Bursting the Bubble: Reflecting on EXPAND

This year was a focus on growth, moving up and outward. Perhaps overgrowing in some areas. The year began with a list of things to Expand:

  • I took 20 credit hours of graduate school while working full time… and maintained a 4.0 GPA, which I realize isn’t important to anyone. Except me. Because I was so nervous about starting school. So nervous it would be overwhelming and I would flounder. But I didn’t. I discovered I would be an excellent doctoral candidate, an idea I scoffed at the first time the Chair of my department suggested it. But as it turns out, a PhD may be a path I genuinely consider one day.
  • My career took unexpected turns. While I may have passed by for a major promotion, a high ranking university administrator shared his believe I would make an excellent Dean of Students in a few years time. He also shared my reputation as a hard and considerate worker was recognized throughout the division. I had the opportunity to mentor a couple of colleagues; ones I don’t supervise but who look towards me for leadership all the same. I attended a professional development conference that introduced me to my thesis topic (porn!) which I can use as a grant proposal for future endeavors.
  • My spirituality remained steadfast. I don’t ascribe to a specific deity or belief. A couple friends suggested I enroll in a Paganism 101 course at a local metaphysical shop with them, though it didn’t appeal. I’m no more Pagan than Baptist these days. And I’m okay with that. I have certainty the Universe takes care of those who trust it. And while there may be some Source that is interested in my well-being, it isn’t actively pulling strings on the daily. This belief solidified. I possess a quiet spirituality these days and rarely struggle comparing my journey to others.
  • I probably didn’t seek friendship as doggedly as I should have. I accepted invites, though. I made connections. I showed up for people I only met briefly and came to terms that I don’t need the same size circle I had in Fort Collins — which took over a decade to build. Instead, I capitalized on the relationships I value most and showed up whenever I was called upon. Midnight phone calls, pleading emails, laughter in success.
  • Josh and I are still the eternally obnoxious couple who belly laugh ever night before bed. The ones who drunkenly sit on a balcony overlooking the ocean and discuss how they wouldn’t trade places with anyone under any condition because there is no one more compatible or contented than us. It is as schmaltzy as it sounds. I know this perfect little bubble will burst some day, maybe soon. We’ll yell at each other in anger; some catastrophe will crack our foundation. So each night when I put my head on my love’s shoulder and whisper nonsensical riddles into his ear (as is our habit) I catalog the moment with fierce gratitude.
  • My relationship with myself is progressing slowly. I made efforts to be kinder to myself about the softness of my body and wildness of my hair. I took a food sensitivity test and discovered brewers yeast and dairy caused my chronic stomach aches and aggressive acne. I hoped cutting them from my diet would result in moderate weight loss, though that was not the case. Neither did cutting out alcohol on school nights and exercising for about five hours each week. This may have been one of the tests of my year — doing all the little things that are supposed to add up to major changes and still appreciating the damn thing when it all stays the same.
  • Truth is ever evasive, though this year I found incredible solace in reminding myself It is what it is. Such a basic and seemingly pessimistic phrase that continues to prove relevant into adulthood. Fighting whatever it happens to be is wasted effort. I added another Rule of Adulthood: Make the time to do just a little. I don’t know when I discovered the Pomodoro Technique but it single-handedly enabled all-day study sessions and completing endless reports for work.
  • I didn’t go to a kundalini class. But I still want to try one.
  • I meditated a bit but it is far from routine. I’m still making room for it in the middle of my work day with the personal reminder that taking even 10 minutes for lunch is appropriate.
  • Travel always makes your world larger and smaller at the same time. You realize people are mostly the same wherever you go. You share smiles with a stranger whose language you don’t speak (even if it’s just metaphorically). You drink their booze and eat their delicacies and soak in all that’s unfamiliar. Seattle, Cuba, St Augustine, Tennessee, Orange Beach. Most of our trips were small weekend getaways but they replenished me in a way I can’t fully explain. But it made my heart bigger, experience deeper, and appreciation wider.
  • And our house. Our wonderful, amazing, cozy, beautiful home with a glorious deck and magnolia tree. My astrologer noted three or so years ago that my chart indicated Home was of incredible importance to me. She caught me in the middle of a cycle where I uprooted apartments five times in six years, so I initially dismissed her. But the adoration I feel for our little (huge) mid-century cottage is proof she was right. The only thing that could take me away from that place is opportunity in Savannah.

I’m not the same person I was at the start of the year. Not so drastically different either. As I age I find myself steadfast in accepting the things about me which may not be perfect but aren’t otherwise so bad. I also challenge myself to show up, to put others first, and to stop procrastinating. I maintain room for fun and satisfaction even during the most stressful of weeks.

Exactly this…

Sister forwarded me enough articles from DailyOm that I started subscribing, too.

This darling little article that so perfectly fit our #OneWord2018’s and this year’s VOW schedule. I couldn’t help but share and if this resonates, you may want to get on their daily newsletter list, too.

Contracting Before Expanding

by Madisyn Taylor

It is a natural part of being, that our lives sometimes contract before expanding.

Sometimes our lives contract before they expand. We may be working hard on ourselves spiritually, doing good in the world, following our dreams, and wondering why we are still facing constrictions of all kinds–financial, emotional, physical. Perhaps we even feel as if we’ve lost our spirituality and are stuck in a dark room with no windows. We may be confused and discouraged by what appears to be a lack of progress. But sometimes this is the way things work. Like a caterpillar that confines itself to a tiny cocoon before it grows wings and flies, we are experiencing the darkness before the dawn.

When things feel tight, it’s easy to panic or want to act in some way to ease the feeling of constriction. We might also spin our wheels mentally, trying to understand why things are the way they are. However, there is nothing we need to do at this time other than to be patient and persevering. We can cling to the awareness that we are processing the shift from one stage to another, and the more we surrender to the experience, the more quickly we will move through the tightness into the opening on the other side. Just like a baby making its way down the birth canal, we may feel squeezed and pushed and very uncomfortable, but if we remember that we are on our way to being born into a new reality, we will find the strength to carry on.

Even as we endure the contractions, we can find peace within ourselves if we remember to trust the universe. We can look to the natural world for inspiration as we see that all beings surrender to the process of being born. In that surrender, and in the center of our own hearts, is a willingness to trust in the unknown as we make our way through the opening.


On Choosing (and already witnessing) #VOWexpand

I bought myself a special birthday treat last August. As a tarot reader, you’d think that I’d have had several professional readings in my time. Not so. The only reading I ever had (aside from friends in my meetup group) has been a nice fellow spread out on the Charlottesville foot mall. It was that one random reading (backed by a lifelong curiosity) that led me to purchase my first deck.

This year I paid off a shit ton of credit card debt. I cut out all superfluous spending for over a year and plugged about 40% of my paycheck (after taxes) towards financial freedom. EMBRACE taught me a lot about money, such as using what I have rather than stockpiling three or four backups of virtually everything (read: fear of scarcity issues). I worked hard and so as my birthday approached, I asked my inner self what sounded like a nice reward to usher in the new year. And my heart said it would like a virtual tarot reading from the incomparable Benebell Wen.

My Twelve Month Reading included a whole host of unexpected and insightful information (Bell is nothing if not an Achiever) and it was she who chose my #OneWord2018 for me.


She had channeled the word as being key for the upcoming year. And the reading she gave supported it. And mysteriously (because I’m still sorting out my beliefs regarding astrology because it seems hokey but that shit is also eerily accurate) many other metaphysical readings I’ve had done in the ensuing months have supported it.

I will admit that it felt that #VOWexpand felt almost too similar to Steph’s 2017 word (Build) but who am I to argue when the Universe places a path in front of me?

Some things I want to EXPAND on in 2018:

my education

my career

my spirituality

my friendship circle here in Bham

my relationship with Josh

my relationship with myself

my definition of Truth

How this shows up is still a mystery. That is the benefit of choosing a word for the year – it isn’t quite what you anticipate it will be. Like a mantra and affirmation, like spellwork, I believe that in the mere focusing of the word it redirects where you will go.

I hope to help it along the way, of course. I don’t fold my arms and blindly demand that the Universe heap mind-blowing revelations on me. Some things I plan on doing this year:

try out kundalini

determine my capstone project

reestablish my meditation practice

read (and re-read and re-re-read) White Hot Truth

buy a house

Let me just clarify that, that last one — buy a frigging house — was not on my list as of January 1st. But there’s the Universe, stepping in and saying oh that’s sweet. you want expansion, huh? how about 2400 square feet?

The perfect-for-us home fell into our laps late last week. Josh and I have kept our eyes on Zillow since relocating. We’ve been happy renters but are so in love with our neighborhood that we knew the ever-burgeoning area would soon outprice us rent-wise. We’re surrounded by cute mid-century bungalows so it felt only natural to set a few alerts in case anything in the right price arose. And as it turns out, there was one house about half a mile from where we live that kept catching both our eyes.

So we booked a showing with our realtor on Friday. And wouldn’t you know it? The sellers had just dropped the price. The layout was the right amount of quirky. The wall colors and flooring were just my style. The kitchen had a big deep sink and fancy fridge included.

It was perfect.

And upon checking my horoscope the next morning, I read:

There’s a great deal of activity for you on the home front. You might be involved in a major construction project and if so, you’ll make significant progress today. Your contractors might inform you that they anticipate finishing ahead of schedule, much to your delight. Another possibility is that you could be involved in a real estate transaction and notice that there are absolutely no obstacles in your way. This is clearly meant to be.

And it was. We put in an offer, we seamlessly got pre-approved by a bank, the down-payment requirements are way lower than expected, and this afternoon we got news that the sellers have accepted our offer.

So come March — one year from Josh’s arrival — we will EXPAND from our first apartment together to our first home together.

And as I cycle between ebullience and terror. I’m not scared of buying a house with Josh but rather the financial commitment that comes with it. I’m getting what I ask for, plus a healthy dose of CHARGE (our January VOW) which, when all is said and done, I’m certain will be for the better.

See Steph’s rationale for her #OneWord365 — #VOWnarrow.