hear more from you!

    2 Jan 2018 · Reply
  16. Sarah wrote:

    I’m always excited to see a new post from you, Victoria. And I’m sure that won’t change no matter how many other blogs there are out there.

    2 Jan 2018 · Reply
  17. katie wrote:

    The petunias story could have been written by Thoreau. I hope you continue you write more — I will always read.

    Here’s to bright days in 2018!

    2 Jan 2018 · Reply
  18. Tara wrote:

    Victoria, I’ve been reading you since the vmacandcheese days, and I’ll always be happy to see a post from you! Real life takes precedence, but I enjoy your writing and recommendations and look forward to whatever you want to share in 2018. May you and Lucy Jay and Joe have a wonderful 2018. Thank you for all you share with us!

    3 Jan 2018 · Reply
  19. Jennifer wrote:

    I have to agree with everyone else. I have missed seeing you blog more and always enjoy your recommendations and insight. I have tried to stop looking at most blogs and just check in with the two that feel the most real and down-to-earth to me – yours and cupofjo. I hope 2018 is a great one for you! Looking forward to seeing what you have to share.

    4 Jan 2018 · Reply
  20. Jasmin wrote:

    So happy you’ll be blogging more this year! I’ve been missing your content! Happy New Year!

    9 Jan 2018 · Reply
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