happy every year

If I had been looking into a crystal ball at this moment one year ago at what would have transpired for us in 2017… I know, with certainty, I would not have been able to comprehend it.


At this very juncture 365 days ago, I was back home at the beach, after having been welcomed to have Christmas with framily (friends who are family) in Orlando, and as I scrolled… seeing glass-half-empty posts come in the news feeds from every direction about how they couldn’t wait to say goodbye to 2016.

I didn’t want to hurry shuffle through the last few days and say goodbye to 2016 with an urgency. I didn’t want to throw it all away as a shit year.
As much pain I had felt, 2016 also held moments with Shayne alive.
My last ones with him alive. Lots of great ones. Hopeful ones. Blissful ones. He was still here the first quarter of the year.
I didn’t want to quickly write off the entire year just because he wasn’t ending it with me.

I still feel that way now. I don’t want to skirt around this, or hurriedly push any of this behind me.
I want to sit and revel in what this year has done to me and for me.
This year has been a year of absolute astounding change (and because of that, growth).
I thought I had capped in 2016 with life changes. And seen and heard and been through all that my heart was going to ever need to experience.
I raised that bar this year.

I began this year very tired. I was exhausted from trudging through this for 9 months day-to-day alone. I hadn’t sought out any therapy, medical or guided help, just “winging” it in true Caroline fashion. Which just drained me.

The first quarter of 2017 brought around with it what would have been his 39th birthday, the two additional losses in my family within a month of each other in February and March – my brother and my brother-in-law. The year anniversary of Shayne’s death a month later in April, days after Audrey’s 5th birthday. All the while… tip-toeing in the awkward beginning stages of a long distance relationship with a man who’s son lost his mother a month later in May.

It was a pretty ‘eventful’ start to the year.
What seemed like a continuum of a series of unfortunate events, which I tried to perpetually break free from and grasp onto joy.

But… amongst all of these changes and heartaches… all I can think that I did was… I didn’t lose sight of what I was meant to do in this life: love.
Although all of that… I still wanted to pursue loving again.
I wanted to see what my heart was truly made of.
I didn’t care what happened or how it would be received, I just wanted to know if I was capable. I wasn’t so concerned with whether or not I would be lovable.


The first time I told Jessep, “I love you,” we were in Detroit and I had gifted him some things from the beach and gave them to him with a card… I did what I do and wrote it, in a card. And I remember saying, “I’m not worried if you feel the same, but I just wanted you to know that’s how I feel.”
Say what you mean, mean what you say. The people who are meant for you will stay.
I know what I bring to the table and I won’t be offended if you need to get up and leave. There are other tables your people are sitting at.
Thats exactly how I feel. I wasn’t expecting anything. But I needed to know, from me to me, that I was able to do it.
2017 brought courage.


So, after all this year brought in pain, it brought equally in joy… and true manifestation of the hope I held onto that got me through 2016.
2017 I inherited two men into my life, welcoming them into our space from Michigan with my little ladies, traveled a whole lot, grew a whole lot, sure I grieved a lot, but I loved a lot, and even more… I think to my own astonishment, decided to look toward the future, and even take it a step further and start dreaming about it and getting things out of my head, sharing it and into my hands… something I was too paralyzed to do in 2016 at all post-April.

Looking toward and dreaming of a new future with my new someone was a leap out of what once felt debilitating confusion and emptiness. In several conversations and posts in 2016, I referred to thinking about a future without Shayne like a black hole.
2016 was just putting one foot in front of the other, 2016 was about surviving.
2017 was all about the rising.

2018 will be about the thriving.


My life is not a problem and I don’t have them – everything that has transpired and that is happening is a reflection of what I choose to prioritize, and I am not playing in the pool with shame anymore. About any one thing in my life.
So I don’t resolve, I intend to continue to do what feels right and listen to my core desires.
Build happiness through experiences, and use every square inch of what these two years have given me to build a solid foundation for life of joy. My version of it.
I could probably say I have, but I don’t rightly know if I have really hit a “rock bottom,” and I don’t care enough to find out. There’s surely a lot even my closest supporters did not see or hear when I was alone, but I am still here, woke up and got out of bed, and did that on my own. I don’t need to label a moment “rock bottom” to tell me to get the Hell on with living my best life. I’m just going to press on and build.

Here’s to 2018. Here’s to thriving, enjoying the journey of the rebuild. Here’s to being rich, rich in love, experiences, joy & memories.
Here’s to every moment of discomfort, heartache and fear… and growing. And letting go of the fear that if I don’t do this alone and conquer this all on my own, I won’t ‘win’. I have already won. I’m still here to tell about it, all of it.


Here’s to overflowing with gratitude for our abundance in all things already, but looking forward and open to receiving what is divinely ours. Mostly, more happiness. More experiences that reflect my true desires, and our shared desires, to live a very simple, joy-filled life.


Here’s to being completely surrounded on all sides by brave, loving, hand-holders. Whether it was for a moment, a season or they’re still showing up in our daily… I am still, feeling and experiencing support. I don’t think you’ll meet a widow who will tell you, “Yep, got enough support in the first year, I’m all set!” Not everyone sticks around for the long-haul, but those that have, we know, are our people. Thankful.



Here’s to leading, every day, with gratitude that I have made it this far and with hopes to go farther. We’re still here. Everything we have been given this year was matched perfectly with our thoughts or intentions. What we give, we receive.
I’ll carry that into the new year, take it all in and give it all back.

(And this guy, too. I think I’ll keep him.😉)


Here’s to you. You’re still here. You’ve been here and survived every day, every challenge, pushed through any pain and gotten this far.
You get to do this. Still.
Hopefully you experience much love, growth and joy in the coming year.




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