EXPRESSION. BOUNTIFUL. HOLY. FREEDOM.
These are the feelings I desired most in 2015. Back in January, I wrote each of my core desired feelings on pink Post-It notes and stuck them to the wall above my desk. I’ve looked at those four words – expression, bountiful, holy, freedom – every day for the entire year. They’ve been sacred reminders to create my life consciously, always steering me towards that which I find most meaningful. Now, as December draws to a close and I reflect on the past 12 months, I realise I have experienced these feelings intensely, though not quite in the ways I expected.
For me, 2015 was a year of extreme contrasts: Frenzied busyness, and deliberate mindfulness. Loved-up connection, and heart-crippling isolation. Ego and essence, control and surrender… I felt it all.
Celebration was also a big theme this year. I’ve had a lot of fun, and lived each season to it’s fullest. But the main thing that made this year markedly different is that I became more ME than ever before. Paradoxically, I have a sense of coming home – of returning to the person I’ve always been, at my centre – but also of emerging completely anew.
Here are the most powerful ways my core desired feelings manifested in 2015:
EXPRESSION / n. The act of expressing, or setting forth in words; indication of spirit, feeling, character, etc.
When I set the intention to be more expressive in 2015, I thought it would show up privately in new creative pursuits. And though I thought a lot this year about the ways I could be more creative in day-to-day life, it was in my professional life that I really unleashed my self-expression. For me, expression is, and always has been, intrinsically linked to writing, and this year brought lots of it. 2015 was my most successful year yet as a freelancer: I began contributing to new publications, and generated more income than the previous three years combined.
BOUNTIFUL / adj. Liberal in bestowing gifts, favours or bounties; generous; abundant; ample.
I’d intended ‘bountiful’ to be a year-long lesson in giving, but – to my surprise – it became more about learning to receive life’s gifts with grace and gratitude. 2015 was rich with health and opportunity. We were fortunate to travel a lot as a family, and it is our adventures together – precious time to enjoy each other’s company and explore – that made me feel most bountiful.
Juxtaposed with all of this lovely togetherness were long stretches of loneliness. Chris spent weeks and weeks of this year working abroad, and though I’ve gotten used to his frequent travel, it doesn’t necessarily get easier. His absence was compounded by us living in a foreign country, far away from family and our closest friends, and at times the isolation was overwhelming. Being on my own so much (and parenting solo) forced me to cultivate fierce independence and renewed my appreciation for the simple, everyday moments we share as a family.
Freedom is a value Chris and I share so deeply, it has become a cornerstone of our marriage. (If two people don’t have the freedom to grow individually, how can they expect their relationship to evolve?) In 2012 we implemented the following structure: every year, Chris and I both take a trip of our choosing, either on our own or with friends, and we alternate who travels overseas and who travels domestically. Each trip lasts between seven and 10 days and gives us a chance to explore the world and ourselves, beyond the confines of our usual daily responsibilities.
2015 was my turn to go abroad, and I took the opportunity to go home to Australia to attend a friend’s wedding. Leaving Evie at home for nine days made me anxious (even though she was in fantastic hands with her Dad!) and required a lot of letting go. But the moment I handed my passport to the airline staff and strolled down the aerobridge to board the plane, I was overcome with a wave of wild, unabashed freedom.
My trip to Australia was particularly special because it was the first time I’d been home on my own in years. Not only did I get a chance to celebrate the wedding of two wonderful friends in Byron Bay, one of my favourite places in Australia (pictured above), I was also made aware of the many ways I’ve changed – and remained the same! – since I moved away from Brisbane, my hometown, more than a decade ago.
Other things that made me feel wildly free this year:
* A three-night girls’ trip to Boston at the end of summer
* Being outside, anywhere, but especially barefoot on the earth, swimming in the ocean or under the light of the moon
* Finding stillness and transcending the GO, GO, GO of my ego mind with regular meditation
* Enjoying goddess-like health thanks to regular yoga and interval and weight training
HOLY / adj. Specially recognised as or declared sacred; consecrated; dedicated or devoted to service.
So much resonance here for me this year. First and foremost, ‘holy’ was about honouring my body with fresh food and frequent movement, and attuning to its unique needs. Certain foods, like refined grains (bread, pasta) and most dairy, make me bloated and lethargic. I cut them out of my diet at the end of last year and haven’t looked back. And, even though I had zero desire to go to the gym in my 20s, it turns out my body thrives in high-energy group classes. I love the collective vibe of working out with a bunch of other people (especially when my friends are there!); I find my flow, and smash through my comfort zone in a way I wouldn’t if I was just jogging on a treadmill. I’ve also come to recognise that there are days when my body simply isn’t interested in such aggressive exercise. Those are the times I retreat to a yoga class, go for a walk or get some extra sleep instead.
Most profound of all, though, was reigniting my spirituality, a part of my life that has been dormant for years and years. In the first half of 2015 I started mentoring sessions with Elayne Kalila Doughty, an ordained Priestess and psychotherapist in northern California. With her guidance, I began learning about Divine Feminine Archetypes and reawakened to a mysterious world full with ancient wisdom. Our work together was intense – I spent many of our Skype sessions with my eyes closed, immersed in imagery and shadow and emotional muck from the past. The process was cleansing and healing, and deeply transformative. In October, I entered Elayne’s online Priestess Presence Mysterium with hundreds of other women around the globe. For three months we attended virtual weekly temples to join in ritual and meditation. We celebrated intuition and beauty, sisterhood and sensuality, and honoured the seasons and lunar cycles. It was salve for my soul – a place to slow down, connect and enter the realm of the sacred.
Other highlights of the year:
*Watching Evie learn to swim + ride her bike (without training wheels)!
* Traveling to Boston in February to complete the core curriculum of CTI’s life coaching course
* Celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary
* Australian family + friends coming to visit us in Washington DC
* Hearing Elizabeth Gilbert speak about living a creative life on her Big Magic book tour
* Completing Wanderlust’s ‘mindful triathlon’ – a 5km run + 90 minute yoga sesh and meditation
* Live music: Florence + the Machine at Merriweather; Flight Facilities at the 9.30 Club
* Movies that moved me: Amy + Still Alice
* Books I couldn’t put down: The Conscious Parent, by Dr Shefali Tsabary + The Motivation Manifesto, by Brendon Burchard
So there you have it, my 2015!
What were your most memorable moments this year?