This is going to be a very personal post … I’m writing for my own benefit, really, to ponder and record what I feel I’ve accomplished and experienced during the past year – my “golden” year.
This year has been one of a string of transformative, challenging years.
In 2013, I decided to leave Reevis, which up to that point was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was a year of fear, distress, guilt, and just forging ahead ’cause sometimes the only way out is through.
In 2014, I finally left, and I began a complicated and mystifying and hard-to-describe process of setting my life in a new direction. I lived out on my nowhere land in Arizona, spent a lot of time in my beloved and much-missed Toyota truck, also spent part of the year at my mother’s place, got frozen shoulders (which I’m still healing from), and went through menopause.
In 2015, I started working as a writer – my childhood dream came true, almost magically. I lived in the kind-hearted town of Globe, Arizona, in a lovely room in a beautiful historic house and wrote about the community’s people and history.
In 2016, still deeply dissatisfied, I arranged things so that I could be away long term – and I owe endless thanks to my friends in Globe, Linda, Joe, and Bob, who continue to help me from there, so that I can travel. At the end of October I left for Asia. One year ago today, I turned fifty.
Just to summarize, not even try to explain, what the past year has held, as I’ve traveled around southeast Asia …
Work/money. I’ve developed an independent livelihood through writing and editing – which I’ve never had before. Just in the past two months, this has solidified so that currently I have plenty of work and enough money that I don’t worry about it anymore – which has freed up so much time and emotional energy. This is one of my watershed accomplishments from the past year and one of the reasons I’m now relaxed and at ease in a way I don’t think I’ve ever, ever been before.
Writing. Building my freelance work, with new, challenging kinds of writing, has boosted my skills and confidence. Deciding to give myself permission to write creatively just for self-expression and personal satisfaction made writing pleasurable again, more like it was when I started and fell in love with it. Writing now has the place in my life that I’ve wanted it to have since I was a child. I’m thrillingly optimistic that even more accomplishments and enjoyment are just around the bend.
Self-knowledge, self-love, self-care, self-confidence … I’ve learned so much about myself – have developed trust in my own strength and really have begun to feel my own value and uniqueness. The challenges of traveling have fostered resourcefulness and autonomy in me – while also I’ve been learning that people do care about and for one another. I’ve been learning what I need and want in my life. Meeting new people all the time, I’ve learned to put my own self forward candidly and openly. From what kinds of food I want to eat, to clothing and hairstyle, to what kind of people I want to hang out with and how I want to spend my time – I’m discovering the colors of my soul. Physically, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.
People! Who knew? The world is full of interesting, lively, generous and smart people! They’re everywhere! At the same time as I’m meeting people every day in person while I travel, I’m also opening up more in certain ways on social media – which I see as a huge potential avenue of self-expression and connection. As much as anything in the past year, Twitter has given me a new view of humanity – there are so many creative, caring, courageous, passionate people in the world.
Spiritual growth. This takes in all the other categories – it’s all a system, and the spiritual permeates everything. I feel mostly, as kind of a theme, I’ve been learning to love myself – which, it’s amazing how much easier it is to love other people when you love yourself. This isn’t even subtle: e.g., the instant I decided to accept my own shortcomings without punishing myself, suddenly I stopped doing that to other people. The minute I realized that I am and am meant to be a unique person, radically different from every other person, and to let myself expand into that space, I began to appreciate and encourage other people’s uniqueness. I’ve been slowly learning to let God love me. And I’ve been learning about desire, which is an aspect of love. They don’t teach you that in Catholic school!
Chiang Khong. If you made a topographic map to represent my year, one week last spring, when I was in Chiang Khong, Thailand, would be a Mount Everest in the middle. With a geyser shooting out the top and the spray making double rainbows in the sky and larks and eagles and multi-colored dragons cavorting in the rainbows. Every single area of growth that I’ve listed in this post got a jet assist. How can meeting one person change the world from black and white to technicolor and reconfigure the jigsaw puzzle so it’s making a different and much more gorgeous picture and crack open six layers of my shell and and and?
So while this has been one more in a string of growthful years, the combination of travel and work – with intentions of self-responsibility and self-love – and that miraculous week in Chiang Khong have made this, really truly, a glittery-shiny golden year. Today begins a new one, and I aim to make this one precious, too. I’ve never been so happy and healthy, and it’s … I wouldn’t say hard to believe, because I do believe it … but breathtaking and – using the word again – miraculous – that life can keep getting better. I’m that full of optimism and faith on this day.