2016 is ending. Through what seemed like a constant supply of gut punches and salt-filled tears, the world said goodbye to more cultural icons than we can count, sat stunned in the wake of political insanity and stood gobsmacked as the world seemingly continued to fall apart around us all. Being a global citizen isn’t always easy. Finding your smile isn’t always easy. The year ticks away from season to season and somehow turning the pages or clicking ‘next’ on our calendars is meant to change things. But there was good, there always is, it only often gets overshadowed by the surrounding and much louder ick. Syrian children are fighting for their lives. Refugees are trudging through awful to wonder if they’ll gain entry somewhere with the promise of a welcoming community and better life. There is a homeless epidemic. I got a yoga wheel for the holidays and promptly busted a rib. I found a new yoga teacher I liked, her class is getting cancelled. I voted for the first time in California and wound up in the fetal position on the couch the next morning. Ugh. The universe feels like it’s spinning out of control…but, is that really the whole story? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Your perception matters. Your delivery matters. Your choice matters. It would be nice to blame the year or something, but our reality is our responsibility. We all have choices to make about how to see our day, how to react to change, how to treat people, and how to plow through life. There are curveballs that will come and there’s not any possible way we can hit all of them. But if we miss, strike out or even get smacked by one – do we get back in the box and keep on swinging or do we wind up in that fetal position in the dugout unable to find a smile? Dumbledore was right, ‘it is our choices’. Individuals, organizations, charities and countries are stepping up to help those in war-torn regions. Places like Canada and Germany are welcoming refugees with warm and open arms. Homeless shelters exist. You can do your part. How lucky are you that you might have the opportunity to help in making someone’s life better? How privileged are we to sit behind our screens and be able to fling funds around the world to help a family in need? How can we help someone who’s right in front of us? How lucky am I that I got to celebrate a holiday freely, openly, without fear and then even had the added blessing of a gift? How lucky am I to have time, money and access to a yoga community and a mind and body that is capable of bringing me to my yoga mat? How lucky am I to have the opportunity to vote my choice in a free society, without fear, with access and with rights that millions of others don’t have? Gratitude matters.
People all over the world (including in our own backyard) are continuing to struggle for freedom, health, access, rights, voice, safety and security. Who knows what 2017 will bring, but the universe is speaking and we each have a choice in how we listen and how we react. I’m grateful for the journey that I’m on and the fact that so many of your are with me. I am thrilled that this year we got to see so many of you, connect with a greater community, learn new things and step our toes in some of the country’s and the world’s most special spots. I don’t have the words to describe the sensation and spirits that live at Australia’s Uluru, the majesty of Niagara Falls, or the epic landscapes of Yellowstone. What I do know is that I’m so very thankful for the opportunity to put these places on my list, dream of seeing them and actually make that dream a reality.
I choose to remember the good of 2016. I choose to focus on the helpers and those who make a choice every day to practice medicine, provide care, offer guidance, fight fires, protect, serve and always go that extra mile. I choose to celebrate the dreamers, the scientists, the inventors, the activists, the healers, the coaches, the mentors, the survivors, the veterans, the artists, the thinkers, the athletes, the organizers, the fighters, the friends, the families, the teachers and all those who dared to be fighters each chance they got. I choose to remember the courage of Elie Wiesel and the reach of John Glenn. I choose to remember the way Mr. Wonka, Princess Leia, Professor Snape and Charlotte and her mighty web touched our lives and made us dream for a better tomorrow. I choose to remember the way Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen reached into our souls and brought the entire world together as a global audience in ways that no politician every could. I choose to remember the places seen, the people met, the moments shared and the lives changed. We’re surrounded by choices every second of every day. How do you choose to act? The universe is speaking, can you listen?
Yoga teaches to set intentions every time you step on your mat. That yoga teacher whose class got cancelled wasn’t angry. Instead, she chose to believe that even though there’s an ending, somehow there’s another door opening if only we are able to see. Perhaps through all the muck and mire of 2016, we can all find a way to dream bigger, see more clearly, love more deeply, fight stronger, and act kinder to each other. Perhaps we can choose to lift others up, share a table, learn from one another, build bridges, open our hearts, and listen intentionally. There’s a way through every block, there’s growth on the other side of fear and there’s a light at the end of every tunnel even if it’s only a glimmer. We might stumble along the way – but it’s what we do after the stumble that means…everything. There is always hope.
Here’s to a 2017 filled with kindness and light, acceptance and awareness, gratitude and open minds, adventure and stories, positivity, happiness, good health and community. Learn wisely, act fiercely, and live with kindness. Find your warrior tribe, build your community and act with the universe in mind. Thanks for being a part of my journey. Happy New Year!