At the beginning of 2013, I decided it would be a great idea to keep a jar filled with different experiences that occurred throughout the year. Each time something significant would happen, I would write down the date and a short summary of the day’s happenings onto a small piece of paper, and then throw it into a mason jar. That way, at the end of the year I could pull out a written memory and reminisce on the good times. Funny thing about it? Well, little did I know that when I decided to write these entries, I was about to embark on the most amazing and fulfilling year of my life.
I was way overdue for a change when 2013 rolled around. The latter half of 2012 was a bit rocky after experiencing some health issues, and I was ready to put the past behind me and accept the fact that I needed to make a change. However, something about routine felt safe to me, so I was pretty close-minded at the thought of embracing something that people often shy away from. Change is certainly a risk you must be willing to take, and I guess you could say I used to let fear get the best of me. But, when you nearly hit rock bottom, the idea of letting go of who you are to change into who you want to be really seems like the only solution.
One early January morning of last year, my brother approached me saying I should start spreading my story in a way that could educate people on Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Ideas were exchanged and different options were explored, and on January 10, 2013, I posted my very first blog on this site. It was actually a little scary, to be quite honest, since I had never really pictured myself as a writer before. In fact, the idea of publicly sharing my thoughts with the world absolutely terrified me because I thought I wasn’t as adequate a writer as other bloggers.
However, something inside told me this is what I had to do. Something in my gut said to step outside of my comfort zone and see where it led me.
And, just like that, things began to change. My first blog turned into a second, then a third, and a fourth, and before I knew it, I had received an email from a chief editor at the Huffington Post asking me to contribute to their site. That email was, without a doubt, the biggest and most unexpected honor of my life. I couldn’t believe I was about to become a regular contributor for an internationally-recognized news and opinion website. With everything happening at once, I was finally beginning to understand that maybe if you just push fear and uncertainty aside, you can leave yourself more room for change.
From that point forward, my year continued to be filled with changes and other unforgettable experiences. I graduated from college, started working part-time, successfully urged RI officials to light the State House green for SMA awareness, raised over $17,000 at the annual SMA fundraiser, joined the press one night at a Patriots preseason game, and did so much more. Reflecting on my past year through the help of my note-filled jar, I realized the blessings I received whether it was free tickets to a Taylor Swift concert or helping a family who has been impacted by a physical disability. The jar not only reminded me of the changes that occurred throughout the year, but also of the changes that occurred within myself.
Picture yourself and how you were exactly one year ago. What has changed? Or, better yet, how have you changed as an individual? We’re human, and it’s inevitable for change to occur over the course of 365 days. We grow. We learn. We make mistakes. We learn to better ourselves. We do our best to help those who need it most. And, I think that’s the true beauty of a new year. It’s not about the resolutions we make to ourselves because, let’s be honest, there’s no law saying you’re only allowed to make changes on January 1st. Instead, it’s about being willing to accept and make changes every day of your life and refusing to fall into the stagnancy of routine. Never fail to recognize that change can be a good thing, a really good thing. So, feel it. Embrace it. And, most importantly, own it.
Below is a slideshow of all of my favorite moments in 2013 (it was hard narrowing the pictures down!). I wish you all the happiest and healthiest of new years filled with the most treasured memories, and I suggest you all start keeping jars of your own. With the uttermost sincerity, thank you for making my first year of blogging a super successful one. Here’s hoping 2014 will be even better than the last!