Wow, 2020. You came in relatively gentle with changes anticipated ahead like any other year, but none of us knew the extent of what you had in store for us…
I don’t think any of us have been able to hide from the drastic effects of this pandemic; nor the lessons that can be learned from the year if we look and feel deeply. This I know for sure – no one has had the exact same experience or has dealt with the exact same pain, heartache or joy that this year may have brought to you. Although we are all going through this pandemic and new world together, we are all in very different situations with families, relationships, health, work, and livelihoods that has been subtly or drastically affected in one way or another. Knowing that your situation is not the same as someone else’s reminds us that listening, learning, understanding and living from compassion and kindness towards yourself and others is key to getting through any challenging time a little easier.
For 2021, my focus is to take the (many) lessons I have learned with me into the new year – which humbly bubbled up to the surface by sitting through discomfort, through much loss and pain, reality and uncertainty, loneliness and connection, and growing through the struggles.
For those of you who are unaware and would like to know more of my personal story…My year was supposed to consist of leading four month-long Yoga Trainings and four separate Yoga Retreats between Bali & Greece, and coming home to California, Maine and Boston in between that hard work and beautiful experiences. This year was supposed to be the year that I have worked SO hard for and sacrificed so much for over the course of 6+ years. Reality was, I got through only one of those many plans. And once this pandemic hit, so was I. Hard. In the gut. My life, my livelihood and everything I worked and sacrificed for was all of a sudden forced on hold (like so many others), and I was in another country unsure where to go or what to do next. The cherry on top, was that the exact same week Covid was shutting down the US and Bali, I was being forced to postpone a retreat and training coming up right around the corner, being hit with Dengue Fever (a mosquito born illness that will knock you down hard), and suddenly putting my 11 year old dog down over FaceTime. All at once. So the start of the pandemic was a very rough kick in the ass to a life I had just started building in “paradise,” to say the least. And that was just the start. But it was also the start of releasing attachments to what I had planned in life.
But what was I to do? I wan’t exactly sure, so I acted – as that’s my normal MO. I decided to restructure my teachings online quickly, learned a ton about this new world and the technology that goes along with it, built an online platform, completed over 200hrs of additional yoga, meditation, trauma, bodywork and breathwork trainings, and have been able to teach to brand new corporations and students around the world now that I was online. I am so grateful for all of the opportunities I sought out, yet even more grateful to all of YOU who supported me in many ways to help me continue pursuing my passion and purpose in life. Many of you have truly been my lifeline during this time.
As most are unaware of, I also became a lead Yoga Teacher & Meditation Guide for an online Trauma Recovery Center, supporting individuals working through complex trauma and addiction recovery. This new work truly speaks deeply to my soul. For that I am also grateful, and it reminds me that new amazing avenues can arise at times when you least expect it, even at some of the lowest points in life…if you are open and ready for the opportunities.
And none of that could have happened if I didn’t continue to pull myself up and out of the depths of loneliness, uncertainty, pity and victimhood I was initially feeling. Yes, I also was feeling all of those emotions. Instead of running home and being totally uncertain where that decision would bring me, I made the choice to stick to my initial plan and stay determined to remain on the path of my passion and purpose. All the while, continuing to stay hopeful every day that the life I tried to create with retreats and trainings (and sharing that with you!) could somehow still take place in 2020. Although those trips had to be postponed, they WILL happen again when the world is ready. I wholeheartedly believe that retreats and trainings are not gone, they are simply on pause until the world becomes safer once again. And mark my words, once we can travel safely once again, those retreats and trainings are going to be even more epic and life changing!! My heart has a hard time waiting for those times to come again, with weeks filled of creating deep connections with others and within, enjoying new experiences, cultures, and adventures to fill so many of our souls…but I will wait. With patience and optimism, while I continue to live each day in the present moment focusing on what I CAN do during this new world we find ourselves in.
With all of that being said, where I learned most of my deeper lessons in 2020 wasn’t in the “acting” and “doing” as mentioned above, but in the stillness, in the “being,” and in the vulnerable conversations and connections with others. I am a big believer that we can learn so much through reading and education, but we don’t truly learn our lessons in life until we walk the path of practicing what we’re learning along the way. And that often comes in sitting with yourself, and in our connections with others.
Being in the stillness, slowing down, and focusing inward is where the painful questions and reflections often arise – and it’s definitely not always a pretty scene. I have felt both filled to the brim with gratitude on many days this year, thankful for the hard work and difficult choices I made leading up to this point in life; but I have also felt more loneliness than ever at times as well. This new level of solitude and looking inward at the darker shadow parts is so very necessary for the deeper spiritual growth in life – when we choose to really look. I gave myself the time and permission I always secretly desired to sit in many uncomfortable moments of sadness, uncertainty, and tears. My loved ones know this and supported me through it when I was ready to open up about my lower moments and days, my inner struggle, and also the growth I was stepping into day by day. I continue to learn and evolve through the act of slowing down, listening even more deeply to what my heart is speaking, feeling what my tears are expressing, and trusting in how my soul is growing through it all. And I hope that in any small or large way, you are too.
The funny thing about life is there is no one right way or path. It’s a very personal balance of feeling through the individual ups and downs; of the doing and being; taking risks and playing it safe; connecting to others and constantly re-connecting with yourself; knowing when to say yes and when to say no; setting yourself up for success but not rushing or attaching to an outcome; acting and trusting; learning from the guidance of others and quieting the outside opinions to listen to your own intuition and inner wisdom. I truly believe that striking a healthy balance of it ALL is what can lead to miracles and opportunities even in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.
2021 is a year that will bring about more stress for many, so making it a year of living with compassion and gentleness towards yourself AND others will continue to be key. The new year could also be one where you find gratitude for the healthy life you are still living, and remain optimistic that what you lived through this year is serving a purpose for your future…even if you can’t see it just yet.
I hope in the coming year we all continue to tune inward and listen to the voice of our hearts, live from a place of compassion and growth, and find gentleness in our interactions with others. It won’t always be easy. Each day may feel quite different than the one before, or the one after. So feel each day for what it is, meet yourself there, and be honest with yourself about what you need. Maybe it’s a day to sit in more isolation and reflect in solitude about what is coming up for you; or maybe it’s a day to reach out and connect more deeply with others. And when you can, be there for those who are struggling and have a hard time reaching out. The amount of silent suffering taking place these days is just as big as the covid rates. Connection is key, and it’s something many of us may be losing. But we still do have choices in how we live each day and where we place our focus of love and kindness for ourselves and others.
How can you make 2020 a year of realizing the preciousness of life, listening, learning and growing? What will you choose to focus on in 2021 to help create a better future for yourself? It won’t happen overnight, but it can start in the here and now. Each and every day.
In the words of Mel Robbins, “The lessons you’ve learned, the challenges you’ve faced, the struggles you’ve overcome – they made you who you are today. And they will continue to shape who you are in 2021. It’s up to you to make sure it’s for the better.”
With love always,