New Year's has come and gone... and while I (and some others I have spoken to) have some pretty exciting things in store for 2018, it is no secret that 2017 was a really tough year on a lot of levels. Like many of you who have Instagram, I saw all the "top nines" rolling through as the year closed. At one point, I ventured over to make my own, but I never ended up sharing, as it didn't necessarily speak to anything "top" in my own world... but then I caught the blog post of an IDP sangha friend, Robin Anderson, with the same title, and it woke me up to reflect on the amazing things I did get to experience last year. Robin was inspired by the post of a writer she follows, and I am similarly inspired by her. Maybe someone else will follow suit in their own way from this post.
Flecked like stars in the night, here are nine life-changing, soul-touching experiences that shaped me in 2017.
9. Little Dragon Concert- In November, I got to go to see one of my favorite bands here in Zürich at a tiny and cool venue called Mascotte. The first time I saw Little Dragon was back in 2009 in New York City at Le Poisson Rouge, back before they got so big. It was an intimate and incredible show that has stayed with me since. I saw them again in NYC at Terminal 5 a few years later, a much bigger venue and unfortunately it didn't come close to the first show. I have to say their performance here in Zürich rivaled LPR... in intimacy, in Nagano's performance, and in the overall energy. The only missing pieces were the close friends I so loved sharing with back in NYC, but I did go with a new acquaintance I met in German class (see below). Alas, truly close friends will come with time...
8. Laax, Switzerland/Snowboarding again after 20 years - What a thrill and how invigorating to be back on a board, and in one of the most amazing countries for skiing and snowboarding in the world! I had so much fun and it made me feel undeniably strong and fearless. I cannot wait to go again.
7. Girona, Spain with Carrie Owerko - I feel so lucky that one of my favorite teachers of all time comes to Europe so often. This was my second time studying with Carrie in Spain, and I adore beautiful ancient Girona and its people. Each year has been welcoming and uplifting, not only because of Carrie's amazing teaching, but because of the simple friendliness and openness of the community there. This year they were able to offer childcare so that Matthias could practice a bit as well. What a treat! And I am incredibly indebted to my husband for coming along for the last two years just to play (mostly) caretaker for Miya while I study and spend a weekend doing what I love. While I miss studying with her weekly in NYC, I realize that the saturated time I get with her around Europe is unparalleled, and for this I am deeply grateful. I bow to Carrie, her badass-ness, her physical and mental intelligence, as well as her kind heart and brilliant presence. She has been such a light for me here, since I moved to the Old World.
6. The Practice of saying NO - I extricated myself compassionately from several situations that were draining my spirit or crossed boundaries for myself or my family this past year. I plan to continue that trend. It is not always an easy thing for me to hold my ground, but it makes an incredible difference in my spirit and health. Here's a little extra about that if saying no feels hard for you too...
5. Bringing the Master Teacher, Gabriel Halpern, to Zürich - I must admit I was disappointed in the turnout for Gabriel's workshops, and it weighed heavily on my heart that I could not direct more people into his wisdom... But what was inspiring and amazing was how much his classes grew only over the course of four days through word of mouth... and what he lacked in attendance, he more than made up for in Mojo. I credit Gabriel for helping plant a seed that began to take root at the end of 2017 and, that hopefully with my care, will thrive and grow in 2018. I bow deeply to him for his warmth, generosity, sharp insight, wisdom and utter lack of bullshit. He touched the lives of many here, and it inspired us all.
4. Reconnecting to Magic - In August of 2014, my best friend of life, Zoe, passed away after a long journey with breast cancer. She was my main and direct line to magic and all things that reside outside of logic. When she left her body I felt like I lost all contact with that world we shared so openly at many points in our friendship. I attempted to kindle it alone after she passed but as I went through the intense changes of marriage, emigration and motherhood, I could not find it anywhere anymore. At the end of 2017, with the aid of Zoe's spirit and my own resurfacing from the seas of change, I have opened the doors of my heart to magic again. It is incredible what clear intention and vision can do, and I learn this again as I step through the doors of this new year.
3. Deutschkurse/German Classes at Sprachwelten - I love this school, run by a boisterous and very friendly woman named Monika. They offer childcare while I get a chance to learn German in small intimate classes. They are definitely not the cheapest but it is an investment that is so worthwhile to me (and our family) as I attempt to integrate here. I have had some remarkable times and made solid connections through the classes I have taken there. We laugh a lot. We get to make light of the challenges we face here as foreigners. At one point this year, I told Matthias that it was perhaps the only time during the week where I felt like myself. Being a student is so powerful to me, as is connecting to others through difference and similarity. Learning a new language has been life-altering on so many levels. I can't wait to be "fluent".
2. Navigating new parenthood and (my) overwhelming foreign-ness with Matthias - I hope to keep sharing a little more on the topics of motherhood and emigration as time passes, but suffice to say my husband is a beacon of light and warmth. His steadiness and generosity have allowed me to falter many times and never be in danger of actually getting lost. As parents we make such a good team, and I know I am a better mama because of his presence. As I have embarked on motherhood and also as I wade through the trenches of being new in a country and culture, he has held the space for me to be terrified and lonely and incredibly angry at the things I don't understand about this journey. He has done so with insane amounts of love. I bow to him. I bow also to Miya, the brightest light in both of our lives. Brighter than a million suns.
1. Speaking my truth. Sharing my struggles. Holding space for others to do the same. - as most of the world has already seen and shared since she said the words last night at the Golden Globes, I need not reference the exact Oprah quote, but it is indeed a powerful thing to speak one's truth. I, like many other women I know (and to a lesser extent, some men), have had to do some training in this practice. I still have work to do. I am grateful for the times in 2017 I stepped out of my comfort zone of "dealing" and "forging ahead solo" to share both intimately with friends and publicly on this blog some of the painful and shame-ridden experiences I had been harboring because I did not believe that my voice or experiences mattered enough to be heard. Enough with that nonsense. Onward and upward. I will continue to practice erupting, burning and shining my truth and will also make a practice of encouraging the women around me to do the same.
There's a lot more from last year that "nine" doesn't leave room for. Even though 2017 was a rough year for me, it was also filled with so much that was awesome. Take some time to reflect on all that is good and has been magical for you. May we all continue to practice compassion, empathy, gratitude, equanimity, and a little magic.