It happened to be raining this morning when I woke up. The perfect kind of rain. It’s the kind that sounds like a rain stick I made in 2nd grade– grains of rice sliding down cardboard quietly, hushing and shushing in the background, while a steady drip-drop thump of the water splashes down from a nearby gutter. The street below me is raucous and slushy from cars and buses trying to maneuver the water, but empty of the usual voices and morning bustle of people. This is reflection rain.
Oof. This year has been so full. That’s the only way to describe it. It’s been full of triumph, sadness, frustration, joy, and mostly, growth. For the first time, I feel like I’ve shown up fully in my life. I’ve stopped trying to be someone else, someone better/thinner/prettier/more successful. I’ve been enough.
It’s cliché and also so true. I’ve been present with all of the good, the bad, and the what-the-fuck. So present, those moments felt tangible. As if, when they were happening, I could touch them and feel their power, and collect them. Like little glass marbles of experience.
When I think of my soul, I think of a very specific image. It’s weird but it’s what happens. I imagine my soul, located in my metaphorical heart center, to be a transparent, glass, heart-shaped container. My body can operate when this container is 1/3 full. It operates at 1/3 full when it has its basic needs met–food, water, shelter. Add in friendship, satisfying work, learning new things and it hovers around 1/2 full. When I am living in San Francisco, it stays here. I get used to that level. It’s comfortable and it’s fine, and only slightly suffocating.
When I am in nature, my soul fills. When I’m standing on top of a mountain with people I love, or by myself in a meadow painting and listening and hearing my heart beat, or climbing in the desert and working through fear, helping others take on a challenge, or singing to music by a campfire, it overflows. I can see it; bubbling over with joy and compassion and love. I can feel warmth and passion and purpose. I feel alive.
This year, I’ve been lucky enough to fill my life with enough of these moments to make the stagnation that I feel living in the city bearable. The little marbles of experience have helped “up the base level” of soul functionality, so even when I feel it draining out when re-entering the concrete mass, I can exist a little easier.
They are as follows:
January– In one of my first 1:1s with my new boss at work, confessing how unhappy I was and how out of place I felt. Feeling heard and not shamed, but instead, being asked “how can I support and help you?”. Feeling mentored and inspired by someone who believed in me, for the first time in a long time.
February– Riding my bike with the cows in Point Reyes in February, getting back into shape. Always a humbling experience to feel your body and mind “getting back into it”, but forgetting the pain and laughing like crazy on the downhills.
March– Impromptu road trip to see the Death Valley super bloom with Kasia. For a 48 hour trip, I did around 24 hours of driving in windy conditions and at night. We spent the remaining time eating junk food, walking into the canyons, taking pictures of flowers, napping under the desert sun and sleeping under the stars. Most importantly, on the drive back we talked about family, and through many tears, I made the decision to separate from a few less than supportive family members who have been continually judgmental and negative. I stopped wishing for a functional family I will never have. While it was the hardest/best decision I have ever made, it has freed me from so many bad situations and helped me realize that I have a wonderful support system of trusted friends.
April- Facing my roommate and asking him to move out. Ending the months of misery living with a super extroverted dude who I just didn’t like all that much. Took a lot of courage but was ultimately the right thing to do, especially since it gave me Danielle! Who I feel so lucky to have grown close to, and who has made our apartment a home again.
May- I spent all of May and the first part of June at work, redesigning our office. While it was rewarding and challenging and everything else, my favorite memory from May was my birthday party. I spent a lot of May asking myself “What do I REALLY want?” I wanted to swim in the ocean, make dinner with an amazing group of women, and read medicine cards by candlelight. Best night at the Dolphin Club ever.
June- Traveling to Mexico, spending 7 days in Sayulita all by myself. I read a zillion books, hung out on the beach, got my Open Water Diver certification and hardly talked to anyone. It was glorious and the best kind of introvert recovery.
July- Road trip with Adrianne. Bend. Hot Springs. Coeur D’Alene (63.3). Glacier, and going to the sun road. Forgetting the whiskey. Boise. Soulfull.
August- In August, I was able to experience the incredibly painful betrayal of a friendship, and the resulting loss of that friendship. Surprisingly, I had far more strength throughout that moment than I expected. I held strong boundaries and approached the situation with directness, honesty and compassion. I mourned and moved from it quickly, and felt empowered by the end. It was horrible and amazing and a huge learning moment.
September- Alaska with Hannah, living out of a camper jeep. So many little moments, but the one that stuck with me was our kayak day in Seward, battling the waves and singing at the top of our lungs back to the beach as the current got rougher and rougher. Additionally, we had many conversations that made me realize how much I like working with my team and (eep) actually missed being at work. Learning how much we’ve changed and stayed the same since being outdoor educators.
October- New Hampshire/Vermont/LA/Joshua Tree. I just love New England. I got to experience New England fall and its majesty, and then experience fall in the desert just the same. Remembering how much I love climbing outside.
November- After being skeptical about taking CTI courses, I had a pretty major breakthrough in the fulfillment course; figuring out my “life purpose statement”, identifying my self-critical voice and using inner wisdom. More and more, I’m certain that coaching will be a part of my future in some capacity. I’ve just got to figure out how. I’m excited to start really putting this into action more in January.
December- Here we are. On Sunday, I leave for the UK, Czech Republic and Greece. I’m sure there will be something to remember. I haven’t packed yet, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Ready for work, family, and then an adventure.
I don’t know what 2017 will bring, but I can only hope it’s just as full as 2016. I want my soul to live at 3/4 full or above, instead of 1/2. Hell, I want it to be overflowing all the time. I know what I want 2017 to bring, but it’s up to me to get it.
There’s so much uncertainty in the world right now; about politics, the environment, human rights. We need to hold each other up and help each other through this time. And we need to focus on the little moments. The things that teach us every day, that help us become stronger individuals so we can become stronger as a community. I’m excited for the challenges to come, personally and in society. There will be frustration, sadness, joy and growth. And there will be triumph. I know it.
Bring it on, 2017.