Taking solace in the solstice.

December has arrived in Baltimore, just as it should: dark and grey and cold, but full of the promise of a new year and new light. I always look forward to this time - the retreat indoors, the transformation of my space into something warm and inviting to counter the weather, champagne and eggnog, my birthday and the start of a new year, and Christmas spent with my family. I worry less and eat more and generally take better care of myself as I reach out to take care of those I love.

This year is more of the same in that I'm still getting settled in a(nother) new town, and am embarking on yet another work experience. Things are as up in the air as they always seem to be in my life, but I am surprisingly calm. It hit me this past weekend how differently this year turned out than I had expected. I was on top of the world in December of 2009, riding a wave of momentum into the unknown... As I step one year further into my thirties, I am wiser, a bit more experienced, and significantly more realistic. While I used to live on dreams and possibilities, I know more about what the world will 'give' and what I have to work for. I know the difference between my vision and reality... and I know that when the two come together it is no stroke of luck, but the the result of careful planning and determination.

I have always been a writer - in school, work and life. Writing is how I keep things straight, and keep myself honest - it's one thing to tell a lie, it's quite another to write one down. Unfortunately, my journaling fell off as I committed more time and energy to blogging about yoga, but as I finished my mala, even that began to wane. Looking back, I had lost my outlet, the litmus test of life that was my writing, and I began to create something that lacked focus and strayed from the things that sustained me. After I quit writing about yoga, I quit going to yoga. I lost the peace of my practice and the daily sorting that took place on my mat. Things in my head got jumbled and I found that I couldn't quite remember why I'd made certain decisions or how I'd come to various conclusions. A week away from my birthday, I wanted to look back on my year, to see how I'd come to this place of confusion, but I had nowhere to look. I couldn't even find the red moleskine I'd bought to mark my red letter year. I panicked.

Fortunately, I live above a Barnes & Noble. I easily found my usual black lined notebook, and grabbed a few blank ones just in case. I retreated to my room, and began to scribble.

Sorting through the frustration, I found that I had ended the conversation that I used to have with myself, that kept me honest about the kind of life I want to live and that kept me active in its creation. My crazy ideas and fanciful projects are still there, waiting to be discovered, but so is a new level of commitment to the things that feed my soul. And that's the thing about a practice, it's always with you, even when you're not using it, to protect you, to heal you, to help you grow - strong as ever. (If only I could say the same for my biceps!)

So here's to a new year, a new journal and a renewed commitment to the things in life that are truly important.