Every year I do a wrap up of the year right around new years. I do this partly for my own ability to recall what happened in my life and in what order; yet it’s also a nice time for me to reflect on the year while I prepare for the upcoming one.
As I was thinking about what I might say in this blog post, it struck me how much I do not want to talk about the events in the year. Rather, I’m more interested in discussing my growth as a person, my personal struggles and what I’ve learned, and what I anticipate the upcoming year to hold for me.
Yet the catalog-er in me really wants a list of large events that happened. So, to feed my type a brain, here’s a recap:
- I quit my job at the end of Feburary to pursue teaching yoga full time
- We celebrated this milestone with my first ever visit to my husband’s childhood town
- I sold my first art pieces at a few local art markets
- I developed and taught many workshops: Yoga and Intuitive Painting, Yoga for Emotional Freedom, Holiday Stress Relief
- I began my second teacher training with Max Strom
- My husband went to scout school
- We watched the Royals take the crown in New York
- We celebrated our first anniversary as a married couple
- My husband coordinated his first ever yoga on the field event
- We finally – finally! – saw The Nutcracker
I’m sure I’m missing bits and pieces of larger and not-so-large events, and yet, again, at this point I don’t really care.
What I’d like to talk about is character development. As I take a big leap back and look at my life within a smaller frame, I can see a gradual shift in my personality. Isn’t that funny? We always think personality is a given, until you realize it’s malleable. Haven’t you ever had a friend that you’ve realized you don’t jive with anymore? It’s because our personalities shift. We tend to think that people don’t change – but they do. This is why relationships can last the test of time. You continually get to know your partner, day after day, and it’s never boring.
My trend currently is to shift backwards, to the days I was a carefree child. I remember playing outside and running amok, and one day I forgot I had homework as I was so engrossed in my imaginary playland. I didn’t need anyone to play with me; I was content to explore my land by myself. However this event was embarrassing for me – to forget my homework – and thus began my trend towards Type A fanaticism and structure. Work before play, always.
This led me down paths of eating disorders and incredible accomplishments, and buckets of misery. The past few years I’ve been letting go of this. I’ve been trending back towards my habituations of play as a child. My structure is falling and I’m happier to release resistance.
One of the things I did this year to cleanse myself from my full time job and prepare myself for self employment was to go and stay in the woods. I did this in the winter of 2013 as well, after a particularly rough weekend. Two years ago I needed the time to figure out answers to questions I had never seriously dared to answer. This year, I did not. This year I played. I laughed, I got lost in the woods, I danced to music, and I got bored. I was antsy to get on with it.
And this year has been a year of letting go. In my art, I’m letting go of even the techniques taught to me to learn to let go. I’m starting to follow my own structure. In my work, I’ve stopped fighting so hard to prove myself. I simply create and make my work available and leave the rest up to fate. Does this mean I never freak out over bills or get anxious about workshops? Of course not. But I’ve learned to let it go.
My biggest teacher this year has been my dog, Tanner. During a particularly nasty bout of fleas, to which he had an intense allergic reaction, I brought Tanner to a new vet, as our old one had left. Before addressing any concerns I’d had about the allergic reaction, she practically screamed the words “lymphoma” and passed off my concerns as second rate.
Frustrated by not being heard, and angry at the idea of my dog having cancer, I ignored her. And yet this ridiculous idea stuck in my brain still six weeks later, and I decided to take him to a new vet recommended by a trusted friend. This vet I liked. He said nothing until he did a full examination and asked me several questions. He listened first, and I felt heard. So when he called to tell me the lymphoma diagnosis, I trusted him – even though I felt crushed.
Our options have been to treat it or to let it go. With treatment, we may extend his life 5-9 months, only to have it repeat again and need second treatment.
When we first adopted Tanner, I knew we wouldn’t have him forever. We adopted him at age 8.5 years. He is my first dog, and I knew nothing about owning a dog or their life expectancy, except that we may only have a few years with him.
And this didn’t stop me. As soon as I saw him – as soon as he rose from his cooped up position at the back of the cage and ran to the front to smile at me – I knew he was my dog. He told me he was mine in the way only non-verbal knowledge can be transmitted. As soon as I left, he was back in the back of the cage.
And never for one second did I forget that we were meant to be together. The day I went to pick him up, he hardly acknowledged me. He was so excited to be on his leash and out the door. He needed no coaxing to hop in my car and instantly fell asleep on the car ride home.
And there was no integration into our house. He walked in the door, smelled the rooms, and hopped on the couch to take a tap. Tanner was home from the moment he saw me. And I found a home in him.
To hear of this news was devastating. Of course, I wanted more time with him – but yet, why delay the inevitable? If Tanner was going to go, and this would be what would take him, why put him through the discomfort of treatment? Why not make his last few months meaningful? Why not let him know we loved him to the ends of the earth, instead of fighting desperately a battle that we know we will, at some point, lose?
This is how I know I’ve changed. Tanner is my heart. He is my soul mate. He has been here to teach me how to love, and soul mates don’t last a lifetime. They last until they teach you their lesson, and then they go. And I know Tanner has taught me mine.
I will hold him forever in my heart. I will be with him always. And perhaps he will come back to me in some other form, or maybe his soul will continue loving mine beyond the borders of the life we know. I know mine sure will love his.
So into this new year I enter with grief, but also with joy. To have known Tanner is to love him. And I am certainly better, and more at peace, and more releasing resistance, because of him. He has taught me more lessons than I can count.
In 2016 I hope to keep this idea of releasing resistance with me at all times. I hope to hold love in my heart, always, for Tanner and for everyone else. I hope to extend comfort to those who are grieving, both outwardly and inwardly. And, most definitely, I intend to release resistance, to roll with the punches, and to take what comes with grace and stamina.
Love to you all in this new year dawning.
Tanner, on the day we brought him home. This photo was our first together, taken after he so willingly hopped in my car for our ride home.