If ever asked this year will be touted as one of my best years yet. No it has not been lined with picture perfect pinch me moments, on the contrary it has been one in which I discovered heart in a place I would never have found on my own, laughed as much as I cried -- but laughed louder, and found my friend Faith every step of the way.
But truthfully there were times I honestly loathed certain experiences and ironically from those came my deepest discoveries. As doors closed and others opened I experienced life at another level: rich with growth and forgiveness, spoiled by all the reasons life afforded me to connect with the full reach of my voice.
We often wait until the last week of the year or the first week of the new to share the recap, but from where I stand every day is a chance to begin again in the new. With another year a short distance away and my birthday on the horizon, I recently sat back in silence to soak in what the months that have already filled the 2013 chapter revealed:
• I'm stronger and less fearful than I would have ever believed myself to be and trust me, so are you. When trouble hits and life demands that we go through the turbulence versus over the storm, we at times lose some people along the way and become so involved in being disappointed by who wasn't in our corner and who didn't step in to do what we thought they would-should- have, that resentment has us miss the message.
Our deepest fear is indeed letting go so that we may discover that we are more powerful than we ever knew. When any potential crutch is removed from around us to give our muscle of resilience a good workout, instead of being bitter in the process be thankful that through their departure a new level of your strength was revealed to you.
Your village of family and friends are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. When they're not, this allows for another layer of personal growth to take place. If you're reading this, you made it through that transient time of trouble, clearly. Don't delay its departure by hanging on to the residue of bitterness. Should it rare its ugly head, release it quickly with a gentle reminder that no one owes us anything, nor are they responsible for how we feel or if we make it in this world or not. Dependency at times can have us give too much power to others and too little responsibility to ourselves.
• Love Never Fails; to think that it has or possibly can is to use an end result we did not foresee to redefine something once so beautiful, to be less than it was. To give unconditionally, while maintaining boundaries is to balance the act of loving others while first loving ourselves. The equation balances and when we refuel the reservoir from where we serve others, the well stays full and healthy and able to feed the provider as well as those in need. To neglect one piece of the puzzle consistently is to deny ourselves the right to a healthy body, mind and soul. Then love appears to have failed us because it did not give us what we refused to give ourselves. It is timed perfectly, as it only appears when the student is ready to learn and from the teacher who is able to hold our attention. It leaves at times when the courses it brought to teach have been taught, and it is always steady while changing with the times. To demand that it stays longer than it should, is to hold our future hostage because it was not the way we wrote the story. But dear friend we were not the ones to write the lesson plan.
• When we constantly mourn "what has died" in our life, we eventually start breathing life into what has started to decompose which ultimately brings toxicity into our body. What has left, served its purpose and when being remembered serves us best, not as a moment to mourn but a time to give thanks for whatever it blessed us with. Celebrate all things in season. Nursing the story with an illusion of what was and what we thought would be only keeps us stuck. Letting go of our attachment to the hope buried in an idea that's not the reality may be one of our most challenging requirements but one of our most rewarding ones. Accept that the way things are, is exactly as they were meant to be. This brings with it the gift of great peace and puts us in alignment with promotion. Buckle up, this wasn't all for nothing.
• Prayer is the love story our hearts continue to write and I don't always speak those words easily but even when spoken with great hesitation, it rekindles my light, stills my thoughts and reassures me that joy indeed comes immediately or in the morning. When I need to find peace, I whisper darkness' name. Not so that I may understand their ways but so that light may begin to shine in their corner and they may feel and eventually see the rays. But I have come to know that a prayer said for another who angers me, is a prayer to heal my own self of what triggers the emotion, builds the wall and dims my own light. I stopped to think...Little does the thief who craves and takes what is not theirs in the dark know that it's the light they are actually chasing, and the depth of a moment they are not equipped to understand. They feel the void and stand all too familiar with loneliness as they scour the earth to fill the empty space. But darkness never wins. It may steal and it may turn your world upside down, but it will always be empty. Looking back, my favourite experiences were the ones that brought me to the edge of wrath, I looked over and saw the depth of hell and chose to stay on the side of light instead. You won't throw me over the dark side a Greater Source long determined. Darkness never wins.
• There is great danger in hinging forgiveness of ourselves on the acceptance from others no matter how dear they may be to you. It may never come. There is equally great danger in holding out before forgiving others, in hopes to 'punish' them for whatever they may have said or done. What if we set it all free? Gave up the need to know or understand or hear the reasons why or why not, and just rested in the reality? Whatever it is our minds have disguised as the essentials before moving forward has a tendency to keep us in a holding place. Forgiveness--true forgiveness, accelerates us on our course minus the weight of overweight baggage. Let Go. Surrender sets peace free from the hold that control had on it. It whispers: I do not know...I don't understand...but it always works out for me. When hasn't it?
• Our most patient friend is procrastination. It makes no demands. Soothes us during the times when we "just don't feel like doing ____", and it functions best in tomorrow. It expects nothing from us really and that by itself should scare us into action.
• Retail therapy from time to time can be a great pick me upper. Grabbing Haagen Dazs and indulging on a bad day might be what we need. Sleep overs and conference calls with friends sounds fun, but there may come a point in time when a seat on a professionals couch is needed. Of course the stigma associated with seeking professional help is so powerful we would rather mask our hurts, our fears, our secrets with the umbrella of "I'm okay" than explore facing it head on with the help of a professional if needed. We drag the bundle around with us as we deposit the potent residue in the lives of people we meet while our thinking stays in a circular motion made even cloudier by the opinions of others. There are no visible signs of progress and we hear how our idle thoughts, more often than not, relive the events bringing us deeper and deeper into the pit of where old wounds meet new ones. Life sometimes can be so overwhelming that processing it all on our own or in like company is not our best option. Next time you need a reminder that mental illness is real and help should be embraced and not shunned, turn on the news, read the paper, and look all around you. As tempting as it is to become immune to the new "normal", desire to function from a place of your best and most healthy self.
• Nothing speaks the truth more fluidly than our intuition. Often ignored, it constantly gives us the answers we seek, not always the answers we want. Regardless, it reconnects us time and time again with our best friend - ourselves, and even when we choose to cloud the reality it reveals, it keeps the message of wisdom on repeat until we can't help but listen. And sometimes we don't. But the persistence of intuition reminds us often, "I have your back, even when you yourself don't. I refuse to let you go blindly into unfavorable waters while I stand in silence and watch". It's always speaking, but are we listening?
• One of the most powerful statements spoken: "I believe you because I know you." I never knew the full power of those words until I was constantly cross-questioned on the seat of judgment and one of my best friends uttered those words as he stood up for my truth. Friends are earthly angels, appearing when you're neck deep in the quicksand of life and the tornado of public opinion. You only really need one, but I found I was blessed abundantly when it mattered most.
• Great power is gained from sitting in silence. If only for 15 minutes a day give yourself the gift of quiet time. Once upon a time I always believed there was never enough time in a day, and I functioned from that thought process. I now carve out 15 minutes to do nothing and watch how that little gift to myself allows so much more to be accomplished in even fewer hours.
• Course correction though never invited, is always welcome as I've never seen it lead me further astray.
• One of the greatest gifts to your soul: The truth doesn't only set you free it fuels you with great confidence to know that even when the stakes are at their highest, you choose to live with integrity. Nothing is more liberating than transparency. It may cost you a few friendships and relationships...if that's the case, they would have deserted you eventually anyway. They're not connected to who you really are but rather the facade of who they hoped you would be. If the closet of skeletons becomes ajar inviting you to add one more to the full space, reject the thought knowing that whatever is already in there will eventually demand that it be set free. Don't become a slave to your past. You're not defined by it. If you're tempted to make the seat of judgment home as you're scrutinizing the blunders of another, listen closely, your own skeletons are calling.