In December of 2015, I was so relieved the year was coming to an end and was waiting desperately for the new year. If you’re familiar with my life story, then you know that 2015 was pretty brutal. I had spent most of the year in tears. But I didn’t lose hope and still believed that the sun will eventually shine through those dark clouds.

I terribly wished for 2016 to be a much better year. Now that 2016 is over, I can’t quite label it as a great year but I can’t dismiss it as a terrible year either. There’s something amiss about 2016. Perhaps it’s all the setbacks or the disappointments I’ve endured. However, I’m still profoundly grateful that despite how challenged I felt (and continue to feel), I am still fortunate to be able to count my blessings.

Most importantly, my son beat cancer! For so long he lived a life of frailty, yet with his determination to get stronger and healthier, he was able to participate in a league of flag football for the spring season! It was always exciting to watch him from the sidelines, to cheer for him when he catches the ball and run for a touchdown, or simply just run a few yards. He’s also back in school full time (currently in 6th grade), managed to get all A’s, and was recently the class Spelling Bee winner!

My older son is now well settled in college and has great friends he regularly spends time with. He quickly realized that Stanford is no place for slackers, therefore, he had to work three times harder. He’s been faced with new challenges, learning more about himself and the world, or just the simple task of knowing how to navigate his way around the campus in a bicycle everyday! In the beginning of December, he fell off his bike and had a mild concussion! But thank goodness everything turned out fine. He came home for three weeks during the Christmas holiday, and I already miss him just minutes after he left!

Last summer, we adopted the most beautiful dog, a shih tzu. My older son wanted a Tibetan name since he thought shih tzus were originally from Tibet (their origin may actually be from China). We all agreed on the name Tenzin. My younger son based it on a character in a video game he played and for me, after Tenzing Norgay, one of the first men to summit Mt. Everest. Later, we also found out that Tenzin is the Dalai Lama’s name (I hope that’s not sacrilegious)!

But in spite of all those beautiful moments, something was still missing. There were mornings when I didn’t want to get up, thinking there’s nothing to look forward to. I lacked the motivation to do anything. I lost my enthusiasm even on the things I used to enjoy. Since my son’s relapse, I feel that I haven’t been able to pick up the pieces and completely move on. I’ve reached rock bottom once before and I couldn’t believe I was once again subjected to the same fate, as if the whole universe has conspired to punish me. I became disillusioned and lost all faith. Loneliness became my favorite companion.

As time slowly passed, life got better and easier, yet the loneliness stayed. Our sad journey led me to a life I didn’t desire, depriving me mostly of my freedom. I can’t travel as often as I wish. I’ve been home bound for most of the year now. And stuck in Texas,  I realized I don’t  enjoy living in this state (hoping I can go back to California someday). I’ve also been constantly worried about my sons and hate that they have lived (and continue to live) a life full of struggles and difficult challenges.

I feel empty, lonely, and sometimes  worthless. It is exhausting to be me.

Although I am fully aware I can’t keep venturing down the road of unhappiness. I want to be able to survive my loneliness, on my own, without chemical help. There are certain outcomes I can’t control but I am confident I can help myself with simple ways to beat the sadness that’s been looming over me. I haven’t been the same person I used to be. In fact, my older son mentioned to me that I’ve changed. I desperately want that old person back, not only for everyone’s sake, but my own.

So I made a list of personal goals for the year 2017. They are not a guarantee to completely take away my loneliness, but hopefully help minimize the monotony of my everyday existence.

1) Exercise more. I haven’t gone to the gym in quite sometime. I also stopped going for long brisk walks by myself  (other than walking my dog). I need to take time for exercise or long walks, on my own, in solitude.

2) Read at least one book a month. I have a lot of books I purchased on my iBooks but have not had a chance to read them yet. Reading is a mental stimulation that can surely help reduce stress.

3) Write everyday. This is something I’d like to do on a regular basis. If I’m not blogging,  I need to keep a journal, and write a long one each day. Writing is a useful tool for expressing your thoughts and by doing so, can alleviate anxiety.

4) Give myself treats. Giving yourself treats is important because you can’t always expect others to do it for you. I would like to do this monthly–whether it’s a nice lunch, a nice dress, or a good book–these simple treats can make any day special.

5) Meditate.  An hour a day of solitude and meditation will help me calm my nerves and perhaps find that inner peace I’ve been searching for all my life!

The above list are all within realistic expectations and can be incorporated in my daily life. But I would also like to challenge myself beyond my comfort zone (something within reach of course). Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 personal challenge has inspired me to do the same (his challenge: A Year of Travel–the idea is to visit 12 new places you’ve never been, meet someone new and learn about their life. The places don’t need to be far away. A half-hour drive, bus,or train ride to meet people in a community you don’t normally interact with also counts).

However, I’d like to focus my personal challenge to 12 adventures–new places and/or new experiences: 1) going to a new place, by plane, train, automobile or even on foot, and not necessarily far from where I live;  2) by experiencing something new, something I have never done before–whether taking a class for personal growth, learning a new craft, or participating in something within the community.

I’m very excited to embark on these challenges and hopefully I won’t disappoint myself! I will keep you all posted. How about you? Any goals or personal challenges this year? I would love to hear it!

To my dear friends, happy 2017 and may this year bring you joy, love, and inner peace! ❤️