Adieu, 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It is before noon on New Year’s Eve, and I am writing this from my sister T and my brother-in-law S’s place in the suburbs where I’ve been housesitting for the past four days. Their three small dogs are curled up in a line to my right, from hip to ankle. Four days feels like four weeks when you’re in someone else’s house, sleeping in someone else’s bed, and with three living things to take care of. When I lived here twenty years ago, there was a different dog, two cats, and two parrots who’ve since left this realm for another. I was an angry and grief-stricken middle schooler. T and S were newly married and the same age I am now. But we survived. It is negative four thousand degrees with a six-inch snow cover today, HOWEVER, the sun shines. Glory be.

Six months ago, I didn’t know what the hell I was going to do for a job, a place to live, a social life. Knowing that soon the answers would come, that there is little else we can guarantee, I tried to stay content with the unknown and without a longterm plan or an exit strategy from Minnesota. I started substitute teaching for public schools in Minneapolis. During the month of September, I cried at the end of the day on the car ride home at least three days a week, sometimes five, until I found a sweet spot and a handful of schools that clicked. This has been the toughest job I’ve ever had, but I needed it. I started some contract culinary work for a woman who is a respected nutritionist in the Twin Cities, and this has filled my well personally and professionally beyond expectation. My longtime friend Annie and I moved in together, and despite a few bumps in the road, we’re still close friends. In fact, we probably make each other better. It’s been a trip.

So here we are, at the end of another year. Whenever I make a resolution, I break it within the first week of the new year. This time, instead of thinking of resolutions, I’ve thought about what made 2014 distinct, what made it challenging, and which patterns were easy to repeat. Instead of resolutions, I’m setting intentions. I’m going to get them out now, and then I’m going to step away from this space for a bit to absorb a fresh start. More practice, less plan. More heart, less critical thinking.

Happy 2015 to you. I hope your new year overflows with light.

To work through the fear.
I’ve typically dealt with life through a prism of fear that the worst scenario is bound to occur. Since my mom died, I’ve believed and feared that I would eventually lose everyone important to me. This is especially true in relationships, and it keeps me trapped in a cycle of creating friction. By creating fiction, I’ve always got problems to solve, and when I can solve problems, I maintain an illusion that I am in control. Ouch. What if the boundaries were fluid? What if I rode the wave? What if I allowed something to happen without a timeline, an expectation, or an attachment to the outcome? The fear will always be there, but what if it were just a filter I learned to work with instead of against? What if I could remind myself that I have survived, and will survive again? All relationships have a timeline, and not all are meant to last a lifetime. Loss is painful, but those relationships are usually worth what they teach.

To own this experience.
I overheard a couple talking the other day. Fine, I was eavesdropping. He was telling her about experience vs. baggage, and how we can either shoulder one or carry the other. It’s so obvious, but yet so amazing how a small switch in vocabulary can make such a big difference to an idea. I wanted to high-five him, but instead I walked in the other direction a little lighter.

To continue to be flexible.
With my ideas of success, progress, stability, and purpose.

To attune to the underlying emotion.
It is so easy to react, but not so easy to respond. Most emotions that hurt are carried by pain–anger, disappointment, sadness. To have more patience with myself, and with others, and to try to understand this sequence.


To recognize when I am putting up barriers.
Up until about six months ago, I was having a lifelong recurring dream that I was running away from something with invisible weights strapped to my ankles. I couldn’t move with any kind of speed–it felt like the air was full of jello, like a force was pushing me back to the starting line. Six months ago, the dreams stopped. Since I surrendered, essentially. If I put up an intellectual barrier to a deeper heartfelt instinct, I give myself permission not to try. And if I don’t try, I won’t risk losing anything. This is when self-love comes in handy. Sweet girl, says this wiser, patient voice. What if you had a daughter and she was sharing these things with you? You would wrap your arms around her and whisper to her that she deserves to live, that she has felt the difference between an open and a shunted heart, and that whatever happens as a consequence of choice or circumstance, she will survive.


  • Destiny

    Sentiments that speak so directly to my own heart. You’re a strong and beautiful soul, Jacqui. Happy New Year!

  • Habiba

    Heck yeah, girl. You and I and everyone we know will rock 2015 like 2014 never even happened. Big love from the mountains. xo

  • ji sun

    laugh, love, & live. rinse and repeat. different cycles, changing seasons. each one a touch varied, lining up for all that is life. big love to you! happy 2015!