I’ve been reflecting on the blessings of my life this past year and my cup runneth over. And I found myself pondering this quote:
“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” -Zora Neale Hurston
Last year was a year that asked many questions – really great questions – of me. Questions such as: What kind of person do I want to be as I get older? How am I going to use all of the gifts that I have in a more impactful way? What risks can I take that I haven’t let myself take in the past? What do I want my life to mean to me and others? How can I live a more wholehearted life? How brave can I be?
The personal highlights I list below prompted me to ask these questions. I’m still steeping in them. I’ve decided to list only five highlights from the past year (in no particular order).
1. Becoming licensed – I’ve known that I wanted to be a therapist since I was six years old. It’s true. I’m not even sure that I really understood what a therapist was when I was six, but I knew that I was a good listener and that I’d be able to counsel. When I started this journey towards becoming a licensed therapist, I thought I would learn how to be a therapist and help others. I didn’t realize how much I would grow personally and how much I would heal while in school, and I most definitely didn’t realize how important and significant my personal healing would be for my career as a therapist. (More on this in a future post!) When I learned I passed my last test, well, that was a fantastic day.
2. Traveling to Italia – My husband and I spent a week in Florence and a week in Rome with another couple that are our dear friends. I can talk all day about how beautiful the country is and how much I miss being there. This was a significant trip for us for many reasons. It was one of the longer trips we’ve taken together, and we had a magical time. We both have parents who are immigrants to this country, in fact my husband’s not from the U.S., and we consider ourselves global citizens. I came back inspired to live life differently and more deliberately and listed some of my Italian photography for sale on Etsy. This delicious trip sparked a renewed commitment to travel with the realization that we had created more freedom in our lives to do this, and we’ve committed to visiting a new country every year. This takes planning, cooperating, and saving! Next on the list? The majestic land of New Zealand.
3. Moving to part-time – I’ve been working full-time since my daughter was born. When she turned 19 last year, I realized that I had been working full-time in order for us to survive: pay rent, buy food, pay bills, etc. Playing safe in order to take care of us both, which was necessary at the time for a young mother like me. I had been operating in survival mode for a long time. Now that she is an adult herself, working, driving and taking care of herself much more, I had the opportunity to expand into taking more risks if I wanted to with my career. In June, I quit my full-time job and starting working very part-time. This was a frightening transition, and I’m still in the process of learning to structure my time, but it’s been one of the best decisions of my life. Without the grind of a full-time commitment, I’ve been able to slow down and I actually have energy to enjoy going out and spending time with my friends. There’s more space in my life and in my head to sit in silence and wonder in amazement about what’s next for me. I love this. I love the space and have found that ideas and inspiration are coming forward that couldn’t before.
“Let go of promises you’ve outgrown.” -Danielle LaPorte
4. Volunteering for the Freedom to Choose Foundation – I’ve volunteered for the FTC workshops in the women’s prison in Chowchilla, CA, twice before 2013. But when I returned this past October, something was different – I was different. The work that’s being done with the workshop participants is nothing short of miraculous, but this time I allowed myself to open my heart much more. I allowed myself to be touched in an even deeper way by the courage of the women in prison to dive into their healing no matter how painful it was for them. In November, we brought the FTC workshop to a men’s prison for the first time. I expected the men to be harder to reach. I expected that the men would be too macho to cry or to be vulnerable and open up to strangers. I don’t think I could’ve been more off the mark. Their emotions were just under the surface and they were yearning for connection. A lot of healing crying happens during these workshops, and the men’s FTC was no different. I heard men say, “I’ve never been treated like a human being before you came here” with tears in their eyes. They were kind and respectful and desperately wanted to learn anything to help them be better people. They were making the best of their lot. The weekend was one of the most profound experiences of my life, and I’m eager to go back. It’s truly work of the heart. Mind = Blown!
5. Starting to write – I’ve never considered myself a writer before. I didn’t think I was good enough or that anyone would want to read what I had to write about. Starting to write this blog was a huge step in realizing more of who I am. Using my name for the URL and expressing myself to a wider audience was challenging at first. I tend to be more contemplative and quiet, and I’ve enjoyed stretching myself to communicate in a more public way. I’ve also had an idea for a novel rattling around in my head for several years. It’s about a topic that’s dear to my heart, and my husband (who’s a published author) finally sat me down and started coaching me through the process of starting to write my book. It’s slow work and sometimes painful, and I’m taking it quite literally word by word.
What will 2014 bring? I’m ready.
What were your top highlights from last year? I’m interested – share below.