On my last birthday, I was feeling soooo good. I had a few surprises throughout the day and I was just in a really good place mentally and emotionally. I had recently received a promotion at work, was recognized by my peers, and feeling really confident about my work life, my home life and everything around me.

But you know how the story goes. Life is full of ups and downs.

I still have that job I love. Still happily married, with our doggins and our home, and I wouldn’t trade those for anything. But there have been some hiccups along the way.

I hate hiccups — they’re just annoying enough to drive you nuts and hard as hell to get rid of.

The first hiccup was worrying about things I can’t control. And while I know better than to dwell on things, it’s been really hard. Especially at work. I said goodbye to some amazing teammates and the vibe in the office just felt different — hasn’t really returned either — but I let that funk take over me for a while.

The second hiccup was losing some confidence. I’m not sure when it happened, but re-reading my post from last year, I don’t feel as confident as I did then. I know what I’m capable of and what I can do, but I’ve been struggling a little. Having enough self-awareness to recognize that is good though, because I know it’s a goal to work towards.

The third hiccup was becoming more and more of a Negative Nancy. Even in the last few weeks I’ve told myself, “This has got to stop!” Negativity is like an infection and if you don’t fight it, it will spread. I annoy myself with it.

The fourth hiccup was spreading myself too thin. I was recommended to be an alpha-tester in a course at work — I jumped at the chance because it was a great opportunity and I don’t pass up great opportunities. I did it all: attended all the classes, read all the materials, took all the notes and dug my heels into massive spreadsheets of data for a gigantic group project. I got to work with great people and got a green belt certification out it. But I paid for it.

The fifth hiccup was my health. Late in 2015, I started having problems with my stomach, but they improved after a few months. Then this last September (when the “great opportunity” started) my body decided to hate me. I had an upset stomach constantly, pain in my abdomen, heartburn, bloating, bathroom issues, and eventually was vomiting. It scared me, enough to go to the doctor and do some tests. And now I know I have an ulcer and a practically non-functioning gallbladder. Fun times.

I didn’t expect to revisit a “year of learning,” but I think this past year is the Universe’s way of saying, “Lady, you need to slow down, take it easy and quit being so damn hard on yourself.”

If you had asked me if I was hard on myself the last year, I would have said no. I took a lot of time for myself — I focused on my photography hobby and just threw myself into it again. But looking back… I really expected more from myself than I ever have. And for no good reason. That disappoints me. And makes me a little sad. But I’m thirty-fiving it this year.

No “time to shine” or any of that bullshit. I have a stellar list of New Year recommendations and I have plans for those. I have to get over this funk, and this freaking ulcer. Practice gratitude and journaling to keep me centered. Be around people I love, who bring me peace and energy. (And stay away from people who do not do those things.) Focus on the good I can do instead of the things I can’t control. Say NO more often — and be OK with it.

It’s time to take a break from anticipation. And take more pictures.