So fellow travelers, a somewhat lengthy dissertation looking back at the year that was.
Being the champion of underdogs that I am, I have begun to feel sorry for 2016. Yes, I do realize 2016 is more a conceptual frame of time than a sentient being with feelings. However I happen to be (at least when I last checked) a sentient being with feelings and those feelings have become attuned to seeking healing and grace amidst chaos.
It’s a given that 2016 was a challenging year on almost every level possible for a whole lot of people. I know many of them, indeed, I am one of them. This year was deep into major challenge mode well before the November election and the long sequence of departing iconic figures seems determined to keep the sorrow of personal losses in the spotlight of our consciousness.
Writer Jennifer Bowman penned an accurate blog piece earlier this year on the connections between personal and public loss. I was grateful she reposted it when the news of Carrie Fisher’s death hit my media feed. Her perspective on what it means to lose a creative force (yes, of course that’s an intentional reference) is a welcome reminder my grief for someone I knew through their artistic work is as valid as the feelings their work creates within me.
So it is that 2016 has become the year most people cannot wait to bid farewell to with nary an Auld Lang Syne thank you very much. Hence the reason for my opening sentiment towards poor maligned 2016 which is simply fulfilling it’s mission of coming and going with daily, if deadly, precision.
On a creative forum called The Watershed which Jennifer facilitates (look for it on Facebook) she posed a challenge to consider 2016 from a different perspective, asking members to think back on what were our best moments in this year coming to an end.
Immediately the little spinny arrow (the one which indicates data is in the process of uploading) starts turning in my brain. Being visually oriented I started shifting through my collection of photos from the year.
First owl sighting on the annual Mother-Daughter Birdathon expedition, a ten year search
Our marathon guy becomes a tri-athelete just weeks after we said goodbye to his Mom.
Hiking on Left Coast trails with my favorite people
Finding the Pacific viewpoint on the Lewis and Clark Fort to Sea trail
In a year of difficult transitions, it was immeasurably uplifting to find the embers of discovery, healing, joy and adventure still simmering deep in my soul. Family is as always the gyroscope of my life. In a time when core differences are fracturing too many families, I am grateful my own remains steadfast and strong.
And then I found the one image which stood out as a unique high point of the year, a moment captured during a creative retreat I was blessed to be part of both instigating and organizing and then attending.
There you have it~ a game of human foosball, a phenomenon I had no idea even existed until we arrived at the retreat center to find the mysterious big wooden pen outside our lodge. Once we found out it’s purpose there was no way our intrepid group of creative cohorts would pass on the opportunity to engage in some hilarious shenanigans.
The seed for this creative retreat began as an idea in a chance conversation at another event two years prior. Our gathering evolved after a few twists of fate, some scattering, regrouping and migration, a sequence which greatly aided in clarifying how my co-instigator and I might nurture that seed to bear the fruit we intended to create. Over Labor Day weekend, one much loved dog and a baker’s dozen of creative spirits from all walks of life and as far away as Utah gathered to write, paint, knit, draw, press flowers and get lost in the woods on photo shoots. We laughed as we shared stories, meals, ideas, techniques and most importantly a true spirit of commraderie.
My creative tribe has become my extended family. Everytime we gather, whether as a group or tête-à-tête I come away feeling stronger, lighter and exponentially more hopeful. In a world facing so much uncertainty, the priceless gifts of friendship, strength, hope and Light are precious commodities I am grateful to have .
Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.
*written and posted with heartfelt thanks to my co-instigator and partner in shenanigans Beth Heffern. Can’t wait to start plotting our next most excellent adventure.