It’s a cold, snowy Monday night at home after a long day of work. Candles are lit, music is playing, and I’m wrapped up in a blanket. It’s just a few days before Thanksgiving. And it’s time for me to count my blessings.
Somehow, over the past 6 years, my Thanksgiving blessings post has become one of my favorite posts to create. I suppose it should actually be an “end of the year” post written during the last week of the year. But, I have grown quite fond of my twist on summarizing my year. It feels appropriate to take stock of the past year during a holiday that is called Thanksgiving. Plus, it challenges me to find blessings even in the tough moments. I mean, isn’t gratitude, being grateful, giving thanks something way deeper than just being happy when we get something we want?
Besides, the time between Thanksgiving, which falls during the last week of November, and New Year’s Eve is a holiday-filled season focused on activities, traditions, rituals, and gatherings. We get all wrapped up in the festive-ness of it all. And, admit it, at times (often), it’s just a chaotic time of the year. November’s dark days + nights seem better suited for a slow, deep, reflective post of the blessings from the past year. So, my year-end reflection has become a 12 blessings Thanksgiving post. And, that feels just right to me.
So, here I am. In the cozy, quiet, mystical darkness of November. Ready to look back over the past 12 months and rediscover those blessings that have marked + created my year.
December 2021: The one with the daily Blogmas posts
After Thanksgiving last year I was still looking for a new job. Lina worked from home. Omicron began to surge. We quarantined for 10 days. I wrote a blog post every day until the winter solstice. And we soaked up a slow, cozy December together. It was a very simple time of year and I thrived in the slow, quiet, intentional mood of it all.
January 2022: The one with an American Pandemic holiday
I can’t believe that just as the Omicron surge happened in Europe + the US, Lina and I were able to make it to the States to visit my family. After 2 way-too-long years apart, it was a dream to be able to travel to see them again. At the same time, the actual travel and quarantining and tracking down PCR tests and stress of becoming sick was a nightmare. Still… totally worth it. Even if it was a super weird, stay inside Christmas in North Carolina. But, I wouldn’t change it for anything! (Plus… how Lina + I made it to and from the States without getting Covid is beyond me.).
February 2022: The one with the triple tragedies
Things started off well this month. It was definitely winter, but the light had changed. The energy in the air has shifted. I could feel the roots and shoots growing beneath the earth. It was like that before dawn vibe. Something was waking, stirring, living. And right in alignment with that waking energy, I was offered a position at an alternative school – where I would get to create a new program. Everything felt new + possible. And then, the war in Ukraine started. And we found out that we were not pregnant – again. And our neighbor on the other side of our bedroom wall jumped from her window to her death. All within 24 hours. And it was as if I couldn’t breathe. I felt the rising hope of the season and the despair of the cruelty of life all at the same time. But, I had my love. I had purpose. And so, even confused, grieving, in shock, angry, and afraid, I kept on. I trusted mother nature to guide me. And my love to hold me as I held her.
March 2022: The one with a new job
On March 1st I reported to a new job. One that has turned out to be such an inspiring, creative, meaningful way to grow my leadership skills. I’m still working with young people, but also working from a more planning, coordinator, administrative, leadership position. So, for now, it is the perfect combo of in the trenches with young people, leading staff through some planning, and taking over some administrative international work.
Aside from my work, March was a month of surviving and simply living life day to day. Paying attention to the little things, the regular moments, the shifts as spring slowly begins to arrive. Finding gratitude in the new routines that I was creating.
April 2022: The one where we lost Zola
We adopted Zola the cat in 2009 when she was about 2 years old. She’s been with us since then, back and forth across the ocean as we’ve moved from Sweden to the States and back to Sweden again. But, on Good Friday, she was suddenly gone. Yes, she’d been noticeably older in the past year or so, but still doing all of her things. We were not at all prepared to have to say goodbye to her. But, she went downhill suddenly within 24 hours and then it was all over. Such a tiny little cat, but such a huge presence in our life. Even as I write this, the emptiness aches inside of me.
But, then sun returned to our balcony. Almost as if to remind us that life moves on. The days continue to pass. And it’s up to me to decide how I want to spend them. So, in the midst of it all, the grief and sadness and shock, Lina and I continued to do as we’ve done for the past 2 years. Push on. Keep breathing. And find the good moments that are always present.
May 2022: The one with my brother’s baby
My brother + his partner had a baby! My parents were ready to move to Maine. It was my love’s birthday. We made a chaotic, epic one week trip to the States to drive my parents from North Carolina to Maine and to meet our newborn niece. And, of course, as May progressed, nature began to bloom and the bright, warm season greeted us with blue skies, green leaves, and sunshine. Looking back, it was actually a super big month for my family. Like. Super life changing. I mean, North Carolina is not my home base anymore. It’s still my hometown, but it’s not where we will be traveling to anymore. And… I’m an aunt! My heart is bursting with love for Kali. ❤️
June 2022: The one with the summer vibes
The school year ended. The sun returned for it’s brightest, longest day. The air warmed. Work slowed to a relaxing pace. And we decided that even though we were working all through June, we’d make those summer feelings a part of everyday life.
July 2022: The one with the roadtrip
Vacay month!! Lina + I packed the car and took off for a 2.5 week roadtrip through southern Sweden and Denmark. It was perrrrrfect. The archipelago → Lund → Malmö → Copenhagen → Farhult.
August 2022: The one that was work + play
Summer vacay was over. It was time to return to work. But, like we did in June, the summer fun was still a part of everyday life for a little bit longer. We were determined to go to work during the day and live that summer life in the evenings + weekends. And we did just that.
September 2022: The one that is always my favorite
It’s my birthday month. Autumn arrives. What could be better?! I love September and this one was pretty great. We had a friend from Berlin visit – I believe it had been 5 years since we’d seen each other! I started up the project I’d been planning at work since March + settled into a rhythm with an awesome colleague . Lina changed projects, revamping her work days and heading back to in-office work after 2.5 years. The seasons shifted. I got my 4th vaccine. The sun left our balcony until next March. And I welcomed year number 48.
October 2022: The one with the dark + moody magic
October is a month of pure mood. The energy starts to slow down and draw me inward. Mystery lingers in the air and all I want is to sink into the darkness. And while life moved on, I let that October magic guide me in all that I did. We visited friends in Uppsala for a weekend. Went to Peanut’s memorial site. On Tuesdays, Lina sang + I went to yoga. We processed more grief and sadness in our baby story. I traveled to Copenhagen for work. We celebrated a cozy Halloween here with friends. And again… the shift in nature. Magic. The growing year came to an end + darkness was upon us.
November 22: The one with all the darkness
Candles. Darkness. Moodiness. Slowing way down. And yet, even though the energy of November has been on point, this month has been flying by. I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is here. To be honest, this time last week, I was not looking forward to the holidays much at all. Or at least not in the same way I usually feel. We even canceled a Girlsgiving dinner we had planned on hosting last weekend.
The month started off with a very slow, quiet, calm week at work. It was fall break, so there were only a few of us in the office and I had some super quality time with myself to get some shit done and just enjoy the quiet days. Darkness has really taken over now. The leaves are gone. The air has finally chilled. And we’ve had our first snow.
I’ve fallen deep into the darkness, I think. Not in a bad way. But, my mind + body + soul are really preparing for the season of hibernating, rest, and restoration. And I am so in love with this time of year.
I started this on Monday evening and it’s now early in the morning on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. The holiday season officially begins (according to me) after dinner tonight! But, for now, on this last super dark November morning before work, I need to wrap up this post, Since I’ve come back to this post to write and shift and ponder for a few days now, I’ve really connected with my memories and feelings from this past year. It’s been nice to really take the time to explore and express and travel back through this year.
Still, I don’t really know how to summarize this year. I don’t think that I can even categorize years as good or bad anymore. All of them are everything. The past few years have taught me that. Grief and sadness mingle with love and hope. They are all a part of this earthly, cosmic experience. And I’m finding my that sense of spirituality is nestled deeply into living ordinary life. It is fleshy, organic, and a real presence every day. At the same time, it is also mystical and otherworldly, as I feel the universality of the connections with others, with nature, with that unseen breath of spirit and cord of love that bind us to each other.
In other words, slow living in rhythm with the seasons is the thing that grounds and inspires me. And my spirituality, my meaning in life, is meant to be lived out right in the middle of the messiness of it all. It’s all of these ordinary days that make up a year. All of the emotions and all of the moments found in each day. And this was a year filled with all kinds of moments. Which, to me, are all blessings. And for that, I am beyond grateful.
I think I’ll leave it there. Except to wish you a very cozy Thanksgiving (of you celebrate it) and Happy Holidays, dear ones. The season of wonder is here. And I look forward to creating moments of silent waiting and festive celebrating all season long. Here’s to a year of new moments + memories! All my love to you.
Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo. liz.