Learnings from My Year of Yes

It has been a while since I have written; I hope this post finds you and your loved ones well. How has 2019 unfolded for you? Please feel free drop a comment below, and let me know.

At the end of last year, I designated 2019 as my Year of Yes, and when viewed through the filter of that intention, it has been quite the transformational year. But in the mysterious ways of the universe, not entirely in the way that I had imagined.

When I named 2019 as my Year of the Holy Hell Yes, I imagined a grand adventure. Expansion. Travel. While that was a part of it, the teachings of saying yes to life have also gone much deeper.

When I look back at the year, I see three major themes or areas where I had to learn to say YES.

Saying Yes to Myself.

The first yes I had to learn to say was to myself. To utter, “Yes, I am enough. Yes, I am worthy.” This yes was symbolized by going to the weeklong Qoya collective retreat in Costa Rica.

I have been blessed in my life to be able to travel, but I have always traveled either with someone else or with a purpose. To see family. To see friends. To attend a wedding. To go to a business seminar or something for my business.

There was always an ulterior motive, and as joyous as that motive often was, it was something that I could hide behind. There was an exterior reason for such frivolity. It was not simply for my own joy and soul nourishment.

At the end of 2018 I knew that I needed the Qoya retreat to be just for me. I ended the year feeling tired, burned out. Between vigorously trying to make my business look and work in a certain way and dealing with extensive family health issues, I was tapped out. I needed a full pause, the likes of which I had never allowed myself before, away from everyone and everything that I knew. No obligations. No one else’s needs to attend to.

This also meant that I had to make two of the living beings that I love the most inconvenienced. My dog Sophie would be home alone for full days while my husband was away at work; and my dear husband would need to drive home at lunch, make her homemade meals, and take her for walks before and after work. That made the empathic pleaser in me quite uncomfortable.

And yet, I knew how much I needed this. I needed to find myself again, be able to hear my own rhythm.

And when I made that a priority and took a big step towards it, the universe stepped in with its own miracle to help make that fully happen. Though I had reserved and paid for a double occupancy room with a roommate at the retreat, I ended up with a giant single room, which was exactly what I needed at that time. I sleep better in a room by myself. It meant that there was no one to tell where I was going and when. There were no invitations that needed to be issued. No one else to take heed of. My days were free to listen for what my own heart, body, and soul needed in that moment.

In so many ways, it was a life-changing experience.

Saying Yes to Death.

The second yes I had to learn to utter was even more difficult; I had to learn to say yes to death. To say yes to the fact that this glorious life and all of the people and creatures that I love who exist within it (including myself) are all temporary (at least in the form in which I know and love them).

The Qoya retreat was sandwiched right in between my dad being diagnosed with endocarditis, a dangerous infection in the heart valves, and him having open-heart, double-valve replacement surgery. Six months prior my mama had suffered a minor stroke. In a nine-month period I was confronted with, and had to actually acknowledge, mortality for the first time, at least in any real way.

In my life to date, death has always been something that existed out there. It was an abstract and frightening concept that I didn’t want to think about too much. When it did creep in, it would bring me to my knees. I looked ahead at my life and saw that all of my grief lay before me, and it felt like a weight too heavy for me to bear.

But suddenly, death was no longer out there. It was no longer abstract. It was very real and it felt very near. It arose from the shadow of my unconscious, where I had tried to keep it neatly tucked away, and claimed a spot at the dinner table.

I began to see not only how I had feared losing my loved ones, but also how my own unconscious fear of death had steered so many of my behaviors, decisions, and ways of being. Anxiety. Control. Vigilance. Fear of embodiment. In some way, they were all responses to my fear of death.

I also began to see how that fear had actually been keeping me from life. The fear was like an armor that I had strapped on long ago, and forgotten about.

When for the first time I had to acknowledge death, not in an abstract way, but a more embodied way, a transformation happened. I saw how Death was inseparable from life, a part of life. Inescapable. Try as I might to develop a variety of protective mechanisms against it, it would always be inevitable. Making it the enemy or pretending it wasn’t there was entirely futile.

Not only that, I began to understand how death actually gives life meaning. The fact that we know all this is ephemeral elevates life from the mundane to the miraculous. It makes us want to hold one another tighter, to love more while we have the chance, to leave a legacy of light behind. Our knowledge of death makes our living more urgent. Pulsing. Alive. In this way, death exists in service to life, whereas my fear of death had only made my life smaller and choked the juice out of it.

I am so grateful that at the end of this underworld journey death remains in the yard; she never came inside or took up residence in our house. Both of my parents are doing well, and I am so appreciative of every moment I have with them. I look forward to many more years! I also acknowledge that I have so much more learn and experience in this realm. A part of me still buckles under the knowledge that all of the grief in my life is still ahead of me, and I am okay with that.

But something shifted in this initial meeting; I can no longer pretend that death is not out there. And that too, was a life-changing realization.

Saying Yes to Expansion.

By slowly learning to say yes to myself and to the temporary nature of life, I am also learning to say yes to expansion. Growth. Abundance.

Taking risks no longer seems as scary because nothing is permanent.

When I say risks, I don’t mean jumping out of an airplane or selling all of our belongings and traveling around the world, but rather risks in terms of vulnerability. In terms of showing up. The internal risk of stepping into moments more authentically and fully myself without being able to control the outcome.

There is this new embodied awareness that time is finite, and that I already have what I need in this moment. It is my responsibility to take the armor off and to give of myself to my utmost capacity. My excuses for holding back no longer hold water. It is time to not only acknowledge and develop my weaknesses, but to claim and fully own my strengths. To bring them forth into the world as my unique medicine.

This year I also started a full-time writing job in addition to coaching and teaching Qoya so that I could feel my own masculine energy supporting me and my work. I started writing a book on the journey from the Little Girl to the Wise and Wild Woman. I joined a WomanSpeak circle here in Austin to practice public speaking (facing another intense fear of mine).

The year of yes has been a gift wrapped in some really intense wrapping paper, but a gift none-the-less. Through the process of learning to say yes to myself and yes to death (both of which are ongoing learnings, I must add), I am learning how to say YES to LIFE. To pull life closer. To become only ever more intimate with this life that I am blessed to live and co-create.

As we move through this holiday season, into a new year and whole new decade, I want to send you so much love for your journey, whatever form it is taking for you right now.

I also invite you to ponder the following questions:

Is there anyway you can be more compassionate with yourself?  

What support do you need to help you move into the next phase of your life with more ease, grace, and flow?

When you look back at this time in 2029, what would make you say YES to yourself? What shift, what action, what intention, what commitment would you look back upon and say, “I am so glad that I did that/changed that/looked at that; that is where my rebirth began”?

If you need support on your journey, I am still offering coaching sessions to a handful of women. Schedule your initial Soul Diving session here and we will get a call set up before the holidays.

With so much love and gratitude,

Linda

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