It's not the end of January so I think it's still fair for me to pull together a year end review of 2019. I've been thinking about my own spiritual or personal growth this past year. The truth is - this year was a whirlwind of change. But all of it seemed quite natural in hindsight. The most simple way to talk about it is - I continued to move forward in 2019. And moving forward is still incredibly hard. Each step I take into my future is one step farther away from my life with Pete. I'm in my third year of grief and I would say this is the hardest so far, for me. Everyone grieves differently. For me, the first year was a blur without much feeling; I was numb. The second year, I found my own self for the first time in years, having been a caregiver for most of my marriage. The third year - well, I'll wait until it's over to summarize so simplistically.
Instead, I'd like to share the books that accompanied me along the way this past year, books that offered healing and growth in so many ways.
Toward the beginning of 2019, I was desperate to better understand those closest to me. I, of course, was learning so much about myself or maybe a better way to say that was that I was learning to help others understand me better. Remember, I had a partner who really knew me and I hadn't realized how much I relied on him "just knowing" how to be in relationship with me. Now, it was up to me to ask for what I wanted and then also be in relationship without the help of Pete by my side. The Path Between Us by Suzanne Stabile, along with its partner The Road Back to You, is a great resource for understanding the enneagram in relationships.
I ate this allegory up. A little boy is grappling with grief, although I don't know the word "grief" is ever used in the book. I went on all kinds of emotional rides with this one and I don't want to give anything up... so, find it. Read it. Tell me what you think.
For some reason, learning about something so outside the norm of what I think about or work with was just the right thing for me this year. I got so into octopuses (and yes - that is the proper plural!) that Jameel (my companion) and I took a trip to the New England Aquarium to see their octopus.
I made a new friend this summer when I was presenting at the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina. Meet Kelly Deutsch. Kelly is a coach and cares deeply about spiritual growth. This book of hers, Spiritual Wanderlust, is so accessible and seemed to poke at my own longings for spiritual depth. She has traversed a lot in her life as a Christ follower and is currently creating quite an online community of spiritual seekers and wanderers. Check her out!
Finally - and perhaps most importantly to me this past year was this life-changing read. Essentially, I've been paying a therapist a small fortune to teach me to be kind to myself. And this book right here was how she finally cracked my internal judge. I found this to be a helpful read, meaning there were plenty of prompts to learn and practice self-compassion.
So in the end, my 2019 was filled with learning about others, exploring the scary part of my grief, turning to the cleverness of the octopus, reconnecting with the spiritual wandering within me and most of all learning to be kind to myself.
Books I'm currently reading:
The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities That Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation