Four years ago I started writing love letters to the year past as part of my New Year's tradition. It was inspired by one of my most beloved yoga teachers, Elena Brower. I'm working on my letter to 2017 now (and it's a doozy) but I wanted to share my past letters here in hopes that I may inspire others to try this simple exercise. The act of writing has proven health benefits. So write a note on your phone, in your journal, in an email to yourself. Share it with no one or with the ones you love. Either way, cultivating gratitude for the most challenging years is how we tone our spiritual body. It helps us acknowledge and celebrate our growth and find the light even in our darkest hours.
I hope this year was worthy of so much love for you. Happy New Year.
Even though you were filled with a great deal of goodness, I can't bring myself to write much of it down this year. My sweet brother-in-law, Michael, was killed in a car accident at the end of November and it is hard to think of anything else at this moment. But in the midst of my grief, I stumbled across someone else's writing, Danielle Doby, and it was as if the universe wanted to give me words when I had none.
"2016, you were heavy, and I needed you to be. I needed you to weigh me into the ground so hard that I was forced to learn the lesson of what it really means to let go of something. expectations. loss. planned futures. the pain that harbors underneath my left shoulder blade where I keep my heartbreak well + alive with me. Transformation is a dark muddy water that isn't breezily navigated. All we can do is keep putting one step in front of the other out into the unknown and trust that our feet are grounded enough to catch our falls. Letting go—to really let go— isn't something we can fast forward through like clear waters. It isn't something we can rinse into a translucence or shame into a small existence. It isn't ignoring, shoving aside or repeating the lyrics, "It doesn't matter, I'm just fine." I quit telling myself that story, so I chose to write a new one. Instead, I choose the story of being. To be with myself. My alone. My pain. My story. Not numb. Not hide. Not run, because oh, sometimes do I want to run.
I choose to be. And it's when I choose to honor this pain, when I give it room to breathe and simply be, that's the moment I invite love to be, too." Truer words were never spoken...This resonates so deeply with me. 2016 cracked me open, but I'm looking forward to healing and loving and shining bright in 2017. I'm thankful I was Bodie's mama for all of 2016. He brought us so much joy this year, even on the darkest of days. I was thankful for our Montana adventure and I'm also thankful we are finally settled into our new home, which wouldn't be possible without a great deal of hard work and dedication from my loving husband, Rick. I witnessed him endure one of the hardest challenges one will ever be dealt in life with grace and humility, strength and love. I'm so crazy proud of the Dad and partner he's become and looking forward to what adventures are in store for us next year. Love, Cait
Dear 2015, You were a life changing year... Thank you for being the year of Bodie, the year that this sweet little boy did most of his growing inside my belly, the year I felt his flutters, kicks, and flips. Thank you for being the year I had the privilege and honor of becoming his mama. After a lightening fast and empowering natural birth, thank you for delivering him safely into my arms. I will try to never take this gift for granted. Thank you for being the year of new mom friendships... And I'm also thrilled that my Smithie friends, Elly, Meg, and soon Mollie, are sharing this parenting experience with me from afar. I'm grateful KK and I squeezed in one last weekend in New York together before Bodie came and that we saw the cherry blossoms on full display in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I'm thankful for the time I had with Rick before we became a threesome, thankful for our dates and simple snuggle sessions and heart to hearts. Even though we didn't check off everything from our "baby bucket list," I still felt like every moment together before the baby was well spent. I'm grateful that 2015 was the year I graduated from yoga teacher training and had the opportunity to learn so much and grow my practice. It was the year I truly became a teacher and discovered my voice. 2015 was also the year of my last pre-baby travel adventures-- to New York and to Wanderlust and to Florida. I know that I will cherish these last chances at pure unadulterated freedom for a long, long time. While I have so much to be grateful for, the passing of my dear friend Liz in 2015 is something I've struggled to find the goodness in. And yet, her too short life made me realize how precious every moment I have with my children and loved ones is... Reflecting on our friendship and her life has taught me many valuable lessons: Be a good person and people will help you when you need them; Sometimes unexpected friendships are forged during the most trying of times; Be creative and never stop exploring and learning; Love art and appreciate the beauty in a well-crafted font; Life is short, make every moment count; Never give up on the Oxford comma. 2015 was also the year I felt truly beautiful for the first time... Even though I stopped wearing makeup, stopped coloring my hair, stopped painting my nails, even though my belly is softer from growing a baby and my hips are wider from pushing him out, despite my tired eyes and barely brushed teeth, I feel beautiful in a way I never have before. Motherhood has made me feel strong and capable and feminine and radiant. Motherhood is what makes me beautiful. So much to be grateful for, 2015... I'm thankful for my family's continued good health... I'm thankful for my sweet dog, Tucker... I'm thankful that becoming a mother has brought me so much closer to my sister, as we are now bonded both in sisterhood and in motherhood... I'm thankful for the support of my family as Rick and I took on the challenges of parenthood because we could not have survived the past five months without them. Lastly, I am thankful for my love, Rick, and for having the honor as his partner to bear witness to his personal evolution. We've both done so much growing up over our 10+ years and I've watched him mature and grow stronger, healthier, and more confident as he's shed his worst demons and embraced his role as husband and now FATHER. From the moment I witnessed him teaching swimming lessons beside me years and years ago, I just knew he'd make the best Dad and 2015, you sure did prove me right. Happy New Year. Bring it on, 2016 Love, Cait
Thank you for being the year I started yoga teacher training, deepened my practice, and discovered that going even deeper will be a lifelong pursuit.
Thank you for bringing me new and amazing friendships, a new yoga tribe, and new teachers.
Thank you for strengthening my marriage and filling it with more love than ever before and for continuing to teach me about healthy non-violent communication with myself and others.
Thank you for bringing me health of body and mind and soul.
Thank you for giving me more patience and teaching me more about myself and my needs.
Thank you for providing opportunities for me to see my oldest, dearest friends.
Thank you for my mother/daughter trip to Wanderlust. I know I will cherish it always.
Thank you for a magical time on Ram Island Farm and for letting me finally share my favorite place on earth with my dearest love. I am especially grateful for the amazing horse-back riding adventures through the woods on the farm.
Thank you for the chance to swim with sea turtles in Saint John.
Thank you for being the year my parents officially tied the knot, and for letting me bear witness, along with the rest of my family.
Thank you letting me witness the beautiful growth of my sweet niece, Nyah.
Thank you for letting me stretch myself with a role in a musical production, teaching kids yoga, supporting friends and loved ones through difficult times, and all the other challenges you brought.
Thank you for being the year so many friends got married—and for giving Rick and I the opportunity to celebrate and rejoice in their love.
Thank you for being the year Rick graduated from law school and passed his BAR exams. Hallelujah!
Thank you for teaching me more about forgiveness, love, friendship, gratitude, and family.
Thank you for producing a bountiful organic garden that nourished me and my family and friends for many meals.
Thank you for another fun Reach the Beach running adventure (and possibly my last for a while). And thank you for the other fun miles I logged on the road.
Thank you for bringing me a running club, something I'd wanted for so long.
Thank you for being the year I was ready to get pregnant... and did.
Thank you for keeping my family, friends, and pets safe and healthy.
THANK YOU, 2014. Can't wait to see what gifts 2015 brings :)