Sometimes it’s not one thing, it’s all the things together, collectively, that really make the difference. And sometimes it feels like all those things are conspiring against you and your world is crumbling down before your eyes with no way forward and no way out. You feel like you’re a million years old, and weary of this world. The stars have lost their luster and the skies don’t hold any wonder anymore, and no matter what you do, above all, you’re just tired. Oh so tired.

And then sometimes it feels like all those things are coming together as the stars and planets align. Your walls are crumbling down to reveal all the wonder in the world around you. You feel like you’re a million years old, and in awe of this world. The stars shine with a light that’s so stunning it’s breathtaking, and the skies shine with wonder as you stand below in amazement at just how lucky you are. And above all, you’re just so grateful. Oh so grateful.

Just like that, in the blink of an eye, what’s lost is found, what’s old is new, and what’s ending is finding a new beginning again and such is life. Perhaps no one knows this better than me, or at least that’s what it feels like in my most manic of moments. Even in my most depressive of ones, too when I think about it. And that is all part of the wonderment of this life, and my brain, and this brilliant amazing incredible world that all comes together to make up my life. And I am oh so very grateful.

Man, these past years – and if we’re being honest, 2020 was just the harvest of what we sowed all those years ago – have been rough. So rough. I miss so many people, and somehow I managed to even lose myself along the way. But at the same time, it’s also all part of the evolution of life if we open our eyes and learn to not only be aware of our surroundings, but above all, of ourselves.

Self awareness is one of the most amazing traits to find in other humans, and even greater when we learn how to implement that upon ourselves. You see, I am surrounded with some of the most amazing people in the worlds. Not just this world, or this life. My soul is older, and I know that much. No, not just here and now, but some of the most amazing souls anywhere, and I get to call them friends. Friends who are family. And family who are friends. How lucky am I?

Pretty. Damn. Lucky.

Man, I have THE best friends. You don’t even know. Usually giving gifts is one of my favorite parts of the holidays – and this year was no different except I was really off my game for the first time in a long time. This past year threw so much at us, I am amazed we even made it through. Really. If you’re still reading this, take a moment and pat yourself on the back. Give yourself a hug. You made it through, you deserve it. Respect yourself a little more for making it this far and remember you are never alone. I’m here too. And so are you.

Anyway, as I was saying, gift giving and sharing joy with others is one of my favorite things to do. I don’t want to ever be happy in solitude – not because I don’t love alone time, I need it to survive! But because when I am at my best, I want all the best people in my life around me to share it with. Abundance begets more abundance when you share it with others and it is just in my nature to do just that. And so here I am typing away at 10:30 at night on a Wednesday opening my brain to share this abundance with you. Whomever of you may be reading.

So this year, I was admittedly a bit off my game. One gift I gave my all. Going to Universal with the kids to Harry Potter world. I gave that everything. 110%. True CJ style. From the entire house decorations, two Christmas trees, tickets for Hogwarts Express, welcome letters to Hogwarts, and even interactive wands. I gave it my everything. And I think it’s going to be a really amazing trip. But to the rest of my friends, I slacked off. Some I haven’t even given their gifts yet, and I am so sorry! They’re here and I will get them to you!

But you know what’s really cool? They were all there for me. From the little things to the big things. To listening and letting me ramble and barely even coming up for air long enough for me to ask them how they are. And it was okay. I don’t know how or why, but it was because they’re all amazing. Thank you – all of you. They also gave me some of the most thoughtful incredible gifts. And I’m not talking about something huge or extravagant. Nope. Thoughtful. That’s the shit that really matters. From hand balm from one of my fave companies to dark chocolate and hot honey to finding ghost pepper salt at my late fathers’s house (yes, he passed right before Christmas as well) sprinkled on top for an explosion of flavors that’s become my new obsession, to I don’t even know. Everything. All of it. They’re amazing.

And I am so lucky and so grateful to call them all friends and family. I’m staring down a year ahead with a great career, colleagues, friends, and family. Great prospects on where to live and where to go from here. The beginnings of roots to a home I can truly call my own, while also branching out into the beginnings of something amazing. Learning to open up to people for real – not just telling people what feels real without ever REALLY letting them totally and completely in, or ever actually having to be vulnerable. Truly learning to feel and process emotions, and show those emotions, and know that it doesn’t make me weaker, it makes me all that much stronger. To having boundaries and rules and demanding respect from everyone in my life, while learning how to live in respect in return. Empathy of experience and not just emotion, self reflection and not just withdrawal, and honest to goodness authenticity that only comes when your soul has aged enough to have no more fucks left to give, while giving all the fucks in the world.

And so I am here. Thank you. For all the things. Always.

CJ Millar life without a paddle