One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Zora Neal Huston, who writes in Their Eyes Were Watching God, "There are years that ask questions and years that answer." For me, 2013 was a year of asking questions to discern what I "should" do from what felt right. Should I stay in Des Moines? Could I make friends and find community here? Would my relationships continue to grow and deepen? Who should I hang onto, and who did I need to let go of? How much did I miss Chicago? Was I pursuing the right career? What sorts of challenges should I take on? And so on.
I'm a Gemini (yes, I believe in astrology), so I continually bounced back and forth. I thought I knew something, and then I didn't. I made a decision, and then I changed my mind. As Shauna Niequist puts it, "I felt like I woke up a different person every day, and was constantly confused about which one, if any, was the real me." It was like I saw countless versions of my life playing out in my head, and my heart couldn't figure out which way to turn. I found myself super future-oriented on a daily basis, full of fear and worry about which choice would lead me down which road. It was painful and exhausting.
Then . . . I stopped trying so hard to "figure it all out." I said to myself one day, you can't predict what's to come, so start enjoying what's here now and who you are today. I shut out all the woulda, coulda, shoulda's in my life, and ignored the voices from others or inside myself that said my life had to look a certain way and that I had to be a certain kind of person. I still had to make decisions -- I couldn't always float along in the present moments of la-la land -- and sometimes it hurt. Sometimes I messed up and ignored my integrity. Sometimes I fell down and wanted to hide in a corner. But I still got back up, either literally or figuratively, and gave myself a fresh blank slate to try again.
As a result, I found new, unexpectedly dear friendships with incredible neighbors (who were always up for a drink or an outing or a pool day), fellow yogis (who showed me lightness and joy and determination), and passionate individuals (who taught me about art and changing the world or shared my love for fashion and wine and sushi).
I discovered an appreciation for the question, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" (Seriously, that is simultaneously the worst question ever, and the most enlightening to answer for yourself.)
I learned to take on new challenges in a career while staying true to myself, my personality and my interests.
I wrote my first freelance article.
I invested in this community by getting involved as much as possible. I became part of a team that strives to bring more young professionals to the Art Center (because it's awesome). I babysat little kids while their new mamas learned how to be even better mamas amid the struggles and responsibilities of young parenthood. I read to elementary school children, and let them read to me in their beautiful, hesitant new-reader ways.
I completed yoga teacher training, and found a lot of internal peace as well as an overall commitment to health in the process.
I traveled often to nourish my friendships. I spent a week in Charleston visiting my very best friend on the planet. I enjoyed a rainy week in Florida with my family on our annual trip. I went to Chicago often, to see beloved friends and important confidantes. I visited my sisters, to see one's new apartment and watch another cheer at a high school Homecoming game.
I committed to love.
I read at least 16 books (since August, anyway).
I accepted that some of my relationships had changed. I moved on from the connections that no longer served me or ones that I could no longer give 100% to, and I tried to make peace with those realities.
I started this blog, wrote 45 posts and had 1,700 views in five months.
2013 was one hell of a year. As you toast to 2014 later tonight, take a moment to be grateful for all that 2013 brought you, for better or for worse. I know I'll be clanking a glass of red wine with my sister, celebrating the fact that I am alive with family and friends to love, good health and a faithful heart that's open to possibility.