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31 December 2022

Today is New Years Eve. After spending the day reflecting on the year and where all I've been, I couldn't help but think of one word: Gratitude.

I spent the day revisiting old pictures, videos, chatting with friends and family then sat with myself and said, "Kristin, you've been through a lot this year. You made it. There is so much to celebrate and be thankful for just in that. Give yourself GRACE."

I’ve learned SO many lessons this year but the one that has made such a profound impact on me was the concept of "Self as Context." This is a process that allows one to free themself of previously held beliefs about themselves as it allows them to bare witness to thoughts, feelings, beliefs, actions, and experiences, rather than BE the thought, feeling, belief, experience or action.

The way one of my therapists explained it was through a group exercise. She had a basket, gave us post-it notes, and told us to write thoughts, feelings experiences, or whatever we wanted onto the post-it and to place it into the basket. She then read off some of the post-its. Things like, sadness, joy, death of a loved one were read. There were many others. She then said that the post-its represent all of the emotions and experiences that pass through us; while the basket represents us, The "Self." She then said that the self is more beautiful, more courageous, more powerful, more free than anything. And while thoughts, feelings and experiences may enter it, it can NOT be defined by these things, therefore we are not obligated to, nor should we expect to hold tightly onto the things that enter and pass through us. These things are not who we are no matter how bad, good, or safe they make us feel. That its ok to let go.

This entire year I've been resisting and scared of so much change and uncertainty, but it was in the "letting go" that helped me become free. I let go of what I knew to be a sturdy foundation. I let go of a single ideology of what was a "successful career." I let go of what I believed a spouse "should" do. I let go of the pressures I felt from work. I let go of words like "should, could, or would" as they were no longer serving me and distracted from living in the present moment. I let go of belief systems that made me feel trapped or undervalued or that my worth was determined by what I am able to do for other people or produce. I let go of the idea that there is some sort of destination or milestone for my life and that one day, if I "work hard enough," I will have it all figured out. BOTTOM LINE: I'm cleaning house.

In all of this letting go, I realized that there was only one person that needed my undivided attention in order to heal and it was this little girl: Little Kristin. Through this process I learned that she was the one hurting so much all this time, and it was up to me now to have the courage to tend to her.

Through my experiences in therapy, the love of my family, my friends, my husband and ultimately my own choice to no longer hide or carry my pain, I was able to show little Kristin that she would one day become the very person SHE NEEDED to be free. All of the boldness, ambition, courage, compassion, love, assertiveness, leadership, persistence, awkwardness, fears, hardship, joys, successes, failures, hope, and everything that comes with being a full human that she desired for herself, she can CONFIDENTLY go through all of it without guilt, doubt or shame. This realization has been the ultimate gift to myself this year, one that I had no idea I wanted or needed. I want to keep learning how to confidently live in the reality that,

I AM, the person that I NEEDED as a child.

While it’s taken me an extremely difficult path to get here, I have nothing but full gratitude that I've made it, and am so excited for the journey that lies ahead in 2023.

Photo: 1995, Me from kindergarten. Yes, the awkwardness prevails!


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