Well, it has been a little over a year since my last blog entry. I have way too many drafts from the past 12 months, but not a single one is finished. The first half of the year was filled with heavy shifts and a lot of unknowns, I suppose I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to say about any of it. And the second half was so full of long-awaited changes and love, I suppose I didn't want to focus on anything else but living! But with it rounding to a close, it would be a shame to not share why my soul is as full of gratitude as it has ever been.
I have sort of looked at the last few years like climbing a mountain. It feels giant and impossible at first, and after moving forward a few steps you feel a little stronger, so you press on. You expect it to be difficult and to take a while, but you have to believe there is another side to the mountain. It was during this year, after four long years, that I finally found myself on the other side.
Truthfully the year started out quite confusing and full of road blocks. This mountain felt as big as it ever had. No matter what strides I made I just couldn’t seem to move along like I hoped. Like I kept being stalled. Multiple possibilities would present themselves out of nowhere, seem promising and appear to be the possible next direction, only to fizzle away and become clear that they were not. If I had not believed that I was exactly on my path, even if it felt like it was a never ending path of going nowhere, I might have crumbled under the disappointments. But the truth was, I understood that every thing that did not work out was for the best. I was happy to have been open to it, learn from it, and was relieved to send it off without any doubts. The long list of questions and missed opportunities from my past that I was given the chance to finally close out in my mind was a gift from above. All of the space it took up in my mind and heart and soul was cleared out to make way for the life that was waiting around the corner.
I was burnt out and confused about what I really needed to be doing within my career by the time 2014 started. I believe it was mostly because I was coming up on the 10 year mark of doing design full-time. The calibur of jobs that I have been blessed with put me on a path I never dreamed I would be on, and it has been a fast moving career. But I feel like you reach a moment, no matter how much a job may mean to you, that you have to evaluate where you are. An opportunity that was presented to me in the beginning of the year—while it turned out was not meant for me—was the catalyst for stirring up the questions I needed to start asking myself. These answers and intentions that I settled on would be necessary later in the year when the correct next steps did present themselves. Most importantly, because I would actually be ready for the right reasons. It made a difficult decision much easier.
As far as my personal life, I was still sharing my days with loss and death. My grandfather passed away in April, and my beloved dog Oskar, who had also been Eric's, passed away in June. These were two deaths I felt coming, and thankfully I had a little more time to hug them longer, tell them I loved them as often as I could, and somewhat prepare myself. But like the years prior, the continued losses did not help with my attempts to get back to a place of focusing on "living". All of the road blocks and halts were not helpful with that either.
"What do you come to the mountain with, what do you leave behind at the top?"
- Rakishi to Georgia, "In these last notes" 1968
Things quietly shifted with the arrival of Summer. One day I looked around and realized I had made it to the other side of this mountain. I was stronger and lighter, and fundamentally different than who I started out as. There wasn't impending death or chaos or loss consuming my days. There was no need to second guess opportunities and changes that were happening. There was finally space and healing and nothing in the way, and so light just sort of flooded in. And without warning I was given another chance to feel love again. All of the work and efforts had not been in vain, and finally I had found my way through! The last four or five years took a lot out of me, and while I knew transformation was necessary, there were moments of honest praying and begging for some sort of change. I wish I could accurately describe how it felt to finally be on the other end of all of this. I only have an image of falling to my knees with exhaustion and relief and overwhelming thanks while my heart swells back to a recognizable shape. Only bigger perhaps.
Forgive my long list of gratefulness that you are about to embark on... I know it is too much! But the truth is, when I think back on this year I have nothing but gratitude at the end of every moment. For answered prayers that came in perfect time, and for those that simply had the answer of no. I am grateful for new opportunities to stretch myself creatively, and maybe make a little difference in this community I love. There is a peace about all of those I have loved and lost over the last four years that I wasn't sure I would ever find. I carry them with me every day and am stronger because of it. And as much as I had hoped that I would one day fall in love again, there was a real part of me that doubted I ever would, much less have it be as beautifully layered as it has turned out to be! It took me a long time to heal and grow and get myself to a place to be ready to start over again. And I almost missed it because I honestly believed it would not be possible. But thankfully it was Bobby who was on the other end of this, and he is patient and forgiving and knew me well enough already to keep showing up. This man who has known me for 9 years, has seen me at my best and absolute worst, and still somehow not only likes me, but loves me. I am grateful he was Eric’s best friend, and that he knew Eric better than most... knew him better than me in some ways. I am grateful for all of the times the three of us had together that were filled with so much laughter. And for the way Bobby showed up when Eric needed help. And when I needed help. I am grateful he chose to not only stay my friend, but to be the kind of friend who helped me with every big decision that I needed to make in the years to follow. This man was willing to help me with major tasks that without him felt overwhelming, as much as he was willing to quietly sit next to me while I moved through the grief. He shared the grief in his own way. I am in awe that we can have so much history already, and still find more room in our hearts for a whole different love and future. I am grateful for the amount of trust that we built up over the years, because I think we both required much more than the average person to truly move forward at this point in our lives. I am grateful that all that I have been through is truly understood, respected, and in a lot of ways shared with him. It somehow allows for enough space for all of this loss and love, and past and future to exist harmoniously.
Above all else, my soul is consumed with gratitude for the gift of the mountain to climb. For the gift of transformation that grief and loss and healing brought me. For the understanding of living that I am now rooted in. For the opportunity to shed insecurities and untruths. I am humbled by the strength I was given to climb that mountain, and to keep climbing even when it felt daunting. And for the faith that was planted in me to know there was another side to the mountain. I am grateful for the protection over my heart and soul that I felt from above. Despite my efforts to possibly make decisions that would have taken me off path, there was always the nudge to continue upwards. To continue to this place where my heart is guarded and cared for and strengthened by this man who was already on the mountain with me.
If I have learned anything about life, I have learned that things can change in one swift moment—in both good and bad ways. I believe this is one of those jewels of truth that once you truly understand you never live the same way again. Every moment is fueled by the gratitude of knowing this and allowing it. You love deeper, and live fuller. You fight and judge less. You welcome love and loss equally, and says countless prayers of thank you under your breath all day.
So here's to a new year and to the next mountain ahead!