Living your life diminished- being a lesser you because you believe some person, system or structure requires it of you- is the equivalent of chronically apologizing for your existence.

And if there is one thing that the air in your lungs, which continually sings “I am” with your every breath, and your gift of life did not intend for you to do- is sacrifice your life to apology. You are here to be your brightest self, not a pale imitation.

Live shiny. Don’t be afraid of your own glow. The world can always use more stars to light the way.

I wrote these words a couple years back, found them on my “on this day” page this morning on facebook. They made me smile since I have declared 2017 “The Year of Shine.”

2016 wasn’t very shiny, I figure tragic loss is about as real as it gets, and when it hits your home and your heart and your family, you don’t ever get to step away from it, you just have to muddle through it the best you know how. 2016 contained a lot of mud and muddling, and while they say no mud, no lotus, I figure there has been enough mud for awhile.

So I step into 2017 with a sense of relief. I don’t know what all this year holds, but it already feels lighter. And I am beginning to become undeniably excited about our upcoming move to Kauai, despite the challenges that may be associated with that move. I figure if I lost my brother and still came out the other side, arms swinging with lotuses of love, then come what may, it will be okay.

I look forward to the come what mays this year. 2017 feels big and vast to me- filled with possibilities and the seeds of stars that haven’t yet formed.

One of those seeds will fully form in just three week. My beautiful, wonderful publisher has worked really hard to help Lamentations of the Sea come to fruition. Publication in January seems fitting since it marks the year mark of losing Brent. I can think of no better way to honor the matter of his life then to offer the material of this book in the hopes that it brings comfort to others going through loss.

The book is its own kind of starlight. It is a book I never imagined I’d write, with words I couldn’t duplicate if I tried had they not been written throughout the course of my loss. I don’t know if I even have words to say what this book means to me or how it will feel to hold a copy in my hands; see copies in the hands of others; know I am no longer alone in my story; know that Brent will not be forgot.

I just know that I feel the glow of the work; that I transformed the blackest material in my life into pages of truth and starlight. I know I can’t wait to hold that copy in my hands. I know I still feel my brother out there, he is fainter now then he once was, not quite as close- more diffuse in energy- but he is still there when I open myself up and reach out in my mind.

I know good-byes aren’t forever and they are a necessary part of life if we ever wish to have new hellos. I know life goes on, sometimes in ways we can’t always see. I know change is inevitable, there is a season for everything, and you can’t fight the natural cycles and flows of life.

I know that I lost 2016 to grief and claim 2017 for light. I know this move and this book and all the good changes coming down the pike of my life exist because I fought for them and breathed them into being. I know I found the lotus in my mud.

I know our lives will become how we think of them and what we make of them.

And I know it is a good year to shine.