I never write a Christmas letter anymore. I don’t send Christmas cards. Funny how those traditions just seem to fade. With a divorce, with grown kids, with the passage of time, all things change. I have lost some dear people and animals in the month of December, and the snow on the ground and lights on the houses sometimes are a reminder to me of these dear missed souls.
I try to be festive and jolly. I’m a new person in town, and I am blessed to have my family. But party dresses gather dust in the closet. Most of the spiked eggnog drinking I do is at home watching Netflix. Lights sparkle and beckon as I walk the dog down dark streets. I imagine the lives that are being lived inside the houses. I wonder if my ex is celebrating with a special lady who is everything to him that I was not? I think about the many Christmas trees I have decorated, the many people who have been in and out of my life. I use this time to reflect on the year that is coming to a close, and to make wishes and dreams for the coming year.
And so, I will write this Christmas letter to myself, to remind myself what I have done, and to hint at things to come.
Last January I celebrated New Years eve with my sister and her husband by going to a Black and White ball sponsored by Elephantjournal, a magazine I started writing for the previous summer. I wore my Dominatrix boots.
I got on an airplane a week later and flew to El Calafate, Argentina. This was the beginning of a four-month trip, traversing the continent of South America alone, by bus. I sat in the blue glow of the Perito Moreno glacier and was stunned by the deep connection I felt to humanity. I made my way through Buenos Aires, Eco Yoga Park (where I ate vegan meals, worked in the garden, and meditated with Hare Krisha monks), visited the stunning Iguazu Falls, and went on to San Juan, where I worked in a hostel, was bitten by bed bugs, and met some charming boys who kept me up all night drinking red wine and singing on the rooftop.
From there I spent some time in Chile – at a charming beach town called Maitencillo, and in Santiago, where I was robbed of some money, but determined not to be robbed of my fun. I spent my 49th birthday dancing salsa at a party restaurant in Santiago with my new friends there. Then I visited the beach at Con Con, and the arid desert of San Pedro de Atacama.
Peru was next, an amazing few days in Cuzco and a trip to Machu Picchu. I meditated looking out over the famous ancient ruins, and I kept the leaf that drifted down and landed at my feet. It sits on my altar at home as a reminder that there are indeed magical moments in this world. I spent another week at the beach in the surf village of Lobitos, staying in the regal dilapidated old general’s house, where we were without water to shower for almost a week, but I made some friends, learned to surf, and saw some miraculous sunsets.
As the South America trip was winding down I went to Cuenca, Ecuador, where I met an amazing guitarist at a tea bar. I met him on a Friday, moved in with him on Sunday, and left on Wednesday, tears in my eyes, knowing I may never again sip my coffee each day listening to the beautiful “tremulo” of talented fingers on the guitar.
Finally, I spent a glorious month in Costa Rica, attending a yoga teacher training. I met many incredible yogis, did two hours on the mat every morning at 6 AM, ate fresh mango and watch toucans fly through the trees. We studied mudras, mantras, bandhas, and dissected all the asanas. I left fit and happy, with a certificate in hand and new friends to encourage me.
During the summer I got a job teaching preschool, and secured another job for the fall doing the same. I went to Copper Mountain for Wanderlust, a four-day yoga and music festival, where I volunteered and took several classes a day, heard some remarkable speakers (like Aron Ralston, the “127 hours” guy) and met an acquisitions person for a book publisher.
In October I moved into the beautiful 1930’s bungalow I bought two years earlier, and was joined by my nineteen year old daughter and her wonderful dog.
As 2012 comes to a close, I look back on the amazing gift I gave myself: the gift of a year “off” – time to travel, to grow, to write. In 2013 I have a good job, a plan to pay off my Discover card J, and 125,000 words in a travel memoir to play with, edit down, polish up, and send off. As I look at turning 50, I am grateful for the years I have been given, and plan to do as much as I can to get out into the world and be a part of it by connecting with other people: through yoga, through travel, through sharing my writing. On the agenda: a surf and yoga trip to California to celebrate 50, a trip to India, or maybe the Tiger Temple in Thailand – where Buddhist monks raise tigers and lead meditation retreats. I plan to enroll in an MFA program, be continued support for my parents and my daughters, and learn and live, and remember to smile!
Maybe I’ll even get a puppy!