I ALWAYS turn reflective as the end of the year draws near. This change in attitude always begins in September, my birth month. As an orbit around the sun ends, I turn inward and take stock of things, see which dreams or goals for the year have come true, assess my state of mind, see where my life needs tweaking.
Last winter equinox, my sister and brother in law held their joint birthday party and had us participate in a ritual they created to acknowledge and make use of this time of reflection. They called it “Rose, thorn, bud.” Each person was given circular paper cut outs in various colors, a piece of string, and a pine cone. We were to look back on the year and write the following down on paper:
Rose – the things, people or circumstances we were happy about or grateful for;
Thorn – the difficulties or challenges we faced;
Bud – the projects or dreams we hoped would “bloom” in the coming year.
I love stumbling across new ways of seeing things. I was surprised to discover that despite the very large thorn I was dealing with in the past year (grieving the loss of my husband Kidlat), there were also so many roses – my business is thriving, I was a speaker at a grief retreat at which I was also a participant, my new memoir was workshopped at a women’s writing workshop, where I joined a nurturing community of wild women writing, my book People I Have Been is in its second print run, and I was able to travel with my Romero and de Guia families over the summer.
More than that – I am proud of myself for making it through another year, for successfully supporting my family on my own, and taking on the roles that used to be Kidlat’s, like overseeing home repairs. I am proud of myself for simply showing up, every single day, for my kids, for myself, for life! Listing down the roses of the past year lifted me up, opened up my heart to the Divine in gratitude, but also towards my self in a giddy mixture of love and joy.
This realization is no small thing, for the second year of grief was worse than the first. For most of the year, it felt like I would take one step forward, then two steps back. Realizing Kidlat was never coming back would often plunge me into unfathomable despair. Most days, I felt that all I had energy for was to do the bare minimum required of being a decent human being. I held onto my grief counselor’s and psychologist’s words like a lifeline: “Grief has no timeline. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. It’s okay not to be okay,” and, “The psyche is a slow burn. When it comes to grief, you don’t need therapy, you need time.” So I allowed the grief and all my other feelings (because grief can co exist with other feelings – even joy!) to simply be, to flow through me. Then one day, around the first week of December, I felt that something had changed. I don’t know how to explain it, but it feels like I have come to accept the situation, and I have unplugged from my narrative of despair and guilt and sadness. I am ready to move forward, to make new dreams come true, while continuing to carry Kidlat in my heart.
In the past year and nine months, I didn’t have any dreams. I was just in survival mode. It feels so good to have the energy to dream and grow again, to finish my memoir and get it published, to grow my business and other rackets, to teach what I love, to feed my joys both big and small.
I shaped the colored paper on the pine cone like a parasol or hat, tied the string around the stem and hung it on one of the branches of the “fairy tree” in the middle of my sister’s backyard. Seeing all those multicolored pine cones – the seeds of our dreams – hanging from the tree’s branches made my heart smile.
I invite you to do the same. Take the time to rest, be quiet, and reflect. Give your self some love by connecting to the divinity within, pat yourself on the back for making it this far, and know that you deserve to make your dreams come true.