2021. It has not been an experience of reality that I will not, in the broadest sense, look back on with a huge fondness.
It started with the inherent stressors that came with the lockdowns… namely, for me, keeping up with everything relative to work and home when the homeschooling of my three children landed on my daily to-do list. It was in no way unpleasant, in many ways it really was very lovely, and I do, I really do, feel fortunate to live where I live and to have the family that I do… but it wasn’t easy. Not at all. At the same time, my best friend and dog companion, Rebel, was diagnosed with Lymphoma and on 16 weeks of chemotherapy… or would have been. It would be easy for me to begin listing all the other stressors here, at this time… things… things that went wrong in my house, my job, with the minutiae of my small human existence … I will not.
I do not usually write this way. I do not tend to post huge amounts of my life relative to the personal aspects of it… but I reflect back, as we stride toward the end of the year, in our face masks, with one hand grasping our smart phones, refreshing news apps, and the other, hopeful, at the end of an outstretched arm for a (still cautious) hug, that I had some really hard times.
Loss. Loss is so much. So hard. I had a family loss in February that really is too personal to post about on my website. And then, after the treatment did not work, I also lost my Rebel, my Rebel who I can call my best friend without a moment of questioning relative to the childlike nature of applying such labels to anyone, let alone a canine-companion.
She really was my best friend, a non-judging, funny, forever grateful, forever loving, adorable, clever, friend. Who I spent so much time with… most hours of my days and nights. Who got me out in nature for hours, gave me comfort when I felt lost, and loved to be with me in my classes, curled up by the fire out of view. I miss her so much. So much. I cried today, again, when I saw a dog that looked just like her trotting past me in the street. Losing Rebel broke my heart. It will never be quite the same.
Beyond that, I had a malignant melanoma diagnosis, a couple of operations and some awkward biopsies… a tricky thing, for me, relative to specific parts of my anxiety history, and a real test of my ability to regulate and stay present. I can say that this was especially true when awake, face down, hospital-gown glad, on a cold operating table with a face mask on for what felt like a very long time.
Lots of hospital visits and waiting for results. These things that we all, as humans, go through at times. You know, I’m sure, if you’re reading this, what it is like….
And all of this, every part of it, within only the first months of the year.
I sound like a real misery here, I do know. But, to be clear, I am not miserable. Not at all. I have not been miserable, as such, through any of it. Sad, yes, so sad. Tired, certainly. But soft with it, generally, all of it. And I have been proud of that. Other than in the occasional, hugely overwhelming, moment where I trod on a Minecraft creeper whilst tidying away the toys, or Uber Eats cancelled my ‘Giant Doughnut’ delivery (this happened today, no lie… I was furious!)… where I have fled to my room to scream into a pillow or allowed past behaviours to surface in my professional life (terse emails afoot)…
…these moments aside… I have been shocked at how I have held myself.
I stayed sober.
I stayed with my practise.
I didn’t take a single day off ‘sick’ and I stayed well, physically, too.
So many wonderful things happened to me, for me. I had amazing opportunities for teaching. Teaching this thing called Kundalini Global that I so love. So adore. Feel so passionate about.
I deepened connections with a few people who have come into my life in recent years. I let go of others. I laughed. I laughed so much this year. So much of that laughter in yoga classes. I learned. I trained to teach breath and I trained, again… more… on working with addiction and anxiety. I set my sights on new goals, new ambitions, new projects… new qualifications that I will start working through next year. I launched my zine (don’t ask about issue 3… it is on the way… it’s a long birthing process) I took on new jobs and roles at work… I read SO many books, I kept creating, I kept teaching, I kept going and I stayed on the right side, just, of sanity.
I love my life. On workshops I have done with Carolyn Cowan she encourages us to say ‘I love my life’ 11 times and ‘My life loves me’ 11 times before bed and on waking. I always do my homework and so I do this. I have for some time. It’s pretty epic when you start to realise that it becomes more and more true.
What I have managed, through 2021, is to keep working on what I have come to rely on… allowing emotion, noticing how I feel, landing myself into presence, being gentle, kind, soft… all of these things. Embracing my faults. Embracing my humanness. My imperfection. Some days it all falls apart and I have a moment of ‘oh, fuck, I remember this…’ … the anxiety the stress, the thoughts like maggots… they can creep in still. But how lovely, how very lovely, that I can notice now, only because it is no longer the ‘norm’.
Some of my practise has been about conscious, daily choices that have formed into habits, others have been a real challenge for me. Truly. I’ve worked really. Fucking. Hard.
I will not look back on 2021 with huge fondness. But I will look back on it with a beneficent smile and with gratitude for how it endlessly showed me my edges, encouraged me to make change, made me step up and out of so many aspects of ‘being me’ that I thought were impossible to put down. . .
If 2021 has been tough for you too then I am sorry. But also I do hope that, like me, you walk toward the end of it with an awareness at how badass you are at holding yourself through it all…
We are amazing in our ability to shape how we experience our reality. I think that is what I mean by the quote I have now put front and centre on my website homepage ‘Life is not about finding yourself, It is about creating yourself…’
I plan to create something even more amazing going forward. Even more amazing, if possible, than this very moment, this lovely moment, where I sit, writing this for you, at the end of a work day, warmed by my log burner and tea, curled up in the world’s comfiest chair that I was gifted for my birthday from a junk shop that I love, and with my oldest child photographing curiosities on my mat at my feet
‘I need to photograph some really weird stuff for art homework so… I need your things…” They said.
Haha. That made me laugh. This moment is lovely. Every moment can be so.
Before I go, earlier today, Kundalini Global shared a post about music. It got me thinking that you may enjoy listening to, or nosying through, some of the music that saw me through this year. An eclectic mix taken from what Spotify told me were some of my ‘top tracks’ of 2021. I am almost certain that none of them are actually from 2021, or even anything close to… it is one realm in which ‘living in the past’ seems acceptable to my new-found, more present, sensibilities.
You’ll find snippets here and it should link you through to it on Spotify too.
If you enjoy that, you must be as peculiar as me. Do let me know.
Sending you all so much love for this festive season.
PS – I have plans for a blog post about my favourite books of the year coming soon… if you have anything else you’d like me to write about or share do let me know! And take care.