As the year draws to a close, I continue to be immersed in Big Questions that frustrate me with their lack of definitive answers. Clearly, it’s part of the awakening resulting from my mother’s death mid-year. This year, life has taken on a more urgent quality than ever before, and this has been a theme throughout my writing all year long. I want answers, and I want them now! I feel desperate to know: Why am I here?
And what would having The Answer(s) do for me? Well, it feels like I’m in a game (along with everyone else) but don’t know what the object of the game is, so I don’t know what rules to play by. And I am at a crossroads and want to know how best to proceed. Play the life is short/follow your bliss card? The gratitude card? The perseverance/don’t rock the boat card? Where does my responsibility to others begin and end?
What are the rules of this game we’re all in together? What is the purpose? Is there a purpose? And if so, is it universal or different for everyone?
Yes, I have been doing some deep soul-searching lately…
With these questions in mind, I decided to take a good look at my life thus far from a meditative “breathing space” and consider what opportunities for learning and growth my various experiences, relationships, and circumstances have presented to me. It was something I felt spontaneously guided to do, and it was an insightful exercise, which is why I’m sharing it. I considered my childhood, teen years, early adulthood, parenthood, marriages, career – the whole picture, one piece at a time. What themes have arisen? What struggles? What patterns? How have I been successful, and what areas offer further room for growing my soul?
You could call it the Preparing for the New Year / Mid-Life Check-In.
After journeying through my whole life and writing about the gifts and opportunities offered by my various experiences (that often felt like neither at the time), I looked for common themes and consolidated my list into more meaningful chunks. Making the list was satisfying. It put my challenges and struggles into perspective, allowed me to put a positive spin on absolutely everything, and gave me some insight into the question: What am I here to learn?
Here are several answers I came up with:
- To understand that enduring peace and happiness are not to be found in external circumstances, relationships, or when a certain condition is met – but here and now, despite circumstances
- To have the courage to release situations that have outlived their usefulness and follow where spirit leads – to joy, passion, and a renewed sense of purpose (to be led by love, not fear)
- To find beauty, serenity, inspiration, and connection in nature
- To share my gifts to uplift, heal, and inspire others (not to bolster my ego)
- To see and reflect divine magnificence in others and in myself
- To receive from my parents the gifts of love, music, kindness, and stability
- To honor my own needs (for exercise, sleep, etc.) first
- To release the shame and stop hiding who I am so I may live a more fearless, uninhibited life
- To not be overly sensitive to the opinions others (including my Inner Critic) may or may not hold about me
- To avoid elevating others above myself or resenting them for having what I don’t have
- To trust my own guidance and wisdom instead of looking to others for answers and authority
- To develop compassion and acceptance through experiences that did not meet my expectations
- To cultivate patience but not to the point that it becomes a hindrance
- To grow a backbone that allows me to relate to others without being taken advantage of or giving away my power
- To empower myself by forgiving others and accepting my own responsibility
- To forgive myself and allow others to accept their own responsibility
- To regard my body as a vehicle for navigating through life, and to care for it without making my self-worth dependent on it
The above list is hard-won wisdom. It is advice I would give to my children.
After this exercise, I did a guided meditation that helped me to answer the question: Why am I here? I visualized floating in space among the stars, stripped of everything except for my core essence. I felt myself being drawn to planet Earth and considered why I wanted to go there. The answers I received put the above list into an even greater perspective.
All in all, these contemplative exercises proved to be powerful practices to prepare for the New Year. I don’t feel so frantic anymore. Instead, I feel grateful for everything that has come my way – and hopeful about what is yet to come. It feels like a good posture for stepping through the threshold of a new year.
Thank you for hanging in there and following me through the most challenging year of my life. I wish you many blessings in the New Year!
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