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Decoding Drew Barrymore’s emotional ode to 2016

As 2016 nears its end, most of us are looking to the New Year to set a different pace: to be filled with hope, not hurt. To be better than the last. And it would seem eternally sunny Drew Barrymore is doing much of the same this holiday season.

On Sunday, the actress shared a photo of herself and her two daughters, Frankie and Olive, on Instagram — and she was clearly in her feels when she posted the sweet pic.

“#People I love, these are the love of my life. #myolive #myfrankie. All I wanted to do this week was reflect. Think about people and moments that make life make sense to me. That make life amazing. That motivate me to be my best self. I feel so lucky. And after just living the last few days in all things positive, it was good for me to reflect on things that truly make me happy.”

Today, the actress shared another revealing glimpse into her soul, posting a sweaty pic with some workout buddies.

“#Peopleilove #sweatybetties ok this is my last post for this series. Every Monday I work out with my girlfriends and, as female writer Isaac Dennison said, ‘There is nothing you can’t cure with saltwater. Sweat, tears and the ocean.’ May I say 2016 has been a more unique year. I have cried a lot this year. I have run to oceans. I have tried to pull it all back together by moving my body until the egg cracks, and the sweat pours out and releases something. I have always been a person who is flawed. I forgive. I fight. But I do not fight with others. I will spend my life trying to give love. And I am always aware and appreciative when I receive it. My heart is very open right now. Let us all be as good to each other as we ever have been. 2017, here we come. And yes! I will be arm and arm, with all the #peopleilove,” Barrymore captioned the pic.

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Obviously, Barrymore wasn’t joking about her heart being very open right now. She is radiating love! But what inspired these revelations of hope and joy?

On the surface level, you could assume it’s simply one of those “another year has come and gone” type of epiphanies in which you realize you are another year older and life will slip right through your fingers if you let it.

Yes, I’ve been having those moments lately, too. It’s cliché, I know, but life really is short. And it’s messy, but it’s beautiful as well. If we don’t take the time to soak it up for what it is now, then when?

For Barrymore, it was also a year of personal upheaval. In July, she divorced her husband of four years, Will Kopelman. Although the two continue to kick ass at co-parenting, the end of a marriage is never easy. It’s almost like a death you have to grieve and, as empathetic as Barrymore is as a person, she has likely been feeling the loss for herself, for Will and for their daughters.

She openly called the divorce a failure, describing the torrential guilt and shame you feel going through one: “When you break up with somebody, you’re like, ‘Yeah, that didn’t work,’ [but] when you get divorced, you’re like, ‘I’m the biggest failure. This is the biggest failure.’ It’s so shameful and hard to actually go through that, even privately. It’s a tough time. It’s a hard thing to go through. It’s like you’re being put on a cheese grater and every second going, ‘Ah! This wasn’t the plan!'”

Suffice it to say, that’s some brutal stuff.

More: Drew Barrymore deserves mad respect for calling her marriage a failure

But I believe Barrymore’s moving, emotional ode to 2016 was inspired largely by other recent events that have been set into motion. In the second post, Barrymore references this being “the last post for this series.” Picking up that breadcrumb and running with it, you’ll find Barrymore’s first #peopleilove post was shared on Nov. 17.

“This week makes me think about #peopleilove. I love this old prom style pic of me and my closest. We were going to the emmy’s this night years back. I can’t stop looking and wanting to hold onto these moments. #oldfriends,” she captioned the photo of herself and her date with Nancy Juvonen and Jimmy Fallon.

But it is the post before that throwback photo that proves particularly telling. On Nov. 9, the day after the U.S. presidential election, Barrymore posted a picture of a simple sign hand-drawn in rainbow colors that reads, “I look so forward to healing.” Her caption? “And loving.”

A week later, her #peopleilove series began. First, it was the photo of Fallon. Next, a too-cute-for-words snapshot of Barrymore kissing little Frankie.

From there, Barrymore shared a shot of herself alongside her Charlie’s Angels co-stars (and close personal friends) Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz on the red carpet, saying, “#peopleilove Right? I want to live in this forever…”

Next came a photo of a bunch of her best girlfriends jumping for joy on a beach. Then another photo full of empowered women — among them Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz and Nicole Richie.

The squad goals caption reads, “#peopleilove hold onto those you love and climb a mountain together. The women in my life are doers. They can be anything from life, work and physical capability. Zest if you will. I follow my friends. And when I am most in need, I hold on tighter. But it is when they need me… I know I have done something right. To earn their trust. Love your friends. Share kindness. Hold onto moments and most of all… MAKE MORE PLANS!”

More: Divorce? What divorce? Drew Barrymore’s life is pure adventure

A few other photos followed suit: a group of the people she works with on the set of Santa Clarita Diet, a family photo at the dinner table for her grandma’s birthday, a throwback photo of her father.

These posts, strung together, send a powerful and salient message: Barrymore believes in love. She won’t let hatred calcify her heart, and she won’t let someone else decide what love looks like for her. Her love is her own, and she chooses to fill her life with it — and with the people she loves. Not the ones anyone else dictates that it’s OK to love, but the ones who make her heart happy.

She chooses to move forward in love, regardless of what 2017 holds. That’s a pretty inspiring way to look at things, no? If we all practice Barrymore’s hopeful brand of wearing our hearts on our sleeves, the world will be filled with more love, and by proxy, more people we love.

Cheers to that, Barrymore.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

Drew Barrymore lessons slideshow
Image: Andres Otero/

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