2016: My year in review...

A new year is upon us! This year was an interesting one. It was full of trials and triumphs. Happy moments, trying moments. It was a (mostly) good year for my family and me.

This year, I became a new mom again after almost seven years, this time, to a little boy. There has been so much more information that has come out since my daughter was born, everyday is a learning day for me! I also chose to breastfeed this go-round and have the supports needed to help me succeed (almost 8 months strong, go us!). Needless to say, raising a baby now is much different than it was for my younger, less experienced self.

Two weeks after my son was born, I became the first college graduate in my immediate family, receiving my BA from the University of Massachusetts in Boston. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 3.89 GPA, to top it all off. My degree was a culmination of all the ups and downs I've experienced since I separated from active duty in the Navy in 2013. I cried many tears, probably should have bought some stock in Peet's or Starbucks' coffee from the buttloads I drank, and stayed up late way too many nights, but it was well worth it. It's proof to my children that anything can be accomplished, against any odds...as long as you work at it. I'm looking forward to continuing my education in the (hopefully, near) future.

I also became a stay-at-home mom for the first time ever. It's been glorious, boring, stressful, exhausting, and isolating, but rewarding and beautiful all at the same time. Each day's unpredictability surprises me and keeps me on my toes. I have gotten to watch my son meet milestones monthly and have soaked up every moment I get with my sweet boy. I've been able to work on bettering my relationship with my daughter, also. In becoming a SAHM, I've also learned a lot more about compromising and sacrificing. These are the hard life lessons, but oh so necessary.

I've started working more on my business ideas for the first time ever. For many years, I've toyed with the idea of being a small business owner, but late 2016 became the first time I ever started seriously planning things out. My goal is to offer original vinyl crafts as well as custom orders to suit the needs of everyone—man, woman, young, not-so-young. Expect more from that front in early 2017!

I didn't blog as much as I intended to. I set a goal for once a week and never held myself accountable to that goal. In hindsight, it was an unrealistic goal for all the changes I have went through, but I should have revised it and given myself something that was more attainable.

Next year, I've got a lot to do. My booskie and I plan to work on some collaborative family projects merging some of our creative ideas. That will certainly be new and exciting for the both of us! I want to work on becoming a more present mom, being more in the moment, and more patient. Last year, I spent entirely too much time allowing myself to succumb to the depression and anxiety that slowly started sinking in a few months after I had my son, and I don't like that version of myself. I want to be a better person. I WILL be better. I also want to get outdoors more. Whether that means daily walks, daily store runs, or some sort of playgroup, I need to do something other than what I have been doing. My anxiety is crippling at times, yes, but I owe it to my children to put on a brave face and take on the world, even when it feels like it's too much to handle. In general, I want to start doing more of what makes me happy. I enjoy reading, so am challenging myself to read one new book (minimum) per month. I might even write a short review afterward. I want to implement a system of self-care that makes all the other things easier to attain. A once-a-week "thing" that is just for me and me only. Not mommy, SO, sister, daughter, friend...but for Lakeisha. I want to become more organized. Become better at goal setting and attaining. Keeping myself accountable for my own actions and words. Now this list isn't all-inclusive. It's definitely not all I wish to accomplish in 2017, but it's a start.

If there is any big lesson I learned in 2016, it's to be gentle with myself. To take care of myself. To be true and honest to myself. To simply REMEMBER myself...my limitations, my flaws, my qualities. Remember who and what I am. If I am at my best, I have the best to offer my children. Their father, the love of my life. My family and friends. In return, they make my life more beautiful, more richer, and more full of love than I could even begin to imagine.

Here are my best 9 pics from Instagram of 2016, according to Lip Inc. Note what they all have in common. Family. Family will make 2017 the best it can possibly be. They've already made my 2016.

Happy New Year, y'all!

My best 9 photos on Instagram of 2016: family!

Sincerely, Shantelle
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