reverb11: the gift of struggle and of gratefulness

Prompt: Gift: Name one gift that 2011 gave you; what treasure came your way gift wrapped in experience, that (maybe in hindsight) you want to hold onto and place on display?

At the beginning of the reverb posts, I wrote about how I struggled this year, wondering if I was on the right career path, wondering how to live more fulfilled, struggling to find room, time, mental space for my responsibilities AND what I wanted to do. I recognize that these are pointedly first world problems, that I am lucky. 

2011 with its challenges and roller coasters, its heartbreaking and heart soaring times reminded me how lucky I am to be alive, in this place at this time with people who love me. I am lucky in love, in friendship, and in oh so many other ways. Being grateful for what I have has been a significant part of 2011. 

I wanted to thrive in 2011 but the year showed me that first, I must grow. I must grow in my relationships with others, with the world, and in myself. Meditating helps me focus these thoughts, helps me to be open and porous to the beauty and the strife of the world around me. I have learned that life is a beautiful struggle and the sooner I embrace this notion, the sooner I can get on to enjoying it. 

I've always known that there is calm in the midst of chaos, that pain and happiness are separated by very thin lines. I know that growth is possible in the darkest places and that as Bukowski reminds us, "

there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.

That was what I learned in 2011, my aha moment. That's the gift of 2011 and it came in a number of forms, something I read, a phone conversation with Brianne, in the way hands reach for mine when I need them the most. I am very, very lucky. I'm also incredibly grateful and will continue to be as I move into 2012, as open-hearted and tender as I can possibly be.