I’ve been thinking a lot about joy lately. With it being a central theme during the Christmas season, one can’t help but at least give it a curtesy of acknowledgment.
So often though, it’s just another word that gets floated around seasonally like peace or spirit, but we don’t really think about the essence of these words, what they really mean and what their energy is; at least I didn’t…until this season.
As is usually the case with me, seemingly unrelated events, circumstances and activities in my life have a way of coalescing into an amalgam of beneficial insights and epiphanies for me. If I didn’t know better, I’d think they were secretly conspiring and planning a surprise party where they get to control the moment of revelation.
To back up just a bit, this year has been quite the transformational year for me. To start, for the first time in 27 years, I find myself a single woman. Frankly, I don’t even feel old enough to make a statement like that, but the chronological counting of age has always been a somewhat nebulous concept for me anyway, mostly because it never seems to reconcile.
I mention this newfound singlehood as a significant factor in this year of transformation, well, because it is. I didn’t know it, but after a few decades, and then some, of almost constantly having a male companion, I’d completely lost sight of the dating game and all its seemingly strange eccentricities. After a few great episodes, some not-so-hot encounters, and a few started-out-interesting-but-quickly-went-south experiences, I realized I was not up to the task called dating, at least not for a while.
Besides, what the hell was I doing anyway? The truth is I became single by choice. I’d finally reached the point of having had so many serial relationships, one after the other, that one day (metaphorically, of course) I looked up and didn’t recognize myself. I’d left so many pieces and parts of myself strewn about like shrapnel, depositing one part here and picking up another part (of someone else) there that my life somewhat resembled a game of trading cards, except instead of trading cards, I was trading my interests, preferences, and desires for someone else’s. It’s funny how we can know we are doing something like this, realize it’s not working and still keep doing it anyway. But at some point, as in nature, everything has a way of reconciling itself, and recently I did just that; I reconciled myself.
The second significant part of my transformational year was professionally. To put it mildly, I came completely unhinged. Looking back, it had been several years in the making, but it’s hard to recognize that is what is happening when you’re smack in the middle of the chaos and all you can see to do is keep the wheels on the bus. Round and round they must go.
Over the years, I’d become a professional automaton operating with an almost machine-like precision. I wasn’t a real person; I was simply masquerading as one. One might wonder how this played out in my relationships. Not well. Fortunately, though, I can say there was and are a small number of people, only one being a blood relative, that could see through all the exterior measurements and were there for me when parts started flying off, not to mention they stuck around for the aftermath to help pick up the broken pieces. For these individuals, I have a deep well of gratitude because frankly, it would have been easier to walk away, and they did not.
A little more than 13 years ago, I launched into what became my current professional endeavor. It started out as one thing and evolved into something related, but very different. During this time, I’ve met people I would have never otherwise had a reason to meet, let alone have the privilege of working with and ultimately becoming close friends. Some of my deepest, most treasured relationships have been born from the womb of my work.
Through all of this, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and do so much within the landscape of my current field of work, and yet there is so much terrain still to be explored. This is just to speak of professional endeavors; add to that an inquiry of sidelined personal pursuits and the world beckons me to answer the call of the wild.
This is what an unhinging will do for you. It brings you back to center. It reconciles you. It resolves the courage to let go of something that is hurting you and it fortifies in you the strength to move forth into new territory. It feels like falling apart at the outset, only to morph into falling together. It is equal parts catharsis and genesis.
The third and final piece of my transformative year was moving, as in physically moving. More than once. In the span of three months, I moved both my office and my home. More specifically, I vacated my office, consolidated it into my home temporarily, and then moved from one apartment to a bigger one that could accommodate a home office somewhere other than in my living room.
As is common knowledge, moving dredges up all manner of emotions and I was no exception. Moving forces you to look at things that have long since been stowed away and make a decision about them. Keep them. Discard them. Donate them. Repurpose them. Reutilize them. Hell, in some cases, just use them…for the first time. All that aside, though, moving also has the energy of beginning anew.
It’s not just about the newness of place, though. That quickly fades into the background of life. For me, this move was symbolic. Although I couldn’t necessarily pinpoint of WHAT exactly it was symbolic, I was aware that it WAS symbolic none the less. While I’ve certainly had moves before that had meaning, this is the first time that I really paused and took the opportunity to set an intention for the new space. It was my way of honoring the unnamed energy that this move was symbolizing.
Before I moved even one single stitch into the new apartment, I ceremoniously cleared the space with sage, salts and incense, in that order. I was cognizant of feng shui placements. I stood in the empty space and loved it when it was only a blank canvas ready to be personalized with purpose. I had a conversation with it. I anointed it.
As a result, my new apartment holds the energy of sacred space to which I can return and rejuvenate, and it holds the expanse of solitude for the joy of creating my best life.
Last night, a little more than a month in my new apartment, and with most things now having been in place for a while, I stood in a moment of awe and wonderment. I realized that every single time I walk into my new home, I feel like I am AT home and there is peace in that. Joy.
As I stood in the heart of my home looking at the mostly original art donning its walls recalling the story that gives each one meaning, contemplating the still bare walls asking to be chosen for a story to bear, observing the lighting and how it gently casts its glow and hearing the soft hum of the dishwasher washing away the remnants of my culinary exploits, I brimmed over with gratitude.
I realized I was braving the wilderness. I had left the safety of the familiar that was now in the rearview mirror and was marching forth vulnerably into areas unknown, both personally and professionally.
I am discovering what I can do with the space and freedom of being single and reclaiming so many of those parts of me left behind. For instance, I’m reconnecting with writing. I have the quietness of space to indulge my love of reading and have found joy in cooking again, an interest I long ago abandoned.
Professionally, I feel like a phoenix rising out of the ashes. I’ve spent the last six months in contemplative inquiry to see if there was a way to continue my work without requiring me to be an indentured servant to it, which was the precipice of the problem. Fortunately, there is, and this new path is going to allow me to approach my work with an entirely new disposition that will afford me the privilege of working in my best and brightest areas of brilliance while still being surrounded by a team that uplifts and supports me, each operating in their own area of brilliance.
And to stitch all this together, I have a new home, a new workspace. It’s not the new that is so important, as what the new symbolizes. My new apartment just feels right. It feels like a nest where I can rest and also a playground where I can create. I love the way the sunlight streams through the windows, the depth and layout of the floor plan. It’s not too big, but it’s big enough to be roomy and make it a home.
I call it Casa Prosperidad and to me it symbolizes both a physical space, the place where I live and work and rest, and a metaphysical space, the wellspring from which joy can flow prosperously and a place that can nurture creation and reinvention. It’s the place where I can accept the challenge of allowing myself joy without dress rehearsing tragedy. It’s the space from which I can dance gracefully into the turn of new opportunities, both personally and professionally. It is a space to cultivate mindfulness and where I can brave into the heart of the wilderness and truly live my best life.
This post was inspired by Brené Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness. I highly recommend this thought-provoking book. It is rich with relatable stories about the quest for belonging and answering the call of the wild.