What I learned this year

2022 is coming up quick.

I’ll be 32 in a few months.

It’s been almost a year since I shaved my head and my hair has grown a lot.

And I might be heading back home next year.

There are lots of changes ahead and it will look very different from 2021.

Which, by the way, was one great freaking year.

Challenging, yes; intense, yes.

And incredibly powerful.

Truly, a Growth Spurt.

As I look back on the year I had, I was gifted so many insights and discoveries.

  1. A stronger sense of who I am. My likes and dislikes. What I’m looking for.

After a breakup, I had so much space for myself. I had always lived with roommates or family so a whole house to myself was a new experience.

Nobody else’s influence or schedule in my orbit to consider.

With this gift of time and space, I was eager to find out who I truly am sans anybody else.

So I made a list after the breakup of things that I know/think make me happy.

For nobody else but me.

And with this practice, I refined the stuff I like and how I like to live.

2. Greater self-love.

Honestly, this one has been huge.

I’ve been trying to find myself lovable for the past few decades.

After the breakup, I found myself in a foreign country feeling stranded, alone, and abandoned, thousands of miles away from any physical support of friends and family — I had no one to look after me but me.

I had to learn how to love myself otherwise I wouldn’t survive.

And I fully showed up for myself like a badass bitch.

I took care of me so well it created strong trust in myself and newfound respect.

I began to feel safe being with me because I could trust me again.

This sense of safety has unexpectedly led me to greater presence than any other meditation practice.

3. Closer to life.

This morning, I was practicing yoga and had the realization subtly settle into me that I’ve been feeling present in life these days.

I don’t know when the shift happened, but it struck me that life feels different now.

Closer.

The detachment that protected me in the past has been disintegrating.

Before, a very tangible Screen separated me from life, I could feel it always present.

When I went about my day it was as if I was watching a movie, just watching life happen in front of me through this screen.

And no matter how much I tried to get to closer to life, I felt so disconnected. It was very despairing. (The Screen is described better here, scroll down to #3. Dissocation/Presence)

Now, I can feel myself feeling life differently.

It feels like I just woke up from one of those dreams where you’re half-awake and sleeping and you’re like — Oh, weird, I was sleeping.

Like, I’m actually here in my body now.

After all the meditation/embodiment practices where the instructors would say to drop into your body and I would get all fidgety and frustrated not knowing how to “do” that, now I get it.

This all happened because I finally am feeling safe to be here, in the body, because I feel safe with me. I’m somebody who shows up for herself and takes good care of herself.

So I can now sink into it, drop into it.

It’s no longer dangerous to be a person alive in this earthy world because I trust myself to be there for me.

4. And there’s another thing I discovered with self-love and safety.

When I love, trust, and respect myself, I naturally do things that help me thrive, rather than survive.

I used to be a huge procrastinator and always had to motivate myself to get anything done and I hated doing it.

The space was one of apathy. Nothing matters.

But with loving myself and actually caring about Future Annette, I want to set her up well.

There is no need for Herculean amounts of motivating force to motivate, motivate, motivate.

Now, I just think about my desire and what makes me feel good and do the steps to get there to make myself feel good because it’s what I want and finally, I can say that I experientially (versus intellectually) know that I deserve it.

5. How to regulate my emotions.

This was the biggest struggle for me over the past few years and I’ve written extensively about this.

I couldn’t seem to keep them in check for all the effort I put in. Emotions were a struggle.

One day in Mexico, I bought this t-shirt made by a local artist that was screen-printed with a really emo girl with devil horns and a deadpan expression that says fuck you, holding up a middle finger. I bought it impulsively, but really she looked a lot like me. After I bought it, I wondered why I did. Why do I want this depressing shit in my life, let alone to wear it. I definitely don’t need any more depressing, fuck you energy.

But I’ve started to make friends with my emotions, all of them.

When I started to see them as signals rather than something to keep in check is when I stopped feeling so out of control and identified with them.

When I started to invite my feelings closer because I was curious to get to know them is when I stopped being afraid of them or hating them.

When I stopped being afraid of them or hating them or asking why the fuck they’re bothering me is when things started to change.

When things started to shift, I began to know these different facets of me and build a relationship with them.

And when I did that and got to know them as old archetypes (and types of energy) written in the DNA of human existence: the Wild Woman, the Hermit, the Wise Woman, the Lover, the Daughter, the Mother, the Father, the Warrior, the Mourner, the Seeker, the Wounded, the Wounder is when I began experiencing life more fully.

And now, I see that t-shirt and I love the depressed little emo girl flicking off the world. Because she definitely lives in me and my initial instinct after buying it to get rid of it ASAP so encapsulated my previous feelings towards my sadness or rage or depression. Get rid of them immediately. Now, when I wear her, I feel tenderness to that little girl inside me. She is me and I’m her and I am all these things and I’m learning to love them all, including depressed emo Annette.

The shirt

6. Living from No Pressure.

Rather than faking it till I make it, why not just chill the fuck out.

But from a realer sense, it’s about surrendering to the moment.

No pressure to be any other way than what is existing for me in the moment.

This is the realest.

I am so proud of myself.

When I quit my job in 2019 it was because I was aware of that Screen. It was this constant presence in my life.

This detachment.

And I knew that I would never get to where I wanted to go unless something happened with this Screen.

So, I took the plunge.

I’ve used the following metaphor in another story, but it was like upending a table and finding a shitton of gum underneath.

And I was overwhelmed. Whoa.

I felt like I had opened a can of worms.

But sometimes opening a can of worms is a good thing.

So if the past few years have been about cans of worms, the coming years are about integrating and harmony.

Practicing what I learned.

Who knows, but I’m understanding better this life-ing thing.

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