Friday, June 9, 2017

Reflections on My Last Trip Around the Sun

Each night at dinner, my children and I share the day's highs, lows, and the things for which we are grateful.  It's something I started with them several years ago, and I've loved watching how it's organically evolved... sometimes into hilarious conversations, sometimes into much deeper ones, but always providing each of us with greater insight into one another.

On the eve of my 48th birthday, I find myself reflecting on the past year's highest highs, lowest lows, the many lessons learned, and my utter awe and complete appreciation of the universe's mysterious ways of presenting us with our life's curricula.

As a traveler on the path towards mindfulness, I'm keenly aware that part of my work is to respond to challenge, discomfort and struggle with wisdom and intuition, rather than with raw emotion.  Well now.  Thank you, universe, for providing me with plenty of practice in this year of knee buckling, back breaking moments.  Truly.  For each one of those moments, and the overarching picture,  reinforced lessons long ago learned on my mat and carried out into the world, where the real work of yoga takes place.  Moreover, those moments were juxtaposed with incredibly joyous, beautiful ones, and I'm reminded that it is through the darkness that we both see and seek the light, while cultivating a greater appreciation for it.

The events of this year also served as a reminder that to surrender is to recognize that things, beyond our control, do happen, and no matter how much we want to fight against them or maybe even deny them, we cannot change that fact.  However, we are able to ask ourselves what we can do to change our circumstances and shift our perspectives to allow these things to happen for us, rather than to us.  Ultimately, it isn't the events themselves that are so difficult to handle; it's the stories that we tell ourselves about them that can rock our worlds.

So, without further ado, I give you these reminders from my 48th trip around the sun...

1.  Trust.Your.Gut.  Always.  Every.Single.Time.  There is real research that indicates our intuitive intelligence is even more reliable than our analytic intellect.  Seriously?  People actually studied that?  I could have saved them a lot time and effort, because when did you ever say "Oh, I absolutely never should have trusted my intuition!!"?  #notonceever

2.  We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for... and often, we don't even know how strong we are until we are clawing our way out of a painful situation.  The human spirit is indeed, as C.C. Scott suggested, stronger than anything that can happen to it.

3.  There is suffering.  There is a way through suffering.  There is an end to suffering.  Rinse and repeat.

4.  One of the greatest mantras of all time is just two words:  Begin Again.

5.  In related news... you CAN, indeed, go back again.  For a long time, I was a believer that once you closed the door on something, anything, you should never go back through it.  I was wrong.  You can go back again, but you must go back on your own terms, in your own time, and only if you know you can not only walk through the door with an open mind, but also with an open heart, and maybe even twirling a little bit as you make your way through it.  The truth is that without the gut wrenching events of the past year, I would have remained tightly closed and could possibly have missed out on going back again to some of the things I love the most and from which I'd drifted away.

6.  Embrace your humanity.  We all make mistakes, are perfectly imperfect, and fabulously flawed.  I had my greatest moment of clarity when a trusted friend reached across a table, held my hands tightly, looked me in the eyes as I cried to her about what I perceived as a colossal failure on my part, and said, simply,  "you are human."  From that moment forward, speaking my truth and facing my reality was infinitely easier.

7.  It is said that a sense of belonging... the connections we make with others... being a part of a community... having close friends... are amongst the key elements of happiness.  I'm incredibly blessed to be a part of a circle of women who embody unconditional love, compassion, and support.  I'm not sure I'll ever find words that adequately express my gratitude for these beautiful souls, but I sure will spend a lifetime reminding them of how important they are to everyone whose hearts they touch.

8.  Christopher McCandless said that "happiness is only real when it's shared".  I've been able to share many amazing experiences this year with people who lift each other up, laugh often and love fiercely.

9.  The more comfortable you become with the discomfort of courageous conversations, the more liberated you feel.

10.  It is only through a tremendous amount of heat and pressure that a lump of coal becomes a diamond.  When we can approach life with a growth mindset, we, too,  can do exceptionally well under great stress,  and, as a result, increase our clarity, brilliance, sparkle and shine.

As my next trip around the sun begins, I find myself awestruck by where the twists and turns of life have taken me in the span of a year.  Although I had to travel through pain and fear to get there, in many ways the road has taken me back to to a place that, at once, feels familiar, safe, comfortable, new, edgy, exciting and exhilarating.  Mostly, though, it feels like home.

And so, my 48 year old self, I say to you... welcome home.