Happy New Year

​2014 was a pretty crappy year for humankind. Protests, wars, terrorist attacks; the rise of religious extremism in the Middle East and the worsening of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the Ebola epidemic in West Africa; an annexation and military occupation of Ukrainian territory by Russia; a new Cold War on the horizon… if only there was a way to shut the door and leave everything in 2014, and step into the New Year in a clean dressing gown, as Ebenezer Scrooge did after a trip through his own dirty past, present, and future in Dickens’ Christmas Carol.

Or maybe the year seemed especially crappy to me, as one of the conflicts headlining news this year hit a bit too close to home, reaching my beautiful home country. So perhaps the world has always been this crappy, but the people who notice the crap more are the ones who have stepped in it?

There were good times in 2014 as well: dictatorships toppled; doctors risked their lives to save others; ordinary people became heroes. Courage, compassion, love, and perseverance; a newfound strength born from hardship, all these things lined the ominous cloud hanging over 2014. Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, as Dumbledore would say. War is war, but a lady wants to look nice; my great-aunt would say. And no matter how bad things get, somebody will always be there to tell you a story with a happy ending.

Whenever I feel really down, I’ve got a secret trick to pick myself up that only I can use: my name translates from Ukrainian as “Strong one”, and to be honest I’ve always gotten a kick out of that. It’s reminded me that my ancestors probably didn’t get that name for nothing, and I can’t make them look bad by moping around.

And that’s how the name for this blog was born. With it, I hope to share Strong Stories with you: my stories, other people’s stories, stories that will hopefully be worth your while as a reader, and mine as a storyteller, about how people turn on the light in the darkest of times.

So here’s to hope that 2015 will be better. But what will make it better? We will. There’s a popular Doge-like meme circling the Ukrainian web, with a silly dog saying “Things will get better, because I’ve had enough of worse.” Silly Doge, with your cute improper grammar yet poignant underlying message… You’re absolutely right. We’ve had enough of worse, so 2015 will be better. 

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