if I had to give 2011 a catch phrase, it would be: what’s next.

it was a year bursting with movement.

geographic, emotional, physical.

a journey to newness.

new experiences. new friends. new home. new job.

new perspective.

in contrast, i chose to begin 2012 with stillness.

i awoke to my alarm.  set purposely for 9 am.  the opening chords of one of my favourite ani difranco songs the first sounds of my day.  i lay there and, for the first time since choosing this as my wake up track when i moved into my new place in september, listened to the entire song:

buildings and bridges / are made to bend in the wind / to withstand the world, that’s what it takes

a record breaking 20 minutes later (i’m normally pretty slow to get going on weekend mornings), i was zipping up my coat, pulling on my headphones, and queueing up some walking music.

outside it was calmwhiteandgrey.

i saw faces in coffee shops.  a few cars.  but was otherwise alone as i walked to my destination.

beginnings are important.  fact that i chose to begin my 2012 with a yoga class: important.

i have never been much of a yoga person.  the handful of times i’ve gone i’ve always found myself wishing i had spent the hour doing something else.  something more active.  like losing myself in a run or a bike ride.  because while i can’t say i don’t find yoga physically challenging, mentally i’ve never been able to connect to it.  you know that quiet time at the end when you’re supposed to centre on yourself?  i’m usually making mental to do lists.  thinking about what’s next.

for most of my adult life it has been only when i am biking, running, travelling, moving that i have sometimes been able to loose myself in the moment.  it was no coincidence that two of the adventures i chose during my summer of travel had physical components.  i found peace as i pick axed my way through the driest earth i’ve ever encountered while WWOOFing in the south of France.  stillness of mind as i tore up pavement riding along Quebec’s highway 138 during my week-long cycle from Ottawa to Quebec City.

this morning, for the first time in a long time, i attempted to find peace in stillness.

i did okay.

sure, my mind wandered a bit.  but there were definite moments of silence.  periods where i found myself really and truly inside myself.

a victory of epic proportions for a girl who spent so much of this year focused on what’s next.

a few weeks ago i got a message from S, a temporary nomad currently exploring the beauty that is New Zealand, asking me how the “new me” was working out.  i responded with sarcasm (some things about me will never change), but a more honest answer to that question has been bouncing around my head ever since.

i had no choice but to change in 2011.  as ani says, what doesn’t bend breaks, and given the upheaval of late 2010 (relationship ending) and early 2011 (selling and moving out of my house), i had to spend much of last year making sure i didn’t break.

of course, i did my best to find golden moments as i faced this period of transition: travelling during the three and half months between moving out of my house and taking possession of my condo.  embracing the love that came my way as i learned how to navigate the balance between learning how to be alone, and learning how to lean on people.  and letting myself enjoy things that on the surface seemed terrifying, like liking a boy again.

i’m pretty happy about the fact that the “new me” who has emerged from these experiences is someone able to do things previously out of reach, like find peace in stillness.  i’ve still got lots of growing to do, no doubt.  but for now i am content to celebrate having finally reached a place in life where i am grounded enough to find moments where i can stop thinking about what’s next, and focus on what’s now.

i resolve to do more of that this year.  to make 2012 my year of living in the moment.