It’s Thanksgiving day, and I’m bundled in layers of my warmest clothing, cozied up under blankets in my 50-degree house in a multi-day torrential downpour in usually sunny San Diego.
I moved into this house, a block from the beach and normally sun-drenched from corner to corner, two and a half months ago and today is the first time I’ve seen it rain. It’s also the first time I’ve needed heat—which I discovered I don’t have. Currently, I’ve got my oven running at full blast, door open to allow it to breathe its warmth into the space.
I haven’t seen or spoken to another human today, aside from the man who delivered my bag of groceries this morning. And on a day that, around the country, is marked by overflowing tables, stretched-to-capacity bellies, and togetherness (as well as familial arguments, stress, disappointed expectations, crossed boundaries, and blind ignorance of the dark reality behind the reason for the “holiday”). I’m 100 percent alone in a cold house eating peanut butter toast with raspberries on top, and I am 100 percent okay with that.
I stepped into my shockingly cold house late last night after a 35-hour trip back from the other side of the globe. I don’t sleep on planes, and that amount of time in crowded airplanes and crowded airports on one of the busiest travel days of the year was draining to the extreme.
I was craving space, aloneness, quiet, and rest.
A year ago on this day, I created an exquisite vegan feast-for-two in a home—and relationship—that was fractured. It was a stark contrast to today in that it was overflowing with warmth and food. Yet also in contrast to today, it was marred by a pain so deep that it was breaking me into slivers of my whole self. I was becoming someone I didn’t recognize. Someone who had panic attacks every day, regular as clockwork.
I learned over the last year that there are moments of beauty to be found in the middle of even the greatest pain and brokenness. Those moments of beauty carry an extra sacredness because of their contrast to everything else surrounding them. They are a lifeline.
A year ago today, some of those moments of beauty were the pungent smells of rosemary and tarragon, the texture of pie dough beneath my palms as I kneaded it into being, the crunch of leaves under my boots and breaths of fresh, ash-free air in the aftermath of two weeks of wildfire.
A year ago today I was trying to hold together a life that was rapidly spinning further and further out of control. It was nearing the midpoint of what I now look back on as the darkest months, and in a juxtaposition of opposites, I was being broken down by the minute while simultaneously being built into the strongest version of myself that I’ve ever been. While someone externally was hurling the cruelest words at me, my inner voice transformed into one of absolute love, acceptance, and gentleness. My capacity for compassion, for myself and others, expanded into spaces I didn’t even realize were available for it to grow into. My tolerance for what I will and will not allow into my life became ringed with fire. I accepted the invitation of pain to go deep within myself, to heal spaces that needed healing, to reparent the broken little girl inside of me who was desperate to know that she was loved and enough. The pain helped establish my own worthiness and create rock-solid boundaries from that place.
When I typed the first words of this blog, there were a lot of things sitting on my heart. The heaviness of just having returned from two weeks spent in one of the most closed, oppressive-to-women countries in the world. The contemplation of the depression that can accompany the holiday season for so many and feeling sorrow over this, particularly for the people in my life who I know this is true for.
My own internal struggle with the celebration of Thanksgiving, a day that marks the stripping away of land from the people to whom it rightfully belonged. The simple, quiet peace in my heart—and the absolute contentment—despite the fact that holidays can be difficult to spend alone. The holding of space for where I was a year ago today and everything that came after. The holding of space for where I am now, in the transition space between “old” and “new” and all of the uncomfortableness that can accompany that. The missing of someone who passed away a few months ago, someone who was one of the most important people in my world. The fluidity of everything and the importance in this life to stay open—to people changing, to ourselves changing, and to our realities and dreams changing.
I am jet-lagged and weary and wasn’t sure where these words would go as they followed the meanderings of my heart, but the thing I want to express most strongly, fittingly for today, is gratitude:
>> For my home, which is always cozy and sunny no matter how cold or dreary it might be outdoors, and is, most importantly, safe.
>>For the pain of the last year that chiseled me into the woman I am today and catapulted me into a new space of being.
>> For ever-deepening compassion and insight and the understanding that things aren’t always black and white.
>> For the beautiful humans who have my back, who daily pour encouragement, love, and light into my life.
>> For the Grand Adventure that my life is, always. For my own strength, bravery, and willingness to face the fire, sit with pain, and pursue, relentlessly, ever-deepening healing and transformation.
>> For the knowing that I am on a path of light, joy, love, and purpose, even though I can’t see all the curves and bends that lie ahead.
I also want to express that if you are struggling as we enter this holiday season, there are lifelines. Whether it is to begin to look out for the moments of beauty all around, to hold a space of gentleness, acceptance, and curiosity for yourself and your feelings, or to reach out for help. There is always something you can do to create a positive change for yourself and your life.
As we prepare to wrap up this year and head into the next, I invite you to be intentional to set aside time, in the midst of all of the busyness that can accompany this season, to sit with yourself, do a check-in on your life, and commit to leveling-up in every area while simultaneously holding greater love and acceptance for yourself and the people in your life. And, of course, to practice gratitude, because gratitude has that magic power to instantly transform a day, a moment, or a life.