What The Heck Just Happened? Reflections on 2021

Well, here we are. At the beginning of another year, leaving 2021 behind. The pandemic has continued- and we have continued.


Surviving collective trauma like this is no small feat. Surviving any kind of trauma is no small feat. So if you’re looking back on this year and going, “god damn that worse than 2020”, or in general just having some strong feelings about the past two years, that’s valid. Some folks are dealing with the effects of long COVID. Others have lost friends and family, or jobs and are managing grief and devastating loss. Our inflation rate is here to stay. The effects of what we have been through, individually and collectively, are still affecting us and may continue to affect us for some time.


I know the feeling of wanting the pain to end. Wanting the challenge to end. The exhaustion that comes with facing the news every day. The toll on mental health. I don’t want to minimize what we have been through- It’s been hard. My mental health has been worse these past 2 years than ever before. I have had to trust and depend upon all of my support tools, and even then, I had days that were tough to get through.


I am human. So are you. And the silver lining is that If you are reading this, you made it. My therapist, on one of my most depressed days last year asked me, “Rachel, what if this is the hardest time in your life? What if? And what if you get through it?”


Well, what if it is? What if, and we got through it.


This was a very strange year for me friends, not gonna lie. It was really great in surprising ways, and also really shitty in others. 2020 catapulted me into healing and growth like I had never experienced it before. And 2021 really challenged me. It brought me to my edge.


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I speak about “your edge” in yoga often- the spot, the time in a posture where you explore the relationship of challenge and ease, mentally and physically. This is the place where you feel physically challenged, perhaps pushed to your limits, but aren’t risking injury. It’s also the place where mentally, you discover what is holding you back from growth, from forward motion. It is the place where we have an opportunity to develop the willpower that holds us in uncomfortable, but necessary, situations.


As a whole, the pandemic has really sucked. I don’t want what I say next to negate that. Because COVID has sucked (for me) AND has been this incredible edge to live on. A messy, wild, unknown, stressful, growth pressure cooker edge. Growth and transformation happen when we are willing to sit with uncomfortability and be present through moments of tension. And hot damn if that hasn’t been the past 2 years.


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Edges are personal and can change often. By exploring the edges of our yoga practice, and life, we can:


  • move into new areas of growth

  • cultivate a curious nature about how we deal with challenges when they arise

  • learn to stay present with what’s happening in the moment, even if it’s uncomfortable

  • Build resilience through change over time


I have learned a great deal by exploring my edge. For me, my edge is the place where I meet my shadow. Where I meet my inner critic, where I can observe the stories I tell myself that are limiting or untrue.


Having COVID brought me to my edge.


My partner and I got the virus and were tested positive over Superbowl Sunday 2021. As the virus affected my body, each day I woke up with a new symptom. This felt like an edge because not only was I physically uncomfortable and had to learn how to support my body fighting this thing, the mental and emotional toll was just as uncomfortable. We were stuck in our apartment. I lost two of my senses for about a month. I also ended up having a big fight with a close friend (all is resolved now, but what timing, eh??). And I had to be really effing present with it all. COVID demanded I be in the moment and face what needed to be faced.


Getting a job in an entirely new industry brought me to my edge.


The reckoning I had to have around work as a defining part of my identity started in 2020 when I lost a number of my income streams and saw two industries I worked in experience devastating losses and closures. I had to really look at who I was outside of the labels of “actor” and “yoga teacher.” This year, I grappled with stepping into a completely new industry. I started a part-time recruiting job in April and for a good few months felt just completely out of my element. I was faced with a number of situations I had never dealt with before. By allowing myself to be uncomfortable in this new role, I grew my skill set, and now, am very confident in my ability to perform well.


Moving in with my partner brought me to my edge.


I have never lived with a partner before. This current relationship is actually my longest relationship, ever. When we decided to move in together, it was a step I felt a lot of fear and expectation around. My therapist really helped me navigate that fear and we did make the decision to get an apartment together. This was our first full year of living together- it has taught me SO much.


We can build inner power and resilience when we move through difficult or challenging situations. Each time we move through something challenging, we build trust around the fact that when another challenge arises, we can get through it because, well, we did last time. And the time before that. And the time before that.


Working with our edge off the yoga mat and moving into new areas of growth in our lives takes self-awareness and a willingness to develop tools to navigate change. It’s a journey where sometimes, it can take years to feel like we’ve actually grown, or transformed, or are handling a situation differently.


And I want to take a moment now to acknowledge that we have been doing this, the past 2 years. We have lived at our edges, in the wild, messy space of the unknown. That is no small feat, my friends.


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Whatever 2021 has been like for you, we are entering a new year. It is a potent time to consider what we are leaving behind, what we have learned, and dream up something even better.


I am including a number of journaling prompts below, if you would like to reflect on 2021 and dream on 2022:


  • Cultivate the essence of each month of 2021 in one word.

  • Consider your 3 greatest lessons or teachings of 2021.

  • What needs to die/be left behind for you to move forward in 2022?

  • List 1-3 (or more!) moments of joy from 2021

  • How have you lived into your edge in 2021?

  • What does your edge feel like?

  • What is something that surprised you about last year?

  • What are you calling in for 2022?

  • What do you want more of in your life?

  • What are your tools for navigating change and challenges?


You are MAGIC- don’t you forget it. If you need anything, I’m here. Let’s go kick some ass in 2022.