As 2016 came to an end, I found myself scrolling through Facebook more than usual. Typically I try to limit my screen time because it brings me down. That endless timeline of pictures and posts make me start questioning the quality of my own life. Am I making good life choices? Am I doing enough? Do I have enough? How do my friends measure up? Am I enough? I am no math brain, but the formula is obvious: the more screen time I have, the less adequate my life. But I digress...continuing on...

The holidays, for all their hustle and bustle, often leaves some awkward down time. So, despite knowing that Facebook is the Mother of all Black Holes, I found myself plastered to it for a few days. I had been reflecting on my year anyway, as is typical when a new one is right around the corner, and social media is as good of a place as any for sizing up the year. Used correctly, Facebook- or another social media app- can truly provide inspiration, ideas and new goals. It's uplifting to see what 365 days can do to a person-- whether it be watching a belly grow with child, cheering on a slimming waist line or raising your brows at the newly-dyed blue hair. Time is a variable that intrigues- and boggles- my mind. So I found myself sucked in. Again. Scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. Pictures from distant relatives, updates from old friends, collages created by neighbors, profound thoughts from clients I haven't seen in awhile. There was a lot to celebrate in 2016- twelve months of weddings, births, retirements, beautiful sunsets, gourmet meals, successful race finishes. I saw it all. My heart truly did smile at these captured glimpses of happiness. 

But the overriding theme of the year wasn't one of perfection-- it seemed to be one of challenge.  

Last year seemed to bring a wider range of emotions to my friends: bitterness, fear, devastation, death, confusion. Some were posts that begged for someone to listen. Someone to take action. Many expressed their experiences with depression, loss, anger, and grief. Gut-wrenchingly real "feels". And you know what? I could relate. My heart-ached the majority of 2016. There were a lot of tears shed, and a lot of pain felt. But reading these posts brought me a strange comfort. I never wish ill-will to others (bad karma), but it was refreshing to see some true emotion and honest vulnerabilities. Some #nofilters. Especially across the Mother of all Black Holes that is typically plastered with lives of perfection. This life truly is a journey of highs and lows, and these posts reminded me that for every euphoric up, there was a darker down. And sharing both is okay. Posting both ends of the spectrum is its own kind of therapy, and creates a platform for genuine reflection. There is always an underlying pressure to paint the positive, but a lot of lessons are learned through hardship and heartache. In this regard, 2016 was a masterful gauntlet, a brutal bootcamp. 

With the holidays at a close, my heart sits with the realization that the experiences that shape us don't correlate to a set schedule or calendar year. The "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" may not be in December for you. It may be smack dab in the middle of March. Heartache doesn't take time off because it's Christmas Eve. January 1st is an arbitrary "clean slate" if you are still covered in mud from December 31st. Your love day may not align with Valentine's cupids. And again- that's okay. It's more important to accept these times, these aches, these challenges and find a way to climb atop them. To run through that tunnel of pain and emerge on the other side with a stronger heart, a more honest mind and a clearer vision. 

So here's a heartfelt wish for those downward dips to start climbing, those truly dark days to begin brightening, and for seasons of life (in no particular calendar order) filled with authentic experiences from which to grow.

 You've got this.  And so do I. Happy 2017.

Justina and the Ignite Yoga team

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Ignite Yoga- Dayton, Ohio