It’s 3 AM.
I’ve just woken up and lay in the darkness. There’s a faint glow of moon touching the white snow outside that outlines my windows.
This is normal. I can probably count the times I’ve slept through the night on one hand.
Sometimes I’ve railed against it. Sometimes an anxiety-ridden to-do list rattles through my mind. On other nights (or should I say mornings?) I’ve tried to befriend the moment. I solve problems and get creative ideas at this hour. Other times I just lay and wait for the time to pass until my legs get restless and I decide it’s halfway sane to go for a run.
My husband’s rhythmic breathing is heavy and steady next to me. He never sees the point of worrying and the hard physical labor he does every day makes sleep easy. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary six months ago. I slide my foot close to his, and despite being asleep, he instinctively responds by pushing his foot closer too.
It doesn’t get better than this.
Every January I write a New Year’s post. While Christmas feels stressful; New Year’s doesn’t. I thoroughly enjoy dreaming and planning. I don’t really set goals, but I do purchase a new planner and start writing important dates in it, starting with family events. I hunt for educational events to attend, and I spend days searching for a word to guide me for the coming year. I rest and I find confidence…maybe even a little excitement.
This year I’m not so sure how it will go though.
I’m a Type A creative. I know that sounds funny, but I don’t thrive in chaos. I like lists. I like organization. When I was growing up I shared a room with my older sister, and I drew an imaginary line she couldn’t cross because my side was clean and I wanted keep it that way. She’s still one of my best friends. A few years ago as we chatted on the phone, we got on the subject of books. She suggested Atomic Habits and I laughed. I told her, “I have plenty of problems, but chipping away at a goal isn’t one of them.”
Persistent Polly: that’s me.
Except this year felt different. I’ve been in a strange place.
It’s the first time I can’t seem to find my dream.
2021 was the year of big change.
I retired from Pony Club, which I helped with for longer than a decade. Our businesses have never been so busy, we dealt with heartbreak, and grappling with our oldest going to college and “what’s next” had me feeling like I was wandering alone on another planet. We had to say goodbye to not one, but two, of our horses from complications due to Cushings disease. Every one of my horses is an extension of my family, and it gutted me. As someone who once prided myself in being pretty stoic, I spent a lot of time wiping away tears.
And I didn’t know what to do about the fact that I didn’t know what to do with me. I’ve never felt that way before. Since I was a little girl I had things that I wanted to try. It started with playing basketball, which gave me the confidence to graduate from college (it wasn’t a given in my family), which morphed into two degrees after having my third child. Then I decided to start my own design business, and my road running turned into a full-blown trail running passion. Dave supported my crazy childhood dream and we started a farmette. There was always something to go after. What a ride it has been! I wouldn’t change any of it.
It doesn’t get better than this.
But now, if you ask me what’s next, I don’t have an answer.
Sure, I’ll keep working. I love what I do and damn, I’ve worked hard for it! Plus college tuition and braces aren’t going to pay for themselves.
When I think back to how on fire I was to start my business, I’d often get asked by other women how I’d found my passion. I’d try to empathize. I’d share what I’d read in books about following your curiosities. However, I simply had a busy brain and a lot of things that interested me, and Dave supported all of it.
But after this year, I can say I’ve walked a mile in their shoes and I’ve been the one scratching my head. Call it a mid-life crisis if you must. It just feels like being lost.
Spiritual teachers say when we start to question who we are and why we are here, that’s when we are closest to our true selves. I’m trying to believe them.
And lest you think I’m in need of an intervention, this is just a picture I needed to paint for you.
There are a few things I have faith in, and one of them is that teachers will appear and I’ll find my way. I always have. Stuffing feelings doesn’t mean you are strong, and tears don’t mean you are weak. And while my soul seems to be the thing under major renovation right now, there were so many beautiful things that happened in 2021.
I also have faith in the power of gratitude. A little goes a long way, and I think it’s important to look at all the good things. Here’s a list of my own:
-Wild mountain Columbines.
-Successfully completing my first 50K (albeit slowly) after rehabbing an 18-month injury.
-Celebrating 20 years of marriage with my guy on a motorcycle trip through Yellowstone and Bear Tooth.
-I love my teenagers. I think it’s my favorite “kid phase” besides newborns.
-A trail ride with my dad right after Jay went to college. He knew I was struggling and took me for a ride, just like when I was a little girl. Thanks Dad.
-Friends who let me talk about my struggles without judgment and met me for lunch dates.
-Dear mountains: I love you. You’ll never be rid of me.
-Horse muzzles. I could kiss and smell them all day long, but alas, work calls (or a big teenage child who needs food).
-Dave’s big love. It wraps me up every day, no matter how good or bad I’ve behaved. (Note to self: be more like Dave).
-The windows in my house. If you’ve had the chance to experience them, you know what I mean. The way it makes you feel like you are outside is something else.
-Creating and running Star Valley’s first horse jumping show with friends. It truly takes a community to pull that off.
-Patient clients and people who trusted me with art commissions. Thank you!
-Watching my daughter play in a marching band at major college football competitions and knowing she only picked up an instrument two years prior. The football was ok, but we were there for the pregame and halftime show.
-Hot showers. Any running water is a miracle, isn’t it?
It REALLY doesn’t get better than this.
Just for Fun
Songs I couldn’t stop listening to in 2021:
We Deserve to Dream by Xavier Rudd
The Haves by Eddie Vedder
Best Fiction I Read:
Anxious People by Fredrick Backman
Best Non-Fiction I Read (that have honestly changed me):
All Things New by Terryl and Fiona Givens
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Stages of Faith by James W. Fowler
Women’s Work; A Reckoning with Work and Home by Megan K. Stack
My all-time favorite quote says this:
You don’t have the right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you are holding.Cheryl Strayed
I’m holding the close-to-empty-nester cards right now. The next phase isn’t clear for me, but that doesn’t mean I am helpless.
I have found my word for the year.
It is VOIR.
I minored in French in college (please don’t ask me to speak…I can’t and it has been way too long), and VOIR means “to see”. At first I thought my word might be NOTICE, but there’s a big difference between noticing and seeing. Maybe it’s a partial prayer to find what the next right thing is.
And I’ll be taking a little of my own advice to follow curiosities when the road isn’t clear.
There’s something in me that is still infatuated with horses, and I have a yearling that needs to be trained. I’m making sure I have scheduled time for them. (It hasn’t been easy in the past, BTW). It’s a miracle that one-ton flight animals let us on their backs, and it’s an endless challenge to break through and speak their language. I’m here for it.
I’ve had several friends tell me I should write a book, and I think I have one (or more) in me. But I’m not going there quite yet. I’ve learned better. I’m simply going to try to write a sentence or paragraph every day of whatever I want. If nothing else, it always clears my head.
I signed up to run my second 50K race in August.
I know I want to help others. I want to move beyond houses and go to hearts. I’m not sure how, but the intention is there.
I’m always love to attend an educational event that stretches me a little bit, and I haven’t the last few years because of Covid. I have my fingers crossed I can find something this year (I’m still on the hunt).
And the rest of it looks like this: being ok with white space.
Maybe the point isn’t filling it.
More than anything, I’ve had the strongest impression that it doesn’t get better than this. That’s probably more of what will guide me in 2022 than my word.
There is much good to come.
How about you? What is going to get you through the next year?
Sending you lots of love.