The sun is setting on 2021 and all endings, all dark times, all evenings and nighttimes are the perfect opportunities for a little inner work, I believe. Since I find myself right smack dab in-between a magical, powerful full moon and the mystical winter solstice, I feel like this is the perfect time to really take advantage of this dark Sunday night in December. I’ve got a candle lit, Christmas music playing, and a blanket around me to keep me warm. But, I’ve also got 21 questions for a bit of midwinter self-reflection.
This is my way to process the year that has been, remember the moments that have touched me in all kinds of ways, unearth the lessons of the year, release the pain and disappointments, and begin to heal by using the wisdom that I have discovered through it all. It’s a chance for me to have some solitude in order to listen to the whispers of my soul as I am guided forward by my own experiences, memories, and lessons from 2021.
How was 2021 for you? Honestly, for me, it was tough. I am not at all the same as I was a year ago. So. Much. Has. Changed. But, before I just spill out all of my reflections, thoughts, and memories right here… let me get to the questions. They will reveal all of the answers, questions, and feelings that I have. And, I am certain that they will help me begin to let go of this year with a sense of deep contentment and gratitude; and at the same time, these 21 questions will push me gently forward through these portal days into a new beginning in 2022.
Here’s how I’d describe my year
- What is the first thought or feeling that comes to mind when you think of the past year?
- tough, difficult
- What sentence or phrase sums up your year?
- 2021 was the year that everything changed – especially me.
- What one word would you use to describe your year?
Here’s what happened
- What sticks out to you most about the past year? (An event, a memory, a change, etc.)
- Lina and I started off the year expecting a baby in July. Unfortunately, she had some chromosomal abnormalities and in week 16, with the advice and counsel of specialists, we ended the pregnancy. This changed everything. As it does when you lose a child, even an unborn one. It has been a long, rough road of slow healing ever since.
- How did the year surprise you? What went as expected?
- I think I was surprised by the way that I have come to understand that love + grief are one in the same. They are like light + dark. To experience the fullness of life, one must have both. And they run parallel or in spirals or just all jumbled up together. Life is not learning to balance the good + the bad, but learning to accept + embrace the present, and all that is felt in the present moment, which can be grief or love or both at the same time. Living life is living in the middle of it all.
- As for what I expected, I don’t even know if I had expectations. All I remember on January 1, 2021 was feeling the hope of expecting a baby, feeling the pain + coziness of celebrating the holidays in the middle of lockdown. I expected hope, I guess. And, I suppose it is true that I am closing out 2021 with… even after this year… hope for what is to come.
- What significant life events or transitions did you go through this year?
- Losing Peanut, our baby + our dream.
- Moving from Uppsala to Norrköping in the summer. Upending our life in order to start over + begin to refill our lives with things that fill our soul. Best decision of 2021.
- What excited you this past year?/What moments were good?
- Moving was exciting + so very good. Exploring the city – where we’ve lived before. But, it has changed so much. We absolutely soaked up every second of this past summer – finding new bars, pubs, restaurants, and loving our new home and our epic balcony.
- What disappointed you this past year?
- Leaving my old work. I needed to leave + I am so glad I did. But, I left feeling such a sense of “just let me move on”. And that feels very disappointing after 5.5 years giving my heart and soul to my work. But, it had been a very tough year. I felt disconnected, not like myself, isolated, and uninspired. I still loved what I did and still loved all of the young adults I worked with. But, I realized that I was outgrowing my work there – I only realize that now, looking back. I needed a restart. But, it was just a weird ending. The staff I worked with was so sweet + kind, but there was also a whoooole lot of stress, pressure, bad feelings, hurt feelings, and exhaustion. They sent me off, after 5.5 years, with much love and blessings, but we all were wiped the fuck out.
Here’s what I did
- What accomplishments are you proud of this year?
- I got my f-ing Swedish driver’s license!!! And that is a big f-ing deal! It costs a shit ton of money – thanks USA for my stimulus checks! – and a whole bunch of time… because it is hard. But, I did it! On my first try! (Not many do that). And, it feels like I got a part of me back that I didn’t even know was missing here in Sweden. But, now that free-spirited, window- rolled-down girl is back!
- My body finally healed my freaking big toe. Long story, but I had 2 surgeries during the 1st half of the year and I can finally walk and wear shoes. So so so grateful for the health care I received and for my amazing freaking body.
- Managed to stay balanced, anchored, calm, and present – even as Lina + I have had our journeys of grief.
- Returned to dedicated daily morning meditations. I cannot function without that time of solitude and silence.
- Which of those is your proudest accomplishment and why?
- It’s gotta be the driver’s license thing.
- What have you not done this year that you wish you had?
- Exercised. Read books (I read a few, but I want to read more!).
Here’s what I learned
- How did you take care of yourself this year? Mind, body, spirit?
- Mediation, lots of rest, listening to my body, cooking more, tapping into my creativity again.
- What character trait did you develop, rely on, or practice most over the past year?
- I most definitely relied on and tapped into my calm soul + my own inner wisdom all year long. I am a calm, nurturing person by nature, and amazingly, the people I have worked with throughout my life had described me as calm + inspiring for a long as I can remember. Which is super humbling. I truly this is what has kept me grounded and anchored throughout the year.
- What did you learn this year about the world?
- Ooo. Umm. We are hurting – individually and collectively. But, there is so much hope for healing. We just need to reassess our priorities and care for each other.
- What did you learn about yourself?
- This is an entire blog post because it’s such a big question. But, real quickly, I learned how strong I am and what it means to be fully, deeply alive (love + grief). I learned what I don’t need anymore and new ways that I can express my soul + share my gifts.
Here’s how I changed
- How does where you started this year compare to now?
- This is sad to think about. I thought I’d be celebrating the holidays this year with a 6 month old. But, here we are… without our Peanut. On the other hand, the plan is to fly to see my family in the States in just a few days, and I missed them so last year. Plus, Lina + I upended our life in Uppsala and moved to a different city. So good.
- What have you overcome this year?
- I haven’t overcome grief, but I have learned to live with it and allow it to be part of my journey in a whole new way. I’ve also overcome the fear of not doing what I “think” I should do. I’ve learned to be proud of where I am called, how to live out my own faith, and to not shy away from my spirituality – just because it is different than someone else’s… and different from what I thought I believed. Honestly, I overcame my fear to believe what I believe. Instead, I have truly embraced my way of seeing, being, and living in this world.
- What challenges do you still need to conquer?
- I have easily cared for my mind and spirit over the past few years. And, I think I started caring more for my body this year, but I really need to step up in how I treat, move, and care for my body.
- How have you changed over the year?
- I am wiser, deeper, and stronger. But, I am also more jaded and cynical. I’m exhausted and vulnerable. And, I have learned to embrace my shadow, my darkness, my pain. However, because of all of this, I am more real. More whole. And becoming more me with each passing year.
Here’s how I am moving on
- What do you not need anymore? What can be left behind + released now? (beliefs, ideas, habits, feelings, people, jobs)
- This is going to sound harsh, but it’s big: I don’t need the church. For years, I have thought that the only true way I can use who I am best is within the church. But, as I have grown and evolved, I realize that I have grown out of the organization of the church. I did many years ago. But, it took a couple of conversations, a few people who questioned my beliefs, and a long, hard look at myself to see that it’s time that I release myself from thinking that I have to live out my purpose within a religious organization. My foundational beliefs are still in tact, but they have bloomed and blossomed and evolved into a much more inclusive way of viewing spirituality, grace, divinity, and spirit. And, finally, finally, I am embracing all of that and leaving an institution that doesn’t even want me + has “kicked me out” before (for my marriage). I wish I could really express what this means to my life, to me… but, it is a big release that opens me up to more possibilities. And it’s about damn time.
- What do you want to call into your life in 2022?
- A baby, creativity, new work, holistic living, sharing my wisdom.
Now, that I have taken this time to really sink into the feelings, memories, happenings, and lessons of 2021, it’s time for me to slowly begin to turn toward the new year. I’m in no hurry, mind you. And to be honest, from the last Blogmas post in 2 days until sometime in mid-January, I am will not be blogging at all. I’m not rushing the beginning of the new year. I am easing into the new year, slowly and intentionally. Focusing more on living right in the middle of life. With that said, I do plan to set some intentions (not resolutions!) and choose a word as a soul-focus for the year. But, I’ll do that after the new year has already begun.
However, if you are interested in getting a jump start, or are just excited about it, I have links to my Word of the Year posts that will guide you to discover the word or phrase that your soul is whispering to you as you enter 2022. Feel free to get started in those magical, restful, liminal days between Yule/Xmas and New Year’s Day.
In the meantime, I’m off to relax for the rest of the evening and then make a list of all that I need to get done between Monday and Wednesday this coming week! So much to do!
Happy Full Moon again, loves. Here’s to a peaceful Sunday evening and a deep, meaningful week ahead. xoxo. liz.
Find Your Word of the Year Part 1