2018 was complicated. In the first few weeks of the year, several of my friends passed away, others struggled with major illnesses and still others with catastrophic relationship issues. After a security incident, I was removed from my village at 3am one day at the end of January and facing my own set of medical challenges shortly after and another series three months later. As the months of 2018 passed, I felt a sort of anger building as the losses continued among people in my circle. Adding to the external experiences in which I felt like I was increasingly losing parts of myself, the resulting medication I was provided in June distanced me from positive emotions and prevented me from feeling joy for the remainder of the year. 2019 is the first year in the past 8 in which I haven’t started with a word or theme.
It wasn’t until three days ago, when I finally finished the 2018 portion of Unravel your Year that I realized the feelings I was grappling with and the difficulties I was having in letting go. Interestingly, when I reflected further on 2018, a different story was told.
In looking at my day planner at the events of the year, I recognized a bit more of the light 2018 had to offer including assimilating into a new community, a myriad of successful projects from Roots Tribe Yoga, Mother Bear, aerobics classes, a World AIDS Day event, gardening, a poultry project, trips that included travel to 4 new countries – Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique and visiting so much of South Africa. I suppose my 2018 Word of the Year, spacious, had one more gift to impart, to encourage me to take a step back. By making space, I was able to gain perspective and give myself, and 2018, a little grace and breathing room.
Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year and Find your Word are insightful tools I’ve used for the last four years. They’ve been a cathartic way to reflect, let go and intentionally step forward into the new energy of each new year. When I selected spacious as my word for 2018, I said, “I want[ed] to make space for the brave woman who is slowly rediscovering herself, her value and her place in the world.” Spacious was like a helpful friend reminding me I had choices, options and tools throughout these last twelve months.
In my 2017 writing about present, my word of that year, I unknowingly connected my words of 2017, 2018 and 2019 and provided sound advice that bears repeating: “I must allow myself to let go of the past to make space for the gifts of the present. I must stop clinging to the stories, to past achievements, hurts, relationships, traumas and histories to truly empty my cup and make room for the present. I must allow the feelings and emotions from the past to dissipate in order to be present for what’s here, in the present. It is so much more than mindfulness. It’s so much more than awareness of the present. It is about the ability to be, to truly be in the moment – to truly be present - to surrender to what is without expectation, without stories, without clinging to the past, without obsessively planning for the future. There is ease here, in its purest form. Once we empty ourselves of the clinging, of the constant energy of doing, of the gripping, the striving, the proving, we can truly rest, I can truly rest, and be open to the present.”
Illuminate served as “a beacon, inspiring my decision-making, casting light upon shadow and encouraging massive healing and release” in 2016, the first year I engaged in Susannah Conway’s Word of the Year.
The previous two years, Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map coached me to identify courageous, ease and happy as my core desired feelings inspiring healing and uprooting my entire life to travel through South East Asia. In 2013, balance and harmony encouraged my self care and provided me with necessary grounding through the unexpected loss of my mom, a scary diagnosis and the preparation for surgery the next year. 2012 was the first year I selected a theme for my year. I stretched physically and emotionally as I explored sewing, creative writing, photography, glass blowing, hip hop, aerial yoga and African drumming classes during the Year of Creativity. Choosing a theme or word for the year has been a powerful practice that I’m eager to continue.
As this next year will be one of transition in navigating my return to the States in a few short weeks, I crave many things from homemade pierogies to poke bowls, but what I crave most is to exist. I want to consciously reclaim lost parts of myself and construct new facets of me. Though the energy upon return to the US will be very yang and focused on doing, I just want to BE. My word for 2019 is BE.
I am excited to witness the ways in which this simple word works me and the means by which I will embody her. Susannah asks in Unravel your Year, “What could you do this year to bring more of your Word into your world?” I answered, “breathe more pause more trust.” Here’s to breathing, pausing, trusting and BEing more in 2019 ♥
Thank you for joining me as I write the closing chapters of this journey as a Peace Corps Volunteer here in South Africa.
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