A Year of Seed Planting

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

― T.S. Eliot

This year, I’ve had more time than any other year to reflect on its occurrences and lessons, making the transition to the New Year more meaningful than ever before. For me, as I’ve stated a few times already, it was physically and financially one of the (if not the most) worst of my life. However, in many ways, I started and accomplished a lot of what I hoped to do. I put together a presentation and gathered the courage to ask many, many places if they were interested in hearing it. I learned to make jewelry and quickly made a lot of earrings and bracelets that have received wonderful initial responses. And I made cards and calendars from my photos that I took on the PCT. It was a year of planting seeds that I now wish to expand upon. Next year, I hope to find more places to give my talk at and places to sell my art. And clearly, it will also have to be a year of repair in order to physically become a functional human being again. Since time is quickly falling away and the new year is just around the corner, I decided to just list a few of the highlights here and expand upon them later.

My biggest accomplishment: Giving 29 presentations after I volunteered to give my first one at the end of April! I am very proud of the presentation that I put together and of the responses I have received. It was all completely self-generated and I partly wanted to do this to challenge myself. My life has been very solitary and speaking is not something that I have had to do much of in any capacity. I am very appreciative of the outcome.

Something new that I learned: Perfectionism stems from shame. Prior to reading about this, I did not feel like the word “shame” really applied to me. I have never had a problem talking about things that have happened to me and never felt like I was the cause of these things. This year, however, I learned that shame is feeling unworthy of being loved for who you are. If you are not loved for just being you, you feel that you need to do things to earn love. And this, I can very much relate to.

Greatest find: The blog “Momastery”. When I first heard of this blog, I wasn’t initially interested in reading it because I am not a mother. However, once I did take a look, I wanted to read every post! This woman (Glennon Doyle Melton) is who I aspire to be! She is extremely honest, open, humorous, loving, and compassionate, and has done tremendous work in forming a community of people who are both real and supportive of each other, and who help those in need. So many of her posts made me cry from either the goodness she has done, or because I can so deeply relate to her feelings. I am thankful for the writings (and speaking) of her, Anne Lamott, Marianne Williamson, Ally Hamilton, Brene Brown, Cheryl Strayed, and Oprah. They are all role models for me, along with my yoga teachers Jacqui Bonwell, Georgia Reath, David Vendetti, Jojo Flaherty, and Todd Skoglund. Another amazing discovery I made at the end of the year is the “Humans of New York” posts on Facebook, where a man photographs and asks his recipients something very meaningful about their lives. I am just in awe at the different challenges that we all face during our time here and the great strength that we all possess to overcome them. Absolutely incredible.
(An audience member at one of my talks this year was extremely concerned about the amount of honesty that I give and was very worried that this would make me prey to predators. I have always felt protected by the truth, and I remain adamant that vulnerability is the only way we can truly connect with one another and heal. I have only to look to the role models I just listed to remind me of my conviction).

Biggest surprise: I got into disagreements with two people this year- both of whom are in the “friend” category. One of them is someone I often get into disagreements with, who lives his life very differently than mine, and whom I have more than once told that I would not like to communicate with anymore. The other is my nice, upbeat friend from my previous job. I knew that when an issue arose between us (the first of its kind!), it would eventually bring us closer together after a period of intense discomfort and honesty, or that it would bring the relationship to its end. So far, it has gone the latter. (Tough times will definitely test the strength of a relationship! It is not humanly possible to always be happy with someone, and being able to talk about where you are coming from and lend an open ear is essential to reaching an understanding and its subsequent growth). And, surprisingly, through all the disagreements and the actual attempts at creating distance with the other person, it is he who still communicates with me, and he who I have reached a greater depth of understanding with. This was the surprise of the year for me. He is the person who most regularly communicates with me, and he is the only person (other than my friend Erik, who has lived in the Netherlands for the past 5 years) that makes contact with me on the holidays when I am otherwise left in an excruciatingly lonely void. He remembers that my brother died on Thanksgiving, and although compassion is not something that is natural for him, there are times when it leaks out and I am so very grateful for it. If nothing else, he is a great teacher for me.

A truth that was verified: I believe that in our cores, we are made of love. If we were weren’t stressed, in pain, under pressure or hurt, we would be much kinder to ourselves and to one another. No matter how a person behaves, I believe that there is a deep layer of goodness in the center and that most harmful behavior is a result of self-protection from being further hurt. I was both amazed and humbled from an admission from someone I know that allowed me to see this belief of mine is most definitely true. It was a highlight of my year.

Part of me that is working the best/ in most consistent alignment: My weight! I am happy that with minimal movement and no restrictions on the food I ate (other than my several weeks of no gluten), my weight was consistently low for the duration of the year! (And considering it was a post thru-hike year (and that I have not even been able to walk or do yoga for the past 2 months!), I think that is especially impressive!). I attribute it to a greater degree of calmness and better alignment with starting to share my gifts in terms of how I make my living.

My goals for next year:

1) Heal my body so that I can move and become a functional human being again!
(Also continue to heal my intestines and find a resolution to my skin issues).

2) Find more places to give my talk

3) Make more art and find buyers for it

4) Start writing for real!
a) Begin work on my book
b) Expand my blog

4) Re-attempt my daily gratitude practice by writing down 3 things that I am grateful for every day.

5) Start a consistent meditation practice
(at this time, I can not sit cross-legged or kneel, but I can lie down)

6) Start reading A Course in Miracles
(I was first introduced to this text five years ago during my AT hike. At that time, I was not interested in looking into it. It is a Christian- based text, and I did not identify with that. However, since that time, as a result of my yoga practice, and experiences on the long trails I have hiked, I have come to a broader understanding of the term ‘God’ and feel ready to read it. This is the text that Marianne Williamson bases her lectures and spiritual principles on. It is concerned with transforming fear based thoughts into love based ones in order to feel more at ease and access more of our potential, as well as heal ourselves and the world at large.)

7) Drink more water!

I wish you all a Happy New Year!! I hope it brings you great health and removal of all things that are blocking you from attaining the things you desire!

And remember, great beauty can come out of great pain!

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