To look back on 2022, I have to take out my calendar. I can barely remember what I did yesterday, so to think back to last January is a stretch. One thing I know for sure is that last January/February I was immersed in a grief so strong it swallowed me whole. On Christmas Eve 2021, one of my closest friends of all time, Mary Lally, died. The grief that rushed in was similar to what I felt after losing my mom. Except this time, I had the time and space to really let myself feel it… to be with it… to see how it moved me and moved through me. It was intense, and it’s not over. Grief doesn’t end. It just changes and surprises us from time to time with its energy. (read Good Grief, Gratitude, and Grace or Swimming in the Messy Stages of Grief if you want to see what was brewing in me then)
2022 was a year of Heart Evolution, Heart Revolution. My heart opened. My heart shut down. My heart exploded in many different ways. I am forever changed. (my second post about Heart Revolution is here)
What I intended to but didn’t do…
Recently I saw a post from Cheryl Strayed that shook me in a beautiful way. She had been transcribing her journals and came across a list from 10 years ago - a list of 10 things she had intended to do, but hadn’t in the prior year. What a fascinating reflection! In the midst of so much celebration and acknowledgment of “this year’s highlights,” I don’t know that I have ever seen anyone take the time to notice and call out what they didn’t do.
So, I decided to play with this in my own way, which includes a bit of what I did do instead… I didn’t do this, but I did do this… or an inquiry into what the not doing shows me about myself. What might I learn or discover as I look at these things without judgment, just seeing them as truthful observations.
So, I’d love to share a bit of this with you and invite you into your own reflection and inquiry.
I didn’t lose the 10 pounds that I sometimes say I need to. But I did gain 10. I went up a size or two, and have been grappling with whether this really matters to me or not (and if it does, why?) What do these numbers represent to me? Why do I care? Does it matter that I added an X to my L? Does it change who I am or the value I bring to the world? Do I care or is that just part of the story I’ve bought into and told myself? How might I learn to love the body I have at this phase of life, appreciating what it has done for me over all these decades? I am learning to move with flesh I am not used to having, getting to know the body that is mine in this time of life. This isn’t an exploration I’m finished with or comfortable with by any means. I’m still in the thick of it (no pun intended) trying to figure out what’s really true for me. I wrote a bit about this during my April A to Z Blog challenge (my theme was Question (Almost) Everything - Bodies, Bumps, and Bulges, Oh My!)
I didn’t finish writing my second book, a companion for families in recovery from the effects of a loved one’s substance use. I wanted to have this done by Spring, before our lives would change in a significant way and I feared I’d lose the time, energy, or maybe even mindset to keep writing.
I did, however, decide to slow it down with the process so that I can write the best book I possibly can at this time. This feels really good and right. This book deserves that level of care. I have also taken moves to step all in to life as a writer, first and foremost. It’s scary and exciting and wonderful all at once. This book inspires me. My writing supports and fulfills me. It feels like the main way I want to serve right now.
I didn’t get to see Brandi Carlile at Red Rocks, even though I had put the dates on my planner as if that would somehow magically solidify that we could get tickets. We couldn’t. And, it’s ok. Maybe it’s better to hold on to the epic memories of our 2021 trip rather than trying to repeat it. Maybe I’m justifying not being able to get tickets (or at least not being willing to pay the resale price).
I DID add in a lot more live music and choose to add in more fun with friends as a priority. We went to see Dar Williams locally, we joined the Avett Brothers in Chautauqua for the rocking-est show I’ve ever seen them perform in a space that seemed to have them billed as folk. We did get to see Brandi at Woodstock and in Madison Square Garden. I cherish these special times with Tom and with the friends who join us for our road trips!! We even got a personalized Christmas video from BJ Barham from American Aquarium, thanks to our friends, Jenny and Bill! That was fun! I’m finding epic moments come in many shapes and sizes - not always what we have planned or think we would like, but there they are!
I did not continue on with Soul Care, a group I’ve been offering in some form or another for the past 8 years. This was a tough decision because I loved this program and the women who have gathered in it. In many ways, it got me through the toughest parts of the pandemic as we amped up to weekly calls just to have that extra space of authentic, open-hearted connection. But it was time for a change. This move taught me what it means to have an integral ending, to allow space for goodbyes and all the feelings they bring, to allow for sadness and disappointment and do it anyway, because it’s time.
I did not spend the summer boating on our lake, pausing often to rest on the waves and just hang out and read. In fact, what we did do was sell our boat right before the 4th of July holiday weekend… nothing I would have expected. As we often do, we got swept up in a spontaneous decision and let it go. It fell into the realm of several things this year: “If it’s more hassle than it’s worth, let it go.” The bi-annual maintenance, finding someone to help us launch and take out every year, finding someone to wrap it for the winter… and just not using it as often as we’d like, often feeling the burden of it looking up at us on a on a nice day, feeling like we “should” go out… that’s not the energy we are looking to hold onto. And so, we let it go. It was a surprise and a relief.
On our final spin around the lake, I cried, as I felt both the gratitude for having fulfilled this lifelong yearning of mine to own a ski boat and the longing to keep it, “just in case…,” and I let myself feel the sadness, the gratitude, the joy of that moment itself, and the relief of unburdening one more thing calling for our limited time and energy.
I didn’t bathe in grief all year long, I didn’t curl up into a ball and disappear, despite any number of reasons I could have. I did allow the grief to come (did I really have a choice?) and go as it did. I immersed in it and let it take me over. I worked with practices and practitioners to help me in moments of intensity. I wrote about it. I nurtured myself the best I could and I allowed others to support me. And I continue to meet these moments as gently as I can, accepting what is the best I can, bringing love and compassion with me.
Some other reflections to play with:
I surprised myself with
I learned ___ about myself
I let go of
I welcomed in
I returned to
Fresh perspectives I’ve gained or considered
I fell in love with
I was supported by
I discovered (or it discovered me)
How do I want to feel in 2023?
What do I want to breathe life into this year? (Ooohhh, thank you, Abby Wambach for that one! You can hear the We Can Do Hard Things podcast on this theme of reflection here)
Is there a word that might support me, at least for the first quarter? (I’m considering the possibility of having multiple words this year… not entirely sure yet, but I know they will make themselves known to me in time!)
All of this leads me to step into 2023 with
Your turn… Pause. Lovingly, gently, with compassion, look back on this past year. Feel into the coming year. What do you notice as you reflect on your year? What you didn’t and did do? What you’ve learned and how you’d like to move forward into 2023 a little more intentionally?