In my last post I said I wasn’t going to even try to recap this year…and that was true, for that post…but this one… I go all out.
Once Frank died I promised myself this would be my year of yes. Nothing spared; no saying no, whatever I wanted to do that was within my reasonable grasp, I would.
I had to find myself. I had to stay afloat, to somehow find my happiness, and stay open to new experiences. I decided that saying yes to whatever I was offered or whatever grabbed me was the way to go. I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, or what nutritive value I might find in any given experience, and I wasn't going to get there by saying no.
Looking back, I am amazed at what took place over the past 12 months.
I said yes to all of the esoteric, experiential, psychological, physical and spiritual experiences I could. I said yes to friends coming to visit, yes to food being delivered, yes to back rubs and hugs, yes to help with the dogs, yes to time alone, yes to things I may have previously said no to.
I didn't know who I was. How in the hell could I figure that out if I said no?
From astrology to tarot, psychics to mediums I met with them all. Some more than once.
I worked with an embodied trauma coach, started seeing a grief therapist, participated in a medicine ceremony, took an intuitive training workshop, and got an unplanned (but much wanted) tattoo.
In spring I went on an Ayurvedic Pancha Karma retreat, moved homes, held Frank’s memorial, and flew to Colorado to meet with a somatic sexologist.
Come summer I took my daughter to her first concert (Sofie Tukker!!) and went to the final Kate Wolf festival before heading on a road trip with Lena to Los Angeles and then San Diego for Camp Widow. I even attended a Renaissance Weekend seminar in Monterey and went to Ohio for a conference.
In autumn I traveled to Philadelphia for work, then New York for fun, and Mexico on a Yoga Adventure Worldwide retreat.
I sold my new car, bought two used ones (one for me, one for work), hired employees and fired some too. I built my business up from 5 clients and 1 employee to 15 clients and 4 employees only to shut it down at the end of the year.
I began working in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) sector for the Mainframe industry, gave a keynote speech about Neurodiversity and the Mainframe, spoke for the Stanford Neurodiversity Project, and sat on an international panel for STAND.
Somewhere in here I also said yes to love and was able to celebrate two difficult holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) with my boyfriend and his family, which was a lovely and healing experience for Lena and me both.
I celebrated my birthday at a fancy bed and breakfast, canceled my trip to Australia, and traversed about 2,300 miles on foot (according to my watch that’s almost double last year).
I made new friends and deepened relationships with old ones.
In the midst of all these experiences, I transformed. I began listening to me. To be honest, I’ve never really trusted myself. Never really thought I had the answers…always pulled in a friend for advice or collaboration. Even when I didn’t think their plan was what I wanted to follow, somehow I thought they might know more, have a better skillset or be able to give me the right advice on what I should do.
Throughout the year I kept asking people questions but I also began listening. deeply listening, to myself. I learned that, despite all the people I have sought advice from, I knew the answers best. I began to feel into myself. into my compass, my internal center. I became grounded.
I’m still learning, learning how sensitive I am, and learning how this advice isn't necessarily needed or welcome any longer. I finally have perspective and see how other people's opinions and advice can hide my own true north. I have found that I know what is right; it’s a somatic feeling in my body, and it feels very different than following something or someone I don’t align with. I am learning to trust myself in order to determine what is right for me, even if it's shocking and different, and not anything anyone else would pick. I am finding the courage to ditch the advice and follow my internal knowing. As my father would say “to hell with the rest of 'em.”
Just after Frank died all I could do was look out the window. I could barely walk, and when I did I was slow. So. Slow. The trees swayed in the breeze like they were in stop time. I couldn’t run for months, had no ability or desire to sweat. At some point that began to shift, but then I could only run or walk if I listened to music, which was new for me. I usually ran without listening to anything, but here I was, unable to be alone in the woods without some kind of company, and so I listened to the same playlist on repeat. This is changing now. I like to sweat again, I like to run, sometimes much further and with more intensity than I had before. I can listen to different playlists and sometimes I'm back to none at all.
I have slowly and painfully watched my life with Frank morph into my life without Frank. I remember finishing the first leftovers he had cooked…then the last freezer dishes he had labeled…Now my fridge has in it only things I have purchased post-Frank (ok, not entirely true, I still have a giant jar of capers from him). There aren’t his clothes laying around, his toothbrush in the holder or notes strewn about…I remember how I fell to the ground when I cleared away his shoes and clothes, into a sobbing heap unable to do anything but cry and breathe in the scent of him. I still have some shirts, but his smell has faded…I have a pair of boots too…and I recently gave the rest of them away to my boyfriend, whom they fit perfectly, even though their foot shape is nothing alike. Go figure.
I know a widow that always keeps a single sock of her late husband’s in the laundry. It gets washed, and then put back in the hamper. It’s her way of remembering he was part of the family, that he’s still there…sock and all.
In my year of yes, I’ve found some things to hold on to. I move much easier with change, I don’t find myself as attached to an outcome or a situation in the ways I used to; I trust it’s all going to work out...I can go with the flow, and find joy in simply being alive. I am able to hold two feelings at the same time, joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure…I am grateful in a way I never was before. I have learned to integrate, to shine my light and to love myself. These I know I will hold on to for the rest of my time in this spacesuit. I don't get riled up by disappointment, I can see the larger picture, and gee, nothing is so heart-breaking as my husband dying...so some relatively minor disappointment doesn't phase me so much. I live in the moment. (This is not to say I don't get disappointed, or even depressed. I certainly do, but it's a very different, less-attached quality than it was before). I view the world in terms of energy...expansive or contractive...where does it land with me...how am I putting my energy into the world?
My transformation during this year of yes allowed me to follow my true path with work, to go for what really brings me joy, rather than to stay with what I thought I should be doing. I never ever would have had the guts to do that before, and I'm so grateful to have stepped through that ring of fire.
I’ve let go of a lot. I’ve let go of the dreams I thought I held dear. I’ve let go of wanting that perfect family…I’ll just join yours instead; if you don’t mind. I’ve let go of perfection and I’m learning to let go of being right. I’ve let go of who I thought I was for who I am becoming. I'm letting go of fear and following joy instead.
I will always love Frank, always. I’ll talk about him, celebrate him, and share stories of how wonderful he was, but also how frustrating he could be because that keeps him alive. Frank was a dear man, and now that he’s gone I see how much he really did love me. Not that I doubted it, but I wasn’t fully aware of it. I am now. And because of that, I get to love deeper, more freely, and fully than I have before. I also get to GO FOR IT, whatever that is, because...what else is there?
Frank shows up for me often. It continues to be an Osprey, or a dime, and it's also a 4-leaf clover. I've looked for them my whole life, and not a week before Frank died he learned this about me. I hadn't found one since I was maybe 7 or so, but this year...this year I've found 3. That's Frank, 100%, and I am grateful.
I am opening myself to life, and the dimensions that surround it...I am open to all of it and appreciative of what this means in any given moment.
I've learned in this year that what’s really important, like what really matters…well, it’s only one thing. It’s love. Love is the basis for everything. It is joy and sorrow, in equal measure. Love is healing, love is nutritive. Love is at the center of all our beings. We were born to love and we will return to love. My heart is broken wide open, it will never, ever be the same again. And in those broken bits, there's more space for love. More space for yes, more space for letting go and trusting...more space for me and you and whoever else wants to come by and share this journey.
And you know what? I'm going to keep saying yes, as long as I have breath, I will say yes...YES YES YES.
It's worth it.