flying solo

I thought breaking free would be the hardest part. But over the course of the past year, I’ve realized that staying free is much, much harder. Carving your own path is tough. But carving it alone is even tougher.

Every time I land at Newark Airport, I look out the plane window for the Statue of Liberty. She is my rock. She’s been standing in that water, holding her head up high, surviving hurricanes and blizzards and even terrorist attacks. And she never lets her arm down or her light go off. She’s pretty bad ass. And she stands there alone.

Northern Ireland

My attempt at being the Statue of Liberty — in Northern Ireland

I wish I were as bad ass as the Statue of Liberty. I try to be, but some days it’s not that easy. 2015 was a roller coaster, to say the least. A year ago, I boarded a plane to Ireland to live on a farm for three months and cook my heart out. It was one of, if not the, best experiences of my entire life. I learned so much about what was brewing inside me that I didn’t even realize was there, I gained confidence in the kitchen, I met friends for life, and I milked cows. Not much in life could top any of that. After school was finished, I traveled for a month to visit friends all over the world. It was probably the first time I really understood how fortunate I am to have friends in all of the far corners of the earth. And then I went to a jungle in Mexico and made some more.

There have been many ups and downs, laughs and tears, smiles and screams during the course of finding my new path. Although my wise yoga teacher tells me often, “You are on the right path, just keep walking,” some days it’s really, really hard. And to be honest, I’ve been struggling with how my world of absolutely wonderful and amazing friends could fill the void of one solid and loving partner.  The Uber driver who picked me up from Newark Airport asked me why I didn’t bring my husband with me for Christmas. I told him politely that I didn’t have one. And he said to me, with the biggest smile and look of optimism on his face, “Maybe Santa will bring you one for Christmas!” Santa did bring me some awesome new running sneakers, but a husband he did not. I could say that I’m lucky to have found love in my life. But when it doesn’t last, does it even matter? If you have no one to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve, does it matter what has happened in years past? I watched It’s a Wonderful Life the other day, such a classic for so many reasons. But this time I took pause when George Bailey’s mother says to him at his brother’s engagement party, “Nice girl, Mary. The kind that will help you find the answers.” What an amazing way to describe a partnership. And in the end, who calls Mr. Gower and Uncle Billy and brother Harry and He-Haw Sam Wainwright when George loses everything and runs out into the snow in despair? Mary. I could really use a Mary right about now.

I have been blessed with so many strong, independent female role models in my life. Those who take risks and do bold things and follow their dreams. They’re pretty bad ass. But when there’s a dip in the road or a change in the plans, almost all of them have a partner in crime to lean on. I’m jealous of that. I’ve never been one to need a partner in crime (and have been told many times that my independent spirit might actually be a turn off to potential partners), but have always loved having one. And the few I’ve had in my life have been pretty amazing. So I can attest to the power of two. Having spent about as many years in my adult life solo as I have as a twosome, I can say that I prefer the later.

My yoga teacher asked us in class today to sum up our gratitude for 2015 in one word. I said: DISCOVERY. I’m so grateful for everyone I’ve met, everything I’ve learned, and everywhere I’ve been. I’d like my word for 2016 to be LOVE. Love like my parents have even, especially, after 48+ years together. Love that you can lean on, love that holds your hand when life doesn’t make much sense, love that is a rock when you’re wading aimlessly out at sea. When I told my facialist in New York about the feast I cooked for Christmas dinner, she said to me, “The man who is lucky enough to be with you, is going to be the luckiest man on the planet.” So… anyone out there like prime rib??

Happy New Year to all. Cheers to a healthy, prosperous, and loving 2016.

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