My word for 2015 :: SHED (recap)

My word for 2015 was SHED.  

Index cards that have been pinned on a bulletin board above my desk over the years

Index cards that have been pinned on a bulletin board above my desk over the years

Definition of shed

shed shed·ding

  1. transitive verb

  2. 1 chiefly dialect  :  to set apart :  segregate

  3. 2:  to cause to be dispersed without penetrating <duck's plumage sheds water>

  4. 3a:  to cause (blood) to flow by cutting or wounding b:  to pour forth in drops <shed tears> c: to give off or out <sheds some light on the subject>

  5. 4:  to give off, discharge, or expel from the body of a plant or animal: as a:  to eject, slough off, or lose as part of the normal processes of life <a caterpillar sheddingits skin> <a cat shedding hair> <a deciduous tree sheds its leaves in the fall> b:  to discharge usually gradually especially as part of a pathological process 

  6. 5:  to rid oneself of temporarily or permanently as superfluous or unwanted <shed her inhibitions> <the company shed 100 jobs>

I had no idea when I picked this word for 2015 just how much it would guide me and alter my life over the course of the next 365 days.  I only knew I needed to let some big things go, change some habits that were not serving me and work on my literal house (my shed).  By the time the last day of 2015 rolled around, I wanted to look back and feel physically and mentally lighter in my life.  That’s it.  That was my motivation.

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I had absolutely no clue that this would be the year that I stopped imbibing in wine & spirits; that I would cancel my wine club subscriptions; train for and hike four mountains and summit one of them on my six month sobriety date; or that I would call myself an Alcoholic with a capital A.

It’s a good thing I didn’t know any of this on January 1st of last year, when I picked my word, because I think that would have stopped me dead in my tracks.  It would have been too overwhelming for me to think that I could do any of what I’ve done.  Instead, I just picked the word SHED and used it to guide and motivate me at the beginning of every month.  And guess what?  It worked.

I wrote about how I implemented the word SHED into my life for the first five months of last year in a blog post you can read about it here.  The update to that post would be that once I really focused on shedding things from my life, my life got infinitely better.    

Around the time August rolled around, I had shed 14 pounds.  I attribute those lost pounds to the fact that I quit drinking alcohol and reduced my wheat and dairy intake.  I had also been training since February to climb four mountains in the Cascades with my girlfriend and our three kids.  I wrote about the final ascent up Mt. Rainier here on my blog and it was later published here on Mamalode’s website.

handmade jewelry from my dear friend, Kerry Andrews, of deer hazel

handmade jewelry from my dear friend, Kerry Andrews, of deer hazel

And then a funny thing happened.  On the day after my seventh month milestone of abstaining from drinking alcohol, I wanted to start drinking again.  I wrote about it here and shortly after I hit “publish” a friend sent me a private message on Facebook and asked if I had ever considered going to an AA meeting.  You can read more about that here, but suffice it to say I had to let go of MY idea of what an alcoholic was and take myself to a meeting.  I witnessed a shedding of sorts in those meetings; people shedding and sharing their truths. I was intrigued.  I kept going back, as suggested.

By the time October rolled around, my actual house (my shed) was undergoing a monumental change - a new paint job.  The scraping and spackling served as a metaphor to the transformation I was undergoing in my real life.  I wrote about it here.

The fall semester was in full swing and I would shed a lot of fears about art-making.  My college art professor encouraged me to enter my first-ever art contest and I would meet with a woman I met online through social media to talk about collaborating on a BIG creative project.  The stories I’d been telling myself surrounding the fact that I wasn’t an artist were slowly starting to melt away and a new version replaced that tired old storyline.  And while calling myself an artist seemed fraudulent at first, I felt confident in saying that I make art.  That is a true statement.  I feel better being the verb and not focusing on the noun.  I’m making art every day.

By the end of the year, I shed the notion that God was a noun, too.  I was learning and discovering so much about finding a spiritual path and I was actively searching for a higher power.  To suspend my disbelief has made all the difference and I was shedding old ideas and preconceived notions about energy and love and my place in the world.

New habits were forming - I was becoming a morning person; I was attending four AA meetings a week; I was getting straight A’s in all of my classes; I was a teetotalist; I was telling the truth about everything; I was happy.

Last autumn, during a late afternoon closet purging session, I uncovered my wedding dress in the way back of my closet.  I pulled it out, ripped off the plastic bag that had been protecting it for 14 years only to discover it was covered with red wine stains and splatters.  I stood staring at that dress for a full two minutes, my mind racing.  A red-hot shame rose up in the pit of my stomach, up towards my chest, then traveled up my neck and deposited itself in my face and then my head.  I quickly slipped the dress off  the hanger, strutted over to the kitchen garbage can and promptly threw it away.

I’m done with the shaming I do to myself.

I’m done with the wallowing in self-pity about my past.

I’m done with half-truths and omitting important facts when telling a story.

I’m just done.  

I’m shedding that shit.

The last week of the year found me busy reminiscing about all of the changes that had occurred to me over this last year and I was really taking stock of who I was versus who I am right now.  In shedding physical things, ideas and convoluted notions in 2015, I got the opportunity to be more open and figure out who I really am and who I want to become.  

I thought that at 45 years of age I would have had this stuff all figured out, but what I’m learning and being reminded of is that it is all just a great big, beautiful, wonderful process; it’s always changing and morphing.

Like a snake shedding its old skin, I feel new again - reborn, if you will.  And I am cognizant of the fact that I'm going to continue to evolve, grow, learn, absorb, witness and observe who I truly am underneath it all.  I’ll pay attention and honor where I’m from and celebrate each day that I’m here above ground.  

After this year of shedding physical and emotional items, I can confidently say that I am lighter and brighter than I was a year ago.  I've made a spiritual shift that has translated into new friendships, changed some of my relationships and I have an awareness about life that had eluded me before now.  

My life is still a work in progress, but my newfound sobriety has illuminated every single person, place and thing in it.  By shedding alcohol from my life last year, I gained new perspective, new friends, new habits and a new self-respect.