This past year was sort of like Dickens' famous opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities...
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."
When I think about this line, I always go back to how it feels to be overwhelmed. Usually we speak in absolutes when our emotional margin is in short supply. In those moments, it's important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. If you still can't see it, keep stepping until you can see how everything relates. For example, the first three months of 2017 included some amazing highs, such as performing Mahler's "Resurrection" with the Arkansas Symphony, and giving a trombone clinic to band directors at the State Music Convention. While these moments were great and I enjoyed every minute, the uncertainly of the future as it related to job situations and navigating a long distance marriage were, at times, almost too much to bear. If I had let them, they might have robbed me of the joy of those great experiences! The uncertainly, the NOT KNOWING, was worse than when we finally learned how things would proceed. Hearing news that shapes an uncertain, foggy future is liberating, because your imagination can take a break, and logic can return to center stage. Luckily, the second half of the year helped us see that there IS a plan, and if you can hold onto each other through the hard times, not only WILL you make it through, but the outcome is often better than what you could imagine.
There will be times when life will kick you when you're down. You won't feel like getting back up, but you MUST get back up, dust yourself off, and try again. It is in the relentless trying where we grow into the selves we were meant to become. Stay strong, my friends, and may 2018 offer you the best year yet!