Oh, What a Year! Lessons from 2023

I am quickly drawn in my heart to the feeling of love and gratitude as I begin to look back over 2023 and the blessings and difficulties that have prevailed this past year. Life always brings us opportunities to grow and to heal and this year was no exception. I am still working in my private practice and although some days are more hours than I would prefer, overall I am working 1/3 less time seeing clients; paper work is never done; and my “second” full-time job, OMA Pittsburgh, has continued to grow and bring in additional people to volunteer and support our Mission.

Our Youth program Art In the Garden has been so successful that we have outgrown our venue and are in need of a new, stable venue for it and related programs for youths. We have expanded our Trauma programs, enjoyed Fall and Spring Retreats in a beautiful setting in Donegal, presented a Trauma Symposium in November, and continued our monthly Lecture Series.

We have also presented Workshops and Special Events, have planned to resume Conversations on Healing in the Community… as well as continue the Inflexion Point Podcast on Personal Transformation, Racism, and Accountability. We also plan to develop further our programing on spiritual growth and spiritual healing.

We have a new Director of Marketing and Events, Leza Vivio, and we are looking for a new Board Treasurer and Vice President, along with a Director of Youth Programs and Administration, and Chief Operating Officer. We are obviously in a major state of growth and change! (I still have no idea how we will ever replace Joanne Riley, Paul Clough and Emily Carlson.)

I have been blessed with my beautiful and loving family, all of my dearest friends and all who have and will enter the “doors” of OMA. I am grateful for each moment and all my experiences of joy, hope, laughter and tears. I couldn’t imagine a more blessed life.

My personal life has been filled with my adult children and their loving, compassionate and brilliant spouses, and they have all blessed me with 6 loving grandsons and one granddaughter who leads the pack. I am blessed as a Grandma, for all 7 are so very loving, creative, skilled, super intelligent, generous and compassionate and I get to love each of them with gratitude, respect and awe. Two of my grandsons were born this summer, and my nephew and his wife had a daughter born between the two grandsons. Lots of babies to love and to witness their journeys for hopefully the first third of their lives. (I have to be a bit realistic since I am in my 7th decade!)

I believe that our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, our friends children and all children we may know, are here to help us remember who we are, in hopes of us choosing to take the time to resolve or work on the issues that they will show us about ourselves, in so many loving, frustrating, exciting, adorable and stressful ways. I have often referred to them as “Little Buddhas,” the greatest teachers we may ever experience. I am so appreciative to my own children and my 7 grandchildren who have continually been my teachers and little buddhas over the last 9 yrs.

This is what I have learned from my little Buddhas:

  • I have learned and relearned how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken from us. Don’t waste any moment in fear, and shift your perception to love, truth and belief in possibilities.
  • I have also relearned how sometimes the smallest change anyone can make needs to be celebrated and cherished and validated every moment in which I am present enough and remember. I will not minimize my own steps or that of others… each step is so precious all on its own.
  • I have remembered how to be silly, spontaneous and free to just laugh, as I am always in awe of their ability to simply be just themselves, and fully alive in each moment.
  • I will remember that my heart is an extremely resilient muscle and has the enormous capacity to love deeply as long as I am willing to sit in an open place of vulnerability and possibility, with a compassionate heart for myself and for others.
  • My grandchildren have given me the opportunity and blessing to just “be” with them every moment and marvel at whatever they’re doing or trying to “say”, to let go of any expectations or judgment, and most of all to feel unconditional love for them and from them for just showing up and being who we are in each moment.
  • I will never doubt the resiliency that each of us possesses deep within, we all have the capacity to heal from any trauma when we remember the perfect “imperfections” of who we are that is always held within each of us, just waiting to be seen, loved and accepted.
  • What I have learned again from my grandchildren is applicable to all of us as we live in our relationships with ourselves, each other and within our Humanity.

My wish for each of you and for all Humanity is to Notice, Be Grateful and Remember what is there within you, next to you, and surrounding you, for we are all connected as one, and we all come from the greatest Source of Love. Don’t miss one opportunity to experience the love within and for each other and release any fear and distortion of truth that is preventing you from just being who you came here to be… the uniqueness of your light being who carries within you the same loving source that is within each of us.

If you have forgotten the “Chord” that connects each of us to each other and to Source then stop, close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply, and “remember” the newborn infant you were in the beginning of this life… perfect with all the right imperfections that you came with, and most of all the remembering and knowing of how much you were loved and will always “be loved,” for the beloved is still within you, loving you, right there just waiting to experience through you all that you choose in each moment.

Wishing you all Love, Peace, Laughter and the Abundance of all Possibilities that You are here to create for 2024.

Gail Hunter
President of the Board, OMA Center for Mind, Body & Spirit