Last year I managed to do something I once promised myself I wouldn’t do: I completely, utterly ignored my blog for nearly an entire year.
Sure, past years, about midway through, life got crazy and I skipped a month or three of blogging. But the last year has been so overwhelming and relentless that every time I sat down to write, I couldn’t puzzle out where the heck to even start.
Some of you friends know the health challenges my little family has faced this past year; all of these difficulties were enough to affect each of us so deeply that just making it through each day alive was a victory. And sadly I know that many, if fact all of us out there, face tremendous struggles daily. And often, privately.
In my own case, beyond physical frustrations and pain, much of the suffering I struggle with revolves around how life has seemed to pass me by. I am haunted by my inability to yet accomplish goals I’d pinned to the walls of my mind as a bright young thing. Now tattered, these plans flap in the winds of time. The days have flown with the winds. It seems the grind of life has ground on, but I don’t feel improved by any of my trials. Older, certainly; but not wiser.
Still, recognizing that inner work needs to be done is some kind of progress, right? At least I’m awake enough to see that I need that soul work to become the person I was born to be. To be a person who lives thoughtfully, with intention and gratitude. To make thoughtfulness the place in my mind I where I automatically start thinking. To banish negativity. Especially self-directed negativity. And as though to underline all that thinking, the universe appears to be throwing teachers in my path.
Recently I came across a lovely memoir called Never Broken, by Jewel, the singer. I haven’t finished it yet, however I find myself inhaling her words. Her early years, full of struggle and pitfalls, belie the strength and insight this woman has nurtured within herself: her journaling, poetry/songwriting, and creed have a thoughtfulness that is inspirational. In the afterword of her book, she lists things she did to help “retrain” her thoughts and behaviors and they are such wise simple things such as Spend time in silence, Establish a gratitude practice, Create a home for happiness, Embrace imperfection, to name a few. To some, these statements may seem like self-help retreads, however, when read within the context of her memoir, you see them in action. She actually lives her belief that inside each of us is a perfect soul that can never be broken, and that no matter what bad things happen to you, your soul is still there, untouched and waiting for you to reveal its strength and beauty. We just have to do the work to look inside.
And then, there is my personal guru and friend, Elizabeth Duvivier. She is an amazing soul, a wise woman, a gentle but spirited teacher. She is the creator of the legendary Squam Art Workshops (which will sadly come to an end after their fall retreat this year). I was personally introduced to her genius when I took an online workshop she was offering in 2014, called The Magic of Myth. Here we studied the ancient myth of Psyche and Eros, and then, using our newly found insights, we wrote myths of our own. This class touched me in a way I hadn’t expected, however. It not only inspired me to focus on my writing again, but further, it forced me to look deeper inside myself and find the themes that defined how I saw myself…how life’s journey had shaped me.
This year, I was lucky enough to take part in Elizabeth’s “Into the Mystic” retreat. I can’t possibly go into all the details here (though perhaps I will sometime), but I found myself awakening new areas of my psyche while there. Trying to see my self without judgment, was a practice I began to work on. And very difficult indeed for me.
And in 10 days, I am thrilled to say I’ll be taking Elizabeth’s new online year-long course, The Magic of Myth II–End of the Quest. (I believe there are still spots available–you might want to check it out) We’ll be working to go further inward, to “live from our source.” By doing so, I hope to learn to be able to see and feel more clearly why I’m here. This explanation barely scrapes a tiny line into the depth I suspect this course will have, however, as Elizabeth always says, you choose how deep you want to go.
And I say, hell. Time’s running out. Go long, go deep. It’s gonna be a Hail Mary pass sort of year…I can feel it.