“Describe your year in one word.”
Expansive in experiences, in relationships and in thought. Expanding in every direction imaginable, and a few not imagined.
It’s been a transitional year. One kid off at college in Arizona and another entering into high school. Neither needing their mom so much in a day-to-day, hands-on caring sort of way. Both most definitely still needing their mom in other, less clearly defined ways. But at the end of the day, the landscape of my days has changed pretty significantly from even just a few years ago. I have a lot more discretionary time.
I look at every transition as an opportunity to either expand or contract. Contracting conjures up an image of fear, perhaps taking protective measures, of drawing within. Saying no. Contracting is something I know well. It tends to be my first impulse.
This was a year of saying yes. Hell yes, even!
Saying yes didn’t come easily. It usually doesn’t for me. Looking retrospectively at my year, however, I realized that I have zero regrets about anything I said yes to. None. Zilch. Nada.
This year I expanded and said yes to relationships. The friendships I already had were deepened. Meaningful conversations shared equal time with deep, deep belly laughs. I said yes to spending time with the people I love, even when my natural instinct was to stay safe at home in my pajamas. I said yes even when my conservative financial side asked if I could afford it. What I discovered along the way was what I really couldn’t afford was continuing to say no.
I said yes to re-discovering old connections. Relationships that had formed their roots decades prior but managed to shoot off in opposite directions, as life frequently does. Soul connections. These are the people I look in their eyes and see home in. Reconnecting with someone from my past was scary. So many expectations, how could I not be disappointed? How could they not be disappointed? And yet, all those worries faded away with the first hug of our reunion. Like a deep, audible sigh, exhaling and softening into what was always meant to be. A relationship priceless beyond measure.
And the experiences. So many experiences! My passion for live music fully indulged and expanded upon in ways I could not have possibly imagined. Saying yes to music I initially said no to and walking away changed. Finding myself eye-to-eye with Prince at an intimate club show in the spring, feeling every bit a starry-eyed teenager again. Not every show was great, but every show was worthwhile.
I went to the races. Twice. Car races. Drag races. Vibrational-thrill-through-every-cell-in-your-body-races. Exhilarating and excessive and surprising and ultimately life-affirming races. Make no mistake–I first said no. I did. But then I said yes and never looked back.
Finally getting a passport opened up a vast field of expansive possibilities. Traveling to the breathtakingly beautiful west coast of Vancouver Island and Tofino. Seeing bears and whales and eagles and experiencing the best ferry ride ever there and back. My passport was my ticket to Vancouver, BC where I spent an exhausting, giddy weekend with my teenage daughter chasing the biggest boy band in the world all over that stunning city. Expanding beyond borders, both real and self-imposed.
My yoga expanded this year as well. Following a few years in the wilderness without a clear teacher or direction, my teacher appeared on my path. My practice changed and deepened in ways that didn’t necessarily mean more advanced asanas. My teacher, the perfect mentor for me right now, always inspiring and leading with integrity, kindness and through impeccable example. She is the perfect balance of sthira/sukham, strength and softness. I am a better yogi, more respecting of and accountable for myself. I am a clearer, more skilled teacher because of her.
My business expanded considerably as I organized and hosted my very first yoga retreat in September. A brilliant group of twelve women gathered with me in Leavenworth to practice yoga, eat fabulous food and be in community with each other, most of whom had never met beforehand. It was wonderfully relaxed and meaningful and I felt like the luckiest yoga teacher in the world to have spent this time with these yogis. Taking this leap was easily one of the scariest things I did this year. A risk that gave back to me in ways I am so deeply grateful for.
And through all these expansive experiences, my writing has become more prolific and more honest. For the first time, I became a published writer. The feedback I’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive. My readers now expand across continents, beyond my wildest dreams. Writing–what I was born to do, what I feel in my bones—a place of validation and fulfillment and yes, frustration. Blocks happen. When those blocks happen, expansion stops and patience and presence step in to weather the storm. And through it all, I learn and grow and pay attention.
When I teach yoga, I will often remind my class that transitions ask us to pay attention. To be present. Each transition, each breath, be it in a Sun Salutation or in your life is an opportunity to either expand or contract. To either say yes or say no.
What will you say?
I say yes.