December 31, 2018
2018 began with the opportunity to share my story with an audience of 500, a horrible flu and the word, “LOVE.” With that word, I visioned a year of connection, heart opening and abundant joy. To be honest, I imagined this love would come with relative levity. I had cut, released, analyzed and embodied. I was looking to soar.
Then, just 9 days into the new year, the fire-ravaged mountains came down furiously through our town of Montecito, California with the swift, heavy rains. Right before 4 am on January 9th, I awoke to what sounded like a freight train outside my bedroom window, as mud, water, cars, homes and beings were pushed by force through the streets. The power was out, and the evacuation messages were unclear. I opened the kitchen door to call through the deluge over to my neighbors for guidance. I was alone and scared. They screamed through the downpour, “Get out!” I grabbed my dog and evacuated to the nearby church, as the debris flow tore down structures, killed 21 and left 2 (still) missing from our community. I was escorted to safety with the National Guard later that afternoon. Our town was cracked and so was my heart.
Following the December 2017 fire evacuations and ongoing evacuations throughout Spring 2018, I learned to focus even more on what matters. You pack and unpack enough times, and the unnecessary eventually gets left behind. The proverbial becomes visceral.
I moved to LA in June, which expanded my heart even more. I recognized the beauty of what (who) was left behind and felt the promise of being once again where I spent much of my youth. The summer passed with unpacking, settling, travel and encounters with friends, new and old. It was both blissful and liminal. I deepened my capacity to love and support as a mother. I moved through an exploratory period, sensing what love and connection can be when we step into a fresh space.
On August 7, one of my best friends, Kathryn, sent me a text that said, “Today I was diagnosed with cancer of the liver. I wanted you to know from Day 1.” I went to visit her where she lived in Italy, and then, in what felt like a heartbeat, she passed away on September 18. On November 25, my dear friend, Yuri, passed away from cancer too. They were both far too young to go. My heart tightened and swelled at once. The longing that comes with loss reflects the breadth and depth of the experience of having loved what has now gone. Who knew that expansion and contraction could co-exist so potently? I learned that I could love more by way of devastating loss of friends and community, and that I could open to loving more deeply through pain and not simply shrivel up on the floor. These months have been a challenging, yet profound lesson in love.
In October, I was invited to attend the Wanderlust Wellspring Conference. Having already begun to dig into my personal anti-racism work in a more focused manner, I signed up for the panels on race and gender. One panel in particular, entitled “Wellness beyond Whiteness,” pushed my desire to open my heart to racial justice efforts in my life and work into high gear. Any remaining bits of rose colored glass were shattered. I speak of last cuts that are made to seek and create greater freedom in one’s life. While these are ultimately internal, personal decisions, the reality is that all of our freedom is connected, and historically not everyone has been granted equal access to or been protected or supported by the systems within which we operate. These systems that render hostage some individuals, notably people of color in the United States and beyond, must be dismantled to allow everyone the ability to create greater freedom in their lives. The more I delve into this work, the more I know I have to learn, but a fire has been lit in my mind and heart to stand behind my commitment to do so.
Finally, just days ago, I sent the Last Cut Project book off to the designer, and my heart skipped a beat. My dedication to the process of seeking inner truth has merged with my vision of creating community around our personal stories. Years in the making, this labor of love will soon be a tangible reality. My heart senses, with great anticipation and excitement, what blossoming is to come.
There are so many more dots of love, lovers, loved ones and loving that have contributed to 2018’s word of intention. LOVE. What I have shared are but a few highlights that have cracked open my heart to deeper love and presence. The way to this love was not as expected over this past year, but life is rarely predictable. One word can capture an intended essence, but can hardly hold the lived moments that fall under reality’s umbrella. I found a more profound love of self and other than ever imagined through pain, loss, transition, connection and trust. Through surrender, my heart has gained capacity. This growth has been excruciating, soft, kind, invigorating, raw and, oh, so very beautiful.
Thank you, Last Cut Community, for the love and support.
Thank you, 2018.
2019, I’m ready for you.