Adiós 2018: Reflections on a wonder-filled year

As 2018 comes to a close, I sit down to write with my nearly 4-week old son propped up on a blanket and nursing pillow as he gulps down yet another snack. I lightheartedly wonder to myself if he is the hungriest man alive.

In my loose plan for the day, I had hoped Theo would be sleeping during this little window while my daughter is out before my husband gets back from work.  But plans of quiet moments we mothers have don’t always (rarely?) seem to work out as we had hoped.

So, Theo and I sit here together.  He is content with his meal; and I take a few deep breaths to settle into this time here with you.  

To the periphery on my right, flames dance in the fireplace, and just above the top left corner of my open laptop, white roses unfold.

And we’ve arrived, to the end of another year.  I have taken the last few days to reflect on 2018, but only just this morning was I able to see how extraordinary it was.  Even now, after all of this time I’ve spent unfurling the grips of perfectionism and validation by achievement, it takes me a while to get through layers of what didn’t happen to clearly see what did.

And to be honest, this year takes my breath away.

I lived for the first time in another country – a life-long dream fulfilled.  And not only that, we thrived there, having made friends who inspire us, having created space for what matters in life, having esteemed a core value of presence.

We welcomed our son into the world, just weeks ago here at year’s end.  While I am still fully integrating the birth experience and plan to share more when that process feels a bit more complete, I can tell you now that the experience was one great miracle.  Our boy was born minutes after I entered the water in the birthing tub we had next to that same fireplace where I see out of the corner of my eye a small fire burning now.  From first contraction to healthy birth, I labored for under two hours.  But there is so much more to that story – about how we prepared and how I let myself surrender to the rhythms of life. 

With our two children now here, life has become something new entirely.  The moments alone and opportunities to catch our breath are much fewer.  But, the moments I catch myself in awe have multiplied. 

And it’s awe in the little moments – a soft, small yet quickly growing hand in mine, or discovering a new book or leaf or word said four times to make sure she captures it.  The little moments I put down my phone to watch my son stare back at me.  The moments when my daughter and husband are swept up in laughter, or when on Christmas night, he looks over to me after our dinner guests have left and my daughter has finally fallen asleep, and asks, “How are you really doing?” and my eyes well up with tears.

This is the wholeness of our life these days. We live true to our values and as we do, we get more of what really brings our hearts alive. At the same time, we get less of some things we value but that don’t fit like they used to. 

Grand dreams of a global nonprofit now fit into these pint-sized moments with my family and loved ones.  Did I really choose love today?  Was I present with the people in front of me?  How did I do close in?

Theo is stirring now, so we’ll come to an end.

Happy New Year, friend!

~
 
Blessing for a New Beginning
 
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
 
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
 
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
 
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
 
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
 
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
 
John O’Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us

2 Comments

  1. Donna Russell on January 4, 2019 at 7:04 am

    This made me cry. What a beautiful gift you have in writing. Relatable. Centered. Recognizing the need, joy, love, compassion in all of us and expressing it in a warm, peaceful, and a genuine truth. Thank you, Stephanie, for so many wonderful expressions of your experiences that I can hardly wait to read through them, then read it again slowly to feel the depth. The thanks isn’t just for your amazing ability to express yourself, but also for loving Dave and your family so very well. You are an answer to prayer and my heart is full.
    Hoping that you and your family know the very best of love and deepest sense of joy in 2019! Hugs and love to Dave and the kiddos!

    • Stephanie on January 4, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      Thank you for your heartfelt reply, Donna. I am touched that you get my writing in the way you do. It’s a cherished part of life for me yet can feel tender – though right – to share. Each of these is a little victory – a way that I’ve let life churn deeply enough to express through words. Thank you for your prayers. Hugs all around here for your for sure; and please give ours to yours. Lots of love!

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