2016 – Magically Suck-ish

The past year was challenging on many fronts. In Alberta, we faced an unprecedented economic downturn, and many Albertans lost their jobs. Financial hardship became more commonplace, as disposable incomes shrank, and we tightened our belts and wallets. Even my fiancé lost billable hours, which was stressful for this momma-to-be.

My older friends faced their own mortalities as their childhood icons passed away in droves. We lost David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and Carrie Fisher, among others. Each week brought the death of a beloved celebrity – one that had touched lives and inspired many.

Globally, we face a steaming pile of political turmoil. The President-elect of the United States of America is an orange blowhard with serious entitlement issues and an insatiable urge to tweet dangerous garbage. Overseas, the Brits voted to leave the European Union and nationalistic parties surged in popularity across the continent. The Middle East is still a clusterfuck, exacerbated by foreign intervention on all fronts. The entire region is a quagmire of questionable alliances and extremism – the line between good and bad is blurred beyond recognition.

Personally, my career prospects are slim and my degree seems utterly useless in today’s job market. I remain uncertain about returning to work – an environment that seemingly failed to provide any opportunity for personal and professional development. For the past six months, I have felt completely lost in my own body, often going through the rhythms of motherhood without a second thought.

I also faced physical challenges. An abnormal PAP smear led to a colposcopy in September and a LEEP procedure in November. I have a final appointment in May, and I hope that no further high grade changes are identified.

I’ve struggled with my postpartum body and feeding my baby. I’ve blogged about my breastfeeding woes, and because I’m still producing milk, I haven’t lost any substantial amount of weight. I am one of those lucky suckers for whom breastfeeding limits weight loss, regardless of diet and exercise. The extra weight has contributed to joint pain and makes it more difficult to enjoy many activities – snowboarding, for example. (well, because I can’t fit into my snow pants…)

Despite this, I can’t claim this year totally sucked. After all, our son was born in June. Motherhood has come with challenges and more rewards. Every milestone is a cause for celebration. Last week, he started sitting independently. Yesterday, he tried to feed himself with a spoon. He’s happy and silly, just like his father. His smile, his coos, and his innocence are nothing short of magical. My heart just keeps melting.

My fiancé and I also celebrated five years of adventure. We met through mutual friends and bonded over our love of snowboarding. His encouragement and adventurous spirit has made me a better snowboarder. He challenges me intellectually and emotionally. He tests my patience and resolve. We adopted a dog, who has been a member of our family for four years. We’ve gotten drunk at Oktoberfest. We have marvelled over aircraft at Red Bull’s Hangar 7 in Salzburg. We visited the defunct birthplace of our Jones snowboards in the Austrian countryside, and we strolled over cobblestone streets in Prague, roast duck and beer in our bellies. This man is my best friend and my partner in crime. I can’t imagine life without him.

While this was a challenging year, there are bright sides to every catastrophe. We learned a great deal about ourselves and our peers, from their political influences to their family’s real struggles during a recession. We have come together to help our own, and we have allowed politics to create chasms between our closest friends and families. Many people are ready to say, “Bye, Felicia,” to 2016.

It also means we can look forward to 2017.