Welcome 2019

Welcome 2019

January 2, 2019 Off By Michaela Freeman

Toward the end of 2018, I found myself saying “I hope it will be soon over, good riddance.” It’s never wise to wish time away, but the past year was one of the most difficult so far. This time, I wasn’t in the epicenter of some drama, but many people around me were, all of them too close.

In the spring our friend had a broken shoulder and a cancer diagnosis, so we took care of his dog Charlie, while he went back to the UK for treatments. But Charlie is an old dog, almost blind, so he managed to get disoriented on our terrace and fell down some 3 meters. Amazingly, he only had a slightly torn paw, nothing broken or damaged. Nonetheless, we spent much of our time and money going back and forth to the vets for several weeks.

Tony Achmat

In May, in the middle of the Charlie episode, we unexpectedly lost one of our closest friends, Tony Achmat. Not only was he my husband’s best friend, he was also my collaborator on the newly formed project named Value Anatomy. Tony taught people the importance of core values and he was invaluable to all of us. Just before he died, he completed the last set of drawings for my project. What a legacy!

His death was closely followed by another two, one of them a man not only 40 years old, suddenly falling over on a street, another being my aunt. It felt like way too many funerals per year.

The last wild daisy of the season, found on Oct 18 on the way from mom’s hospital

In the fall, just as we were about to move back to town from our cottage, my mom had a heart attack and I found myself providing 24/7 care. I feel extremely lucky, working from home, I can actually manage to be there for her. Most people don’t have this luxury and are forced into sending their loved ones into care homes. But I also realized how completely unprepared I was for such circumstances.

On the night we finally moved the last bags, we found my mom in her Prague apartment with a broken leg. By the time we got back home from the hospital with a cast, the last task of the day was to carry her to the first floor and then from the elevator to bed. We had no way to get her to the bathroom.

On that same day, I received a message that the daughter-in-law of my close friend jumped out of the window with her toddler. The boy was dead, the young woman in a coma. I found myself totally exhausted and unable to help her, to say anything at all – what does one say to that?

An ordinary, but joyous moment – hanging out in a park in Turkey with my friends and a stay cat

So, yes, 2018 brought me some of the darkest days of my life, but it didn’t bring me to my knees. Actually, it was the year when I truly learned about the power of Joy, about finding Joy even on that darkest day.

That day, as my mom was getting her cast in the hospital and the staff sent us away, we stopped in our favorite pizza place and I had one of the best pizzas ever. It was like coming home to a warm hearth. It was the most important pizza ever. Joy.

I think of the moments of Joy, as well as obvious accomplishment, the lucky “coincidences,” the magnitude of help and support I received all along and I can’t but be overwhelmed by gratitude. 2018 was actually very successful and auspicious – despite, or perhaps because of, the hardships.

  • We managed to continue working on the Value Anatomy project without Tony and at the moment, the know-how stage now moved into a testing stage. We have a line-up of volunteers who will be our guinea pigs in January. Thank you all – team members and volunteers!
  • My husband and I organized a fundraising campaign for Tony’s adopted family in Sri Lanka, where he planned to retire. As of the moment, we collected 60.000 CZK, which is our first target to be able to buy them a boat to expand their business to river tours. We’re not there quite yet, but close.
  • I completed my year-long training program and was ordained as a Neo-Pagan ceremonialist, a Priestess. I’m ready to conduct project-launching ceremonies, alternative weddings or other rituals. This amazing process taught me a lot about myself and about the importance of female friendships – sisterhood.
  • During our first training, we healed our psychological childhood wounds through the Menarché ritual and I didn’t have any period pains since. This alone is a major thing, given that (if calculated together) I spent 7 years of my life on Ibuprofen 800. Bye-bye pink pills. Yes, I learned the power of rituals first hand.
  • I quite unexpectedly ended up in Turkey, finally visiting my friend and collaborator Olda, after 7 years of him insisting I come and – swim with dolphins. I spent 10 days in a dolphinarium with him and the experience was so powerful that I decided to write a book about it. At the moment, I probably have more than a half of it done. Also, incredibly, a friend who is a professional photographer visited Olda just after we left and took fantastic photos specifically for my book.
  • Also in Turkey, I met Olda’s roommates, Hasan and Altan, two men who sort of naturally became my spiritual teachers and dear friends. I learned the importance of communicating without words from Altan – his English is minimal, but we still developed a deep connection (thank you Google Translate). Hasan, who is also a dolphin therapist, taught me about the power of Joy. I gained two new friends who made me dance, laugh and love and wouldn’t have it any other way. Living in the moment 101.
  • My husband spent much of his time with our close friends who are divorcing. I watched Jim become a dedicated mentor while physically mediating the logistics, moving their personal belongings across Europe in our car. I’m really proud of him and extremely happy to see them both content, healthy and with a positive outlook toward the future. A miracle of sorts.
  • Shortly before Christmas, I began running an informal Artist’s Way course in our living room every Sunday. It seems like the craziest thing to do in the midst of it all, but it’s actually the one thing that keeps me sane. I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing – guiding people and expanding their creativity.
  • And, I write this, I’m about to move back home from my mother’s apartment, where I’ve been staying since October. We did it. The cast is gone, mom is walking again and feels remarkably well given her various ailments. I’m both grateful and proud. I didn’t know I could be a nurse, but I can.

I look at this list and think – how could I possibly complain about 2018? Hard, yes, but so rewarding, so deep, so educational. Extremely complicated and difficult things happened, but we managed them. We survived as best as we could and danced tango with the Universe whenever we got a chance.

I’m intending to keep on dancing, to celebrate life in all its forms. May 2019 reap the benefits of our previous hard work. May it be peaceful, joyous, rich in every respect, loving, productive, healthy, and much much easier. Love to you all and cheers!