the shock and awe that was 2013

A guest house down the street from our hotel in Chiang Mai. 

2011: a list of awesome stuff I did

Awesome Stuff 2012

2013 has flown by, in a blur of gratitude and grief.

My friend's son Caleb was diagnosed with cancer and then died in September at the age of six. My words are inadequate. It's brought up grief upon crashing grief. My heart is with his family. My heart is with this world, with all who mourn (we all mourn, if our hearts are open).

And yet, in our mourning, there's love. Grief is love's final expression. Only it isn't really final, it just feels that way. We carry the memory of their love (of our love of them) with us. We carry love.

And carry it with us, we did. My wee family was blessed to be able to go to so many amazing, exotic, beautiful places. Including our own home (which is ourselves). Beauty is everywhere, the expression of the love we carry.

We traveled a lot this year. (I say that every year, don't I?) California, Montreal, Japan/Thailand, Arizona, Toronto. Tomorrow we head out to Chicago to visit my BIL's family. One final trip to end the year. Seems fitting. This year was filled with travel. A just-right amount of travel.

Thailand was life-changing, if only because it motivated us to see more of the world. We're talking about our next big trip already (thinking about North Africa for our 40th birthdays).

In my creative life, this was also a big year.

I accepted and then resigned from a position as editor of an online magazine. In under a month's time. A record! Both decisions were the right decision for me. I am glad I said yes and I am equally glad I said no. There was no drama. It was a good lesson.

I started teaching again, which is really the culmination of a lot of different parts of my life, twined together.

I took a self-portrait every day this year. I'll write more about that project in January after all 365 photos are made. (I still have a week left.) A selfie every day. Oh love. If there's one thing I would want to inspire you to do, it would be this project. To see yourself every day, as you are. As you really are. It's huge.

(I'll definitely be teaching souling the self surreal again.)

I wrote a poem every day in April with my class: poeming into the now. Yes.

I wrote a poem every day in November. And instead of a class, I gathered a tribe of poemers. We're still going, some of us. You can join us. Just ask me over on FB.

I'm still writing a poem a week and leading a group with prompts. A poem a week is harder for me than one a day, but I am poeming. I really love writing the prompts. And I really love reading everyone's poems. (Especially my mom's. I may have mentioned this before, but it has been truly a pleasure this year to witness the unblocking of my mother's poems and to have played even a small part in that process.)

Finally, I think the biggest external change most people would notice about this year is that I shaved my dreadlocks off in May. Yes. I am still running into people who I haven't seen in awhile and they don't recognize me. It's kind of nifty. Although I do miss the aesthetic of the dreads (and the mohawk, which has now grown out), it was time to let them go.

My dreads were backcombed on the day before and the day after Caleb was born. His birth was just as sudden and as huge as his death. All our mutual friends talked about it, for years after he was born. And just like his birth, we'll talk about his death.

His mom has the ability to bring you into the world she is in, with her words. Her world, in which Caleb was the moon.

In part, I felt and feel like letting go of my beloved dreadlocks was a small tribute to Caleb losing his hair to cancer, though at the time, I could not express it, since that felt a little overly grandiose on my part (and the shaving had been planned before Caleb's cancer was detected: I was ready). But he really did have that much of an impact on my world. My shaving my head didn't impact his family - I wish I had thought of this project - but it was a small part of my internal motivation.

Oh Caleb. We all - your family most of all - miss you. We carry your memory in our hearts. May your memory be a blessing, forever.

A year of shock and awe, yes it was. Grief and blessing. Joy and pain. Difficulty. Love. Gratitude. All of it tumbled together in this life, this beautiful, amazing, fragile life.

Thank you. Oh, thank you.