Last year I predicted that 2014 would be epic. I think the word "epic" is overused (thanks Maddox), but the breadth of living I did over this past year would qualify as epic, even under the strictest definition. I'll call 2014 "The Year of the Fire."
My intention to spend the year establishing a private practice was set aside in favor of getting my personal life together. I love my chosen profession (counseling), and can't wait to be doing it full time. That enthusiasm is tempered by the realization that to work with those in transition I need to be stable. Or at least enlightened enough to look beyond my own troubles and offer my full attention to someone else. In 2014 I was not. Graduating was a tough process that left me raw from self defense wounds. My personal life collapsed and I learned what it was like, yet again, to be loved with shallow conditionality.
So I left the country.
I left the country, and behaved selfishly, and indulgently - all in the name of past wounds. Those cuts and bruises were my excuse. I was the product of my past. I let those painful experiences pile up and finally topple over, crushing me and a few other people underneath.
In college we were told that a demonstrated change in behavior is evidence that learning has taken place. If you stick your hand back in the fire, you haven't learned. Not yet. But change takes time, and sometimes the scaffold that all your lessons have been placed on has to be torn down in order for that change to truly take place.
Last year was the first time that I've articulated being grateful for painful experiences - the internship that broke my heart. This year I articulate it again: I am so grateful for the pain that finally tore down that rickety and damaged self concept and gave me the chance to build it up again in a way that makes me proud. I felt the past drop away like a heavy coat that I don't think I'll ever need to put on again.
2014 wasn't all hardship though, it had some of the highest highs I've ever experienced. The contrast between the two has helped me sort out the kind of person and life I want to create for myself. We are so small in this huge world, but being alive is so... epic. That scantily clad warrior woman from 2013 battled her way through 2014, and emerged with scars so beautiful they almost look like paintings...
This is the part where I look back on my "resolutions" and see what I actually did over the year. I'm actually a bit nervous to look - considering how differently everything went...
1. FINISH THE BOOK! - Nope. No dice, but I have an illustrator who is interested and a few friends to help inspire me. 2015 might be the year!
2. Create a plan to gain relevant experience in the field, including volunteering. - Made a plan. Didn't do the plan.
3. Boldly network. Go introduce myself to local offices, make friends and bring cookies. - Yes, but not in the counseling profession :-P
4. Be way involved in TAPG (the adventure therapy professional group). - YEP! Took on the job of communications person on the leadership counsel! SO excited to contribute to such an inspirational group of people.
5. Continue to write research papers/articles - but this time on topics I actually like. - Not. Even. Close.
6. Figure out my poor dog's allergy situation. She itches all the time. - YES! New medication was invented and it changed our lives! She is way less anxious and is even enjoying time with other dogs again :)
7. Create a professional support network for myself. - Meh. No.
8. Take a solo trip. - YES! A week in Peru before meeting up with my travel partner. What a badly needed milestone.
9. Begin building my practice in a way that is organic, sustainable and attainable. For me this might mean slowing down and breathing. - Well I slowed down alright...
10. Save up so I can take skiing lessons! And have the gear to go whenever I want. - Nope, but I got ICE TOOLS!!!
1. I was part of the Omni Games! I got to spend more time with my Columbia family, and crossed things off my bucket list like riding in a dog sled :)
2. I went to Peru. International travel has ben eluding me since highschool, and Peru has been a dream of mine for a while. The decision to go was made over a beer (as all good decisions are), and the plane ticket was purchased with the help of peer pressure from friends who cared about me deeply. I climbed a 19,000 ft volcano, alone. I saw Machu Piccu. I met hundreds of people. I ate amazing food. I climbed rocks and mountains. My birthday definitely happened during this trip.
3. I taught an undergraduate course for Prescott College. Ugh, so hard, but I learned so much! Tasks I thought were easy, and scorned my former instructors for struggling with, turned out to be nearly impossible. I gained so much compassion and self insight through this experience, I can only hope for a chance to do it again and practice what I've learned.
4. My climbing life sky rocketed. I started climbing in "the Park," soloing the flatirons, leading harder trad and leading harder sport. My world opened up as my head grew more steady. I spent some amazing days climbing that long alpine trad I crave. I accumulated more days on ice last year than in the last few combined. I attribute this to the partners I found, who rock my socks, and also to...
5. ...the medication I started in April. Yep. After years of struggling with anxiety and depression I finally decided to practice what I preach. The shame and stigma of mental health issues is so pervasive that even a trained counselor has trouble asking for help. We KNOW that anxiety and depression (and a host of other issues) are a product of both mind and body issues, yet we ignore the things we can do to treat the body because we think we should be able to "handle it" ourselves. That's like trying to treat a bacterial infection with positive thinking alone. I cried the day I took that first pill, thinking I was a failure. I've never cried when I took ibuprofen for a headache though, or when I put lotion on a sun burn, or drank water when I was dehydrated and grumpy. I feel that this is important for me to say, and to include in my year's accomplishments, because it made all that adventure and growth and change possible. And because maybe someone who reads this will resonate and be empowered to take care of them selves as well.
6. Finally, I BOUGHT AN AIRSTREAM!!!!! A 1967 Overlander International, 28 ft. I'm officially joining the tiny house movement, collapsing into a sustainable lifestyle that focuses on people and experiences instead of things. The catalyst was thinking about where I would live next, and realizing that I was in the perfect position to act on this dream of mine, to bring my life into line with my values. 2015 will be full of learning as I renovate "Marge" and then finally move in :)
7. Also I got a giant tattoo :-D
I, Aleya Littleton, do hereby resolve to:
- Cultivate an attitude of humility and gratitude. I'm not hurt any more like I used to be, so I don't need to make myself bigger or better. I can finally focus outward and love people like I've always wanted.
- Make more girl friends :) I'm off to a great start so far.
- Tackle Mt. Rainier! After 7 of my friends summited last year, I figure it's my turn. Right Beth?
- Be honest. No more spinning things to make myself lovable. I will own the truth and my dark side and love myself first, before I expect anyone else to.
- Pick up that damn uke again :)
- Renovate an Airstream (harder than it seems).
- Move into an Airstream.
- Save money regularly! (Thanks to the Airstream).
- Plan and take at least three climbing trips, one to JTree and one to Indian Creek.
- Begin to appreciate mornings (Maybe I'll even stop tweeting like this...)
- Begin building my practice in a way that is organic, sustainable and attainable. I think it's time...
Bring it 2015. I am ready.