This time last year, I was driving up an exceptionally precarious mountain track in New Zealand with a beautifully Grace-ful friend of mine, heading to a New Year's Kirtan at a yoga ashram. It was a profound experience. After four hours of continuous Kirtan, we chanted 1008 (yes, one THOUSAND and eight) repetitions of Om Swaha as the turn of the year approached. It felt like that end scene in Avatar where they are around the tree all chanting together as the human guy merges with his Avatar body. The energy was so potent. At points I had no idea what I was saying as the words just become sound and vibration. By the end everyone was breathing in unison around the fire of the Havan and the power of community was so tangible it was like no-one wanted to break the spell of love and magic that had descended on the place. I knew one person in that space, yet felt so connected and a part of, purely through sharing in making some noise in time with them. It is something I won't ever forget.
This year, I will be seeing in the New Year in a much quieter way, but maybe just as powerful. I will be spending it with two people who have had a tough run of it this year. Life has been challenging, and I am grateful to be able to be with them, and that they are both still here. It will still be community. It will be the power of keeping it local, within the 3ft of influence as a Catholic minister at a Women's Health seminar once told me about. We can only ever really affect the 3ft around us, so that's where our attention and focus has power; here, now.
This year has been intense. From the outside, it would look like I have experienced a whole heap of loss this year. There has been illness, death, financial loss, the loss of dreams and projects, the loss of knowing where I am going or what is happening. There has been huge change in close relationships in my life. There has been so much, and all of it has been out of my control. I am not God. I can't stitch brains back together, or mend hearts, or bring people back from the dead. Life has felt relentless. I would probably be within my rights to have a pretty impressive breakdown right now and no-one would be surprised or question it. At times, I have very much felt like I deserve to breakdown as well, and believe me, there have been many cracks as life has battered me with it's waves this year. But as I sat today and thought about All The Stuff that has happened, I was reminded I have choice. I can choose what to focus on. Yes, I could get really sad and woe-is-me, and that would be totally OK. I am definitely not diminishing or avoiding the grief I have experienced and am still experiencing, but what I saw was that in amongst all this, I have also gained so much. Every action, has a reaction etc...
I lost a version of someone that I have known for 34 years and will never get back, however for the first time, I have the opportunity to have an emotional relationship with them, and a depth of connection that has never been available before.
I lost a project and a tonne of money, but I gained yet more trust in God and the flow of the Universe. I know that I prioritised the right things, and through past experience, knew I need not fear. If that door closed, another better one is waiting excitedly to be opened.
I lost someone to the further realms, but in amongst it I gained an experience of how Death does not always come as trauma, sometimes She comes as grace, connection and love. Death descended on the house and everyone who came and went during those final few days felt the peace She brought with her. I gained time and connection with members of my family which was lovely. My grandmother always wanted that more than anything else; for the family to be united, and so I hope she is smiling down and we can honour her in a way we maybe didn't do so well when she was here, mostly through circumstance and the different directions we all went.
I lost the knowing of where I was headed and was thrown right back into living in the day. Luckily I am kinda used to that having been winging it for a very long time with no real idea of what I am doing. ;) I gained the knowing of not needing to know. I gained the capacity to say I don't know and for it to be OK to not know, and to not have the answers, and to not really want or need to know them either. I gained the glorious anticipation of the Great Mystery once more, not knowing what God is going to come up with next, or where She is going to take me.
I fell in love this year in a way I haven't known. I gained someone who accepts and encourages me. I gained someone who does not judge me for being human. I gained an opportunity to experience loving and being loved, which I hope lasts for a very long time.
I gained moments of laughter in amongst the hurting. I gained the knowing of how loved and supported I am. I gained the value of community. I gained the experience of practising the principles I have been taught and Showing Up. I gained the acceptance that I do not, and cannot do it all. I gained the knowing that my tribe do not go anywhere if I don't reply to a message instantly, or get back to them for months. I gained the experience of how blessed I am with love and connection in my life.
This year has felt like a rollercoaster of being human. I am pretty well acquainted with flying out in the ether, but this year was very much about being earthbound and on the front lines of Real Life. And you know what? It was OK. It was terrifying, and hurt like heaven, and I cried with sorrow, and with exhaustion, and with joy, and with gratitude, and I wanted to punch things, and I wanted things to be different, and I smoked a lot of cigarettes, and I neglected some of the things that are good for me, and I didn't want to speak to God, or anyone, at times, and I embraced the people close to me, and I said I love you a LOT because it matters and I want people to know, and I saw murmurations of birds, and I saw sunsets, and I naked skinny dipped in the English sea (yes, it was cold), and I sat out under the stars, and I did moon rituals, and I ran workshops, and I treated phenomenal clients who taught me so much, and I talked to people, and I drew, and I didn't write much, and I breathed. I kept breathing. In, Out, Slow, Deep. And sometimes my head felt like it was going to implode, and sometimes I cried so much I didn't know if it was ever going to stop, and I had panic attacks, and body freaks, and a lot of hugs, and into-me-see/intimacy, and I binge watched TV shows, and I sat and stared into space, and I slept way too late, and stayed up way too long, and I sat in hospitals, and I sat on beaches, and under trees, and I listened to a shit tonne of Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cook, sometimes followed immediately by Slipknot, and sometimes even music felt like too much. This year I lived. I guess that's the point isn't it? I could classify this year as bad, or good, depending on my choice of focus, or I could just sit back and say fuck me, I did life this year. And it was OK. It was amazing, and awful, and beautiful, and ugly, and all the things in-between, but it was always, always OK.
And for me, that IS God. God isn't some far off dude on a cloud condemning me for who I love or how I live. God is a state of being. God is the thread of OK-ness that runs in and with and through everything, everyone, always in all ways. God just IS. This year was not about contemplation, but it was about being. And being wasn't always how I wanted it to be, but it was how it was. And it is how it is. And really, that's all there ever is, or will be.
So bring it on 2019. Let's see what you got...