2015 started with forgiveness. I was driving in Colorado on a crisp day in the first week of the year and I was praying. I had been praying for many months to finally, truly, feel forgiveness towards my ex-husband. I can’t tell you exactly why that moment in the car, with the Rockies filling up the windshield, was the moment, but it was. I felt peace flood my entire being and all I wanted to send him was peace. It had been almost exactly 3 years since our last conversation. The weight was gone. It was the start of a good year.
As I spend my last few days in France I am continually struck by the beauty of simple things and the goodness that every day brings. Kindness, blue skies, warm fires – even the whimsical beauty of macaroon cookies lined up on a tray. I was sketching this afternoon thinking about writing my first post of the New Year and inevitably I began to think about the ways in which we humans process this new beginning; this fresh start.
I think many of us reflect on the past year and we ponder what we didn’t do, or perhaps the goals we failed to accomplish. My friend Tom said to me a few months ago that we need to stop regretting and start celebrating. We need to learn how to celebrate the steps we do take; the things we do accomplish. So, with that in mind, I am going to celebrate what I did this past year and the movement I made towards life and light and wholeness.
I accomplished a huge goal in 2015. I decided last December that I would publish my book of Camino drawings in June (from my trip walking the Camino Francés in 2013). I worked for 6 months to compile my writing and design the final book layout. On June 9th, 2 years to the day that Lissa and I entered Santiago, I threw a huge party. My book, “The Art of Walking: An Illustrated Journey on the Camino de Santiago”, was finished.
I worked with the non-profit HALO and poet Graham Murtaugh to put together a unique fund raiser and art show. This show, Ordinary Time, is a project I am extremely proud of. Not only did it raise money for HALO, but it brought together word and image in a presentation that celebrated collaboration and creativity.
At the end of July I was unexpectedly laid off. After 2 years of dreaming about leaving my corporate gig, I welcomed God’s kick in the butt and I jumped. I sold all my possessions and I flew to Europe in early September with only a backpack and my walking shoes and a vague idea of what I was doing. I knew I wanted to travel and draw more and that felt like enough of a road map to start. I decided to walk over 600 kilometers from Lisbon, Portugal to Santiago, Spain on the Camino Portugués. Then I met my same (wise) friend Tom in Santiago and we walked an additional 80 kilometres to Muxia and Finisterre. After returning to Santiago I connected with some amazing people, including the director of the Parador hotel. I will return to Spain in the spring to have a show at the Parador in Santiago featuring the art from my book. I have blogged about my physical and emotional journey, documenting my travels with words and drawings all along the way.
As I look back at all that happened this year, I am blown away.
2015, I celebrate all the colors that you brought into my life. I savor the sweetness that was unexpected and acknowledge the sorrow that wasn’t. It’s been a year of learning that I am still healing, but stronger than I was before. It’s been a year of being alone and learning how to move through the loneliness. It’s been a year of longing and leaping and dreaming and adventuring. It’s been a year of less control and more joy; less fear and more hope. It’s been a year of learning how to trust God, and in doing so, trust myself. It’s been a year of letting go, and in return receiving incredible, tangible, overflowing, crazy, in your face grace.
2016, I don’t know exactly what you have in store, but I will step into each day you offer me with gratitude. I welcome your simple, stunning and whimsical beauty and expect good things. I greet you with wide open arms and my face turned towards the light.