With an hour left of you, we landed in Costa Rica. December pretty much summed up our entire year. We were in a frenzy – emptying out our storage of our last bit of belongings, adjusting to life without a permanent home in Toronto, spending quality time with the people we love, and of course, more airport departures and arrivals again.
I spent your very first day, January 1, 2016, meditating on my intention for the rest of my time with you. I reflected on the year before. My 2015 was full of beginnings – a collection of sunrises that changed my relationships including my marriage, a meditative artistic practice turned workshop, and a deep trust developed through forgiveness. In 2015, my word FAITH led meet to the most beautiful open experiences that had me confront a lot of my fears including open waters, heights, and letting my children go. I wanted to continue this journey into the unknown. But I wanted to remember that even in the darkest parts, there was always light to be seen. At the end of 2015, I finally was able to say that I was happy. I didn’t want to dim the light or forget the lessons I had learned from months of daily sunrises.
My one word intention for you was LIGHT.
When I look back on this year, it’s ironic how it was also one of my heaviest emotional years as I released things I didn’t realize I was so attached to. There is only one other year that I have cried more. We made our lives lighter by purging most of our possessions including our home, finally living with what is essential. With the commitment to living in the light, I had to grieve the things I had to let go and redefine myself as a woman, a mother, and a wife. I look back and see how faith was intricately intertwined with my search for light. In the darkest times of transition, when our whole foundation seemed to be moving, my faith gave me strength. When I couldn’t fix things, I relied on love to get us through it all.
You are filled with so many magical moments where light led the way – literally and figuratively. You are sprinkled with moments where light shines. I barely blogged and left my book of hours on the shelf. It was an emotionally exhausting and uplifting year where my physical presence in the moment was needed more than anything else.
There are a few moments that stand out.
The light of womanhood shone bright in a women’s retreat. An opportunity to connect with my body through movement and sitting in circle and ceremony while bonding with other women allowed me to enter a new phase in my own heroine’s journey. I stood in my body and allowed myself to both be the light and accept it.
When I walked through the jungle barefoot in the darkest of nights, I relied on the light of fireflies and a new friend to lead the way. It was unplanned and felt like a dream at the time but it is now one of those moments I look back on that changed my life – to trust that life-giving light was making the path for me – as I reclaimed a piece of me that I had buried.
The first moment I stepped on the land that we eventually bought to build a home on, I started to cry. A single ray of light shone through the towering trees and landed in my eyes. I knew that it was my grandmother saying, “YES.” I felt it in my bones and in my being. I closed my eyes and felt her hand on my shoulder and her kiss on my forehead.
After deciding to sell our home and move to Costa Rica, we purged our house to get ready to list and shortly after, I found myself lying on the ground beside my husband under the world’s largest kaleidoscope observing patterns that light make visible and enjoying the miracles of what light can create during an epic road trip on our own for the first time since having kids.
On a hike in the outskirts of Chicago, I saw light again and again on the wing of a butterfly, on a perched eagle, and reflected in a mother’s fierce love for her children.
After walking across Brooklyn with a 25lb backpack strapped to my back, alone with my eldest daughter who had developed a nasty rash crawling up her legs and a cut up swollen face from an incident with the floor of a fast food restaurant, I sat on the Brookyn pier with her. We sat in silence because we were exhausted. Exhausted from the walk, exhausted from the recent events of our life. I remember us taking of our shoes and socks and airing out those nasty things while we sat side by side on a park bench.
I can see the image so clearly. The sun is getting low and its soft light gives a magic sparkle on the water and blurs the edges of the sharp city skyline. We watch the boats go by on the east river. It’s the summer so Manhattan is bustling but here we find rest by the water. I occasionally look at her next to me and hold back the tears. I want to keep this moment in my heart forever. I want to imprint this sight of her glowing face, the beginning of the blossom, the moment when the petals slowly turn to the sun and unfurl.
We took some selfies which I regrettably left on the hard drive in Toronto along with all the other photos of 2016. But I see the photos in my mind. I see us taking them. We make silly faces and serious faces. We laugh and the light is perfect. It is perfect for so many reasons. She begs me to go on the subway instead of walking back on the Brooklyn Bridge. I slowly put on my socks and my hiking boots that I am breaking in and tell her that we can do it. We can make it across the bridge. She sighs deeply in a gesture that is so It’s crowded on the bridge and our patience for people is waning. She speedwalks ahead of me. I don’t know if she’s more annoyed at me or the human traffic jam on the bridge. I know she can’t be that mad at me because she slows down to look back wondering if I am keeping up. I know that I can’t. I take pictures of her walking ahead of me on this bridge. When we get to the centre of the bridge, I ask her to stop. I know crossing this bridge means more than simply a way to get back to where we are staying. I know that once we cross this bridge, our time on the pier will slowly become a distant snapshot. Once we cross this bridge, the gap between us will widen as we both prepare for separate journeys away from each other.
We stop in the middle and I tell her to make a wish. She closes her eyes as we stand at the rail. I don’t. I want to remember every visual detail. Time slows down again. People rush past us as we stand still. We make our wishes, hug, and look at each other. I think about all the bridges I have helped her cross and the ones that she has helped me and continue to help me with including this one. I will never forget the light that washes over us as we stood there holding each other before joining the flow of people to get to the other side.
A few days later, a family hike in the Catskills acted like a highlighter, making visible all the turmoil brewing under the surface and I came undone at the top of a mountain.
As a family, we marvelled at how light was guided, reflected, and invited in the most spectacular visual ways depending on how a structure was built and how a little planning goes along way in dancing with light.
On a remote trail on the pacific coast, I found light that solidified a lifelong friendship. I found it with others walking alongside us on the trail. I found it in the ribbons of stars in the Milky Way camping out on a beach on a night where we were the only people for miles. I had to pee. I didn’t want to go in the forest alone and I didn’t want to wake up my friend. I walked toward the sound of the ocean without a light and looked up. In that moment, awash by the starlight and enveloped by expanse of the universe, the roar of the ocean just ahead of me, a deep knowing filled me. I knew that light and darkness could live beautifully side by side. I knew that I was never alone and deeply supported.
I learned how to piece out my heart. I learned how to crack it open to not only let the light in but to let it out. I opened my fragile heart this year to a new community. They took it in loving arms and never let it go. I left some of it in Toronto with people who I will always feel connected to no matter where I am. I gave big chunks to both my daughters who aren’t with me right now and to the world that is holding them while I am not with them.
On Christmas Day, I married my husband again in last minute church blessing. In this blessing, we committed to a spiritual partnership. For me, this day has come to symbolize the light of creation, the signal that we move into a season of re-creating ourselves in the darkness of winter. I healed many wounds with the church and with our relationship as we checked in and decided to move forward together in this next phase of our life. I had my daughter as my maid of honour. Almost 17 years ago, she was my flower girl. She stood beside me again, but now alongside with her siblings.
And all those airports. The sadness of departures and joy of arrivals. – that became my thing. We said so many goodbyes. The latest was saying goodbye to my middle child for six weeks as she boarded a plane for Argentina and saying goodbye to my eldest as we boarded a plane for Costa Rica. It is in the walls of the airport that I began to see the common thread in coming and going. Everyone waiting in anticipation to see a loved one. Everyone holding tight as they say farewell. This is the beautiful light of humanity.
These are just a few moments that come to mind as I reflected on this year of transition, of shifting my perception to light so that it is all I see.
I am so grateful for you.