Looking through all the Day One Reverb posts, I came up with a set of prompts I’m going to answer in this post. This has been such an interesting process already–reflecting and making lists and answering questions, considering where I’ve been, contemplating what might happen next. Ever since I turned 45, only a few weeks ago, I’ve had this lingering sense of curiosity and contentment.
Where did you start the year, 2012?
Here’s one place where my blog and journals come in really handy. I can look up the date, December 1st, and see just what I said, know what I was thinking. My blog post from a year ago was titled, Being Clear, Being Open, Saving Myself and Saving the World, and in it I said, “For me, giving in to my impulse, my aspiration to create, to discover and share what truth is for me, is the only way I know to save myself, and maybe help save the world.”
It was really interesting to see how even a year ago, I was struggling with having enough time to do everything I wanted, my paid work and my heart’s work, my living and my loving. I still struggle with the same, but I have much more clarity about what I want, about what living an authentic life, being healthy and whole looks like.
The first line of my morning pages from that same day was, “2011 is almost over.” I went on, after some complaints about an ongoing family struggle, to say “Compassionate visionaries have to exist,” (imagining myself as one), and to explain why:
We have to see what is possible, inspire, move people who will change the world… Art may not save the world, but artists who are alive and following the path of art might just save it, or at least have a small part in it… Art might not save the world, but it can soothe it, inspire it, open its heart, and it most certainly will save the artist.
Did I try anything new in 2012?
It’s pretty simple really, I showed up. I kept my heart open. I did things that I normally would have been too afraid to do because of a lack of confidence, because I was embarrassed or ashamed or felt unworthy or didn’t think I could do it perfectly, (and doing things perfectly used to be really, really important to me). In 2012, I risked failure, I took a chance that I might look foolish or make a mistake, that people might not like me. I trusted and loved myself anyway, most of the time. I tried.
Where, how am I starting 2013?
Confident, in the way that the brilliant Susan Piver describes it, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”
As I am. Just me, right where I am and as I am, reality and love embodied.
Open-hearted. Life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible. There is also basic goodness, an innate wisdom, kindness, and wakefulness, everything is workable. Knowing this, I am going to show up with an open heart, no matter how hard it is, and no matter how much it might hurt.
What was last year’s word? How did it play out?
When I initially picked this word, I imagined it would mean rest, balance, practice, and transformation. I thought I would be removed from the irritation and distraction of life, that I would be away and protected, that I would experience ease and peace. This is how I envisioned the year, and holy wow was I wrong.
Yes there was practice, intense process and devotion that left me broken open, raw, exhausted, and sometimes completely confused and afraid. I encountered strong emotions, intense realizations, and deep struggle. I committed myself, studied with many teachers, read wise and sacred texts, extended concentrated effort and attention.
There was also transformation. I am not the same, and yet I am more myself. I know who I am, and I honor that as often and as ardently as I am able. I am done with denying, hiding, feeling ashamed of this brilliant mess that is me. I realize that the only thing I have to offer, my only power is my essential nature.
Balance and rest, not so much. After all the retreats I’ve done, how wrecked I always feel after, I’m not sure how I forgot that this was the nature of retreat, that in choosing that as my word, my theme for the year, this was what I was inviting.
What is this year’s word?
I was so sure I knew what this year’s word would be: simplicity. I’ve been thinking and writing about it for weeks, was so certain. It seemed so right, so perfect, just what I needed for the coming year.
But then something magic happened as I was working on this post. I was making the above image, a picture I took from my front porch on Thanksgiving morning, where the crow flying across the sky was a happy accident. I added the word “simplicity” and it just didn’t look right. Font after font, different colors and sizes and weights and placement, and it still looked off, wrong somehow.
I started considering the qualities of the word. Freedom and ease came immediately to mind. Freedom. Hmmm. There was something about that, so I tried it with the image: perfect. That’s my word. Freedom: simplicity, space, ease, surrender, clarity. “The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; liberty, independence; the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved; being physically unrestricted and able to move easily; self-determination, open, opportunity, play, joy.” I like how that sounds. No, actually I love how that sounds.