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better-together

One good thing that happened to me in 2016 was that I joined a community of online writers called Link Your Life. Every week, we share links to our writing and blog posts. Every week, we support and champion each other’s efforts in both writing and life.

So it’s January 2, 2017, and I want to be looking forward, but not without one more link roundup to honor what we’ve done in a year that was tremendously difficult for so many. I asked the members of LYL to share a 2016 post that was either a favorite for them or a personal triumph. Here’s a best of the best:

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie is a beautiful writer and person. Her compassion and commitment to safe spaces, survivor stories, and speaking-writing your personal truth have been invaluable to me this year. Please read her gorgeous letter to fellow writer Karrie Higgins (whose writing I am also grateful to have discovered this year), “A New Universe Every Day,” at The Honeyed Quill.

Rachel Ann Hanson wrote a great essay for Open Thought Vortex’s November music theme called “Where I Belong,” about her 20 years playing piano.

Raymond Baxter‘s post “How men fall in love” which appeared on his site The Relationship Blogger just a few weeks ago, has had nearly 36,000 views and is, as Baxter said, “the post that rocketed [him] to known, from unknown.” Congrats, Raymond!

Thomas Ives blogs at Bestowing Fire, and his post “Finding joy within the pain” explores the difficulties that come for so many of us with the holiday season. Besides this brave post, Ives reminds us all to “share, inspire, conquer” with our writing.

Shareen Mansfield wrote a post last week that is equal parts funny and scathing, in response to the shit year that 2016 has been. Read “Deadlines, run on sentences and gibberish…#Confessions of a more than occasional douchebag” at OTV and I think you’ll agree that we “need a stronger word than fuck” to process the world we find ourselves in as 2017 opens.

Charli Mills is another writer I discovered this year and now read regularly. Her August OTV essay “Broken Knees, Homelessness & Voice: A Veteran Spouse Sings Like a Caged Bird” explores, with abiding love and compassion for her injured husband, how multiple systems failed a small family, and how they  have fought back. Charli says, “Want a crash course in voice empowerment? Write, then lose something meaningful, and write some more.”

Suzanne Taylor blogs at “Chronicles of a Lumpy Person” and her 12/31 post was called “2016 Be Gone.” Here, Suzanne catalogs her year’s accomplishments–a refreshing and optimistic take. Good for you, Suzanne.

I hope you will read and follow these writers in 2017.

It’s hard to choose from a year’s worth of writing. I published some poems that are deeply important to me. I wrote 19 love letters to my Facebook friends, and plan to continue that project in the new year. I articulated some long-brewing thoughts on how society re-traumatizes abuse survivors, is perhaps an abuser itself. But if I were to share one post I wrote this year that means more to me than perhaps any other, it would have to be “My son broke his leg and it almost broke me, but didn’t.” Solo mothering can feel, well, overwhelmingly solo. In this post, I shared how I was reminded that I’m actually not alone, that I can borrow strength and grace from my loved ones to sustain me in crisis.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because they seemed doomed to fail. What I do, when one year closes and another opens, is reconsider. As I’m wont to do with this blog, I am reconsidering how I might best resist hatred and systemic oppression, continue to share my struggles so that others struggling might feel less alone, and also promote diverse voices and experiences. In the spirit of the post about my son breaking his leg, I hope my 2017 posts remind readers that we can borrow strength and grace from each other to get us through what’s to come, because what’s to come is frightening. My wish for each of you is that you take heart, take stock, take care, take action, and take help when it’s offered to you. That you find your tribe, your support system, and draw strength from it.

2017, my eyes are open and my gloves are off. Bring it.

 

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