Recently, I read that some Native cultures celebrate the Spring Equinox the way white Americans celebrate New Year’s, with resolutions and goals and new beginnings. It makes much more sense to me. Let January be the worst month of the year as it is, dark and cold with winter nowhere close to ending. Not exactly the most inspiring time to drop weight, get fit, or tackle big projects. More like the time to cuddle up, snuggle in, and hibernate. Spring feels like such a natural time to start afresh, with the air getting soft again, the grass greening up, and the flowers and trees coming into bloom. We can all begin to grow again, after slumbering under the snow.

All that to say that I’m not doing New Year’s resolutions. However, I do like the optics of a fresh calendar – a clean, new year to mark up. It feels like a good time to look back, assess what has happened and what I’ve learned, and to gain clarity going forward.

I usually pick one word to focus on for each year, and for 2020 my word had been “content.” I was going into 2020 having been laid off for the first time in my life, having breathlessly landed at a new job with less pay, no more paid time off, and zero benefits. Between the loss of money and PTO, and still having two small children at home besides, I knew I was in for a quiet, homebody sort of year. We weren’t planning any big trips, and were bracing to tighten our belts.

And then covid hit! My mission to stay content got a fresh challenge. I found myself totally jobless and shut off from all my usual options for keeping the kids entertained. We managed fine all spring, summer and fall by staying outdoors as much as possible, playing in the backyard, at parks, and on a couple camping trips. I got together with friends for walks and bonfires to maintain my mental health and social life, and I got to practice savoring the small, daily joys.

For all the challenge that this year has brought, I have felt oddly content. I feel this like it’s a blanket someone else wrapped around me. It is an other-worldly feeling, not one of my own volition or control. God, the Universe, the Creator – someone/thing has blessed me with contentedness.

Being laid off again, and trying to start my own business without any initial, raving success, has given me a lot of time to think. I signed up for the doctorate level PT program as a high school senior, and have not deviated from that career path in the last 17 years. Suddenly, without an option to continue my career as usual for the time being, I find myself thinking outside this box for the first time. I am wide open to whatever the future may hold.

I feel like I am standing in the middle of an expansive prairie, deer paths shooting off in every direction. Maybe I lean into stay-at-home-motherhood more, getting involved in the kids’ schools and volunteering again, which I’ve missed. (And yes, I humbly recognize the high level of privilege I have to even consider that option, since I am married and my husband is currently making enough money to support us all.) Maybe I find another job, maybe I take a sharp left and try out a new field altogether. I want my business to take off, but it may not. Fortunately, I don’t feel that all my precious eggs are in that vulnerable basket. I have a naïve, unfounded confidence that something will work out or come up (the delusional bliss of an enneagram 7).

I feel very open in a spiritual sense too. This year has been extremely spiritually challenging for me. Watching all the ugliness in politics, the blatant hypocrisy of the Religious Right and evangelical church, and especially the racism that boiled over the surface this year, put me in a dark place. I’ve questioned God before, but I’ve never really questioned if there even is a God, until this year. If we suddenly got undeniable proof of whatever happens in the afterlife, or if an afterlife even exists or not, I don’t think I’d be shocked regardless. And that makes me feel open and excited, not foundationless or lost. I feel curious, creative, inspired, and content.

This year has been a global shit show in so many ways, yet there was also tons of beauty and love. I feel hopeful (on the days that I do – the dark days still sneak up on me, when I seriously wonder how we shitty humans will ever do anything right). I feel excited and motivated. I’m only in my mid-30s, too young for a mid-life anything, but this feels like the opposite of a mid-life crisis. I’m having a mid-life renaissance, a mid-life jubilee. Re-examing it all, finding a light (Love is my light), and holding each idea up to that light, twirling them around with open hands and observing with curious eyes. Not trying to prove or force any point. Discarding the useless, ugly, false, petty, boring and scripted. Embracing the awkward, brave and kind (thank you, Brene!). Embracing my individuality lived collectively, a small but important piece of the whole big picture. Embracing the whole human family, the common spark that unites every being, every good idea, every Truth.

Embracing the beautiful, the creative, the Real.

Embracing Love – demanding, relentless, all-inclusive, complete, far-reaching, difficult and rewarding Love.

Living open to chaos, determined to make something exquisite from it.

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