image from www.davidmhiggins.com

image from www.davidmhiggins.com

This year, when I’ve wished “Happy New Year” to people, most everyone commented on how 2014 was one of the most challenging years they’ve experienced in a long time. Interesting how the challenges come to the forefront to define the quality we perceive the year to be. For me, 2013 was a year full of obstacles that I found to be more daunting than this year.  As 2014 comes to an end, I look forward to closing this chapter with the lessons that have kept repeating in my life so that I can mindfully change the undesired patterns.

I went to my last yoga class of the year and heard a term that resonated with me. The yoga instructor, Rindy Leeds, talked about “self-estrangement”, a feeling of alienation from ourself. I was fascinated and did some research.  Terry D. Cooper wrote about self-estrangement in his book Sin, Pride and Self Acceptance and describes the process of gradually becoming a stranger to ourselves when we lose touch of our real wants, hopes and dreams. A self-estranged person loses touch of who they are and cannot find real joy in life if they do not have fulfillment being authentic to their true purpose. Eventually, life doesn’t have meaning and the self-estranged person becomes dissatisfied with everything and everyone. Imagine how this ultimately affects personal relationships and intimacy. How can we truly connect with others if we can’t be in touch with ourselves?

The highlight of 2014 was completing my first film project, Berni’s Journey. From a project perspective, I definitely felt a sense of accomplishment finishing the documentary. Interestingly on a personal level, I didn’t feel complete. After all, I had put my heart and soul into this movie. When it was finally done, instead of celebrating the major milestone, I was overwhelming myself with the next set of “shoulds”.  I should be doing more PR for the movie, I should be submitting to more film festivals, or I should be thinking about the next project, etc. I was repeating the pattern of should-ing all over myself again. I hadn’t taken the time to really relish in the splendor of this very personal achievement.

I’ve had several private screenings of the film to share with family and close friends. After each viewing I had a chance to share the behind-the-scene stories of production and post-production. My husband, Joe, was given the spotlight to provide his perspective as well. What was most eye-opening was not how people reacted to the movie, but how I responded to the opportunity to speak about Berni’s Journey. I understand now why authors do book-signings. It’s marketing their product but it’s the energy of their personal presence that engages a connection beyond the story. I found that I love talking about my lived experience with the making of Berni’s Journey. People told me they appreciated seeing me vulnerable in the film, but it was the passion they could feel emanating from me when I spoke about the experience in person. No editing, no color correction and no sound mixing, just me speaking from my heart.

The term self-estrangment I resonated with has a lot to do with what brought me to India to film a documentary in the first place. The cathartic experience awakened me to my true self. The process of post-production through picture lock was another story, and not depicted in the documentary. When I speak about the journey, I feel more complete. It means that I have to show up fully and continue to be vulnerable with courage in order to continue the connection with viewers. The “what’s next” is becoming more exciting, even though it is not defined.

I don’t yet know what this means entirely for my business plan with Berni’s Journey, but I am excited to learn more about myself through this next stage. With that said, I have three resolutions for 2015:

1) Be present to the joy of now.

2) Be authentic and confidently show it to the world.

3) Be kinder to myself so I can be compassionate with others wherever they are in their journey of self-discovery.

However the new year unfolds, I embrace where I AM to allow for the next chapter of the journey to begin.  May the new year be fulfilling with all the perceived goodness and challenges that life presents. Goodbye 2014…hello 2015!

xo,

Berni