On the last day of the year, I found myself in Seal Beach, California visiting dear friends from Paris, France and sipping endless cans of sparkling Perrier and citrus-flavored La Croix and tucking myself into bed just before midnight. It wasn't wild and crazy. It wasn't loud or crowded or over-the-top. And, it was absolutely perfect.
My word for the year 2017 was DARE.
I wrote about how I selected my word here and then did a mid-year check-in here. I like to look back before I can look forward, so I wanted to share how my word for the year influenced the last half of 2017 for me.
Grief and loss touched our family again this year, as we lost my husband's brother, David, to complications stemming from his acute alcoholism. He was only 49 years old. My husband was given the impossible task of giving his only brother's eulogy and, as a family, we dared to drive down to Southern California, show up and face uncomfortable family dynamics and delve deeper into the past for the sake of the future for our little family of three. It was a hard trip.
When we returned home, I had the good fortune and honor to take care of my late friend Kacy's two boys for 10 days. We embarked on a mother and kid river rafting trip on the Trinity River the latter part of July. We were a motley crew - three moms, five kids, one Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van and a no cell phone policy that had the children hating us shortly into the first leg of our trip. Long story short - we all lived. The kids lived without their devices and I survived falling out of the raft in a section of the rapids called "The Grinder." This was a daring trip on a couple of levels - logistically, emotionally and physically, but I'm so glad we made it happen and memories were formed and future trips imagined.
Twenty-one months after I started the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I finally finished the 12th and final step. And while I know one is never really done with the 12 Steps (they are cyclical, not linear) it felt good to have gone through them successfully with a Sponsor my first through. I am not the same woman I was when I started the Steps back in December 2015. Whenever I felt uncomfortable or anxious about completing the Steps, I had to dare myself to push through and do the work that would challenge me to show up for my own goddamned life. If not me, then who would ever dot this work? No one. It was my job. And, in doing so, I unearthed my part in things and gained greater peace of mind when I showed up and owned my part in my own life. The unexpected byproduct of working the 12 Steps was a radical spiritual awakening for me and an incredible lightness in my own being.
Around this time, I reached out to a local photographer that had taken pictures of me around my 18th month of sobriety. I still felt uncomfortable in my skin and when I looked at the images, beautiful as they were, I knew there was still work to be done. Work that I needed to dare myself to do.
Around June of 2017, I stopped dyeing my hair. It felt weird and uncomfortable and just right. When August rolled around, I realized I wanted to ask Laura to photograph me again, only this time I wanted it to be with my roots showing to mark this transition and acceptance of the real, unfiltered, unedited me.
Creatively, I dared myself quite a bit this year. Back in May I decided to participate in the 100 Day Project with Elle Luna + Lindsay Jean Thomson. I committed to creating a drawing on paper every single day for 100 days and sharing it on Instagram using the hashtag #100daysofillustrationsbytammi. My thought process behind this was that I would create a stack of drawings that I could use for future projects. I finished the project and then dared myself to ask podcaster Tiffany Han to join me as my date to the party in San Francisco commemorating the commencement of the project in late-August. It's weird to meet people I've met on the internet, but after a few minutes, the feeling subsides. Tiffany and I hit it off and her creative advice that night spurred me into taking bigger dares with my work.
My friend gifted me a 40 Days to Personal Revolution Yoga workshop for my birthday. In a way, it was a dare. I keep telling myself I don't do yoga, but I've done quite a bit of yoga this year. I accepted her gift and showed up every Saturday morning at 7 am for the class meetings and skipped my AA meetings in order to do so.
My fall semester college courses consisted of art history and algebra (again). Taking college math classes has been a major opportunity for growth for me. Daring myself to walk into a room of students who are all younger than me and do math that is the equivalent of what my 14 year old is taking in school has been HUMBLING. I have to dare myself every time I walk in there and take a seat. I wrote a little more about how algebra has been my teacher here.
This month found me at another yoga workshop (see? I guess I do do yoga) in San Francisco. I wasn't as nervous to go and meet other sober sisters as I previously would have been. Using my tools to keep anxiety on the down-low (essential oils and Rescue Remedy) helped keep me in the moment without creating drama. I sat in the front row. I went to dinner afterwards with a group of women and laughed until I almost peed my pants. I dared myself to say yes more this year; to workshops, new friendships and driving into the city.
I woke up to the sound of my friend's terrified voice early the next morning telling me that Santa Rosa was on fire. The dare here was easy. Dare to be present and show up for our community. We donated whatever we had to answer the pleas for help - camp stoves, hates, gloves, blankets - our time. It really was a living nightmare. Getting outside of ourselves during this heartbreaking time helped to remind me that there is way more to life than what's going on with little 'ole me.
A year ago this October, I signed up for a creative workshop called BRAVE MAGIC that would be taught by Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed at 1440 Multiversity that would take place in October 2017. This was a HUGE dare to myself. It sounded interesting, but also intimidating. I paid for the ticket, forgot about it and then showed up when the date rolled around. I took copious notes, spent time with my Cypress Sisters from Write Doe Bay and realized that my anxiety had calmed way, way down. Events and situations like this used to drive me to drink. Literally. Not anymore and that's major freaking progress.
I also signed up for a year-long creative group coaching class with Tiffany Han called The Inner Circle. I found myself inspired and willing to do daring things after only a few weeks into the program by pitching Rich Roll, Tom Waits and Macklemore to come on The Unruffled Podcast. Dare to ask, right? What's the worst they could say? Well, I guess they could say yes and then I'd have to dare myself, again, to put on my big girl panties and interview them. No future-tripping, Tammi. Move on. Um, I'm still waiting for your return calls Rich, Tom and Ben.
I started the hashtag #tammisgratitudetribe for the entire month of November and invited other people to join me over on Instagram. I was trying to gather inspiration and motivation to create a future e-course wherein I would share my gratitude practice. All of this was totally outside of my comfort zone and my inner critic was loudly telling me that I shouldn't follow through with it. I recorded daily videos and created prompts for my Instagram followers who were following along. The daily videos on Instagram were the hardest and most uncomfortable, but I did it anyway. I knew it would teach me something about being in front of a camera, so I just did it and tried not to overthink it.
I also got my first ever tarot card reading this month. Immediately following the reading, I went out and bought myself The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck and Guidebook. I decided it was fun and that I would just be open to it. I'm still learning. It's helping me to let things go like preconceived notions and ideas, labels and overthinking things I don't understand. Tarot is going to be my teacher.
I fell into a major funk following the Thanksgiving holiday. I spent a lot of time in bed watching Netflix on my computer (which I had never done before!) and a gross amount of time on algebra (100 hours of online homework) and social media.
The opportunity to go to a yoga and meditation retreat at a Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Center an hour north of me just off the Sonoma Coast came up and I decided to drop everything and go. This was mid-December, I was cramming for finals alongside my son who was taking finals for the first time and zero Christmas shopping had been done. I just wasn't feeling the season and somehow knew that dropping into a yoga and meditation retreat would re-center me. And it did.
December would also find me wrapping up the year-long Ray of Light Series interview and artwork series that I started in January 2017. I'm so proud I dared myself to do this project and equally proud that I actually finished it. You can find all of the interviews here.
I had started writing an e-book in early November and promised myself I would finish it in December and then put it out into the world on January 1, 2018. I was in a little over my head, technologically speaking, and had to ask for help from my husband. I wanted to keep my word to myself on this project and dared myself to shut down my inner critic and just let it be born. Why I thought December would be a great time to finish writing a book (in any format) is beyond me, but I found myself in Los Angeles with my husband and son a few days before the end of the year, furiously editing and formatting this little 35 page e-book.
I kept thinking Who am I to do this? What makes me qualified to write an e-book and charge money for it? Will anyone even want to hear what I have to say?
I dared myself to just do it.
On December 31st of 2017, my e-book My Daily Gratitude Practice: How I Got Started + Found My Visual Voice was finished and uploaded to the marketplace on my website. It was done. And, done was better than perfect.
My word for the year, DARE, helped me to navigate some trying times in 2017. It also guided me and demonstrated just how much I can do if I just give it a try and quit playing small. I think having the word DARE at the forefront of my mind gave me a little nudge when I needed it or when (I started to experience self-doubt.
I dared to show up in my life this year in a way that had previously felt too scary. I mean, I know I was always capable, but I wasn't always ready.
I felt ready this year.