• Madelynne Juenger

optimism, sparklers, and chocolate cake

Hello friends!

I hope your New Year’s celebrations were full of overly enthusiastic optimism and a rosy hopefulness for the next 12 months to come. Whether you spent the night wrapped up in blankets watching Dick Clark’s New Year's Rockin' Eve from your couch, or jumping in the air fist pumping to “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas like me, I hope it was joyful and contained sparkles in some form or another.

As a person who gets nostalgic over events that happened yesterday morning, New Years has always struck a particularly exciting chord with me. Finally, a time when the whole world is reflecting and reminiscing. Finally, a time when sharing stories and dissecting the past is encouraged and practiced!

And it’s also a time when we lean into the future. For a little while, we revel in the progress we’ve made, while feeling high off the anticipation of what’s yet to come. We exist in a magical bubble of all we’ve accomplished and all we have yet to accomplish.

For one night, we celebrate the good and let go of the bad by dancing around with sparklers in our hands and kissing the ones we love most at midnight.

2018 has been a year of growth brought on by both positive and negative events. I don’t know whether to deem it a “good” year or a “bad” year and I don’t know if it’s fair to condense an entire 365 days down into a singular word. I actually don’t even know if that’s possible.

But I do know that during New Years, I’d like to focus on the good.

Of course 2018 was anything but sunshine and butterflies 24/7, and I don’t want to gloss over the bad as if it was. But it feels really easy to sink into the negative around this time of year. It feels too easy to think about what we didn’t do, what we could’ve done, what we’ve lost, and what we wish we could change.

So for right now, let’s focus on what we did do, on how far we’ve come, and on how we’ve made it to the New Year still breathing and growing and learning.

2018 was the year I travelled. It was the year I took a trip to Richmond, drove back to Philadelphia, flew to London for a weekend, went back to Philly, road tripped from Arizona to Pennsylvania, drove home to Virginia Beach, flew back to London, then flew to Lausanne, flew back to Philadelphia, and then drove back again to Virginia Beach.

It was the year I went to concerts. I embraced and celebrated the entire emotional spectrum at a Lorde concert with my sister. We sobbed to “Writer in the Dark” and danced like maniacs to “Green Light”. Lorde spoke to the audience and justified all my deep feelings by saying, “You have to be the vivid dreamer. You have to be the hopeless romantic. You have to be the fucking crazy overreactor blowing up your boyfriend’s phone. You have to be a writer.” I went to a Harry Styles concert with my roommate and was magically granted a free upgrade to the front row. Harry then blew me a kiss in the audience and I continue to tell this story every single chance I get. I went to a Taylor Swift concert by myself and screamed along to songs I’ve loved since I was thirteen amongst a stadium full of glowing lights and beating hearts. It was the year I danced and I danced and I danced.

2018 was the year I fully realized the importance of friendships. It was the year I witnessed the power of Facetime calls and text check ins. Of thoughtful birthday gifts and impromptu coffee chats. Of asking the question “how are you?” and knowing the inquirer wants the actual, honest response in all its messiness. It was the year I realized I have the strongest, most caring, thoughtful group of friends in existence. I am so lucky to have them and I am so lucky to know they have each other.

2018 was also the year of many small good things. It was the year I woke up for sunrises on time. The year I realized I’m no longer allergic to cats and proceeded to live with two. The year I turned anger into action and spoke up for what I believed. The year I hiked a mountain. The year I cried countless amounts of times watching movies with my friends. The year I listened to new music and saw new musicals and read new books. The year I searched for everyday magic.

And now here’s the part where we lean into the future.

Right now, we are at the rare point where the year is almost completely untouched. Of course,

beginning something new is an option at any point. You can choose any random day of the week to start a new hobby, or try a new food, or sign up for a new class. But you can’t deny the magic of the entire world setting positive intentions all around the same time. So let’s embrace it.

Choose soft goals with flexible game plans. Introduce slow, small changes instead of diving in head first to a completely new lifestyle. Give your brain and body time to adapt.

In 2019 I hope to be more sustainable. I hope to move more and to remember to take care of myself. I hope to be a more thoughtful friend and a better listener. I hope to create, to explore, and to love more.

Let’s use 2019 as a time to take care of our bodies and our brains. Let’s be more caring and considerate. Let’s take care of our earth and our fellow human beings. Let’s fill this year up with so much love and acknowledge the kindness that exists in the world.

Take a second to appreciate where you started and where you are now. Be kind to yourself and take notice of your growth and progress. You are doing so many great things.

I hope that 2018 has brought you happiness. And if you’re overwhelmed by the bad, try to take a portion of your day to sit and make a list of the small good things. I know they exist. I know that somewhere in the last 12 months there have been things that have made you smile.

Things that have made your heart feel a little lighter. Things that your soul has greeted and began to glow a bit brighter in response.

You’ve made it through the year in all its chaotic wonderfulness.

I welcomed in 2019 surrounded by friends in my living room. We were full of s’mores and pizza and held cups with tiny splashes of champagne poured quickly before midnight. We turned down “I Gotta Feeling” and turned up Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and counted down to 2019. In 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, we all felt just a little bit lighter. I turned around to take in this moment of happiness. In that minute I felt full as I watched my friends hug and kiss and high five and celebrate a new start. I looked over at my friend Katie and I think we were both thinking the same thing. Best New Year’s Eve yet.

So here’s to another year of light and strength and glitter and dance parties and you.

Be gentle with yourself. Honor the endings and embrace the beginnings.

And have a very, very happy 2019.

I hope it brings you everything you wish for.

And also chocolate cake. (Just in case you forgot to wish for that.)

x Madelynne


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