It’s been an odd year. Troublesome in many ways, wonderment in others.

Which is how I’m feeling as I write these words from Reykjavik after an unexpected flight delay that has us staying here 24 hours; troubled by the inconvenience of all the travel delays; in wonder at being in Iceland. I figure this odd detour about sums up the landscape of 2016:

Unexpected things happened. There is both hardship and beauty in the breakdown. And sometimes you end up in a destination you don’t expect.

I’ve seen a lot of anger from people towards 2016 as the new year approaches; so many posts on good riddance to the year, how difficult things were, what an awful year it was for many.

While we all have our burdens to carry and it’s apples to oranges to bananas to completely useless to compare problems and pains- no two ever alike, each of us unique in how we take in life, interpret and process our pangs- I will say that losing my brother this year gives me substantial ground to state that yes, I know 2016 was a difficult year.

But I don’t have a sense of good riddance or hate or washing my hands of it. I go into 2017 ready for a new year, fresh starts are always cleansing, but not lamenting the old one. I lament the passing of my brother, but I don’t need to eradicate this year.

Life never promised us it was going to look a certain way. We were promised a chance. Promised our own spark of self. Promised soul growth. Promised humanity and being stretched in our humanity. Promised an opportunity to learn about love.

If I evaluate 2016 based on all of that, it hasn’t been a bad year at all. Just a year of tremendous growth. And a year of learning heart shattering, heart expanding, heart reaching lessons on love. Even if I don’t like my lessons.

Every year I set an intention for the year- joy, authenticity, laughter and peace have all been themes of years past. 2016 was the Year of Illumination; I wanted to seek greater enlightenment, dig deeper into my truth, live more brave and bright; I did; turns out enlightenment really doesn’t look the way you think it will; turns out enlightenment is just another word for becoming.

And growing pains are necessary pains; it aches to become. And anytime we bring light into previously unexplored places, that same light will hurt our eyes until we get used to what we’re looking at, learn to see it for what it is. My eyes hurt this past year. It’s taken awhile to adjust to the new land and self scape I’ve been asked to see.

Until this morning, I’d yet to declare an intent for 2017. It’s been on my mind, what do I want next year to be?, but I’ve learned from the past to be careful what you intent, for life has an interesting way of bringing that theme into fruition.

As I sit here staring out at the dark city beneath me, sprinkled and smattered and speckled with thousands of lights from the buildings to the copious amounts of Yule decoration sitting in the windows- more cheerful houses and cozy apartments having bright lights than not- it occurs to me that 2017 could use more light.

After this past year I’m not sure I’ve left any part of myself unexamined. Naked grief will do that to you- make you sit with your realist, rawest self, and you either learn to face it and love it or turn your back on the most tender, vulnerable, human parts of yourself.

I chose the former. Learned to make friends with my darkness. Found out being a friend is its own form of light. And if 2016 was about Illumination- learning to bring light into previously dark spaces- then 2017 will be about what I do with that light. I turned the lights on this past year, and now it’s time to let them glow.

Light feels like a thousand miles away as I stare out the window into Reykjavik’s dark night. Sunrise isn’t until 11:23 this morning, and the warm heart but cold night of home awaits as (fingers crossed) we get on a plane tonight to take us back to Anchorage in time for Christmas.

But I still have a feeling that though it feels dark now, the light is just around the corner. Certainly with the passage of Solstice and a move to Kauai in 5 1/2 months this feels true. And on a deeper level it feels time for a gentler year. One less filled with such pain and grief and challenge.

One less about the sheen of the cold moon and more about the brush of the breezy sunlight.

I keep seeing an image of a plane in my minds eye, flying closer and closer to the sun. There is a sparkling ocean underneath a sky swept with tangerine and peach and gold salmon sweeps, a warming of the heart accompanying the scene. Each day a step closer to the dream.

Just in time for 2017. The Year of Shine.