This season I have traded in the great rush for something quieter. I decided to try my hand at really living with the season, to do what all of nature (except for us crazy western humans) do when the sunlight becomes scant. I decided to slow down and dive into deep rest.

There have been stretches this holiday season where I wore my pajamas for days on end. Days when I chose to read with Max by the fire instead of doing the thousands of chores that had piled up. Days when I put the endless to do lists to rest, fully trusting that one day the important stuff would find a way to get done. My phone has barely worked these days and that has been good because it kept me from taking calls. (I am sorry if you have been trying to reach me).

There is something magical about winter that I fear has gotten lost. Winter gives us permission to reboot and restore but the holiday season modern style instead leaves us feeling run round, ragged. Its not simply a matter of commercialism but rather a matter of hectic, rushing that runs completely counter to what our bodies know we need to do.

I am starting to surface now. Something about the new year turning is causing the sap to rise and pulling me out of my cocoon. Eventually I will return to the written word. I am sure of that. But until then wanted to break through the quiet to wish those who come by hear a New Year full of love and peace.

Jamie's 20th Dinner

Dear Jenni-

It’s been one year since you died. I can’t believe we are here again, on this day. I can’t really fathom that the world has already circled round the sun to arrive at this place again, the point where you disappeared. I can’t believe that the sun has risen 365 mornings and set 365 nights and you weren’t here to witness it. I still hear your voice as though it was yesterday that we last spoke. Its though you never left.

And yet, my friend there are moments over the last year when I miss you so deeply. Moments when I think there is no one else in the world who would understand. Moments where I realize that the note I want to send you would float forever in cyberspace silent and unanswered, waiting. The absence of you becomes a sob I feel catching in the back of my throat, a breath that is wobbly and ragged.

But mostly, dear girl, I feel your presence in the magic that unfolds each day. You are in the crescent of the moon while I garden. You are the warmth in the sun that shone on the pool while I screamed my head off for Max and his friends. You are of the innervoice that can soothe my battered heart. You are floating on the wind that blows in old friends for sweet reunions and dear friends for birthday surprises. When Jena and I wrapped our arms around each other in Boston, completely surprised we were in the same place, we laughed and said, this was Jenni’s doing, your present for me. You brought so many of us together and you keep doing it. You were in that salty breeze that blew off the Harbor, the pulse that pushed me to play my guitar in front of people, the voice that encouraged me to to hold firm so often this year.

The teachers tell me that nothing is ever lost, it is only transformed. And I know the sweetness that was your friendship is flowing in new ways. Your love is in the hand that guides me.

Some days I realize that I have habits that I formed because I promised you I would. Like when I tell people that I love them, even if its scary and even if they don’t love me back. When I throw my arms around a friend I find on a metro platform, or kiss a friend I find when the elevator doors open at work, I do it because you taught me that I have only this now to love. You are in those moments of deep joy, smiling at the surprise of people who had no idea they were so adored. When I push past my fear to be honest, I know I am riding on what I learned from you. When I am a storm and anger flows, I remember you giving me permission to be fierce.

I am transformed because of our brief time on earth together.

And in that way I know you are not gone, never gone, never ever gone.

I love you

You can be brave now…That is something that my friend Jen likes to tell me and I believe her because she really knows about bravery. When I was a little girl I used to think brave people were people who didn’t feel fear. I know now that the brave ones are those who lean into their fear–feel it fully, let it wash over them and then get up and get moving. They feel the fear and then make the right choice, take the leap, run the risk, stumble through the forest in the dark.

I have been doing some major rearranging of soul furniture over here this fall–trying to imagine a different way of living–or to be more accurate, trying to manifest a path toward a life that I have dreamt for a long time. Truth is, I have no idea how I am getting there but I am tired of waiting for answers and saviors and everything to neatly come together. Not having my ducks lined up feels very scary but I am starting to just set out on path and make it as I go, step by step. I am ready to be walking, even if the path is twisty and not straight and clear, instead of sitting by the side of the road waiting for directions. I am trusting that everything that happens from here on out, the good, the bad and the downright ugly is just a necessary step on that journey.

Living faithfully means giving up a certain bit of control, something that is not always easy for me, trusting that the Universe knows what I need to learn and what is good for me and trusting that the experiences that show up on my doorstep are good ones, even if they are painful or challenging. It means reframing every difficult circumstance so that I see myself as a student. Its hard to imagine that leaning into the bad times is a good exercise but of course, deep in my heart I know that it is.

“Not knowing” does not mean “not moving”. But it does mean being brave in the dark.

9 Ways to Be Brave When the Night is Really Dark

1. Sing yourself a lullaby
2. Dig into the dirt and ask the earth to hold your dreams.
3. Pay attention to self care: sleep as long as you need to, nap, eat well, move your body.
4. Take walks with dear friends.
5. Get really still and listen to what your heart tells you to do. And then do it: Bake cookies. Play with art supplies. Play your guitar. Clean the kitchen. Dance in the kitchen. Read outloud in bed. These are the things that will carry you forward in the most unlikely ways without you even realizing it.
6. Ask for what you need. Ask and ask again. Be fierce about it if you need to be.
7. Reunite with old loves and old friends and remember all that has always been good about yourself.
8. Wear your favorite t-shirt, your favorite kick ass boots and your favorite jeans.
9. Cry when you need to. Get angry when you need to. Then sing yourself a lullaby and start over again.