Have no doubt, this will be an example of exactly what I'm talking about.
And yet, it won't be.
I, like millions of people this year, lost folks I care deeply about and whom I'll never forget. For example, both of my grandfathers, one of whom was my... Everything. I didn't see him much in the end, and that was my failure that I'll regret for the rest of my life. I'll never get that time with him back, and the unique opportunity to truly find out who my Grandpa Batty was will never present itself again. It hurt so much to watch him deteriorate. It hurt so incredibly much. But the difficult lesson I learned from my own weakness is that nothing is guaranteed. No one sticks around forever, so I need to have those important conversations NOW. I need to make time for the scary, deep talks about who we really are. I need to savor the laughs and their stories and those memories I have, even as we all deteriorate (or grow). That's one thing I do know. Family is everything. EVERYTHING.
I know something else: I'm a brakeless goddamn train when it comes to getting what I want. When I really want something, when I'm really dead-set on it, the universe could explode entirely and I would still be chugging away at whatever it is I'm after. It's a powerful, terrifying thing to know I'm capable of whatever I set my mind to. It's so very exhilarating. Nothing is impossible, everything is reachable and I AM. That's it. I am.
Speaking of 'I AM', I am strong. I learned in 2013 that I'm resilient. Even when the world has backed you into a corner, you're not done yet. I said final goodbyes to a toxic group of people I trusted as friends for a while, and while it was tough, it was okay. My goal this year is to celebrate the positivity of life, of others, of myself and what we can all do to make a difference; anyone who isn't down with that game plan gets to go play somewhere else. I can and I will surround myself with those who echo the best of life and the universe; the kind, the compassionate. The intense, the passionate, the driven and the curious. The smart and unusual thinkers, those who possess qualities I don't -- you are only as good as the personalities you allow in your life. Choose wisely.
I learned that my body and my mind are sacred. My body is just as strong as my mind is, but I need to respect it and care for it. Downtime is to be given, rest is to be taken and nourishment is to be consistent. The mind cannot operate optimally if the body is in disarray. Our bodies are beautiful, lovely science projects... Growing and moving and morphing and constantly working. We're the stewards of these brilliant computers, and without proper care, the computer will stop working.
I learned about potential this year. My own, and others'. I learned about criticism and how it breaks us down and how NOT to go about love. I learned so much about people, but more about myself. And the more I have learned, the less I really know. I learned to be kind, but to everyone... Including myself.
In 2013, I found out that the old adage 'practice makes perfect' makes perfect sense. It's true!!! Victory loves preparation, but fate also favors the fearless. I learned how to jump without a net, and how to let go. I can't control everything and sometimes (most of the time), it's not really even up to me.
Oh, 2013 was an incredible year for racing. But 2014 will be even better. This year, I found out how much of myself I really need to be to succeed -- ALL of me. I found out the cost of distractions. I figured out what TRUE freedom and independence feel like. I enjoyed the rush of meeting new people, and for once, felt comfortable in a room full of strangers.
I know how to laugh now. Not the hollow laugh of someone trying desperately to find a way out, but the gut-bursting, belly heaving, tear-inducing laugh of real joy. I also know how to cry. How to experience emotion. And that it's okay to have those emotions.
I know the value of the word 'no', and the power in it. I also understand the words 'I believe in you' and 'no matter what' and the magic they posess.
The world became smaller as my view became larger. My heart grew and my mind opened. The fire within burns so brightly that nothing and no one will ever extinguish the flame. The possibilities are endless and no matter what, we all count. We matter. We make a difference, just by being ourselves.
2013 was the hardest year of my young life. But it was also the greatest. I find myself greeting the new year with open arms and uninhibited joy because of who I had the chance to become... Because of who you all helped me become. Because of my family and friends and sponsors and community. Because of strangers and loved ones and even the estranged ones... I am so grateful for my life and to have you all in it. My existence is forever blessed because I am loved by so many beautiful people. ❤️
Life is moving poetry, someone said. And yes. They're damn right it is.
So thank you. And Happy New Year, everyone. Welcome to 2014.