|My first view of the Eiffel Tower|
When I made the decision to go to France, I thought of it as a sabbatical year - a year away to breathe deeply, immerse myself in a new culture, learn a new language and take some intentional time to focus on my spiritual journey as well. However, the reality was so much different than my expectations - while my year in France was a fabulous experience, it was definitely not restful or introvert-friendly!
|The chaos of Montparnasse train station where I started and ended every trip into Paris|
Now I've been home for a year, and as I reflect on this year of transition, I see that, just maybe, THIS has been my sabbatical year - my year of rest. I have been truly blessed by so many wonderful friends who have companioned me along this journey - providing safe places and offering me lots of space to process (one of my favorite past-times) and to figure out who I am now. This year back in Denver I've been able to breathe deeply, immerse myself in my neighborhood culture, develop my new language skills, and continue on my spiritual journey.
|Cherry Creek Bike Trail downtown Denver|
|City of Golden - one of my favorite spots for contemplating life|
|One of my favorite yards in the neighborhood - check out the huge candelabra!|
|My neighborhood park|
I chose to return to Denver specifically for Community - it was something I realized is critical for my health, happiness and wholeness. I'm not talking about having lots of friends, I'm referring to a group of people that you do life with. Those people that drop by unannounced, that you can call at any hour, that don't have to be entertained, but can just be present with you. Those with whom you can share the joys and sorrows of life, those that know your story, those who will help you with chores - just so you can spend time together. Sharing books, recipes, and meals. Having adventures. Having a place to belong. I unexpectedly experienced this in France, and greatly miss the community I was a part of there, and am grateful for the community that has grown around me here in Denver.
Looking back over this past year, I never could have imagined the beautiful community that would develop around me. Old and new have mingled together to create the present. Recently, I was walking home from visiting a friend (being able to walk to a friend's house is one of my favorite things, and I now have several friends within walking distance!) where we sat on her porch and had a cup of tea (another one of my favorite things). The weather was beautiful, my heart was full, and I thought, "I am so fortunate - I love my life!" It was such a spontaneous reaction to all that has been accumulating. True contentment is rare, and I often miss it because I'm so busy thinking about the what-if's and the maybe's, or I feel guilty for enjoying the good when so many others are hurting. But this weekend, as I was reviewing this past year, I was able to recognize and receive the gift of contentment and experience tremendous peace and joy.
|Denver Botanic Gardens - an oasis in the city|