To get the new years cliches out of the way early, this year has been heaven and hell and has taught me more about myself than I think any other recent year has. It has been a year of ups and downs like I haven’t had in a while. Although the year had many downs, I feel the ups outweighed them. I think even with reflection on the downs and how I have been able to grow from them and what I can carry into the new year.

I had someone actively try and sabotage my career by manipulative and wholly inaccurate accusations, all based on their own shortcomings and need to place blame elsewhere. I survived it. I had someone try to ruin my relationship because of their own insecurities. I survived it. I had my faith tested by someone who tried to tempt me into a circle of less than ok situations. I survived it. I had my own faith tested because of all of this and began to doubt my purpose and meaning. I came very close to a point of attempting to take my own life this year. The closest I have been since before I went sober. I survived it.

Through the bad moments though, were some really great ones. This year my career was brought to new heights (even with the attempted assassination of my career). I was privileged enough to grow within the company I work with. I was able to showcase my talent, knowledge, and drive this year, twice this year! Both those opportunities allowed me to make connections I never thought I would. I have been able to reach so many other people in my company through training them and connecting them in the same ways I was provided. It has really taken my career to the next level. I grew my family so much this year through that alone. Because of those new connections, I was able to find people I related to on much deeper levels who I hope to have in my life forever.

Career associated, I was able to spend some great time with a couple of the people I brought into the fold earlier in the year when they stayed with me for a conference here in my city related to our careers. being able to spend time with them and grow in our fields together was amazing. Inspiring, actually. Sharing that passion with people you relate to on other levels is amazing. Lifelong friends there.

This year was also a big year in my life in recovery. I hit the 5 year mark this year! I really can’t believe I have come so far in my sobriety. I never would have imagined I could live a full and happy life free from alcohol and other substances. The clarity, the inspiration, the love for life in whole. It has been unmatched. I still keep my sobriety on the forefront and always present because it is a situation by situation thing. By keeping it there in the front I have been able to avoid situations I shouldn’t be involved in, manage temptations when they arise, and redirect my mind in other ways. It helped me get through another year.

The other good part of this year, through all the bad situations I ended up in this year, they taught me so much. I learned from every one of them. I learned who to trust. I learned who I should keep at a safe distance if avoidance isn’t possible. I learned to appreciate the things in my life that I took for granted. I learned to love again. I learned to love myself again.

All in all, this year has been a good one. This time of year music tends to hold a larger part in my life than normal. Music gets me though so much, and I spent the last couple of days trying to find that definitive song that would sum up my year and bring me into the next. I thought I had one picked out by the time I wrote this, but then I was placed in front of an emotional video on YouTube, and it changed my entire plan. Even the title of this post.

I had originally decided on Mandisa’s I’m Still Here. It’s message about overcoming parts of your life that held you back didn’t win, and you’re ‘still here’. It is a powerful message that resonated with me this year. I had been through a lot but I’m still breathing, have a roof over my head, and a job that pays the bills. It also speaks on having a greater purpose and not giving up because things get tough. That meant a lot to me this year.

However, right before writing this post, I ended up on a video I hadn’t seen yet. It takes a lot for me to be moved to tears and emotions so high that my body is flush by just watching someones performance. But this performance and song did just that. The lyrics alone are moving. Keala Settle made the song have that much more impact in my life, and I have no doubts plenty of others.

Going into the new year, this is my anthem. My Swan Song. My reminder of why I am here, why I do what I do, and who I am. This is me!

Lyrics:

[Verse 1]
I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are

[Pre-Chorus]
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

[Chorus]
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

[Post-Chorus]
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh

[Verse 2]
Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades
And reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become

[Pre-Chorus]
Won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

[Chorus]
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
Gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

[Post-Chorus]
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh
This is me

[Bridge]
And I know that I deserve your love
There’s nothing I’m not worthy of
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is proof
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me

[Chorus]
Look out ’cause here I come (look out ’cause here I come)
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum (marching on, marching, marching on)
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

[Outro]
(Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh)
I’m gonna send a flood
Gonna drown them out
(Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh, this is me)

This is Me, Keala Settle