My Biggest Insights in 2023


The longest day of the year will soon be behind us. I am soaking up the darkness and exploring those things that go bump in the night inside of me.  Soon we will be heading into the light again and chugging into 2024 and I believe this will leave me more equipped to steer my ship.

In no particular order, these are the most important things that I became aware of in 2023!

1. With Intention and Prayer, Straight Up Miracles Can Happen.  In January, I supported a friend in her vision quest (sitting in solitude, with great spiritual support, in nature for 4 days and nights without food or water ) in Colombia and then, as the months unfurled, I watched so many of her prayers get answered.  Come to think of it, so many of MY OWN PRAYERS were answered and miracles happened (more on that later on list).  I am reminded, by the ceremony of the quest, that everything is OK and everything will always and forever be OK. 

2. Walking with Friends Is My Church  One huge blessing was  reconnecting with an old running partner, only now we walk. This year, I’ve made more space on my calendar for walking with friends and It’s been SO therapeutic.  I am grateful for the way that walking helps us connect and literally move through experiences. Together. I LOOK FORWARD TO EACH WALK! The key was setting up recurring walking times/dates.  We couldn’t always make it happen weekly, but every single walk was a gift.

3. Grief Is Messy.  My wonderful father Joel Bamford died unexpectedly in March and it has been so hard to lose him. What made it even harder was that it was unexpected, and he was caught off guard. We all were.  It was terrible and also full of grace.  Experts call it complicated grief.  Grief counseling helped. A lot. Being gentle with myself helped.   I know that if he is watching me, he’d say, “oGod job kiddo…keep going!”

4. Grief and Loss Will Force Important Reckonings. My dad died in March. Our daughter Katherine graduated from Nursing School, our son George joined the army. There was just Charlie left (age 18) at home, and then (unexpectedly) I left too.  Exhausted, grief stricken and disheartened, I moved out of my family’s home this summer in order to gain clarity on my own primary relationship (the one with myself).  It was a difficult + powerful summer of self-reflection and personal work: A 90 day unplanned vision quest, if you will, food and water not  withheld.

Spoiler alert: In order to find the sort of marriage I wanted be a part of, I had to stop blaming/worrying and look at my own stuff. I was humbled.  I am so grateful to my dear friends who held spaces for me of non-judgment.  Then, through a series of miracles, I found myself back in my marriage….only this time, we have blown up the foundation and rebuilt it.  The post renovation glow is real   I am so grateful. And we have tools that work for when things get hard (as things will). Also grateful for the therapist we had and the book her method is based on.

5.  Near Death Experiences Are Always A Gift.  I got one in real life in June thanks to grief, massive stress, and some heart arrythmias. The expereince helped me snap out of the trance of “putting things off”.  THANK YOU DEATH! Do you need to have a near death experience and don’t want to wait for it to show up IN REAL LIFE?  This one is pretty epic. 

6. The Cherry Blossoming in Japan is Just as Beautiful as the Blossoming In My Yard.  I had the opportunity to go to Japan with a dear friend in April and it was just as spectacular as I imagined.  Travel is often so different than i imagine…for ex: I had imagined Kyoto as very quiet and sacred and, it was more like Versailles in July (hot, packed and frenetic). Sometimes you have to leave home so that when you return home, you can see just how incredibly blessed you have always been.
Travel is sacred for this very reason. 

7. Boundaries Are Still Hard, Despite My 100 Day Project.  I’ve learned that, the bigger the stakes, the harder the boundary is to uphold/create. Six weeks ago, I had to write myself a note, IN HUGE BLOCK LETTERS, to support me while I dialed the phone that said “It’s OK if they are mad. They get to have their feelings.”   I was THAT ANXIOUS to make this boundary.  Gratefully, my boundary (that time)  was met with grace and love.  It’s hard and scary to make them STILL, but, without boundaries, we’re sunk. So, keep having courage! My Boundaries Book (fully color and illustrated by me!) is coming in 2024…more on that soon!

8.  Participating In My First 4 Art Shows Felt Vulnerable + HUGE.  I felt seen and it was so lovely to see how some of my art made people feel and to meet other artists. They say that art is not bought, it is SOLD. I have been thinking a lot about what it takes /what it means to get paid for making art/writing books/making music etc. It comes up often with my clients who are writers (do I create a paywall on substack or…?)  I also thought a lot about the grief of being a creative and it was one of my most shared blogs in 2023. 

9.  Our Culture Is Steeped in Diet Culture and Fat Phobia.  I began an exploration of Intuitive Eating in November 2023.  It’s not a diet but, rather, an anti-diet. In this year of grief and loss,  I found myself challenged to restrict my eating (after 5 years of being dedicated to that idea in Bright Line Eating).  I have learned a few things so far:

– I thought I LOVED M&Ms but, it turns out that MEH? And, more than a handful of them gives me a stomach ache.

– I have forgotten what it feels like to be very lightly hungry…and am re-learning that sensation now.

– My mind still FREAKS OUT at the idea of leaving any food on my plate (or throwing “good” food away.

I plan to share this journey with you through art and writing in 2024.  If you’d like to learn more and follow along. I’d recommend this book as a jumping off place.  

10.  I Am Feeling Fallow Now.  I am reading this book now and this passage resonated so much:

“Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, side-lined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an out-sider. Perhaps it results from an illness or a life event such as a bereavement or the birth of a child; perhaps it comes from a humiliation or failure. Perhaps you’re in a period of transition and have temporarily fallen between two worlds. Some winterings creep upon us more slowly, accompanying the protracted death of a relationship, the gradual ratcheting up of caring responsibilities as our parents age, the drip-drip-drip of lost confidence. Some are appallingly sudden, like discovering one day that your skills are considered obsolete, the company you worked for has gone bankrupt, or your partner is in love with someone new. However it arrives, wintering is usually involuntary, lonely, and deeply painful……

We treat each wintering as an embarrassing anomaly that should be hidden or ignored. This means we’ve made a secret of an entirely ordinary process and have thereby given those who endure it a pariah status, forcing them to drop out of everyday life in order to conceal their failure. Yet we do this at Wintering brings about some of the most profound and insightful moments of our human experience, and wisdom resides in those who have wintered.”
“Wintering” by @katherine May

I have passed through so many winters with so many teachings for me.
I just learned that winter is also feminine (and yin) rather than the (masculine) summer many of us have been acculturated to idolize.
May I be able to slow down and embrace this wintering.

Heron in snow (ca. 1925–1936) by Ohara Koson. Original from The Rijksmuseum.

Next week I will send out my favorite books from 2023 – OH MY LORD I READ SO MUCH!  It will be hard to choose!

Are you in need of extra suuport or simply feeling as if 2023 is your year to len into growth?  You can find all the ways to work with me HERE. 

AND you can always work together with me + Inger Kenobi and other fabulous humans like YOU each week by joining SHINE and make serious progress on your creative journey!

with love,

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(photo from my Thailand Retreat)

Are you determined to write your memoir or NON FICTION book?  Here are 10 reasons why I think 2024 is the year you should GO FOR IT!

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