For years, I felt the pieces of me wilt and die off.
At some point, I questioned if I was ever that person who could hold joy in the smallest and simplest of moments, revel in new stories, places, and people, and embrace colour in everything.
Had I truly been a tornado of curiosity bubbling over with questions and quick to share a story? Had I actually lived unencumbered by the weight of other people’s definitions of me? I accepted that those withered branches had fallen off.
Last Easter, I was in a season of serious pruning. Things needed to die in my life. With the pruning reduced to a maintenance level, I see the promises of growth. Reemergence of life—some new, some I grieved, but were never really lost. While the Christian tradition of Easter no longer holds the same value it used to, the symbolism and practice of death, rest, and reflection making way for new life is beautiful. Meaningful and valuable.
This year, I’m adding new traditions and cultivating the space for intentional reflection on life-giving practices that resurrect my spirit. The me that I believed was lost. The blossoms of a life worth living.
As I retreated into myself, I became more absorbed by the walls of the boxes others placed me in. I lost the ability to trust my instinct and became more and more detached from the world around me. Most days were simply going through the motions safely contained in my personal space bubble. My movements were thoroughly thought-out. Movement was stunted. Limited. Controlled.
Dancing has slowly introduced me back to my body. What started as a two-step is now full-bodied surrender to the beat. I reveal the limberness of my hips that carried so many children. Hips that used to hold all that emotional clutter. I laugh at the silliness of my arms swinging above my head and the reality that I’m that old person who snaps their fingers when they dance. It just takes over!
The initial small, uncertain steps have allowed me to explore, open, accept, and be amazed by my body. Shedding all the shame that used to cloud my vision in the mirror.
I grew up and lived in many environments where absolutes were prescribed, behaviours were firmly dictated, and failure indicated separateness. I constantly felt like a fraud on the outskirts of my communities and groups with questions swimming around my mind. Instead of floating in its warmth, gazing to the skies above, I furiously tried to empty my ocean of doubts. Without ground beneath my feet or the rest of surrender, I drowned myself in denial.
There is nothing new without curiosity. Asking questions is the catalyst of fresh insights, growth, and play. It opens you to be vulnerable and creates an environment for others to explore with you. It’s the main ingredient of a genuine heart. It’s necessary for authenticity. Without curiosity, hearts become hardened. Lines are drawn. People are divided. We enclose ourselves with grand sweeping statements we don’t even understand. We suffocate truth and extinguish the light of joy.
Stay curious about people, places, things, and thoughts.
I have ridiculously stubborn tendencies. So often, I doggedly kept course when I really needed to make a U-turn. Holding onto beliefs, jobs, relationships that took me further and further from my desired destination in life. The thing with a U-turn is that I’m never really sure if I’m allowed to do it. Once I’ve determined it’s happening, the movement must be swift, strong, and held through to completion.
You’re on your own with this move. It’s up to you alone and the world is watching. Or just the first line of cars near you…everyone gasps and cheers or wishes they could have that moment of charged power. Then, you’re back on track; life is good. You settle into pace with a peace of knowing you saved yourself the hassle of having to take a larger detour and you’re on the right path.
Sometimes, I need to turn back and gather strength, for the road ahead. Or I need to turn around and get the tools necessary for the task ahead. And sometimes, I forget to pack my books for vacation. Take the U-turn. Add the value to the trip. Enjoy the travel. Don’t rush to the destination. The experience can be so much more beautiful when you make the U-turn.
I am a giver. I have an ability to see people for who they are, where they are, and what they need or want. For those close to me, I enjoy encouraging them to dream and pursue their goals. Giving is a safe space. It is controlled and planned. I release the expectation of reciprocation.
Receiving has never been easy for me. Staying busy, moving forward, being aware of others’ needs allow me to erect walls of hyper-independence. Even from myself. Simply being in nature floods me with peace and awe. A sense of connectedness to something greater than the right now of my life. But there was a point where I could not even allow myself to receive that.
But we cannot give from what we don’t have. Nature demonstrates the power generated from knowing when to work, when to rest, when to receive, and when to give. The earth grounds our furious movement. The fall embraces endings with a flurry of colour, crisp air, and gorgeous sunny blue skies. The winter sparkles in the silence of grief and rest. The spring opens herself to receive and trust her needs to be met. Summer gives the life it’s received with sweet fruit brought by spring’s vulnerability and warm breezes that caress our skin. Purposeful cycles of striving and resting. Pursuing and being pursued. Life is not complete without the art of knowing when and how to receive.
Find what gives you life.
Accept the things that need to die away and revisit the version of you that took the exuberant, unhindered lurches toward joy. Resurrect the parts of you that gave the courage to be fearless, faith to explore, and hope to dream. Embrace the moments and be good to you.
As the sun glistens off the lake on Easter Sunday, I am emboldened to continue to find and practice the things that bring my heart to life and cause my soul to sing.