When I think back to the beginning of 2010, I had no idea how much my life would shift and change in the next 10 years. Sometimes it is helpful to look back with gratitude for how far we’ve come, what we have survived and say thank to the Divine Universe/God for helping us to make it to another year.
At the beginning of 2010, I was working on From Scared to Sacred in a Writer’s Group. I was a hypnotherapist seeing clients. I was working part-time nights and weekends at the law firm I had worked at since 1989. In 2010, I submitted my book in something called “the Next Top Spiritual Author Competition.” Even at the time, I thought that a competition among spiritual authors seemed like an oxymoron. And it turned out to be a divine plan to connect me with like-minded people around the world. These people supported the book launch of From Scared to Sacred when it came out in 2012. My recent appearance on the Winter Solstice Summit I Am Symposium is a direct result of meeting Renee Baribeau through that “competition.”
2010 was the year, my mother passed after a long debilitating journey with Parkinson’s Disease. Both my mom and dad were gone. I learned to navigate the world without being able to pick up the phone and tell mom something. I now whispered to their spirits and they often sent signs that they were listening and supporting me from the great beyond.
In the fall of 2010, I left the law firm job and I took the first class in the beginning of my shamanic studies with the Four Winds Society. I went to Peru in 2011. The journey was life changing. I have continued to study and grow my connection to spirit and this medicine along the way. So many miracles where spirit was present and worked through me in ceremony, in sessions with clients and daily events. In many ways, it feels like I have been walking this path much longer than 10 years because the minute I stepped on it, it felt like coming home.
Yet I often looked at what wasn’t working rather than all the amazing things that were. I had times where I got so caught up in trying to make my life work that I couldn’t even hear the whispers of spirit that had so lovingly led me thus far. After all it was only in my head and judgment that life wasn’t working. I beat myself up for being in my 50s and still not being “there.”
In 2018, I hit a low spot, I was working a corporate job that was taking up more and more of my time. I started there committing to 21 hours a week and ended up running major proposal efforts that had me working 65-70 hours for weeks on end. There were good reasons I stepped up to work more: a co-worker whose mother was dying of Parkinson’s disease (I know, right?), my boss who was battling cancer. But as I stepped up to fill in the gaps and put my head down and did what needed to be done, people expected me to work at that level all the time. I was losing connection to the inner voice. I was losing connection to who I really was as I trudged through the day. This was a combination of not setting boundaries, not taking care of myself and feeling that I was somehow wrong for needing the corporate job to survive in the world. “If I were just spiritual and connected enough, I wouldn’t need a job!”
I was functional so I didn’t realize that I was depressed. As I came into 2019, I knew I needed to make some changes. I cut off 10 inches of hair. I got new funky glasses. (These physical changes released my inner sass! I didn’t realize how much I was hiding and stuck in a look I had had for over 20 years.) I set better boundaries at work. Although the conflict between the me that likes to step up and solve problems and the me that wants time for creativity and a deeper connection to my spirit path still is something I have to balance on a daily basis.
In 2019, I decided to do something just for me because it would give me joy. I chose to take a weekend workshop that was about writing and performance which led to being in an ongoing women’s sacred voice workshop. This opened the door to the show I did in December and gave me back a part of myself that I had put in a box on the shelf. In 2020, I hope to continue this momentum with crafting a one hour one woman show.
A dear friend said to me the other day, “I look at you and I see all the amazing things you’ve done and your journey so far and I think ‘Wow, look at all Carol has done. I’ve just been dealing with my stuff and don’t feel like I’ve made progress.’” My inner critic wanted to say, “I haven’t done anything. It isn’t enough!” But I paused and thought, “what if I gave myself credit? What if my friend gave herself credit?” She negotiated health challenges, the end of a marriage and a move. I look at her and see a brave warrior woman. She doesn’t see that in herself. And I don’t see myself how she sees me. I realized that good friends help us find ourselves when we lose a connection to who we are. They can be positive mirrors to remind us.
Our western culture is goal oriented. It is based in comparison and competition. What if I wasn’t looking for a “there” and enjoyed and gave myself credit for the little steps daily rather waiting to celebrate a big accomplishment? What if I really allowed those big accomplishments like writing two books, writing and performing a show, etc. to be celebrated rather than always looking for the next thing and what I haven’t done?
I do a gratitude practice every day. I am grateful for family, friends, my dog, coffee, having roof over my head, for waking up another day, for something beautiful I saw on my walk. But I missed an important aspect of gratitude. The gratitude to spirit for the journey thus far.
Linda Fitch,who was one of my teachers at the Four Winds, posted a video in December where she told of being on the mountain in Peru with a Q’ero elder and people were struggling on the climb and he stopped and said “we must pray.” Linda thought, “Yes, we must pray to help everyone up the mountain.” But the elder took out coca leaves and passed them to the hikers, he led them in blowing this prayer into the kintu of three coca leaves “Thank You, Thank You, thank you for helping us get this far.” They gave those prayers to Pachamama (mother earth) and continued on their sacred journey up the mountain, stopping again after a while to pray again, “thank you, thank you, thank you for your help in getting us this far.” Chills ran up my spine as I watched the video. It reminded me to say thank for the support of my journey up my personal mountains.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for the support in bringing me to the year 2020 in which I will turn 59. Thank you for the support through the times that seemed dark and helping me come out into the light. Thank you for this moment, this breath and the understanding that the steps I take today are all I have. Let me walk them with grace, love, empathy, an awareness of the preciousness of this moment and this life.
Many years I set a theme word. This year, I’m going to work with that prayer. “thank you, thank you, thank you for your help in getting me this far.”
May 2020 be a year of gentleness and bravery. Gentleness that you may be kind to yourself and others. Bravery so that you may take the step that is in front of you that needs to be taken. Whether you need bravery to go after a dream or just face the day, may you find that loving courage to be here with what is today and take the steps unfolding in front of you.