I really do love birthdays, I find they hold a kind of significance; the turn of a new chapter, a chance to reflect on achieving an incredible milestone in life. One year older, one year wiser, one year of cosmic experiences that have shaped you and challenged you to ultimately turn you into the version of yourself that you are as you take a step into a new phase of life. Sure, these things happen daily – we are always stepping into a realm of endless possibilities and new phases. But while in some ways every day is a milestone, birthdays are different because all the fuss and the spotlight reminds you to reflect on how far you’ve really made it and where you feel you ought to be going.
Despite my love for birthdays, I opted out of the typical ‘birthday party’ this year. Instead, I took myself to a cabin in the woods to continue the theme of the year that was – a journey of introspection. I’m alone here, and I love it. I haven’t written reflectively since the end of my 10-day (or 6-day, rather) Vipassana meditation sitting in Nepal and I miss it so much. Thank you for letting me reflect with you.
A dear friend once said to me observing your progress in life is like observing a train. If you stand facing the train front-on you may perceive that you haven’t made much progress at all. But if you stand at the side of the train, and watch it go by, you see carriage after carriage of your life’s work, your grit and courage and achievements – no matter how small. When I am feeling inadequate, or a little lost, I think of this analogy and it rouses a gentle smile on my face – you’ve got this B, we’ve all got this.
You see, I’ve realised two things this year that have really helped me through those times of inadequacy, where you feel you’re not in the place you thought you would be in (thanks, 2020) and self-judgement looms over you like an ice-cold breeze.
- Acceptance will give you refuge
- Perception is a gift
We’ve all had to face a deep acceptance in some way, shape or form this year because of the global pandemic. In some ways, we lost control of the steering wheel of our own lives. Plans were redundant, life as we knew it was no longer possible. And that realisation that we no longer sat in the driver’s seat and that we no longer could manipulate our lives to be the way we wanted them to be proved to be a very scary feeling. For me, personally, I had planned to be living in Colombia right now, continuing my nomadic journey on a new continent. I was excited for this and ready for it, but the universe had other plans for me. And the universe had other plans for all of us.
Acceptance and perception were the learnings during these times of drastic change in life’s circumstances. Accepting that I still had my hands on the steering wheel but I was taking a different route gave me refuge. And perception is what I’m sharing with you now, the ability to perceive and shift thought patterns. I could perceive my life had turned out wrong, that I had missed out on something. Or, I could perceive that life had turned out right, and that I had gained something.
Sitting in this cabin in the woods, waking up to the sounds of birds and having the mental capacity to sit and write this is surely something I’ve gained as I enter this new phase in life. I can list a thousand things I have gained in spite of the fact I’m not in Colombia and I’m not where I thought I would be on June 30 2020. And that’s the beauty of perception.
Yesterday evening, I held a sacred space for myself. I meditated and journaled on what I’d like to bring into my life this year. I drew a circle on a piece of paper and everything that I wrote inside of the circle was something I’d like to focus more energy on in my life. Anything I wrote outside of the circle is what I feel doesn’t deserve my energy right now. I coincidentally (or should I say serendipitously) learned from a friend that circles are actually very symbolic in a lot of native traditions. They represent the sun, the moon, the cycles of the seasons, and the cycle of life to death to rebirth. And so, this exercise felt even more powerful and therapeutic. I’d love to encourage you to try something like that for yourself. At the very least it sends cosmic energy to help manifest your truest existence here. Start with just one example inside and out. “I’d like to bring more acceptance into my life, and I’d like to remove excessive self-judgment from my life.” Let me know how you go.
Heading into 34 with intention feels empowering, but heading into 34 with acceptance feels even more so. I know that I can’t fully control what happens this year, but at the very least I am grateful to have learned how to feel acceptance and shift perception around the direction my life takes. Life will give me the challenges I need and the triumphs I deserve and offer polarity in the subtlest ways. And I want to feel all of it, I really do.
Dear 33, I love you. Thank you for helping me grow.