"Anything can happen in a year. Broken down, shattered things can be repaired in a year. Hope can grow in a year, after a few seasons of lying dormant. I didn't like who I was or how I was living a year ago, but I didn't know any other way to do it. I recognize the face that stares back at me in the mirror these days. When I look into my own eyes, I recognize a person I thought was lost, and I feel whole, for the first time in years."
I first read these lines from Shauna Niequist's Bittersweet several years ago, when I lived in Chicago and my whole life felt a mess most days, as it can so often do in your early twenties. I read it now, and the meaning rings truer than ever, in a most powerful way.
Last year I didn't make any resolutions, and I didn't write down a whole big list of things I wanted to be different or better about myself. But I knew that I needed to be braver in order to move in the direction of the life I wanted to live and the person I wanted to be.
I used to misinterpret bravery, even though I didn't realize it at the time. I was foolhardy: I made decisions on a whim, regardless of consequence, in order to try to feel powerful. I was resolute in my opinions and actions, unwavering in my ideals and expectations, bound to the sensation of being right and being in control. Most of all, I was reckless: careless with other people's hearts, too arrogant to see my own role in negative situations, and hasty with assumptions for each passing moment.
So in 2015, I wanted to be more mindful about changing some of these habits and patterns which were primarily rooted in fear of not being enough for myself or someone else, of not getting what I wanted deep-down, of success and commitment and love and growth. I also wanted to listen -- really listen -- to my gut more often in terms of saying yes and no to things and people. I wanted to tell the truth, my truth, even when it was hard. I wanted to become acquainted with my integrity again. I wanted to take some chances and give myself room to fail and trust the process of my life as it unfolded -- instead of always getting rooted in the past and obsessed with the future.
Nothing changed overnight. Some of this work was massively painful and slow. I still get stuck in the trenches of myself. But I look back, and I can see the ways in which I was able to flourish with a bit of courage despite major fear, and because of that, I found a sense of peace that had eluded me for quite some time.
I said yes to adventures. I went sailing through the Virgin and British Islands for 10 days on a catamaran. I flew to LA for a long weekend by myself to visit a friend, just because I wanted to and I could. I visited Charleston: once for a bachelorette beach weekend surrounded by my dearest friends, a second time to be present for my now-mama-of-twin-boys bestie. I honored our family tradition of going to the same little island in Florida, where we created more memories together. I traveled to Raleigh to see two good friends who recently moved their lives down there, and I went to Utah to run 18 miles in the mountains and desert with my sister.
I taught more than 300 yoga classes, including my first big community outdoor class to 75+ students. I got trained to teach little kiddos yoga. I launched Pop Up DSM with Emily, and learned about a million lessons regarding community work, yoga, leadership, and initiative.
I wrote, a lot, for myself. I journaled and I blogged sometimes and I developed essays and I applied for writing internships and I submitted stories to online publications and I came up with 40,000 words toward an idea for a novel. I practiced writing, because I had forgotten the pleasure of writing out of necessity for my soul.
I received a promotion at work, one that felt deserved and exciting.
I learned what it's like to stop drinking on a regular basis, and I didn't mind it.
I practiced yoga almost every day.
I read 50 books and a million things online.
I married the kindest, smartest, sweetest, most loving and loyal and encouraging man I've ever met on the hottest day of September, and I felt an inordinate amount of peace and joy and privilege to do so.
I spent half the year pregnant. Expecting a baby was the absolute furthest thing from my mind a year ago, even though it now feels so timely and inevitable and right. I've never been so thrilled and terrified all at the same time. I've never been so proud of my body, so grateful for my partner, or so anxious to meet a baby in a couple of weeks.
I know that 2016 will be full of change, and consequently, all I aim to do is nurture myself through it. Through the new lens of parenting and motherhood. Through a new chapter of marriage and partnership. Through time away from my normal dedication to work, teaching yoga, exercise, routine. Through the uncertainty of bringing a child into the world. Through the practicality and physicality of literally nourishing our kid from birth onward.
It won't be a year of travel. It won't be a year of professional growth. It won't be a year of flat stomachs, restful sleep, toned thighs, leisurely meals, quiet evenings of television, hours upon hours of reading and writing. It won't be a year of service projects and ideas and community efforts.
And that's okay. It'll be the year I nourish and nurture myself and the people I love, including a brand new family member. It'll be a year of settling into the life I've built thus far.
When I checked out my horoscope this week (via Lenny Letter, of course), it said:
Whatever you have lost in the past year (or think you have lost) has opened up a space for a new chapter in your life to begin right now. Maybe you’re like, “I don’t want a new chapter.” Maybe you’re like, “Things were fine as they were.” It does suck that we don’t get to choose sometimes when a new chapter starts, but it’s happening, I’m confirming that for you. Now you get to choose whether you will ride with it and experience all the goodness it has to offer (and there is always goodness) or resist it and let the goodness fall unfelt.
So much newness and goodness is ahead, friends, and I look forward to highs and lows and adventure of it all.