It has been a wild six weeks.

As you may have noticed, I usually participate in our #Reverb project, however, this year, some unexpected personal and professional matters overtook my December.  A few weeks ago, I got the news that I had some health issues that needed to be dealt with rather urgently.  I had surgery this past Friday, and when this whole situation is a bit clearer, I’ll be more forthcoming.

As this the madness was unfolding in December, Paul and I decided that I would spend Christmas with his family in Dublin, and then we would go somewhere warm for a little holiday before I had to go back to New York and face this surgery.  We booked a last-minute trip to Ile de la Reunion, through Paris, and all was set.

We landed in Saint-Denis just after Christmas, and just in time for a Category 3 cyclone to hit the island straight-on.

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(100+ mph winds)

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(Happy New Year, indeed!)

After a very tense few days, with intermittent water/power, and no mobile phone service, we eventually made it back to the airport and got back to Paris.

It was all…hard.  You know, I wanted it to be easy.  And it wasn’t.

The very fact that we can do stuff like that — decide at the last minute to take a sunny holiday; fly to places near and far — reveals how privileged we are.  I’m not unaware of that.  But in those difficult moments in December — when I had few answers about what was happening to me, and I was physically and emotionally spent from the year — I just wanted it all to be perfect.  I wanted the scrambled eggs to be the way I like them, and I wanted to sink into a fluffy white-linen’d bed every night, and I wanted to take dramatic hikes to volcanoes and waterfalls each day and look out and feel…okay.

Instead, I got a hurricane.  And Paul and I were at each other’s throats the whole time as we coped with changed plans, and changing expectations, and disaster and uncertainty.

But we made it through alive.  And finally made it back to the airport a few days into the new year.

So we were on the flight back from Saint-Denis to Paris, and we hit more storms, and the plane dropped significantly in the air.  Paul’s wine flew off the tray and went all over me; dishes were falling; flight attendants were diving for their seats.

And we had no choice but to look at each other and say, So what happens now?

The answer: NothingWe were powerless to do anythingThe only thing we could do was sit still and wait out the storm.  It wasn’t up to us to guide the plane, or make the decisions…all we could do was sit and let others do their jobs.

That was it, really.  I spend a lot of time trying to control or compensate for or understand things by being and doing, and I often forget that there is so much value in just sitting still; letting someone with more experience or expertise take the wheel.

We made it to Paris alive; made it back to Dublin safely.

And in the midst of travel chaos, and life-madness, I wrote a list of resolutions to guide the rough ride of 2014.

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Right now, I am incredibly grateful for wonderful friends, a good surgical outcome, and a great partner, I am mostly trying to embrace even the suckful moments. 

I am trying to sit still and wait out the storm.

Kat, Sarah, and I have once again collaborated on Project Reverb — a prompt-a-day writing project throughout the month of December.  Check out the Project Reverb page for instructions, and to sign up to receive the #Reverb13 prompts in your in-box daily.

December 6: Blowing Out the Candles: You’re another year older!  How did you celebrate the passage of another year?  Did it turn out the way you had hoped?

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This year, after a couple of years of having my personal life turned upside down, there was a bit of turmoil in some other areas of my life too.

But I’m older now.

I’m wiser.

It’s not so easy to rattle me any more.

When I was younger, I was in a sorority.  And I had to learn and recite the King James Version of the 15th Psalm.  Every Monday night — week in, week out — there we would be, in rows of folding chairs in a too-hot room, badly remembering and barely reciting the 15th Psalm in our chirpy, coed voices:

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle?
Who shall dwell on thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly and worketh
Righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
He that backbiteth not with his tongue,
not doeth evil to his neighbor,
nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.
In whose eyes a vile person is condemned;
but he honoureth them that fear the Lord.
He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
He that putteth not out his money to usury,
nor taketh reward against the innocent.
He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

And even as an adult, when I was a sorority advisor, suffering through a WASPy  marriage, and driving my old-lady Jag to Staten Island every Monday, it was the same story.  There we would be, in a too-hot room reciting the 15th Psalm each week — just barely remembering the words.

So this year, when — on my birthday, in fact — some important things changed, and my ego got crushed, and it felt like no one exactly understood what was happening, and I had to walk the long, hard road alone…I still made the choice not to be moved.

And I made the choice for it to be okay to have feelings about the stuff that was happening, and for it to be okay to be hurt, and to be repulsed, and to be stressed, and to be experiencing the exact things that were going on…

And while having strong feelings about what was happening was perfectly acceptable, being rattled off my base was not an option.  While experiencing the pain — and growing pains — of the situation in which I found myself was A Thing, being undone by all of it was Unacceptable.

Because I worked too hard, and I came too far, and built too strong a foundation to be shaken off of where I am.

That is the benefit of age, I suppose.

Kat, Sarah, and I have once again collaborated on Project Reverb — a prompt-a-day writing project throughout the month of December.  Check out the Project Reverb page for instructions, and to sign up to receive the #Reverb13 prompts in your in-box daily.

December 4: 20/20: Hindsight is the one thing we never benefit from in the present.  Is there one moment you wish you could do over?

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No.  I wouldn’t do anything over.

I’ve just learned that, until very recent history, my taste in hotels was better than my taste in men.

That said, even in hindsight, I’d never take back, or un-do those gorgeous, cinematic kisses in the lobbies of some of the finest hotels in the world.

Kat, Sarah, and I have once again collaborated on Project Reverb — a prompt-a-day writing project throughout the month of December.  Check out the Project Reverb page for instructions, and to sign up to receive the #Reverb13 prompts in your in-box daily.

December 3: Brave: What was the bravest thing you did in 2013?

I’ve struggled all day to write this.  Mostly because I am not sure how, exactly, I was brave this year.

Or I am not sure the ways in which I think I was brave really count.

Yes, I have stood up to bullies.  BIG bullies.  BIG, scary bullies who hid behind acronyms and titles like cockroaches cowering in the shadows.  Yes, I have taken on myriad challenges, and run dozens of races, and travelled to all kinds of places, and Done Things.

But is that; was that…being brave?

Probably not.  All of that was just…life.

I think, more likely, the bravery was in the baby steps.  It was in being open, and taking chances, and saying yes when I desperately wanted to say, no.  It was finally being ready after many years of NOT, to accept help, and love, and to withstand the discomfort of being wrong and admitting it.

But I guess what I am trying to say is that after a very long time of just spinning my wheels, I think I was finally brave enough to Try.

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Kat, Sarah, and I have once again collaborated on Project Reverb — a prompt-a-day writing project throughout the month of December.  Check out the Project Reverb page for instructions, and to sign up to receive the #Reverb13 prompts in your in-box daily.

December 2: Shine: What was the best moment of 2013?

2013 was a lot of Moments.

There was the Moment I started the 2013 ING NYC Marathon with my little brother.  There was the Moment I got the Phone Call.  There was the Moment I took a taxi up the FDR to visit Katka and Matthew on the day that Everything Changed.  There was the Moment that Paul walked into my office.  There were the Moments with Friends and Family; the Parties; the Dinners; the Travel.

And then there was This:

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It seems almost…staged…doesn’t it?  It seems too good to be real; to be true; to be possible that someone could’ve spontaneously captured such a gorgeous moment.

This year, I had the privilege of officiating the wedding of two of my dearest friends. Their wedding day was a blur of sunshine and love, unlike anything I have experienced in recent memory.

Marriage is hard, and to willingly and joyfully choose it is a pretty awesome thing.  For me to have been such an intimate part of this was a blessing and an honour.  And to have spent this day surrounded by so many people who love this couple, and who are so familiar to me made it even more special.

It was a Moment.

Kat, Sarah, and I have once again collaborated on Project Reverb — a prompt-a-day writing project throughout the month of December.  Check out the Project Reverb page for instructions, and to sign up to receive the #Reverb13 prompts in your in-box daily.

December 1: At The Start: Where did you start 2013?  Give us some background on this year.

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I knew nothing at the beginning of this year.

I was in Thailand, by myself on Koh Samui, and fresh out of a yoga retreat where I had spent a week breathing, and meditating, and moving through posture after posture and fighting to empty my head.  I had stayed a few extra days on the island to see if I could put into effect what I had learned inside the safe walls of Samahita.

In other words, it was all the sort of thing you might see in a shitty rom-com, or a “women’s fiction” book, where the protagonist takes a couple of weeks/months off of life to “find herself,” and comes back…Whole.

I had gone to the retreat hoping to be told the answer, and instead was met with a void. I had desperately struggled through morning meditation, and each day’s hour-long breathing class. I couldn’t focus. I was convinced that I sucked at yoga, and that it really wouldn’t be so hard for a real yogi. Each morning constituted hours of torture — me, alone, with my breath and the sounds of the sea crashing outside the shala, and/or the blissful patter of the occasional rainshowers.

(That last sentence may be one for the Yuppie Asshole Hall of Fame.)

It wasn’t until I began to breathe into the tender space, that I opened up to All That I Had Been Missing.

I had been missing…Me.

In meditation, you learn not to fear the emptiness.  You begin to see that sometimes, in the West, we pathologise the stillness.  We are largely afraid of silence, and space, and of being alone.  And it’s not a pathology, per se, one just has to learn to tell the Ego to STFU every now and again.

Anyway.

What I am trying to say is that I woke up on the first morning of this year on a beach in Thailand.  I had met some wild Americans the night prior at a New Year’s Eve dinner, and had, at some point in the night, wound up in the sea — fully clothed.  And when they had asked me to go out to a night club with them, I had taken a deep breath and said yes — relinquishing my idea of a quiet midnight alone.  We had rung in the new year in a crackling, humid haze of electricity in a Chaweng discotheque.

After waking up on New Year’s Day, I’d gotten myself together and had gone to the airport to fly from Koh Samui to Bangkok, where I spent the rest of the day seeing the city on foot.

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It was a strange and magical day.

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I didn’t know then that everything was about to change.

I didn’t know that, within weeks, I would become quite ill; that Katka and Matthew would lose their son; that the next few months would erupt into a personal and professional shitshow like nothing I had ever before experienced.

It was a great, vast void stretching out before me.  And all I knew, in the absence of information and answers, was that I had finally learned to breathe.

I am excited to share that, once again, Sarah, Kat, and I are hosting a #ProjectReverb this December.

We’ve been buzzing about it on Twitter and Facebook, but I’ve been without a computer for a week, so I’ve not yet had the chance to share details here.

The fact of the matter is: It Is Awesome.

As most of you know, #Reverb is a time to reflect on the year past, and project what you’d like to see/have/be/do in the year ahead.  This is achieved through a series of strategic prompts, and sharing writing.

But the beauty of this project is that it’s flexible, and open, and tailored to where YOU are.  You can sign up HERE to receive the prompts each day, and you can visit our website to join the blogroll and share your work with others.

Or you can simply sign up for the prompts — you don’t need to be a blogger to participate.  #Reverb is great because you can journal your work; you can meditate on it; you can take photos or create whatever sort of reflection suits you best.  Check out our “About” page on the new Project Reverb website for some more ideas.

I really hope you will join us in writing, and sharing (or not sharing!), and enjoying the process of reflecting on where we’ve been, and projecting light on the path ahead.