2023 was an unusual year for me. Unlike most years, I didn't spend my January planning out my entire year, month by month, scheduling in trade show deadlines, new releases, catalog launches, special events at the shop and makers markets, instead I was focused on being. Sounds weird, I know. But I was truly focused on just making it through each day and what needed done, presence became my priority. I had valentine printing to focus of the first week along with tax prep. The second week was the same as well as Dr. appointments, phone calls and lots of cooking to make sure my freezer was stocked. Then I focused on just making it through my mastectomy, along with making it through my reconstruction. Then I focused on healing. Turns out healing takes a lot of time, even for fast healers like me. I had a note in my phone, rather more of a list, of all the things I could do or work on while I recovered. It was a good list, very productive, which I've always felt I've been. However, all I felt like doing was being. There's lots of sitting involved with just being. Sometimes in silence, sometimes with a puzzle, book, word search, meditation, podcast, looking out the window or with the tv on. Each day was a time warp. What had I accomplished? Where had the day gone? I surprised myself. I was mostly ok with the just being. No rush to accomplish things. No desire to push myself. No nothing, really. This overachiever had to show myself compassion daily. Remind myself my focus was to heal, survive and eventually thrive. Initially, I had thought "I'll journal about my experience", never happened. I also thought "I'll meditate three times a day instead of two", nope, some days it wasn't even once. Another goal "I'll read a book a week", not even close. More ideas included - walking a mile a day, right, in January in the Midwest? Learning procreate - I didn't feel creative and did I really want to invest in a class? Going through the attic and sorting items for our neighborhood garage sale - how, I couldn't even lift my right arm? Also attics in January, in the Midwest? Get back to jewelry making - I have enough jewelry and again very limited use of my right arm. It's all very comical now but I was basing these ideas and ideals on the being I once was. It sounds strange but something changes in you when you're diagnosed with an often fatal disease. Work, striving, accomplishments and accolades no longer matter. You realize very quickly the only thing that matters are the connections you have with others. The love you share with your partner, family (given or chosen), friends, pets, and beings. That's it. There's some freedom in this realization. There's an ease, a kind of releasing the pressure of doing, having and accomplishing more, more, more. Of course, now that life is moving a little faster and I'm a year past my diagnosis and cancer free, I have to remind myself this. It's easy to get caught up in million little things that don't matter. In fact, those things make up the majority of our days but presence and connection are key. Every once in a while we need to focus on just being. I'm thankful I was able to make 2023 the year of being.
Don't get me wrong, I also was living and doing. In fact, I had a lot of really wonderful experiences. Saw my first whale, actually many whales with my most favorite human, a hot air balloon ride with my two closest friends, a shaman journey in the vortexes of Sedona, hiking through the rain forest of Olympic National Park, an epic Key West vacation with three of the best humans ever to exist, celebrated my birthday at Indiana Dunes, lots of live music and Cubs games, made new business friends I adore, along with getting back to The Skee League, and went back to work full time once I could use my arm again. Sometimes I think life has a way of giving you a chance to take a moment, reevaluate and eventually move forward with a little more appreciation and wonder in the being of it all.
Cheers to 2024, friends! Let's hope it's the year we all get it right.