The Art of Finding the Gifts & Lessons in 2015.

2015 hilights

I thought 2015 would end up being a sad, rather empty year.

It was the first year of our empty nest. It was the year of paying for two kids in college. It was the year a back injury took several months to heal.

Imagine my surprise when I looked back and found that 2015 was anything but sad and empty.

It was the year of many gifts and lessons.

A dear friend and I took our daughters to Siesta Key for their senior year spring break. We rented a house right on the beach where we barbequed, read and I did yoga on the gorgeous patio. We walked into town, ate delicious meals, swam in the ocean, walked on the beach.

We moved both of our girls up to school—one into an apartment, one into a dorm. They both finished with very good GPA’s, are in the same sorority and seem to be thriving which is the greatest gift of all as a parent.

We (and by we, I mean my awesome husband) turned one of the bedrooms into my yoga room. I have to admit, I was afraid that after all that work, I’d use it the first week then it would fall off my radar. Not the case at all. I am in there daily, if not more. I can’t express how grateful I am to have this space of my own to practice yoga, meditation and just stay connected with my energy, my thoughts, feelings… with my self.

I was gifted with a new circle of amazing women friends who share the same passions as me. One night our adventure ended up being going to yoga then to a bookstore. Yoga and books! Two of my favorite things! I knew that I had found my tribe. This has actually been a huge gift for me. It is hard to make true friendships when not in school or in an office or when the kids are grown. Truly grateful!

I never thought I’d put hurting my low back on a list of gifts from this year but it has been. I’ve learned and gained so much! I’ve learned to let go of perfection. The house can be clean enough. I can take longer to do tasks whereas before I’d just power through to get them done. I’ve become a better yoga teacher—more connected to my students as I watch them more carefully now, giving very specific cues. I’ve learned to ask for help—not an easy thing for me to do. I always have this fear of being seen as a burden. No longer. When your husband needs to help you pull up your pants, you pretty much get over that fear.

This year I rebirthed an old writing group. The three of us are a perfect fit and are committed to showing up once a month, committed to supporting and cheering each other on. This was another thing on my list of intentions and here it is, in reality. So grateful.

This is the year I made some serious progress on my YA novel. In this last month, I’ve recommitted to my blog, to posting regularly and I am connecting new people, which I love!

This is the year I really came into my own as a yoga teacher. I still have much to learn and much that I want to learn but I feel a confidence and connection that I hadn’t before. I love my students. I love that I can have even the smallest, briefest impact on their day. I love when they connect with a quote or poem I read. I love when a theme speaks to them. I love when they leave a class feeling better than when they arrived—more present, more open, more grounded, softer, stronger—whatever it is. It is an honor to teach and share this path with my students, fellow teachers and peers.

This is the year that I took some tiny steps toward loving my body as it is. Not if I lose 5, 10 or 20 pounds. But right now, as it is in all its glorious and beautiful imperfections. When I look back on my life do I want to see all the things I didn’t do or wear or eat just because I was afraid of how I looked? Uh, there answer is hell no.

I also took tiny steps in the direction of letting go of expectations. How people behave is a reflection of them, not me. However, how I respond is a reflection of me, and the kind of person I want to be. That I can control. The other…not so much.

This is the year that I learned that my husband and I are not only still deeply in love but, more importantly, we really like each other. The first empty nest year can be tricky. Once the distraction of kids and all of their logistics is gone, it’s just the two of you. We found that we enjoy just the two of us. We have time to pursue our own interests and time for each other. Win/win!

Maybe it’s all in my perception. Maybe I’m looking at the past year with rose-colored glasses. Because, yeah, there have been some sad, hard, crappy parts. But, if I can put it all in perspective and find the good in it, find the lessons in it all, grow from it all (even a little bit) then I’ll take it. I’ll take it all.

How about you? What was your 2015 like? I’d love to hear!

 

Wednesday Writing Prompt.

Woman falling

Image found via Pinterest.

Remember playing those trust games?

Trusting the person or group to catch you as you fell backwards? I remember trying to learn how to do a backwards dive into the pool and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Nothing bad would happen. I’d fall in some water. That’s it. But still. I didn’t allow myself do fall backward. I didn’t trust that I’d be okay.

I love this image. Arms spread wide, blissful face, utter trust in what she is falling into. Falling toward.

We are all about to fall into a new year. How are you doing it? Eyes squeezed tight, fists clenched, not trusting what lies before you? Unwilling to let go of what lies behind you?

I want to fall into 2016 like this woman. On the edge of a huge precipice, bare feet, heart shining, soul bared—trusting, believing, welcoming exactly what waits for me.

Trusting that I’ll be carried by the winds of my own wings into the person I am meant to be.

Shades of Blue

 

Photo: Rose Mendoza via Flickr

Photo: Rose Mendoza via Flickr

I cried three times yesterday.

Yes. Three.

It was one of those days and I am learning to honor them.

The first tears came during yoga. I stayed for three classes. They came during a particularly challenging prana vinyasa. I felt them heating up behind my eyes and just breathed into it. Then they let loose (along with whatever samskara I hap tapped into) while I was in Urdhva Dhanurasana as my amazing teacher adjusted me, holding my shoulders, holding space as my heart spilled open.

The second round came when I realized that both of my girls were leaving for the day to go do fun teenage sister stuff. Which is great. Really. I love that they are so close. I love that they want to spend everyday together before Katie leaves for school in August. But my husband has been out of town for awhile, the girls have been busy with, you know, their lives and stuff and I’ve been home alone.

Some days I am alone and I am just alone. Other times I am alone and I am lonely.

Yesterday I was lonely.

It reminded me of when I was in college, before I had a roommate. We lived in apartments, mixed in with non-students so there wasn’t a dorm feeling at all. No easy way to meet people. I remember positioning myself on the couch in front of the window because I could see into the apartment diagonal from mine that housed some students so I hoped they could see into mine, see me alone in mine, take pity on me and invite me over.

That didn’t happen.

What did happen is that my girls and my “third” daughter came home from their fun sister day and invited me to a game night. WE sat around the dining room table playing Taboo, Bananagrams and Catch Phrase, laughing, talking and I remembered to just breathe it all in, enjoying, savoring every moment.

In Hatha this morning, the theme was “transitions.” That is what I am in the middle of. A huge life transition. Life is full of them, right? At least this is one that I am being eased into instead of forced into. At least I got an extra two years with Katie while she lived at home and took her general credit classes at the local community college. At least my girls and I sincerely like each other and enjoy spemnding time together. At least all those things.

But sometimes, like yesterday, the hole their absence will leave in my daily life almost takes my breath away.

That’s when I have to remember to breathe.

After all, I don’t want to be yanked kicking and screaming through this transition. I also don’t want to set up camp just outside the threshhold of this transition, stagnant and stuck.

I want to move mindfully, perhaps even gracefully through it, into whatever is waiting for me on the other side. Being with these tears, these feelings is part of that process.

The third set of tears came as we held our last mentor meeting online. There was a certain bittersweet quality to the meeting as we realized this particular way of connecting with each week was coming to an end, just as our time as apprentices was coming to a close. We wrote together once last time and everything I had been feeling all day got churned up by the prompt and was splilled out into more tears and a poem:

Blue

So many shades of blue

drizzling behind my eyes,

behind my skin.

Porcelain blue teacups of tears spilling

from my heart

as my girls have one foot out the door

ready to leave.

The loneliness is immense at times and

they haven’t even left yet.

But it’s coming.

In a blink it has come, this time of letting them go.

Wasn’t I just holding them in the soft glow of the nightlight,

gently rocking in the glider as if we were still one?

So, loneliness seeps in on days like today.

But also joy.

Vibrant peacock blue joy

that they are ready.

That they are ready to leave and

shine their own colors into the world,

spilling the rainbows of their awesome selves

out into the lives

they are meant to live.

 

The Art of Letting Go

I recently burned twenty plus years worth of old notebooks and journals.

photo-12

Wow. Did I really write that? Did I really do that?

Yes to both. It seems almost a sacrilegious confession for a writer to make. How could I destroy all those pages? All those words? All that energy?

All that energy. There it was. That was why. All those pages stacked in my closet, oozing all these tedious, negative, judgmental thoughts. As a writer, I believe words have power. So why was I keeping all those words where I beat myself up, judged myself, berated myself? I used to think that maybe, someday, if I became a “famous writer”, those notebooks might be of interest to somebody. Then I realized that I never wanted anybody to read them. Hell, I didn’t even read them. Ever. So back to the original question, why was I keeping them? Attachment? To what? My past. Who I used to be.

photo-13Letting go of anything is hard. A piece of clothing. Books. Beliefs. Habits. A grudge. Letting go of all those pieces of me- that would be really hard, right? It wasn’t. But it wasn’t easy either. I’d watch a page turn brown around the edges, the exact color of a perfectly roasted marshmallow, then black before the flames flared turning it to ash. I’d be reading some of the words as they burned and part of me would think, “Wait! Stop! Not that page. Not that sentence.” Then I’d sit back and watch it disappear and this feeling of calm settled over me. A lightness of Spirit. A faith that more words would come. Trust that I was not the same person now who wrote those words five, ten, twenty years ago.

It took me two afternoons to finish the job. One of the best lessons from the experience came from the actual logistics of burning the pages. Just when I thought the fire was out, the pile of papers stagnant, all I had to do was stoke it, poke it, rustle it a bit and every time, every single time, the flames burst back to life. Just like any creative endeavor. No matter how stuck I get, how stagnant a project seems,  all I need to do is stoke it with some fresh movement, fresh air to breathe life back into it.

Once I was done, I smudged my writing space and especially the closet where the notebooks had lived for so long, giving thanks, letting go of what no longer serves me, inviting in what serves me now. While a part of me is sad at losing those pieces of me, mostly I am liberated. I feel I have opened up all this new space in and around me, space for new words, new work, new stories, new habits. In releasing the echoes of who I used to be, I welcome who I am now, in this moment and look forward to who I will be in the next moment, next week, next year and decades to come.