The Reason Behind my Photo of the day 2017.

New Years Eve is one of my favorite holidays.  I would be so bold to even say it is one of my favorite days of the entire year.   I know, I know, not the first holiday most people claim as their “favorite day of the year” but hear me out.

I don’t like New Years Eve for the parties.  I don’t like it for the “midnight kisses” and clinking glasses.  I don’t like it for the ball dropping at midnight, or the cliche,“ugh” and eye rolling worthy slogan “new year, new me”.  I’m not changing at the stroke of mind night, I am not Cinderella.  I am still Samantha Athena Barnes at 11:59 PM and 12:00 AM.  Thank God for that.

I love New Years Eve for my 3 R’s:

  • Reflecting
  • Revisiting
  • Rejoicing

My soul is fueled when reflecting on the year and all it had to offer me.  When it handed me joy, I rewind and replay those memories over again.  Each time I revisit those adventures with my humans, my outsides match my insides.  I am glowing, warm, energized, barley able to contain my myself and authentically smiling ear to ear.

I am empowered by reflecting back on the hardships and battles life threw at me.  To say “HEY! LOOK AT ME I DID THE DAMN THING!  I SHOWED UP, DID THE NEXT RIGHT THING AND STAYED ON MY MAT!”  Gold star, gold star, gold star.

I rejoice in all the growing pains I overcame, tears that once soaked my face now serve purpose, struggles and healing God introduced to me this year.

Phew.  Y’ALL I MADE IT! And…another freaking gold star.

On December 31st, 2016 I played back my year like a movie.  The highlight reel  featured more scenes of disappointment, defeat than triumphs, and heartfelt memories.  I remember crying more than smiling, my heart feeling anxious more than excited and feeling more uncertainty than ever before.  How could it be? How could I not remember more collections of love and joy?  I know they happened but the moments of darkness over powered them.  It consumed my light.  Where was my light?  Where were my 3 R’s?  I am a being that gravitates more towards looking through an optimistic lens2, but for the life of me,  I couldn’t remember where my collective joy was that year.

So, on January 1st, 2017 I started my photo of the day challenge.  It was my only new year goal.  I don’t like calling goals for the year “new years resolutions”.  I am not planning on resolving anything, that’s too much unattainable pressure for one human.  My only goal for every year is to grow in every facet I need to.  If I resolve something, all I’m doing is limiting my own capacity to never stop growing.  Wheres the fun in that!?

My photo of the day was a challenge for me to take a picture every day for year of the best thing that happened to me that day.  I was proving to myself that I can find gratitude in every single day.  That’s right. Every.Single.Day.  That every day there was a glimmer of kindness, hope, love that flashed across my life.  Some days they were long glimmers of beaming love and others the tiniest speck of light.  No matter how teeny tiny or massive my light was, it was deeply rooted, and saturated in love.  Love for people, from people, love from nature, kindness from the world, grace, and experiences.

There were probably more days than not this year where this deeply feeling 23 year old warrior was lost in this big, bright, messy, beautiful world.  There were other days where this deeply feeling 23 year old warrior was THRIVING.  Dancing on cloud nine, smiling until my cheeks hurt, laughed until I couldn’t breathe, energized off of natural love within the world.

2017 threw me an extreme hand of cards.  Periods of only extreme highs and extreme lows.  My heart experienced selfless, undeniable, unconditional love, deepened friendship, baptisms, milestones, a new fur faced piece of my world, a new home to live in, 20 little hearts to serve, new passions, a new church to worship, new people to hug, more hands to hold and old hands to hold tighter.

2017 also threw at me grave darkness that seeped into my heart and mind.  Darkness I didn’t even know existed.  Pain that runs deep in my being, enough tears to fill a sea, betrayal that took (is taking) a huge toll on my soul, anger that I didn’t (don’t know) what to do with, a significant loss that my heart is still recovering from, important friendships that are lost and now out of my hands reach and a mental health crisis.  It gave me lies from people I trusted and judgment-assumptions from humans who don’t know the first thing about me and never bothered to ask about my story.

2017 handed me two extremes.  Sometimes God gave me people in these moments, sometimes He didn’t, and sometimes He took them away so the only thing I could stand on was my own two feet and my faith.

Despite this, my photo of the day project serves evidence that 2017 gave me…

God painted beach sunsets on Life guard tower 61 at Newport beach.  It gave me glasses of wine and beer to share with friends exchanging laughter, secrets, and storytelling.  2017 launched my passion into education, life gave me a pup whom I rescued and she saved me-we belong to each other.  2017 gave me a College degree.  Not just me, but my family (Shout out to those fellow first generation college students!!).  Hell yeah, we did it!  2017 gave me trips where I saw snow fall for the first time, I pranced around unfamiliar cities consumed by people who shape me.  2017 gave me 13 new books to read.  Books filled with rich wisdom, raw authenticity and honest, humbling insight.  2017 reminded me I have people who would jump on planes and fly across the country just to simply be.  2017 gave me the greatest gift I have yet to discover-sistering.  The opportunity to sister and be sistered by those whom I see as they are, they see me and we love each other anyways.  I am known, they are known and are the family I choose every day, all over again, every time. This year showed me the massive bond and power the love of a family holds.  To conquer together what people say is not possible.  2017 gave (and continues to give) the art of forgiving.  2017 introduced the skill to stand up bruised, dirty, messy, lost, beaten, hopeful and feel every emotion knowing because of faith I can do hard things-we can do hard things together.  I believe this with every fiber of being so deeply I permentantly engraved it on my foot to always prove I walk with people and they walk with me.  I walk with God and He walks with me.

Because while all the loss, pain, betrayal, change, anxiety , failure, devastation and confusion was going on…

so was this;

Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 10.55.32 PM.png

Step 1: Reflect

Step 2: Revisit

Step 3: Rejoice

Happy 2017.

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