Weekly Newsletter

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, Trench Dwellers!

I hope you spent some quality time with your family and were able feel loved and comforted. I hope that Santa delivered good gifts to your doorstep and that you filled your bellies with yumminess.

This week on the website, we will be highlighting some of our favorite quotes and stories from the past year (since our launch in October). We will also introduce our upcoming series: Do You?

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is behind us, I want to share some of my thoughts on 2016, as well as my hopes for 2017.

Lessons learned in 2016:

  • The theme of the year seemed to be "just say yes."
  • Do not fear; just be brave.
  • It is possible to dance with darkness and the light.
  • Beauty can rise from ashes.

Looking forward to in 2017:

  • Watching Stories from the Trenches grow with opportunities that I never could have dreamed of.
  • Vacationing with my best friend and our families.
  • Continuing to learn to love openly and authentically.

Keep reading below to find more year-end reflections from other Stories from the Trenches team members. Head over to the Surviving the Holidays message boards to share what the lessons you learned in 2016 and what you are looking forward to in 2017.

Jen G.
Founder, Stories from the Trenches

Jen's Journal

Writing out my reflections for 2016 and hopes for 2017 has me just sitting in gratitude and awe of the last two months of Stories from the Trenches (SFTT). It is one thing to convince your friends and family to believe in a dream, but to watch strangers love and join the website has been a tremendous affirmation. Doors and avenues are already opening that I never could have imagined, which makes me so excited to see where SFTT is at the end of 2017.

Before getting ahead of myself and dreaming really big, I will sit—at the end of 2016—in this gratitude for your stories, for your encouragement, and for believing in my dream. Thank you, Trench Sisters.

Featured Forums

This week, we are reflecting back on the stories shared in 2016 and looking ahead to a new series in 2017. But the stories are just the start—continue the support, conversation and encouragement in the blog comments and in the forums:

For the sake of privacy and safety, we ask you to log in or register for a free account to view and participate in our community conversations.

Recent Stories

Home for a Holiday

The pancreas—it doesn’t get all the attention like the heart, liver, or lungs. I didn’t even know I had a pancreas until I was fifteen years old. My entire life as I knew it changed that year; I went from being a perfectly healthy, normally obnoxious teenager—wearing rolled jeans and scüncis—to suddenly being very sick, in unimaginable amounts of abdominal and lower back pain, being thrown into a world filled with doctors, hospitals, big fancy medical terms, and ugly hospital gowns.

Read More →

Reflecting on 2016 and 2017


Lessons learned in 2016:

  • You have no control over anything (other than yourself). And instead of allowing that to scare you, it is way better when you just embrace that and let the tides roll.
  • The ugliest, most awful things that can happen to you in life can cultivate a renewed love among those around you. A refreshed sense of what is truly important.
  • When you are so broken, when you are not sure how you will make it to the next minute, somehow the strong, brave woman inside will keep breathing. Every breath will hurt, but you breathe until it’s easier, no matter how long that takes.
  • Living in grief means balancing sadness and joy, tears and happiness, weeping and laughing. In time, that balance becomes clear. Until then, be patient with your heart.

Looking forward to in 2017:

  • To a new year in general. The year 2016 was the worst and somehow best year of my life all in one, and I would prefer that this next year be less heartbreaking.
  • Our "rainbow baby" is due June 2017. I feel like there is hope amongst our sadness, as we are praying to be able to bring this little one home.
  • I am officially in my thirties, and I am hoping for a light and fun year!

Lessons learned in 2016:

  • I'm braver than I feel.
  • It's ok to not fit into a mold of what others want me to be.
  • If I'm overwhelmed or sad beyond what I can handle, I need to go to bed early.
  • Love before I judge.

Looking forward to in 2017:

  • Watching my four kids and two puppies grow.
  • Creating more.
  • Being more authentic with my life.

Lessons learned in 2016:

  • Life is fragile. Cherish the moments you have. Your whole way of working can be changed by one person.
  • My family is stronger than I thought. We made it through Steve's job loss fairly well.
  • My goddaughter continues to improve. I never thought I would be helping a friend walk through a special needs journey like my own.

Looking forward to in 2017:

  • Vacation to Niagara Falls.
  • Another vacation (I hope) in December.
  • Losing my last fifteen pounds.