1. I learned the difference between reacting and responding.
…and every day since has been a practice in choosing to pause, breathe, and respond. In creating that space, I give myself the freedom to choose how I show up, rather than letting my triggers dictate my direction.
2. I found joy exploring my spirituality.
Religion and spirituality aren’t synonyms, which was news to me. I found peace and purpose exploring my spirituality through discerning adult eyes. In abandoning the intolerant and sexist religious doctrine of my childhood and embracing a god of unconditional love and infinite grace, I’ve found healing.
3. I experienced true body neutrality.
Breaking up with diet culture started before 2022 for me, but this was the year I spent an entire 365 days enjoying the freedom that comes with accepting my body exactly as it is. I dress my body in a way that feels right and comfortable, and I feed myself when I’m hungry.
4. I practiced being the watcher of my thoughts and feelings.
I am not my loneliness, my guilt, my anger. I am the one watching a part of me that feels lonely, guilty, angry. And as the watcher, I can validate that feeling, practice non-judgement, and show compassion to that part of myself without letting it become me. Much easier in theory than practice. Right now, reaching this level of consciousness requires solitude and silence in my closet. Maybe someday, I’ll be skillful enough to carry this practice into the rest of my day.
5. I discovered Internal Family Systems.
… and found power in isolating warring parts of myself to identify triggers and survival coping mechanisms that kept me safe as a kid but are no longer serving me as an adult.
6. I boundaried up.
A lack of boundaries had me accepting responsibility for everybody else’s emotional states and needs while leaving me completely blind to my own. I read the books, practiced the scripts, messed up, and tried again. I’m still terrified of being rejected every time I have to set a boundary and have the hard conversation, but I’m pushing myself to do it anyways.
7. I faced my codependent tendencies.
…and found peace in accepting the reality that all I have control over in this whole world are my thoughts and actions. I release responsibility for anybody else’s happiness and healing and accept full responsibility for my own. Chronic daily guilt over what I did/didn’t do/should have done is dwindling as I work through this.
8. I parented in a way I’m proud of.
Well, mostly. I still have my moments. But this year I started practicing repair when I mess up and putting the kid before the behavior. My wildest hope is that my boys grow to be their truest, most beautiful selves. My greatest privilege is watching them learn who that is.
9. I challenged injustice when I saw it.
Following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, I heard the term “performative ally” for the first time. I had to sit with the yuck that good intentions can make for sh*tty allies, and there was some room for me to learn and grow in my allyship. For too long, I let fear of conflict keep me silent. I hold myself accountable to using my privilege and voice when encountering biased language and behaviors. And when I mess up, I commit to educating myself and others . As poet Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
10. I explored nature.
Joy is moonlight fractured through ice-tipped tree branches and the first warm spring breeze on bare legs. I discovered getting outside is one of my most potent, underutilized coping mechanisms.
11. I (we) broke a marital cycle.
My partner and I tackled the most toxic of our communication patterns this year. For years, we’ve known better. Now, we’re actually doing better. (Baby, there is nobody I would rather forge new neural pathways with than you. These days, I’m proud of the marriage we are modeling for our kids. We’ve got this.)
12. I rethought my relationship with alcohol.
I set some self boundaries around excessive alcohol consumption after I spent my 31st birthday on the floor of a bar bathroom, forehead cooling on the toilet bowl. I commit to continue being reflective and intentional when I engage with alcohol.
13. I aired out some shame skeletons.
Author and researcher Brené Brown writes, “Shame cannot survive being spoken. It cannot tolerate having words wrapped around it. What it craves is secrecy, silence, and judgment. If we speak shame, it begins to wither.” There are plenty more skeletons lurking in my closet, but the few I’ve let out left it feeling much less haunted in there.
14. I firmed up my values.
The two values I turn to when making difficult decisions are courage and growth. I’m trying to get better at pivoting quickly when I realize I’m out of alignment with these.
15. I gossiped less.
I fundamentally believe people are doing the best they can with the resources they have at the time. And I just want to move through the world embodying that way more than I am right now.
16. I dreamed seriously.
This year, I let myself want: to write. to heal. to exhale.
17. I saw other successful women as inspiration, not competition.
Prior to 2022, my ego couldn’t handle reading authors like Glennon Doyle, Liz Gilbert, and Martha Beck. I would have been crippled with envy over the successful writing careers they built by living reflective lives and writing vulnerably. These women are now my soul teachers who’ve given me the keys to set myself free in order to imagine my most fulfilling life and to pursue it relentlessly.
18. I chameleoned less.
My gift and curse is the ability to transform into whatever version of myself feels most advantageous in any given circumstance. It happens almost instinctively. This survival mechanism, coupled with people-pleasing tendencies, left me a total codependent mess with a convoluted sense of self. It may have served me as a child moving every 3-4 years from one military base to the next, desperate to belong. But as an adult, not so much. I know what it takes to be liked by a roomful of people. But it leaves me not liking me very much.
19. I started practicing mindfulness.
For years, I’ve heard of the profound impact simple behaviors like breathing, walking, journaling, stretching, and meditating can have on a person’s life when done regularly and with intention. I wasn’t nearly as regular or intentional as I hoped, but I started.
20. I flossed regularly.
(For real this time – not just my annual hack job the night before my appointment. I promise, Dr. Whilm!)
21. I carved out this little corner of the internet.
And in doing so, I built a place to heal out loud, to find my voice, to take my dreams seriously.
22. I learned I still have a lot to learn.
I would love to tie all of this up in a pretty little bow and say I’m officially all healed, case closed, thanks… ha! But the good news is that unlearning all the things I’m not and remembering who I am underneath all of the cultural conditioning is profoundly meaningful work and actually kind of… fun? I hope to carry this energy into 2023 and stumble through the new year with grace, grit, and integrity.