At a lovely solstice ceremony with beautiful, accomplished women gathered, several spoke of what a dark and challenging year it had been for them. Severe illnesses and deaths had occurred all around. A reviled president took office; humans and human rights are in peril. Some of us lost or changed jobs, or retired, others provided caregiving for aging and dying parents. Though not all of us referred to personal losses, many of our lives have been in a constant flow of heart-altering transitions. At the end of the symbolic lighting ceremony, one of the guests asked: “Did anything good happen this year?” I was immediately compelled to share my perspective on what goodness is.

A little background: After experiencing the worst auto collision ever in February of 2016, I realized that I’d been long taking my life for granted. I just assumed I’d keep rising every day and breathing in & out, free to do what I am able and perhaps (despite my teachers’ teachings and all evidence in the world that humans are so fragile) acting oblivious to the fact that it is finite – it will end. The challenges my injuries presented triggered my commitment to developing more resilience than I’ve ever brought forth before. Intentional resilience, as a policy and practice was my focus through last year. In keeping with my daily ritual (which began in mid-2015) of documenting things I’m grateful for, I created a separate Silver Linings list, to help me keep in the forefront of my mind how wildly lucky I am to be loved, supported, encouraged and healed by my heart-based community of amazing, generous, loving people! Working as the leader of ‘team recovery’, I reviewed my silver linings list and built my gratitude journal entries with care each day.

Months later, my niece’s (then) fiancé was struck head-on by an inattentive driver while on his motorcycle. His injuries required many surgeries and a great deal of his damaged leg was removed while he was struggling to survive. When I heard of his life and limb traumatizing crash, I spent an entire weekend staring at my legs and feet. I was stunned anew by the awareness that I’d been taking for granted the gift of limbs that serve me so well and ambulation (let alone frivolously decorating toes with polish). While I conveyed healing energy to him and the many people coping with the possibility that he may not pull through, I sat with my realization that I have a long way to go regarding gratitude and appreciation for all of the gifts we are given ­and how they are temporary. We have not earned them. They were simply given to us. We cannot necessarily control whether or how long they’ll be with us. They are not ours to keep. We are their companions, caretakers, caregivers and champions: we are stewards of our lives, homes, loved ones and planet. So many people don’t seem to have a day-to-day awareness of this. Back to the solstice gathering discussion…

I don’t know the woman who asked the question or what 2017 looked like for her. I do know that I often forget how lucky, blessed – and challenged I’ve been by the gifts I’ve been given. It’s all brilliant, really! One of our group said she had read that planet Earth is tilted so that everything can work properly and earth will sustain life. It seems to me that lives get tilted so we grow, learn, appreciate and express who we truly are, and our unique gifts. What would we do and who would we be if everything always went swimmingly, smooth, nicely and neatly? Robots? Pod people? Stepford wives? Bored, don’t you think? I don’t know. I do know that many extraordinary people use the hard times, losses, and tragedies as an opportunity to do or create something meaningful, healing, important and worthwhile, in service to humanity and the planet that sustains us. The people who stand up after being knocked down – stand out and set an example – make a huge difference in the quality of our experience here. I’d like to dedicate today to them.

Like many of you perhaps, several weeks ago I looked back on my year and made a list of ‘calendar items’; events I’d attended and co-created, travels and people who have impacted me. I did this partly to take stock and notice. I had also planned to use the list as a jumping off point for a holiday letter. I added to it and reviewed it a few times and then I realized that I didn’t really want to write about those things, and I wasn’t sure why.

This morning I awakened after little sleep, with gratitude and increased awareness of how much stellar goodness I’ve experienced and witnessed this year. It occurred to me that it’s not the events but the nuances and miracles that happened within them that really stood out for me. 2017 has been a source of endless learning and becoming for me and so many people I know. Good experiences and hard times have spawned immense growth, awareness, engagement, expansion, connection, support, healing, survival – and for some, deeper thriving. I’ve witnessed friends, clients and students making changes in perspectives and behaviors that support their highest healing and good. In my classes, I’ve been fortunate enough to inspire and empower people to be kinder to themselves and others, build their self-care arsenal, heal themselves, others – and to celebrate the goodness of gathering in community to open our hearts to one another and healing. I’ve been a part of many circles within a powerful community that desires and actively works toward freedom and healing for all. I’ve supported and been a witness to incredible leaps, bounds, and miraculous progress in my clients (and my own) healing goals. I’ve seen clients and students transform in front of me! They’ve become stronger, more flexible, healthier, kinder, more open-hearted, and clearly happier! It has been an honor and immense pleasure to be part of and to witness to these transformations. My heart is filled, encouraged, strengthened and opened by the work I do and the people I do it with.

2017 has been a great year in many ways. Sure I’ve been challenged, I’ve faltered, stumbled, fallen (literally!) and sometimes failed. I’ve also stabilized, gotten up, tried anew. I will continue to do this and help others to do the same for as long as have the gift of breathing in and out. I hope you will continue to embrace life and all of its choices with gusto, too! May your year ahead be filled with mini-miracles, mega-joy and blessings beyond your wildest imagination.

~ Rhonda ~

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