New Year, Same Me

I always love the New Year and the promises it brings. Around Christmastime, I start to look back on the year and what has happened. And the person I have become out of those experiences. I'd like to say I grew from each one -- hopefully in a positive way -- but I also like to think I'm still me.

Sure, there are things I would like to change, but when I look long and hard, I still want to stay who I am. I like myself and I like anyone who likes the way they are. (Like is a good thing.) And the few times I didn't like myself, it was always nice if the New Year rolled around because it gave me that extra push to change.

The New Year has always represented a fresh start for me. It reminds me of Anne of Green Gables, when she says, "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it."

Right now, this year can be anything and everything. Inspirational, happy, tough, funny, challenging, sad, amazing. It's always nice to think of the good things that can happen, and when I reflect on the previous year, I try to think of the good things.

2015 was filled with new friends, new challenges, new life, and completing my Master's degree. Of course, it also came with frustration, a sense of wading, difficult choices, and loss.

It might not come as a surprise, especially to those who know me, that I am a HUGE animal person. And when last October got here, the month I always look forward to because it signals the beginning of the three-month holiday season, I lost the best dog I was lucky to call mine.

Zelda was more than just a dog. She was apart of my happiness and love. She still is. I have never seen a more gentle, free soul, filled with the unconditional love dogs are famous for. (Cats, not so much, but I still love them.) October was a rough month, and working to finish my Master's degree didn't help. I won't lie, I struggled every day -- and still do. Some people may think, she was just a dog, but she was infinitely more than that. She made me smile every time I saw her; she loved our long walks through my hilly neighborhood; she almost burst if she couldn't stick her head out the window during a car ride; she let me tuck my feet under her during the night to keep them warm; she helped me study better when I needed a five-minute break; she helped me write, giving me an irritated look when I rambled on about a piece not working; she was always there for me; and she was a constant reminder of what love is. That was Zelda.

When I look out at 2016, I try to remember the good things Zelda brought to my life. All the good times we had. All the times she made me laugh, whether it was the time she fell off the bed because she stretched too far, the multiple times she would trick my other dog into leaving his bone unguarded by chasing after an imaginary bird, or the way she ran from me whenever I tried to give her a bath. But mainly the way she seemed to live every moment. She didn't worry about yesterday, didn't let it weigh her down, and she was happy.

I hope I spend this year meeting my goals, overcoming my challenges, and doing things that I love, all while still being me.

The promises of this New Year remind me of two quotes: one from a lady, and one from a plant guy.