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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.