It’s become my Monday night ritual … settling in to one of my favourite writing spots with a treat and a beverage close at hand, spending time checking in with my cross-country writing group, then disconnecting for about an hour to write. Lots of that writing has ended up here in one form or another, but much also never sees light beyond its place on the pages of my notebook.
Tonight feels a little different. It’s Monday night, I’m settled in to one of my usual spots, and I anticipate catching up with my writing buddies shortly. The thing that makes it different is that it’s December 17th and today is my birthday.
As he always does every year, my dad asked me if 43 felt any different. Nope was my not very awake response. It was truthful. 43 today doesn’t feel any different from 42 yesterday.
But 43 today from 42 a year ago? That’s a different thing entirely. It’s not about the my age. It’s about so much that has changed over the last twelve months. I could never have imagined what this year would bring, but I am grateful for so much.
So here is my year of gratitude. Much of it has already been shared in this space, but I didn’t always realize at the time how each little change and discovery was going to lead me through the year. Seems appropriate that this is actually a baker’s dozen. The list needs to include both Decembers in order to be complete.
- December – For recognizing unconditional love and allowing that reality to sink into my soul. For reminders from unexpected places and shiny people who make the world a better place simply by being in it.
- January – For a job that I enjoy, that allows me space outside of work for other creative pursuits, that provides security, and that allowed the purchase of my new car Suzy. Almost a year later and it still makes me grin when the car payment comes out of my bank account. She’s a little more fully mine and I love the freedom she brings.
- February – For the end of our writing apprenticeship and the beginning of something new. We didn’t want our time together to be over, but it was time for us to take what we’d been learning and keep growing. For inspiration, accountability and challenge to keep writing. For writing buddies who are now dear friends.
- March – For choosing to own my story. It’s not a part of my faith story that I felt I could talk about when I was a youth pastor. I was ashamed and embarrassed. It made me want to hide. Telling it was the first step of finding my way to a faith that feels like I can belong, just as I am.
- April – For rediscovering my love of writing poetry. For the faithfulness of long-time friends. For new friends with unexpected things in common. For learning that sharing my writing can be beautiful and healing. For support and encouragement sometimes from surprising sources.
- May – For celebrating the wedding of my dear friends Hunter and Chris. What a privilege it was to be asked to help officiate the wedding ceremony of two of the sweetest people I know.
- June – For first glimpses of a spiritual practice that fits. For plans changing at the last minute. For wisdom shared. For learning to sit with my own shit and name it honestly. For admitting anger at God. For trying and embracing new things despite fear. For discovering that a non-bendy person can do and enjoy yoga.
- July – For five magical days spent with a beautiful group of women in Garrison, New York. For our Creative Joy – Flow small group. For a continuing circle of women who will always be a place of coming home no matter how far apart we live. For leaders who shared their hearts, their sorrow and their joy and helped us stretch and bloom in ways we never imagined.
- August – For the lessons learned during August Break. Taking one photo a day seemed like such a trivial exercise, but it helped change the way I see the world. There is so much beauty in this world but it is so easy to miss out if we’re not deliberately paying attention. Oh, and for new haircuts!
- September – For finding a path beyond anger and through hurt. For re-discovering faith in a creator who calls us beloved and invites us to respond in kind. For guides along the path to remind that we’re not pointlessly going around in circles. For spirals of learning that gently allow us to dig deeper with new perspective each time around.
- October – For finding comfort in practicing yoga at home. For learning to be gentle with and accepting of my body exactly as it is. For yoga teachers who are kind. For discovering the joy of meditation.
- November – For a new sense of community found. For friends who draw us out of our comfort zones and help us find new places where we belong. For creative expression of all sorts.
- December - For friends old and new, in person and online. For family, biological and of the heart. For realizing that this year’s birthday greetings resonate differently than they ever have before. I know the spirit of them hasn’t changed, but I can hear them now in a way that I was afraid to trust before. This year they made my heart sing with the joy of being known and loved. You are held so close to my heart.
I am truly blessed and so very grateful.