I resisted the cliché ‘end-of-year post‘ with all my might but this topic kept popping up. So I decided to start typing and see what comes of it.
I felt a strong need to review the year before I start a new one. I didn’t want it to be an intellectualized list that made me feel like an informant under Nazi interrogation. I wanted to feel deeply involved in the process of reviewing my year, not to hide my truth from myself and shrink at the thought of it. So, I took a deep breath and typed “The Biggest Events of 2015”. Writing down the highlights of my year- both stressful and joyful- helped me recognize patterns that I wasn’t able to name before.
For me, the biggest theme of 2016 was: Loss. Fearing loss, trying to prevent loss, making up for loss or grieving inevitable losses. I felt like I have experienced ‘death’ in its all forms minus physical death. While I was going through the year, I did not notice the thread in all the events, I just lived them. I didn’t recognize these themes until I sat down to write a post on the end of a year, without knowing what would my fingers would spell out as they danced on the keyboard.
I noticed how loss is a big part of growth and that might be why we resist it so much. It feels like death. Everything we leave behind, every choice we skip over, every town we move away from brings a thousand deaths in it. If we are to grow, we are to learn how to live with loss. We must develop the ability to surf the waves of death and rebirth that will continue taking place in our lives as long as we breathe. 2016 was a rough year in training to ride that wave for me.
The secondary (but not less important) theme for me was ‘Strength‘. Many of my experiences in 2016 pushed me to build internal strength in ways I didn’t realize I was capable of. I had a lot happen this past year and I got a chance to find out different, buried aspects of me in the oddest ways possible. What I realized is that a new level of strength reveals itself just when you feel that you have spent all you’ve got. We have more power, strength, and resilience than we realize.
The third-theme for me was (again!): Self-love. Self-love is a journey and it is based on how much we know ourselves. This, I found, depends on our willingness to take the time to remove some distractions and make more room/space/time for listening to ourselves. In the noise of daily life, it is really hard to hear what our heart wants to do. So, I did that.
Knowing this, I created opportunities where I could have access to more of me. Once, I left my phone in the car and went for a walk on the beach. After five to ten minutes of silent staring at the ocean, I felt an urge to pick up a long, solid stick and write affirmations on the perfect sand with it. Knowing that the waves would wash them away soon and secretly hoping that someone might see them before that happens.Had I gone there with my phone and avoided being present with myself, I would not have had the next ten plus minutes of pure, child-like joy of leaving my mark on the sand.
I know that these themes will show up in different forms for me in 2016. Just this awareness alone helps me feel calmer and more grounded. My honest review of 2015 brought back gifts of awareness, strength and relief for me. So, I invite you to do a review as well. Consider the questions below. See what bubbles up. Here we go!
When you look back at your year:
What are the themes that stand out? What were the big events of the year? What did you learn? What did you accomplish (no matter how small)?
What feels incomplete?
Were there apologies and thanks that didn’t make it to their rightful owners?
What made you come alive?
What were your biggest challenges? Can you recognize the progress you made in these areas?
What supported you in being your best self?
What was your low point? How did you work through that?
What are you most grateful for?
What do you want to spend more time on in the new year?
Add your own questions if you like. Be open, curious and compassionate as much as you can. Recognize that your life is a journey and even if you don’t have full control over it, you get to effect it by the choices you make or avoid. Keep learning about, discovering and embracing who you are and your journey. Life is grand. Glad you are here.