Sunday, March 29, 2015

Looking Back with Gratitude, Moving Forward with Hope

This post was originally published on December 29, 2014 on

As the year draws to a close, I continue to be immersed in Big Questions that frustrate me with their lack of definitive answers. Clearly, it’s part of the awakening resulting from my mother’s death mid-year. This year, life has taken on a more urgent quality than ever before, and this has been a theme throughout my writing all year long. I want answers, and I want them now! I feel desperate to know: Why am I here?

And what would having The Answer(s) do for me? Well, it feels like I’m in a game (along with everyone else) but don’t know what the object of the game is, so I don’t know what rules to play by. And I am at a crossroads and want to know how best to proceed. Play the life is short/follow your bliss card? The gratitude card? The perseverance/don’t rock the boat card? Where does my responsibility to others begin and end?

What are the rules of this game we’re all in together? What is the purpose? Is there a purpose? And if so, is it universal or different for everyone?

Yes, I have been doing some deep soul-searching lately...

With these questions in mind, I decided to take a good look at my life thus far from a meditative "breathing space" and consider what opportunities for learning and growth my various experiences, relationships, and circumstances have presented to me. It was something I felt spontaneously guided to do, and it was an insightful exercise, which is why I’m sharing it. I considered my childhood, teen years, early adulthood, parenthood, marriages, career – the whole picture, one piece at a time. What themes have arisen? What struggles? What patterns? How have I been successful, and what areas offer further room for growing my soul?

You could call it the Preparing for the New Year / Mid-Life Check-In.

After journeying through my whole life and writing about the gifts and opportunities offered by my various experiences (that often felt like neither at the time), I looked for common themes and consolidated my list into more meaningful chunks. Making the list was satisfying. It put my challenges and struggles into perspective, allowed me to put a positive spin on absolutely everything, and gave me some insight into the question: What am I here to learn?

Here are several answers I came up with:
  • To understand that enduring peace and happiness are not to be found in external circumstances, relationships, or when a certain condition is met – but here and now, despite circumstances
  • To have the courage to release situations that have outlived their usefulness and follow where spirit leads – to joy, passion, and a renewed sense of purpose (to be led by love, not fear)
  • To find beauty, serenity, inspiration, and connection in nature
  • To share my gifts to uplift, heal, and inspire others (not to bolster my ego)
  • To see and reflect divine magnificence in others and in myself
  • To receive from my parents the gifts of love, music, kindness, and stability
  • To honor my own needs (for exercise, sleep, etc.) first
  • To release the shame and stop hiding who I am so I may live a more fearless, uninhibited life
  • To not be overly sensitive to the opinions others (including my Inner Critic) may or may not hold about me
  • To avoid elevating others above myself or resenting them for having what I don't have
  • To trust my own guidance and wisdom instead of looking to others for answers and authority
  • To develop compassion and acceptance through experiences that did not meet my expectations
  • To cultivate patience but not to the point that it becomes a hindrance
  • To grow a backbone that allows me to relate to others without being taken advantage of or giving away my power
  • To empower myself by forgiving others and accepting my own responsibility
  • To forgive myself and allow others to accept their own responsibility
  • To regard my body as a vehicle for navigating through life, and to care for it without making my self-worth dependent on it
The above list is hard-won wisdom. It is advice I would give to my children.

After this exercise, I did a guided meditation that helped me to answer the question: Why am I here? I visualized floating in space among the stars, stripped of everything except for my core essence. I felt myself being drawn to planet Earth and considered why I wanted to go there. The answers I received put the above list into an even greater perspective.

All in all, these contemplative exercises proved to be powerful practices to prepare for the New Year. I don't feel so frantic anymore. Instead, I feel grateful for everything that has come my way - and hopeful about what is yet to come. It feels like a good posture for stepping through the threshold of a new year.

Thank you for hanging in there and following me through the most challenging year of my life. I wish you many blessings in the New Year!

The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a "custom print" in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography ( with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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