2014 Wrap-up Challenge: Present Your Gifts

By JD Hancock from Austin, TX, United States (Merry Christmas 2010) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Since I decided I would take whichever day was left for my blogging challenge, I kinda suspected I would get Christmas Day. Yet I figured I would wait and write my post on the day I was “given.” It is indeed Christmas Day and I am relishing the quiet while I type. This post is my present to all of you.  So in that spirit please read on…

First I want to let you in on a little secret. When I devised this challenge and created the theme, I was hoping that focusing on gratitude would lift my spirits. I was imagining that those who were called to participate would connect to form an energetic web of light that exuded grace, miracles, and blessings. As per usual, this challenge has proved to be miraculous in scope with surprises at every twist and turn. And it isn’t even finished yet!

When I looked at my aspects for my solar return chart ( birthday chart) for November 6 2013 , I saw that Saturn would be exactly on my Sun. The solar return chart illustrates the events of a one year cycle from the day of your current birthday through the next. With an exact Saturn to Sun conjunction and Pluto in Capricorn squaring Uranus off and on all year, I had a hunch this would be an arduous year for me. I reflected on my first Saturn in Scorpio transit and recalled the losses, disappointments, and successes. I recalled graduating from Temple University’s Master’s Program in Counseling Psychology , making amazing friends, and living alone (without family or room mates) for the first time in my very own apartment. It was a difficult cycle, but oh so rich in lessons and blessings. This year is no different in that regard.

The children’s story The Little Engine That Could immediately came to mind when I was reflecting about this year. It is a story about chugging along productively, despite the obstacles. Please consider this story as you read along:

Which lessons did you learn?

I learned so many things this year. I learned that my greatest fears can be made manifest. February is one of my favorite months but it was brutal this year. On the same day I discovered I had skin cancer that required surgery, I also was told that my long time friend and neighbor had abruptly passed away. What we focus on with our attention and intention is what persists. Worries about Cancer finally showed up as Cancer. The good news is that it was treatable and gone from my body. A scar remains to remind me of past battles and my ability to choose my thoughts differently in the present moment. My friend is also gone, but her passion for animals and all of nature certainly live on. I also learned that I can keep redirecting my Self, even when I am tempted to give up. Like that little engine, my natal Saturn in Capricorn teaches me the wisdom of striving to improve and to move mountains one tiny step at a time.

How did you serve others?

I served others by clearly communicating my limitations. This is not typically my sweet spot as I prefer to pursue excellence. Yet being genuine and transparent requires honesty and admission of human imperfection. I also served others by unabashedly sharing my love and affection. I rarely say anything I do not mean so sometimes I worry that I may come off as phony. However, it is more important for me to cherish those I love and shower them with my expressions in the forms of truth and light. My heart never fails to lead me in the right direction and it served me well this year.

What blessings did you receive?

Generosity from family and friends was often unexpected and never taken for granted. With financial difficulties dominating most of this year, I always had more than enough. Sometimes the sources were unexpected. Not only was I gifted with opportunities to travel, enjoy art , celebrate nature, and dine with abandon, I was given one of the best presents ever, NO JUDGEMENT. I was gifted unconditional acceptance for being me! I hope to pass it onto as many souls as I can. The value of acceptance is beyond measure and is difficult to put into words. Let’s just say it is priceless.

Speaking of priceless, I have made so many amazing new friends this year that feel like eternal long- lost connections.  I have also developed closer bonds with the established ones and re-united with an oldie but goodie. My WordPress family continues to grow by leaps and bounds in a spiral-like motion. One click leads to another and all of a sudden I am collaborating with my moonies or chowing down on curry in real-time with a “new” bloggette buddy.


wikimedia.org public domain

Was there something you lost that turned out to be a blessing in disguise?

This question was created many moons ago. When I developed a Grief and Loss group at my program, I collaborated with a wonderful soul who was part of the team that I supervised. At some point he asked me if we could expand the focus of the group and suggested we look at all types of loss. This question came out of that process. Months later when Special K cereal began the campaign ” What will you gain when you lose?”, I knew the Universe approved of this query.

I discovered that I can make a difference with lasting impact, despite an eventual outcome that was not to my liking. I had 2 full-time jobs this year: One temporary and one “permanent”. Both assignments required I work harder and longer than typically required. Learning new skills usually comes easily and quickly to me, with boredom being the harshest obstacle to transcend, This year, it was not the case. I had to familiarize myself with tricky computer programs and databases with little help or support and often under immense pressure and scrutiny. Very, very Saturn! I also had to endure the toxicity of work environments that were unstable and unforgiving. Ultimately both assignments were taken from me, swiftly and without much explanation.

But silver linings abound in both cases. Without any provocation from me, I was showered with gratitude for my service. When I returned to the temp job to pick up some belongings, I encountered one of my clients who was deemed ” difficult”. She peppered me with questions about my departure which I could not answer. She told me how much the clients loved me and what a difference I made. I was overcome with emotion and brushed aside tears. At the other job, I had an opportunity to provide supervision to new therapists who were beginning to hone their skills. I developed a rapport with one young woman who initially questioned her decision to work in this field. In just a few months, she was blossoming into a confident, savvy, compassionate clinician. She soaked up all that I offered her and was open to my observations of her group and individual sessions. She repeatedly told me how much she learned from me and how much my attention and guidance meant to her. I was so sad to sever that bond, yet so excited to see how much she had benefited by my presence in her life. 

Did you receive any “gifts” in terms of powers or skills?

I did not receive any new powers or skills, but had ample opportunities to refine and practice my intuition and  increase my capacity to reach out to others. My experience of synchronicities has snowballed into an almost daily phenomenon. Nurturing and honoring each “episode” had brought me more and more. I question the purpose of these “happy accidents” less often, and prefer to take them in with appreciation. As someone who loves new experience and detests change, taking risks has often posed a very paradoxical challenge for me. While I have many times found myself led to be a pioneer and move in unfamiliar territory, it was never without a trace of anxiety. When a surprise invitation appeared to interview a film director, I thought I was dreaming ( not the lucid kind !) and was initially skeptical. Fortunately I followed my intuition and faced my fear of uncertainty. Skyping with Shawn and interviewing her for her film Saturn Returns is an experience that I will always treasure. It comes as no coincidence that I wrote about a film on Saturn during such a Saturnian-filled year!

 I discovered a core belief this year ~ that life is unsafe for me. I think I always knew this at some level, but this year’s journey brought it to awareness. But here is the thing: every single risk I took resulted in so much joy and love. When I am in that space, no fear can touch me and I am at one with all that is, the great IAM. For example, I spent Christmas Eve with a dear friend at her home. I only knew a few people there and was worried I might feel out-of-place. I cast these worries and doubts aside and reminded myself how great I feel when I am open. Well I made a new friend at the gathering with ease and grace. Within seconds I felt that we were meant to meet and the host told me she thought we would connect! This year has really reinforced for me the magic of being innocent and open. The little engine that could really chugs along when unencumbered by expectations, projections, or judgements.

By Kelvin Kay, en:user:kkmd [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to all of you who have accepted me, warts and all, into your hearts and into your circle. I am excited about this new year and expect to open new doors and walk through them with excitement and awe. My recent decision to embrace radical gratitude was wise, but not without its own set of unique demands. However I leave 2014 inspired to embrace my life and begin to grasp the magnificence of being human. I invite you to do the same.

May your heart be open to receive the gifts already on their way.


Postscript: I wanted to end this with a song and at 8:10 pm one popped into my head that really summarizes 2014. In a word, Brave.


next post: astro sister Ka at Fiesta Estrella


image credits:
1st image: By JD Hancock from Austin, TX, United States (Merry Christmas 2010) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
2nd image: wikimedia.org, public domain
3rd image/ header image: By Kelvin Kay, en:user:kkmd  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License