New Beginnings

It’s been awhile since I last wrote in this space. I write in here when the words come and the inspiration hits, in that harmonious space between having something to say, choosing to say it here, and enjoying the bliss that comes from writing my heart out.

So what’s happened in the last 3 months???

I went on a fantastic trip East!  

I participated in a 12 week online retreat!

I moved into a new house!

My trip East:

This California girl got 2 weeks of winter wonderland this year. Spring has sprung in much of the country at this point, but back in late January/early February, I got the best of winter.

I flew to Colorado first, craving a visit with friends and some time in the Rocky Mountains. I braved the wintry mountain roads for a visit with friends, Sarah and Tyrhone, where they were house-sitting just outside of the quaint high-altitude town of Leadville. We hiked, walked, hot spring’ed, and watched the big fat snowflakes fall, but it was the warmth and depth of connection and conversation with my friends that filled me up inside.

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The mountain view from the house

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Twin Lakes

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Leadville

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Wintry roads

Back in Denver, it was awesome to reconnect with friends from my college days (Yeah Colorado College!). It had been 5 years since the last visit so even though Facebook had kept us briefed on each others’ life events, we had a really wonderful catch up conversation, the kind that you can only do in person. Hopefully it is not another 5 years before the next visit! That first night after I had arrived, we got a huge dumping of snow, and that set our plans for the day, sledding! I’ll tell ya, seeing their beautiful kids in their snow gear and loving the snow was adorable.

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My beautiful friends and their kids who say “thanks Dad for pulling us up AND pushing us down the sledding hill!”

Next up was heading further East to visit my parents and extended family in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I flew in and out between the major snowstorms and lucky me, somehow didn’t have any flight delays.

I was truly thrilled to experience a real New England winter, in fact, this may have been the only real winter I’ve ever experienced! There was a child-like wonder to it; I had never been so excited to build a snow-man before! And then there was the skiing. I was a little nervous since I hadn’t skied in 10 years but with our idyllic powder conditions and a mellow hill, I took to it like I hadn’t skipped a beat. Sharing the experience with my parents and cousin was like living “a day in the life of a New Englander”.

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My mom and I went to town on building this snow-guy!

 

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Skiing with the parents at Wachusett Mountain

 

I loved visiting my family and seeing how they adapt to and enjoy winter, but this visit confirmed that I don’t have any desire to live in a place with a real winter. End of story.

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Yes, I’m smiling here, but no, I don’t want to shovel snow on a regular basis, ever.

 

Journey to Shine Retreat:

My friend Sarah (who I had visited in Colorado) led and facilitated a 12 week virtual retreat of self-discovery and healing which I participated in. How much and how often we participated in the retreat was entirely up to us. Each week had a theme or two to focus on, and Sarah shared her personal stories, reflections, strategies, and resources (via emails and video chats) to encourage us to connect with our own story and go deeper within to find peace and healing.

It is so very hard to sum up and describe this transformation that I’ve experienced. It probably deserves its own blog post, but considering it took me 3 months to get this one out, I’m going for it here and now (even though it makes this post quite long, fuck it, here it is).

The self-discovery process was eye opening and some of it even painful. Memories from my past that I had rather never think of again popped up. Some days I was filled with regret and shame as I re-visited my past “mistakes” and failures. But the grand lesson learned was to embrace ALL of my journey, that every decision, that every joy and every challenge, led me to right here, this moment. There’s been a purpose and a lesson in even the most toughest of times, I just didn’t know it yet.

Now when I’m facing decisions (big or small!), times of transition, a change in plans, and/or unmet expectations, there is a trust that it will all work out. Because it does. Even if it doesn’t seem like it is at the time. Of course, it’s natural to feel some fear when facing change, whether expected or unexpected, internal or external, but I would say that my relationship with change and fear is now much healthier than ever before. I’m open to the realm of possibilities and I acknowledge that life is dynamic and fluid, and in the grand scheme of it all, nothing is static. Always moving, always evolving.

Intertwined with the exercise of embracing my whole journey was discovering and embracing my true and unique self. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression on and off for many years, I had always thought that I needed to fix myself, to somehow change essential parts of me to become a happier, have-it-all-together person. Essentially, abandon “me”. Still, I have my moments when I think that I’m not enough, that I’m “behind” in life, that I should be doing this or feeling that or I worry about what others think of me. But through this retreat I’ve learned to take a deep breath and work towards the kind of self-love that is unconditionally accepting myself as I am, faults and flaws and all. That I must not abandon Self. That I need to seek the light WITHIN me, rather than rely on outside sources for the validation, for the fuel to light my fire. Some days that light barely flickers, some days it burns bright. This isn’t easy stuff, but now I have some resources to help me push through the uncomfortable and into the light.

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It is AMAZING what a few minutes of sitting still can do. I had dismissed “meditation” for so long thinking I had to sit still for hours and completely quiet my chatty obnoxious mind to gain any benefit, but not so! In fact, in my experience, it only takes a few minutes of closing my eyes, sitting still, breathing deep, and observing the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations of that moment to experience life-changing mindfulness.

These reflections and actions did not come on their own. They came out of the inspiration, exercises, and connection experienced during the retreat with Sarah and a wonderful group of women. Two of the most powerful and healing words in the English language are “ME TOO”. And I’d like to say to anyone who has struggled or who can relate to anything I’ve written here, that you are not alone.

I’m deeply grateful for the experience (more than words can say), and for anyone interested, Sarah is leading another retreat starting May 4th! More info here!

I moved! 

It seems only fitting that right after the retreat ended, I finally moved out of San Francisco! But not where I initially thought I would be! See, I had this plan and all… but things change!

It was a long time coming that I would leave Big City living behind me, for over a year at least I had this plan that I would move to the North Bay this year, living and working (hopefully finding a bookkeeping job) in familiar territory that I feel very connected to. However, over the past few months, my position and salary with my current employer in SF evolved to give me enough incentive to stay for the foreseeable future. I love my job bookkeeping for an adventure travel company!

BUT I also still craved a move out of San Francisco and my cramped downstairs apartment. I contemplated a move north anyway, but decided the commute across a bridge to our southern SF office would just be too much.

Enter Pacifica.

A small coastal town just 15 miles south of the City, it is an easy 25 minute freeway commute to my SF office. Only a month into my search, I got a room offer in a gorgeous one-level house on a hill with an amazing garden and a peek of the Pacific between the two houses across the street. I can’t stop staring out the window. Especially at sunset.

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My room view

 

Most importantly, it is quiet and peaceful here. Small beach town living and a world away from the City. I’m really looking forward to exploring more of the surrounding hills and cliff-side ocean views.

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My new favorite viewpoint over Pacifica, a 30 minute walk from my new place.

 

I sage smudged my new room last week. To new beginnings.

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18 comments

  1. Oma Less · · Reply

    Sam: Another wonderful blog. I loved reading about your activities and changes. I would love to hear from you. I can relate to your retreat discoveries: I also am at the stage in life when I must accept certain things, such as normal aging and not being able to do what I used to do. But I must accept life as it is. And I do love my life. I am well (for which I am grateful) and busy. I do love you!! Oma

    1. Thank you Oma! Glad to hear that you are well and loving life! It seems like acceptance of the changes is the only way to move forward, even if the changes are difficult to adjust to. Love you.

  2. Wow, some cool stuff here Sam! Really pleased your new place is working out for you, I remember you saying how you needed to get out of SF. Pacifica looks beautiful.

    1. Thanks Rob! It is gorgeous here! Can’t wait to hike up into the hills and get the ridge-top views down towards the ocean. Glad to hear you’re rolling on the tandem! You’re going through some beautiful landscapes too :)

  3. Joke Groen · · Reply

    Nice reading , your stories are so pleasent to read, your style is catchy, enjoy the changes!!

    1. Thank you Joke! I really appreciate your kind words!

  4. roamingtheworld · · Reply

    So happy for you! Yes to new beginnings!

    1. Yes! And to you too! Enjoy Europe!

  5. Saging is a wonderful to clear out the old and make room for the new! I’m so glad to hear the retreat was as good for you as it was for me and the other ladies.

    1. Yes, I haven’t been much of a sacred ritual person in life at all really, but with inspiration from the retreat and on practicing presence, I wanted prepare my new space for the internal shifts I’d made and for my physical presence. When I realized that burning some sage was a cleansing ritual, that was it!

  6. Oh, this is so wonderful to read, Sam. I am beyond impressed with the changes you have made to become more peaceful and free. Reading your words about being still and breathing made me well up! The fact that you tried something you didn’t think you could do and have discovered a way of relaxing your mind and body which works for you makes the whole thing worthwhile for me, it really does. Your new home looks amazing. I am so, so happy for you and I know your journey is going to get better and better. Much love to you xxx

    1. Oh sweet Sarah! Thank you. The way that you have translated your journey into a healing path for others is just amazing! You have a gift and your light makes the world a brighter place. “Let it be” – three transformative words right there, thanks Beatles! With the job and new home aligning, the journey is already better and I’m savoring it. Much love.

  7. […] friend Sam just wrote about her experience of participating in the e-retreat and I am so touched by the connections and discoveries she […]

  8. Wow! What a great post. The past, present and future all rolled into one! My husband is from back east and our one Christmas there all I wanted was snow, but they didn’t really get any. Then the past couple years have been the neverending winter….oh well.

    I’m so glad you found so much depth and love for Self during this retreat. I have so many of the same thoughts and feelings coming out of it. Thank you for sharing!

    I love love LOVE your new view. What a peaceful and lovely place to live. Sometimes things work out better than we could have imagined when we stop trying to control it. Right?

    1. Thanks Carmel, and thanks for stopping by! Yeah, the weather can be so fickle anywhere! I’m feeling pretty spoiled here in CA, except for missing the rain while we suffer through this drought! I’ve almost considered a move up the coast to the lovely Northwest where I know you are, but the Bay still feels like “home” for now. And yes, that view, I’m in love! And right about trying to let go of control! Never thought I’d move south of SF, but opening my mind up and realizing that it’s not a decision that commits me to one place (or job) forever was key to moving forward.

      Glad my reflection ramblings made some sense to someone else on the retreat! Yes, depth, that’s a great way to put it.

  9. I found you through the lovely Sarah. I love what you wrote about the retreat you completed with her. I so relate and have been learning so much of what you spoke about. Especially that on not abandoning self, not letting outside opinions define you, and embracing your whole self. So beautiful. And thank you for the reminder that I can sit in meditation even WITH a racing mind and it is beneficial. Oftentimes I tell myself the lie that it’s not “worth it” to meditate unless my mind is still. Thank you for reminding me of the mindfulness that comes from sitting even with the racing thoughts.
    Lovely post, thank you for sharing your truth, light, and wisdom. I look forward to seeing more. :)

    1. Thank you for connecting and stopping by Laurie! I am a huge fan of your writing! Love your blog, so beautiful.
      Oh it is still a near daily uphill battle to not let outside opinions define or hurt me, but knowing what the opposite of that is (seeking the light within, accepting self) has made all the difference.
      I don’t think my mind has ever been completely still! The benefit has truly come from physically being still (in this go go go world), acknowledging the moment, and observing instead of judging my thoughts and physical surroundings. As a very sensitive person, I notice every noise, smell, emotion, so even just stating what it is instead of determining if it’s good or bad has been the key to “sitting in stillness” and being in the moment for me.
      Thank you for your kind words :)

      1. That is extremely helpful for me. I’m also really sensitive, especially to emotions. So I’m wondering if the labeling thing would be a better approach to stillness for me. I have done a bit of it and that has seemed to help. I had a moment last week where I sat with anger without trying to DO anything about it or figure out what it was about… That opened up more stillness within than I have experienced in quite some time.
        Looking forward to reading more from you, Sam! Glad I came across your blog. :)

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