2018: a year falling off-axis

contemplative staring into water on cruiseboat, photo my mother took May 2018

contemplative staring into water on cruiseboat, photo my mother took May 2018

2018 was a year of me falling off axis, again and again. I felt continually destabilized and uncentered: with work, with my living situation, with the people closest to me. This was not what I was hoping for after 2017— a year that felt like recovering from a train wreck. 2017 had the beautiful clarity and fragility that came with rebirth, but 2018 was like sinking into swamplands and extricating myself, over and over again. 2017 was equal parts darkness and light. 2018 was just murky.

But. 2018 also gave me so many gifts — crucial lessons and skills I’ll use for the rest of my life. It raised my resilience index. It cleansed me of everything except what was most essential. After I had spent three years making scary jumps in both my career and personal life, 2018 helped me find solid ground (by beating me repeatedly with a stick). With everything destabilized, I learned what was at the base of my emotional and psychic foundation. I’ll enumerate my lessons here.

home as sacred

I think the biggest thing I learned from this year is the sacredness of home. Not “home” as in that pilgrimage to my parent’s house, but the home I create for myself as an adult. Home as a practice — as much as it is a place. I had months where I would spend a few nights in three different places every week, or I’d be traveling somewhere every other weekend, for months on end. No.

I guess I always thought of myself as more the restless type than a homebody. Growing up, staying at home all week would leave me feeling suffocated. But what I realized now is that home — the home I cultivate for myself — is the place I nourish my wellbeing and gather strength, so that I can send my fullest self out in the world. No matter how far or often I travel, to be grounded in home is to be grounded in myself.

solitude is healing

Each time I felt off-axis, what re-centered me again and again was spending time alone nourishing myself — going to the gym, to hot yoga, to pottery, to a cafe, or to Whole Foods, and meticulously picking out a flower arrangement for my dining table. Nothing heals me more than a long, sunny day relishing the presence of my own company.

relationship is a mirror

This past year, I saw that all the conflicts and tensions in my most intimate relationships are merely mirrors for what’s going on within me. I learned to see my judgement and criticism of other people as unfulfilled needs, and to not expect one person to fulfill any large portion of my needs. Time and time again, I was reminded that to be connected to another requires first that I connect with myself.

work is a marathon

I’m great at having spurts of energy to initiate new and exciting projects (maybe because I’m a moon in Aries) but, this year, I had a lot of problems with follow through. I did a huge client project twice. I started selling pottery and stopped after realizing it was completely infeasible. I started a 100 portraits project and quit after 20 portraits. I followed the “ready-fire” approach, and lost a lot of momentum — simply because I didn’t think through the entire arc of a project. As much as I love to focus on one thing, I also really need a varied creative diet. I’ve learned to carefully examine new undertakings as marathons, and to question if I really want to do something before I commit.

focus on what i want

…instead of just stating what I don’t want. I learned to be really specific about stating the kind of life I’m trying to build for myself (in all areas: work, love, home) because if I simply say what I don’t want, I’ll just end up lost. My intentions need to be a positive directional force. It’s almost like… without a strong wind to carry my life this or that way, I would just be spinning around in circles.

For 2019, I made a vision book with my goals and intentions. I’m hoping this will carry me through the new year with grace and focus.

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