I explored local parks and paths preparing for my walk in Spain. I explored with a small backpack and then the official one I took with me. I explored with Denali by my side as I emptied out water bottles when my pack started to feel too heavy. I explored with a new pair of hiking shoes and then with the shoes that took me through the towns, hamlets, and woods of northern Spain. I explored what socks to wear and what clothes to bring. I explored water bottles and websites. I explored my need for answers and my difficulty with trusting that it will all be okay. I explored letting go and discovering how beautiful it can be. I explored not being in charge and taking the lead when the moment called for it.
I explored old friendships, reigniting them into new ones. I explored what it’s like to step into something that feels so familiar but isn’t quite the same. I explored taking risks by sending a text out of the blue. I explored saying “yes” to an invitation and trusting that the moment was right. I explored forgiveness — mostly of myself. I explored my choices and honoring that I can only do my best with what’s in front of me in that very moment.
I explored churches and faith communities. I explored my desires and where those desires are born from. I explored immersion and discovered I needed more space than that. I explored going home, and once again discovering that while it feels familiar in many ways, it isn’t quite the same. I explored what church, God, faith means to me. I explored how I might fulfill those needs in other places, with other people.
I explored hard things — holding a pose a breath or two longer than I wanted, living with an unfinished project for months longer than we wanted, raising a puppy with a disgruntled older dog, trying to walk said puppy. I explored why infertility is a never ending part of my life — painful cramps, very light but consistent periods, pregnant women everywhere. I explored stepping back from some relationships, by choice or not.
I explored my small, yet steady quilting business. I tried some new products and explored deeper connections with clients. I continue to explore what it would mean to grow my business — would I need to increase my fees and if so, would that reduce interest in my work? Would I want to work by myself day in and day out? I also explored my retreat work — I wrote and lead a full weekend retreat for a group of women I’d never met and it was quite successful! And so, I continue to explore what it would mean to become a retreat leader on a more consistent basis — am I willing to sacrifice my free time outside of work in order to grow this business? Could this one day become something more? Can I provide similar income and benefits to our family if I tried stepping out on my own? I explored my fears and hesitations and lack of taking the next steps toward something I call my dream.
I explored writing. I made a stronger connection with Bookwifery and explored the ongoing struggle with the name, and at the same time, explored the beautiful analogy and how that might be a gift to me one day. I explored naming my message and started to think more seriously about how that message might find its way into a book someday. I explored memoirs, reading them with an eye for plot, structure and style, wondering if someday my name might be on a cover.
I explored new poses and although I didn’t master any head- or handstand in 2018, I’m getting closer! I explored taking a break from something that shaped my days, weeks and months, and found a new appreciation for it when I returned. I explored practicing with new teachers and formats. I explored being okay with gentle flows and slower movements.
Through all of these explorations I encountered many people. Each one with a purpose, with a specific role. Patience, laughter, coaching, mentoring, listening, holding, crying, moving, trusting, loving. I could pair each word with a different person — some with multiple people. As I think through the faces I encountered with this time of exploring, I’m amazed. Amazed at the people who are still present in my life. Amazed at the new faces — faces I couldn’t have imagined a year ago today. Amazed — in awe, really — of the people I’ve gotten to meet.
In 2017 my word was Gratitude. I still list at least three moments of gratitude before I fall asleep at night. I wonder how Explore will carry over into 2019 in similar ways. I don’t want to abandon my desire for exploration — we’ve been at this together for a year now. I can’t just shut it off. Just like Gratitude didn’t leave me, Explore won’t either. I imagine myself, ten, twenty years from now with all of these beautiful words adorning my body, clinging to my soul, each offering something a little different. I walk into 2019 with Gratitude and Explore… tomorrow I start a new year with Open.