I had no idea at the start of the year just how much the word Grace was going to be the perfect word to hold me. Funny how that happens – the words i choose in December of the last year seem to be quite the serendipitous fit. This year was not exception. In fact, this year, i was even more aware and intentional of my word and its 4 guideposts.
Sitting here on my bed, i would like to pretend i’m excited to reflect on the year that was. But, to be honest, it’s hard to pretend that anything really special or big happened. Except that my mom died. That seems to be the only thing that happened. Recalling the year that was brings a big void to my heart and mind. I barely want to scroll through my hundreds of photos as there are a few i barely can glance over.
And yet, something that i’ve learned over these last few years is that closing a chapter needs to be done mindfully. Saying goodbye to a year also means finding the glimmers and gold moments. They are hiding there, and having gratitude is necessary to both learn from our experience and to embody the felt sense of having had it in the first place. This is where resilience and wisdom live.
So, this birthday weekend, i am pushing myself to honour this year in review journal. I hold rituals and traditions in high regard. This year is no exception.
I took a year-long program to enable me to really concentrate my therapy practice from a somatic lens. I am so happy to report that i have now completed it! Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Level 2 is a 120-hour deep dive in how somatic healing helps integrate trauma for developmental themes. This was a big part of my professional learning this year. I also took courses in Internal Family Systems and sex therapy for EFT therapists. Both really complement my training with somatics and the work i do.
Besides the ‘official’ training i took, i am a constant learner. I read close to 50 books – that’s 1 a week, wow! It was a mix of fiction for fun, work books, and non-fiction for my own personal growth. Here are some of my favourites:
* Motherhood: Facing and Finding Yourself by Lisa Marchiano
* The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller
* Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-Pa Turner
* The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova
* Daughters of the Deer by Danielle Daniel
* Journey through Trauma: A Trail Guide through the 5-Phase Cycle of Repeated Trauma by Gretchen Smeltzer
Another thing i did was finally take a beginner’s pottery class. It was a lesson of grace: i was humbled by the process and my beginner’s mind. I took it as a gift to myself, to play with creating something from nothing. I don’t plan on making this into a work venture, but rather to hold in reverence the creative part of who i am.
I finally met a mentor in real life. How exciting! I got to attend an intimate gathering of celebrating Kimberly Ann Johnson’s book that she co-wrote with Stephen Jenkinson. My socially awkward fan-girl Part showed up with me – i was convinced she wouldn’t know who i was and i had a deep wish she would. Guess what – she did! Grace reminded me that it’s okay to show up anyways, and to do something that requires exquisite risk because the reward is worth it. Another thing i did was finally take a beginner’s pottery class. It was a lesson of grace: i was humbled by the process and my beginner’s mind. I took it as a gift to myself, to play with creating something from nothing. I don’t plan on making this into a work venture, but rather to hold in reverence the creative part of who i am.
I loved being able to be in this shared community, as another word for me this year was Community CONNECTION. Connection was another guiding post for grace. For instance, i decided to not wait anymore to start my first Group Supervision in my private practice. I have been hoping to offer it for months. The first meeting was magical. Working as a sole practice therapist definitely has its benefits. But as a social creature who values learning and sharing with others, i am so grateful that people signed up to share space – we are not meant to do this alone!
I took a wonderful dance class called 5 Rhythms. It was lead by Layah Jane and i will definitely sign up again. She lead us through 5 very different feelings/rhythms of chaos, flow, staccato, lyrical and stillness. I loved moving by myself, intuitively responding to the music, and also other dancers’ energies. I missed this communal sensation, what is known as shared rhythm.
In the Summer, we went on our first family trip in two years. I took my family to our Florida home in the heat of July. I grew up spending summers there, and the Florida sun was just what we needed to reconnect, play and rest. We swam daily (more than once a day!), we kayaked in mangroves, we collected shells: We had an embodied experience of rest and AWE – just what the summer needs. It was a pleasure-filled trip.
I treated my family to tickets to shows and events that have not been possible before. Both because of Covid, but also because it caused too much financial strain in the past. This year, i realized i don’t want to wait anymore to live me life and a year-long study of grace is all about this. So we saw Cirque de Soleil, the Cursed Child broadway show, and just this past weekend, i saw Rupi Kaur perform her amazing poems on stage. All of these gifts, decadent treats were awe-filled, community-based and new experiences for me. Each captured that felt sense of wonder and awe for us, witnessing artists in their elements.
Fall means RITUAL for me. Again, i didn’t know just how fitting this word would be when i picked it last year. What changed was that the rituals were more for grief work and internal ways to hold my self.
This year was about trying new things, and getting myself back out in the world. I have gone to a few sound baths. A part of me was really drawn to them because i loved the idea of being in silence, without speaking, but just taking in the ethereal sounds of the instruments. I was able to stay present with them and go deeper.
I hosted my friends with some witchy crafts. We made spell jars and did a Cutting the Cord ceremony. We shared meals together and sat together in parks. This is soul medicine – spending time with people who see me for who i am, and help me feel like i belong no matter what is the same or different between us.
I also was so humbled to attend a Living Funeral with Brooke of Length of a Candle. I spoke a bit more of my experience HERE. It was a cathartic and deep experience for me, one that allowed me soul to be fed and also a practice of grace for me like no other. It was an exercise in giving my messy, vulnerable feelings grace to be present.
I was split open by grief this year. My mom died suddenly after a short battle with cancer. It followed a long line of other health ailments, and yet it still baffles me that she died. She wasn’t supposed to die this year. We were just starting to heal our relationship to a more full place, and the threat of Covid was lightening up so we were just starting to spend quality time together. I’m so glad she got to have one last meal at my place in April. I was able to host my parents, and show them that they matter to me.
Grace has guided me through my grief. It made me more gracious to folks who haven’t experienced a loss like this. I was disappointed to not be held and cared for as i needed to be. It gave me permission to let this feeling happen and then to ask for what i needed. This grace period then enabled me to be an active student of grief work, and even more grief literate. I share about my reflections HERE. It allowed me to be humble and curious in the process. It made me more gracious to myself, by allowing me to slow down and really tune into what i needed in any given moment. It guided me to see what was present as well as where i might need to turn for support. Most of all, grace is an active practise of self-love and compassion – it taught me that when i aligned my behaviour and action with what my capacity is, then i am not overriding my nervous system. Grace is graceful, loving, and soul nourishing. It is gracious, life-giving and soul work at its best.
It is also connected to repair work, for when i make mistakes. Because i made some; we all do. When i over-reacted to my kids’ or got angry at a mistake i made, or when no one checks in me. Grace is there, letting me know that we are all human, and therefore all trying our best. Sometimes that best is at my 100% most regulated. When i’m running on fumes or my bucket is empty, my best is from a 20% capacity level. That’s okay too. That is when popcorn for dinner is perfect, when going to bed at 9PM and the kitchen is a mess. Grace shows up and reminds me that tomorrow is going to be better.
Speaking of capacity levels and soul work, i have been re-reading the transformative book Women who Run With the Wolves this year. I pulled it out as an intentional way to hold my practice of grace and re-wilding journey. One excerpt from it has stayed with me:
Sitting here, on this final days of 2022, the word that holds me in my year-long dance with grace is EASE. I am giving myself permission to take the easy way, not to cop out but rather to not override what i have capacity for. To honour just what i need and to not get pulled into toxic productivity. This above quote, written at least 30 years ago, is a reminder that hustle culture, burn-out and externalizing our worthiness have been pulling at us for too long.
Let us take back our life, to live it with grace, love, awe and ease. This is the lesson my mom taught me, let this be her legacy.