Shaping A Year — and Believing

The time around my birthday and the winter solstice has always been a special time for me — an opportunity to reflect, a chance plan, a dawning. Often in the past I’ve made lists of things I wanted to do in my new year, goals I wanted to accomplish.

But there wasn’t a list in me this year. As I sat there starting at the blank sheet of paper, all I felt was a strong desire for transformation.

The resolutions and goals I had written in the past, things like “lose 15 pounds,” had no weight for me anymore. I realized I didn’t want my life to be a list any longer.

So rather than set goals for 2015, I set an intention: to believe.

I believe my cat is going to be okay, that he’s going to fight cancer and win. I believe that I can let go of old patterns and ways of being that did not serve me. I believe I can transform my business and myself. I believe that I am connected to other people, to the Universe. I believe that I’m part of a bigger picture, and that I’ll fully step into my role helping others this year.

This is the year I believe in all of my magic.

What’s your intention or word for this year?

(And check out this resource from Christine Kane if you need help figuring that out.)

How I Lost (and Found) Myself

I love taking chances.

It’s been nearly a year since I moved to Roanoke, Virginia after meeting my boyfriend at an archery tournament last summer. I knew the only way for us to really explore our relationship was to shorten the distance between us. The high rent on my apartment in DC wasn’t quite suiting me anymore, as I struggled to build my business anyways, so it seemed like a good time to move to a less expensive area. I had high hopes that this new life I was embarking on would fit me.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect.

Instead, I found myself in a really dark depressing place. I’m not speaking of Roanoke itself, but of my mental landscape in my new home. I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t relaxing or taking time for myself. I was just working. I discovered how difficult it was to see friends when I lived four hours away, and so I rarely saw or spoke with anyone. I let myself work, more and more and more, just so I had something to occupy my time. My boyfriend saw how much I worked, but I don’t think he ever understood how unhappy I was.

I was completely disconnected from myself, from my tribe, from the divine.

The darkness took hold.

This summer, the weigh of everything became too much. My health became a real issue that needed attention. Archery competitions made me anxious. My self-talk was incredibly negative and abusive. My relationship with my boyfriend was unraveling.

I felt completely lost.

But the darkness was an unexpected blessing.

One day, I realized the dark isn’t as dark as it seems. It’s not a bad place to be. The dark place I was in was actually illuminating areas of my life I needed to pay attention to; it was telling me that the state of things needed to change.

Slowly, I’m making those changes. I’ve been dealing with my health problems and reminding myself every day of how important it is that I’m mindful. With archery, I’ve gone back to the basics, ignoring targets and scoring and focusing on form and feeling. I decided to move away from Roanoke, closer to my friends in the DC/Northern Virginia area. I found a charming home to rent in Charlottesville with a nice yard in a quiet neighborhood. I decided that if I wasn’t happy right now, my life would never come together again, I would never connect in the way I wanted with others and with the World.

The future will be shades of light and dark.

There are still shadows on the path, but I see a horizon now. And while the land before me is vast and mysterious and I’m somewhat unsure of where I’ll go and what I’ll discover along the way, the path feels good.

Grounded

On Sunday morning, there was a brief warm spell in the area. You could smell the rain coming, but for a few hours, it was sunny and glorious. My whole winter has been spent indoors practically, so between the cold and snow and freezing rain, I was determined to take advantage of the hint of spring.

The boyfriend and I drove out to Glen Alton, an old homestead that was sold to the Jefferson National Forest, mainly to look for deer antler sheds (I love a good treasure hunt) and walk around the trails and ponds.

We wandered off from each other at one point. I was following a deer path I found in one area of the woods; he was off on another. I was alone, eyes scanning the earth around me for any signs of where the deer might have bedded or moved or eaten. For a moment, I stopped and closed my eyes. And there, for the first time in so long, I felt truly grounded and connected with the Earth again.

Sometimes, I like to blame this need to be grounded on my Capricorn sun sign. But we are creatures who love and find certain places we feel more at home in than we do in others. I feel the same way when I write or am solving a puzzle. I suspect many artists feel the same way when they’re deep in their art, and many scientists know the feeling well when they’re immersed in their research. We ground. We connect. We tap into something more infinite, more expansive, more abundant.

I can’t wait for more days in the forest, by the river, in the sun. Spring is so close. But even for the remaining weeks of cold we have ahead, I’m reminding myself that I need to ground even indoors, with those things I love.

What grounds you?

 

Writing a Novel

Over a year ago, I sat in the pub of a small in on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, outlining a novel. The ideas had been swirling around in my head for a few months, and there it all began to come together: the reluctant heroine, the unexpected hero, a villain for the reader to empathize with, a story in the future and in the past and in the present of our hearts.

I mentioned it here and there — I was so excited about it that I just couldn’t contain my enthusiasm. People ask me about it now and then. They want to know how it’s coming along, how many chapters I have written, what my progress has been. I’m almost embarrassed when I tell them that there is no progress, that the novel is on hold. It’s still a piece of me, and I will breathe life into someday, but that time hasn’t come yet.

My inner critic calls me lazy, points out my unfinished endeavors: a novel, an adventure, a magazine, a masters thesis.

We fight, this inner critic and I.

I may be not writing that novel, but I am writing something much more exquisite and complicated: my life.

There are twists and turns and unexpected surprises. I’m living in uncertainty and adventure and beauty. There are highs and lows, and just when I think I know the next step and can control the ending, I discover there’s another path for me.

In the last year, I’ve started my own business, delved deeply into archery, fallen in love, moved to a new city, struggled, soared.

That chapter was titled “Following Your Heart.”

Now I’m plumb in the middle of one titled “Doing What Feels Right and Finding Balance.” And let me tell you, this one has been a real doozy.

What would you title the chapter you’re living right now?

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.