Written January 2, 2022
Hello, 2022. It’s nice to see you. I didn’t know you’d be here so soon, yet here we are. The clock struck midnight, I watched confetti fly on the screen, but nothing in me changed.
It’s a new year, but the same me.
Yet, when I look back on all the memories from 2021, I can see how much has changed. How much has evolved within me and around me. How much more gentle and compassionate I have been with myself. How much my connections have deepened. It has not been easy, but it has been profound.
While I am the same, I have grown so much.
This is my reflection on al I have moved through in 2021.
Here, I send off 2021 with a deep, heartfelt Thank You.
I did not arrive here with ease. I’ve moved through discomfort, unhealthy patterns, physical pain, shame.
In 2021, I set the intention to be gentle with myself and cultivate compassion and loving kindness towards myself. I aimed to unlock the depths of my being. Little did I know this compassion and gentleness would birth from some of the most stressful months of my life.
I became acutely aware of shame during the early months of 2021. Every “no” and every boundary stirred up deep-rooted shame around doing what feels good for me. Over time, I continue practicing my “no” and finding a way to balance my empathy and need for self care. Having moved to the East Coast in 2020 allowed me to be closer to the people I love, but this presented me with many challenges. I was at war with trying to please others and meet their expectations, while trying to balance my own needs. The push and pull on my heart has exhausted me intermittently throughout this year, but I know I have so many safe people in my life who let me practice these boundaries and play with how to meet my needs.
I started finding rituals that work well for me. I have always been resistant to routine, as my spirit craves adventure and spontaneity. However, being someone who has suffered from migraines for many years, I have now been migraine-free for over four months. I have found a morning ritual (dare I say ROUTINE?) to feed my spirit and keep me grounded within myself. Nearly daily, I choose to sit in meditation, breathe (Wim Hof Method!), and/or tap (Tap with Brad). I’ve also built a home practice of yoga (thank you, Yoga With Adriene). I have so many tools to be gentle with myself. I am deeply curious about self care and compassion and I will continue to explore the depths of how to care for oneself.
Some of my writings and musings on self care from 2021:
- Feeling free in the love that connects us all
- Cultivating self-compassion in daily rituals
- Self care is hard, but don’t be hard on yourself
- Spooky-themed self care
In September 2021, I experienced the most difficult injury of my life to date. While at work, I injured my back. As I write this, I have not yet reached 100% physical recovery and that’s okay. The physical pain I have moved through has brought me to a deeper level of emotional and mental awareness. I can see where my resistance to self care comes from: perfectionism and the need to be productive.
I have dropped the doing and welcomed rest in so many ways. Rest in my mind, rest in my spirit.
I continually remind myself: Rest and digest, love. This too shall pass.
Gentle, soft, compassionate. Soothing, healing love.
May I be happy. May I be safe. May I be free from suffering. May I live my life with ease.
Adventure Always Awaits
Looking back at the last few months of moving through a physical injury, it was initially difficult to remember all the adventures I’ve been on in 2021. Yet, if there’s one thing 2021 taught me, it’s that adventure always awaits.
This year, I found adventure near and far.
In January 2021, Justin moved to California (Napa Valley!!) for a Physical Therapy Residency program. During his six-month stay in northern California, we maintained our long-distance relationship with intention. I was blessed to have the freedom in visiting him not once, but TWICE! I traveled to California first in February, where we spent Valentine’s Day on the couch binge watching Vikings because Justin had a little visit from norovirus (which I proceeded to get on the plane ride home… yuppp, worst nightmare come true lol, thank goodness for aisle seats near the bathroom #sorrynotsorry). In May, we got a “redo” on our wine country vacay. We packed our days with quality time, food, wine, and nature! How beautiful to embrace time together and experience new places!
This year also brought exploration in an entirely new mountain range: THE WHITE MOUNTAINS of New Hampshire! I began chipping away at climbing the New Hampshire 48 peaks over 4K, with successful summit of FIVE: Mount Tecumseh, Mount Osceola/East Osceola, Mount Moosilauke, and Mount Carrigain (backpacking!!). I also snuck in a summit of Mount Everett in Massachusett’s Berkshires with my brother before he started his through-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
I went to not ONE, but TWO National Parks this year: Acadia National Park in Maine and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado! After Justin moved back to the East Coast, we took a trip to Boulder, Colorado in August 2021 where we found self care and love around every corner. It was one of the most spiritual, adventurous trips I’ve been on. PLUS, I got to see my favorite group – RÜFÜS DU SOL – LIVE AT RED ROCKS!!!! Talk about LIFE changing! First concert since the pandemic was a huuuuuge WIN.
Not only did Justin move back to the East Coast… but to BOSTON… with me (: this has been the greatest adventure yet! Living and thriving together. Admittedly, he moved in immediately after my back injury, which made things a little difficult to start, though the difficulty never got between us. We have done our best to embrace east coast adventures, within my physical limitations post-injury. My favorite trip was our weekend getaway to Portland, Maine, which Justin surprised me with for my birthday!
This year, I found new ways to express myself creatively. I have began playing with options and expression when I opened my Etsy shoppe! I also had a blast helping my cousin prepare for her newborn by doing a little mural and artwork for the nursery of my first nephew!!
It’s hard to believe, but I have been a Doctor of Physical Therapy for SEVEN years now! I reflected on all I have learned thus far as a professional, with powerful lessons from all aspects of being a Physical Therapist. I continue to navigate my work/life balance, as my current job is equally demanding and rewarding. I have been learning how to manage stress at work, so I can maintain separateness when I get home. This is an ongoing process and something I continue to work on in 2021.
I took TWO amazing continuing education courses in 2021:
- Institute of Physical Arts PNF Course: Justin and I took a three-day course in New York to learn hands-on techniques to facilitate movement. This was a wild course for us to take together for many reasons. Firstly, Justin’s residency in California was focused on developing skills in Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) in the acute rehabilitation setting. Secondly, Justin has actually taken this course before, in addition to MANY Institute of Physical Arts (IPA) courses! This allowed him to essentially be my 1:1 instructor for the entire course (best lab partner EVER!). Thirdly, we took this course in the midst of my back injury, which was basically like getting three days of physical therapy and rehabilitation. I got so much relief of pain from the techniques we were practicing! FINALLY, Justin and I have roots that run deep, bringing us back to our time working as Physical Therapy Aides together in New York during our undergraduate years. Our shared employer was an instructor for the IPA, so we were exposed to this school of thought before becoming physical therapists! It was pretty special to take my first IPA course with Justin, especially given our history. So fun!
- APTA’s Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program (Level 1): I took this course virtually in order to prepare for having my first student! I have worked with many Student Physical Therapists throughout my career, especially while guiding international service learning trips to Tanzania, Africa! However, I have not yet had the opportunity to work with a full-time student. In 2022, I will *finally* have a student!! I am so excited to guide this student in the pediatric setting. The CCIP course helped give me foundations for guiding and teaching.
Building Stronger Relationships
With all my personal and professional growth, I have become more confident in who I am. This alignment has allowed me to deepen my relationships. With a history of many toxic relationships, I’ve had a few blockages I’ve had to move through in order to open my heart and let more love in. With a loving, compassionate heart, I have found freedom in love.
Justin and I moved through six months of a distance relationship. We have continued to build our foundations of love, support, and nurturing. He inspires me to be a better me.
With my family and friends, I have been to TWO weddings, celebrated birthdays in snowy cabins, welcomed my first nephew, reconnected with old friends (thanks to Justin and the rekindling of our relationship!!), met new friends at work, celebrated my brother’s completion of the Appalachian Trail, remembered Nana on an annual fishing trip, rock climbed with new partners in New York, and found ways to continue building supportive, healthy, beautiful relationships with people around me.
With the ongoing pandemic, seeing the people I love and building new connections has not been the easiest. It’s been over a year since I saw some of my closest girlfriends. Meeting new people in a new city has been slow.
Yet, through faith and technology, connection and interpersonal growth has found a way to persevere.
Life gives us so many beautiful ways to connect to each other. I have found that deepening my personal healing has allowed me to stay more open-hearted and compassionate with others.
With an open heart, I am here with love and gratitude for all 2021 birthed.
Here is to seeing where we can grow in 2022…