Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Looking back and welcoming what's to come

Happy New Year! It feels good to open a fresh document empty except for the curiosity of what will fill its pages in the coming 365 days. I didn't fully embody my word of the year, enchantment, quite as I might have hoped. My bent toward practicality kept enchantment at bay more than I had hoped and yet I have no regrets about the aspiration to be enchanted. It nudged me closer to this year's word: savor. I look forward to the ways that I can embody this new word.

A friend reminded me that “We are not always 100 per cent.” It was his way of comforting me as I lamented the inability to “get over” something that keeps tripping me up. His phrase has been a mantra this year and a source of self-soothing.

My home began transforming into the space I have always dreamt of it being: a safe place for friends and strangers who need it. It didn't require new furniture or a fresh coat of paint to achieve that status. Only an open heart and the willingness to say yes when the needs arose. Four months later, a friendship is forged that I am excited to nurture and cultivate for months and years to come. It also hosts bi-monthly Girl Scout meetings, and it has recharged my emotional reserves to hear the chatter of twelve- and thirteen-year-old girls who delight in each other's company and work toward their goals together.

The middle school years are proving to be difficult for pre-teen and mother alike. I've been heartbroken at times feeling inadequate in my role as her shepherd through this rough terrain. But since I've begun to see every aspect of life as a practice rather than an expectation of getting things right all the time, I've found space to learn from my missteps, room to breathe, practice patience, and try again.

I continue to feel a sense of wholeness and health that is new—not only post-divorce, but new in all my nearly 45 years. I am confronted by things that have caused me difficulty or consternation, and I am actually grateful when those moments arise because I demonstrate how differently and competently I handle them now. I see how healing from past hurts and feelings of being misunderstood allow me to respond from such a different place than before. I have watched myself initiate difficult conversations that previously seemed impossible. I would freeze and stay in a place of resentment and indignation. Now, I take a breath when the opportunity presents itself, and speak what is true for me with kindness and self-respect. I have seen relationships transform and my life feels lighter and happier.

There is a difference between responding and reacting, and in the new year and new decade before me, I am committed to responding. I have turned so many corners for the better that I see that I am back where I started, but at a new elevation with the benefit of life experience, hindsight, and the love and support of many who have loved me to this new place.

I am loosening my grip on my stubborn approach to paying off credit card debt. Being white-knuckled about anything is an exhausting, counterproductive strategy. We are going to travel more, pay attention to opportunities to say yes when life opens new doors, and respect the moments when saying no is a sacred choice.

I fine-tuned my ability to conserve and expend energy like a banker spends and saves money. I understand how time is currency, and I want to spend it well. I have recognized how my work life has become deeply stressful, and with awareness, I discovered that rest and sabbaths of many kinds were the best way to combat it. By the end of the year, I was able to grant myself these respites with very little guilt. I endeavor to do more of the same in the new year and even go so far as to find ways to eliminate the crushing stress altogether.

Time in my garden reinforced how it—and I—are works in progress, and I am thrilled by the ways I am blossoming along with my crops of zinnias and sunflowers. This season, I tried planting seeds in different places in my yard and was initially underwhelmed. Only two stalks of sunflowers grew and my zinnias sprouted but initially stopped before any blooms came. I learned the importance of knowing how much sun an area gets and was satisfied that no zinnias this year were a small price to pay for understanding that they required much more sun for future crops. I put too many sunflower seeds in the same hole in the ground—another mistake I made that taught me to see this garden as a source of adventure. I feel lucky I got the two stalks I got. But then a month later than expected and a few weeks after I'd considered pulling the zinnia-less plants, nearly two dozen zinnias blossomed after all, which taught me a bigger lesson: that all living things grow in their own time and to not rush the process. I've always considered myself a late-bloomer, but I'm now considering the possibility that I am actually blooming exactly on time—for me.

Welcome 2020! I am excited by what adventures and blossoms await me in this New Year.

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