The house is quiet. Kids still asleep. The sun not quite up yet. It’s January first and I’m sitting here trying to wax some poetic stream of consciousness about this past year, what it meant, and what I learned.
So me. Wanting to wrap things up in a bow. Make sense of things. Have some type of order to what felt like a whirlwind year. To find the deeper meaning. To feel like I have a plan for the year to come.
It can be so easy this time of year to feel this urge to reflect. To make sense of our world and our experiences this year. To put some stake in the ground about who we are, and who we’re becoming.
It makes us in some way feel more “in control” of the world around us. When in fact, any type of control is just an illusion.
And while I think reflection and intention setting can be a wonderful thing, I also have seen how it creates a sense of anxiety and pressure in so many of us.
This never-ending desire to change, grow, become.
That somehow who we are and what we’ve achieved this year wasn’t quite enough, and next year we’re going to conquer the world. Drink only green juice, wake before the kids, organize our closets and start that new business.
And while having goals and aspirations are important. I have a sense that if you’re reading this, having goals isn’t a problem. I sense that you have many and, for most of your life, have always achieved them.
That you’ve been rewarded by pushing harder, by not stopping, not quitting.
So I offer something to us both. Me and you.
What if instead this year we didn’t try to achieve or become, but rather just allowed ourselves to simply be. Trusting that the universe, god, spirit (whatever you call it) will lead us to where we need to be, what we need to do, to what we need to say.
That we don’t need to push, but rather allow ourselves to be pulled. To sit back. Take a deep breath and allow ourselves to fall into the unknown of this year.
Without gripping or goal setting. Without pushing. But instead, with faith.
There is a word that’s part of the eight limbs of yoga, Santosha. In the most simple of terms it translates to contentment. That word has been coming up for me a lot the past few months. This feeling of contentment. Of enoughness.
As someone who is a constant seeker — wanting to do/see/experience more and more and more — my need for experience, is unquenchable. This word, contentment, feels like vinegar going down for me. There is so much to see and do in this one short lifetime, idling in contentment feels contrary to what I believe.
And yet, my inner knowing is telling me that this year is about balancing my yin with my yang. My own desire to push with a need to be pulled. To let be, rather than do.
As far as this past year, I’m personally exhausted. As I know many of us are.
My head and heart feeling this need for deep rest. Not sleep. But rest. Awake and aware but restful, peaceful.
If I were an old oak tree, this year would have been my year growing deep roots. No beautiful new branches, fruit, or leaves. Just roots.
Slow and steady and unwitnessed. Below the surface.
It wasn’t a sexy year. In fact this year I think I failed more than I succeeded. It felt like all of my projects or goals were an uphill battle that never quite came to fruition. We never found our dream home out west (or I should say haven’t found it “yet”), I didn’t find my purpose, write the book, or conquer the world.
But I traveled a lot. Solo. And with those I love. I took weeks out of the year to work on my personal development (which felt wildly indulgent and selfish in the moment, but I think my biggest catalyst of change). I prioritized my health. I reinvested in motherhood. I worked on my marriage. My sense of self. And my faith. I read, got out in nature, meditated, watched more sunrises and sunsets than I have in all my years combined. I read, drank a shit ton of tea, invested in new friendships, and most importantly, I got to know myself this year.
I may not have “achieved” a lot this year, but I FELT a lot. Without numbing. Without avoiding or suppressing. Without holding back and for that I feel really proud.
As I sit here now, about to go wake the kids so we can go camping (lord help me), thinking about the year to come, I don’t have any grandiose words of advice or some big thought for the year.
But I am taking this word, contentment, with me. To find more peace. More ease. Less pushing and forcing. And instead more allowing. Simply being.
I think later this week I’ll write out some thoughts, goals, and intentions for 2024. Maybe even create a new vision board.
And then I’m setting it down.
Letting go of how I think things “should” go or any timeline I have.
If I’ve learned anything this year it’s that everything is out of our control. Everything.
The only thing we truly have control over is our thoughts, in this very moment. Right here and now. And that while planning for the future is beautiful, what’s even more important is being present to the life in front of us, right now.
My wish and my hope for all of us, myself included, is simply more presence. Permission to not worry or plan for tomorrow, but rather to find contentment, Santosha, in today.
Because if we’re not careful, we’ll miss it. And this life is too damn good to miss.
Wishing you all health, peace, and contentment in the year to come.
….2023 in photos