Finnian Burnett


I did one of the Facebook “year in review” apps… you know the one. They take your most liked pictures or something and paste them all together and call it your year in review. I have to admit, looking at my gathered pictures from the past year, it looked as if I had had a pretty amazing year. And let’s face it. I *did* have a pretty amazing year.

I juggled grad school, writing, sitting on the board of the Golden Crown Literary Society, and teaching online self-love classes with my own self care, taking care of my beloved pets, being present as a friend, and still sometimes remembering to call my mother. I took over co-managing the Writing Academy and have spent a great deal of time and energy working to ensure it all runs smoothly and the students get the most out of it they can.

I started the New Year with a New Year’s Eve dance. I snow shoed. I biked. I went to farmer’s markets. I hiked. I went to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and felt all of the feelings, good and bad. I traveled to New Orleans. I ate a beignet for the first time in my life. I drank only the best coffee. I hugged. I touched. I kissed. I loved.

I came to the rescue of a friend in trouble. I gave my winter hat to a person in the cold. I paid for a senior citizen’s groceries. I donated money I didn’t have to a friend’s breast cancer campaign.

I experienced the joy, repeatedly, of having someone tell me that I had changed their life through my self-love classes and workshops. The ripple effect. They will go on to change other lives. My heart swells at the very thought.

I got straight As in every single class I took this year.

I did squat challenges and wall sits and stair step and plank.

I made the most amazing, colorful, veggie-filled meals and I made the leap from being a vegetarian to being vegan.

I spent a weekend in Traverse City.

I went to Chicago for a party with several hundred amazing women. I won a ticket to fest there and got to go up on stage and say a few words about what fest meant to me.

I danced. Oh, did I dance. I danced and danced. I abandoned all care of what the world may think of me and I danced. I danced because I love the way my body and soul feel when I’m dancing. I danced because it feels good to move my body to music. I danced.

I found some deeper connections and I found some connections aren’t meant to be that deep.

I explored my new community.

I was recently being interviewed about my writing on a lesbian fiction group and the host said, “I tried to find a picture of you that I could post on the page, but it is rare to find a picture of you alone. You’re always hugging someone.” That’s my year in review. I loved.

If you look at my Facebook, you’ll see the statuses and the pictures of a happy life.

But my friends, I want to talk to you about the stuff that doesn’t go on Facebook. Because for the most part, I only put the happy stuff on Facebook. And if you’re out there looking at my page and feeling depressed because your life isn’t a constant string of fun adventures… well, my lovers, neither is mine. And that goes for anyone’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, whatever. People are posting the good stuff because it’s fun to remember the good stuff. Those year in review posts are a great story but they are only part of the story.

Truly most of my stuff was good. Most of it was very, very good. But there were nights when I felt so wrapped in anxiety that my stomach hurt. There were days of feeling as if I had so much to do, I couldn’t do anything. A night when I woke up in a panic because I couldn’t feel anything and I called my friend and then my partner in the middle of the night because every time I tried to go back to sleep I felt as if waves of panic were washing over me. There were times when my house got so messy, I was embarrassed when people came over. I cried. I grieved. I sometimes ate my feelings and felt sick after.  I asked my partner to be there for me for something and she wasn’t and we argued.

I yelled at my dog. I stepped in cat puke. I had a migraine so bad that I thought I was dying and texted two of my closest friends to come check on me to see if I needed to go to the hospital.

One of the things I often hear in the self love classes is that women feel they aren’t measuring up. They feel that they’re somehow doing this whole “life” thing a whole lot worse than everyone else.

First of all, remember this. Comparison is a form of self harm. Don’t compare yourself to your sister, your neighbor, your best friend, that woman from the gym. You are your own unique individual and only you know what you are capable of. What they do doesn’t matter. It only matters what YOU do, what YOU want, what YOU dream. Your self care is important. Your heart is important.

Secondly, it helps to know that we never know what is really going on in a person’s life. We don’t know if that person who just posted the meme about positive thinking is doing so because she’s trying to lift herself out of depression. We don’t know if someone has just lost a partner, a child, a pet, a friend. We don’t know if her boss screamed at her that day at work, and she bled through her favorite pants, and she got a ticket because the meter expired, and she came home and ate macaroni and cheese straight out of the pot. We don’t know it because most likely, she posted a picture of herself on a boat in St. Maartens and you’re looking at it from your home thinking that you wish you were her.

This, then, is the upshot of my year in review. Focus on yourself. Work on what you can do to make your own life closer to what you want it to be. Enjoy your friends’ posts but remember, they have struggles, too. We all do. You aren’t alone.


Happy New Year.


10 thoughts on “My Year in Review: The Good AND the Bad.

  1. drhiker says:

    Thank you, Beth 🙂 I sorta see a few things because Sarah is my FB friend and I read your blog because you are honest and your words move my soul. Thank you for this 🙂

    1. bethsnewlife says:

      Thank you! That means a lot to me. ❤

  2. onamarae says:

    Beth, “Here’s to Strong Women! May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.” Unknown. I think of you when I read this quote. Your year in review only validates that, not only in the sheer magnitude of life-affirming things you accomplished, but in the vulnerability that opens up and shares the shadow side of the year, Both my sense of introspection and of anticipation at my own coming blog entry are enriched in the honesty of your reflections. Dance with abandon into 2016, you who make so many ripples!


    1. bethsnewlife says:

      Ona. Thank you! I look forward to reading your block. And hopefully having a cup of coffee with you in D.C. 🙂

  3. Terry Fountain says:

    Beth, this was simply fantastic! I truly enjoyed reading this and interacting with you and others on Facebook. Thank you for being so real.

    1. bethsnewlife says:

      I feel the same way about you, my friend. 🙂

  4. Liz Walla says:

    I understand perfectly. Here is to another amazing year.

  5. bsgaston says:

    Beth….You, my dear friend, are wise. Beyond your years. Beyond your experiences. Beyond the moon and back. You must have been born a wise babe.

    We all post mostly the happy stuff. Maybe it will make us feel better about ourselves. Maybe it will make someone else feel better. Maybe we will fool someone into thinking we are doing so f’n well. Maybe we can fool ourselves.

    Doesn’t really work. None of it. We know where we are in life and just don’t want to examine it too closely. So. ..let’s just share the happy stuff.

    Quoting a very wise woman…..”Focus on yourself. Work on what you can to make your life closer to what you want it to be.”

    A big step. Hard. Scary. Jump!

    Love and Big Hugs!

    1. bethsnewlife says:

      I love you, my friend 🙂

  6. Linda says:

    Thanks Beth… great blog and so true. The most difficult time in my life I only posted positive things. I didn’t want to give in to the bad. It helped… some… What it did most though, is helped me realize that with a few close friends, I could get through it. And that there was a bright bright light on the other side of the darkness. And if I focused on the positive, on the people and things most important to me, I would be OK. I’m happier now than ever… I still have dark times and difficulties of course, but I realize we all do… we all handle them in our own ways… and no matter what, life is good! Cheers my friend!

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