This time of year often evokes moments of contemplation as I enter into my next trip around the sun. Reflection on the last 365 days that I was given, the good and the not so good. For me this last year held a lot of change in its grasp. The girl that stood in front of the Christmas tree last year feels a million miles away replaced with another version, a girl curious to the changes that have occurred, saddened by loss and also hopeful for another journey into the unknown. A dichotomy between grief and joy forever tangled so intricately together.
This last year there were times that were excruciating and times that were joyous, as most years encompass. I have to say I sure did learn a lot through the year which is worth pages and pages of my heart. But, instead, I will start softly with a reflection on things that I learned and follow with a reflection on some gentle reminders of things I already knew. So here goes in hopes that perhaps my words can help someone else, or at the very least, satisfy my endless desire for connection with others.
This last year I learned how to love someone with a kind of fierce determination to be purposeful in my intentions that I don’t think I have experienced in the past. I found a man that captured my heart and I decided that intentionality could and must be the key to success. Through this exploration and commitment, I learned that I can love again with deep, savoring satisfaction and for this remembrance I am forever grateful. And, of course, as life has a way of working it’s course, I unfortunately was reminded how to let go when I needed to. I learned that while intentionality is brave, it is not always enough when you are dealing with hearts and humans that are full of pasts and tramas and thoughts and expressions that differ from our own… love can be very complicated. Through the joy and eventually heartache,I realized once again, I am not the controller of all situations as much as I would like to be. There were gentle reminders that letting go is one of the hardest lessons we all inevitably have to learn during our time in this life. The impermanence of it all relently reminds us that even when we decide what we want, it doesn’t always mean it is ours to keep and we can make the hard decisions it takes to let things go if it is needed.
This last year I learned how beautiful it is to have children you adore more than anything and to see the world through their eyes- that view is priceless. I learned that self care will keep you from burnout and self love is everything. I learned that we all have to put our own life masks on before we can truly show up for others, if we don’t we will inevitably and inadvertently hurt those that are the closest around us.
This last year I learned how important the virtue of patience truly is. Sweet, tender, life changing patience. I learned that experiencing it within my body as well as receiving it from those I spend my time with is very important to me. We all know life can be really, really stressful. For me, working on maintaining patience within myself and just as importantly receiving it from those I spend my time with, is a non negotiable. Patience brings a sort of sanity when life feels out of control and I realized just how truly priceless that harmony is in my life.
Through all of these lessons I was also given gentle reminders and nudges of sentiments I already knew- gentle whispers reminding me of my inner truth.
This last year I was reminded that if you stay open to endless possibilities that the world puts in front of you, in every moment, someone or something can show up when you least expect it and change your course. A gentle reminder that the act of continuing to attempt to stay present rather than reaching towards the past or looking at the future, will get you everything you have ever dreamt of. Mindfulness is the ever present (not so secret) act to experiencing joy.
I was reminded that material items will never make me happy no matter how much I have. I was reminded that when I fail I am really hard on myself- the need I have to feel in control is a battle that I will continue to fight and something I am committed to loosening my grip on. I was reminded that even if I have to let go and it hurts and it’s scary and it breaks my heart, I will never stop jumping all in. I was reminded that the sweet, soul quenching act of vulnerability is something I need to feel both within myself and from those that are closest to me- it is the closest that I have ever felt to eternal connection.
I was reminded that happiness and silliness and pure bliss are just the opposite of grieving…and we can’t really have one without the other. For me, this understanding has helped satisfy the lamenting that inevitably occurs when things don’t work out. When I start to ponder and worry on how things could have been different or why things happened the way they did… I remember that with happiness there is inevitably pain and with pain, it is essentially the other side of happiness. The perpetual flow of life gently rocking me back and forth between the two sides, it is up to me how I experience the ride.
Lastly, and potentially most importantly, this last year I remembered what it was like to be there for my inner child. To show up and not give up. To choose myself and that little girl inside of me when she needed me most. The freedom in that sentiment alone eventually sunk into every essence of my being and I found peace when there were storms and security within the grasps of uncertainty.
When times got tough, I literally spoke to that shy, 7 year old Melissa inside of me and reminded her that through every moment, good or bad, she is not alone and she is safe. Every excruciating moment, or wonderful moment, or awe-inspiring moment, or devastating moment…no matter what, she is protected and can feel it all without apprehension or intimidation. She will never be alone on this journey and it is her very essence that always is and always was and always will be. She is free to be present, to live wildly and without reservation, even through the risks because I am there to walk along that path with her. She is free to love diligently if she wants and to also cry hard and weep when it hurts. She is free to do it all or do nothing at all, both in equal measure. She is free to be brave or scared, both are ok. In the end, I am with her, I am taking care of her every move, and I will, no matter what, show up.
So cheers to the 42nd year of my life. To the love and connection I shared with every single person within the last 365 days, that for me is everything.