A year in review & some regret too

This post was first shared in December 2023 from Santa Teresa, Costa Rica as part of my monthly love-letter series. 

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December 27, 2023

—From My Heart to Yours—

Hello to my fabulous wolf-pack. I hope you’re making it through the holidays with pizzazz, and not succumbing totally to consumerist-holiday-cheer conflation! 

I am currently sitting outside sweating while watching my sister do acro-yoga with a bronzed beefy man in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica (photo below). What a life!

This will be my last love-letter to you this year, and it’s nearly a month past when I intended to write it. I’ll first bring you up to date with the happenings in my life, and then I’ll share with you some 2023 take-aways.

The last month of my life has been socially full to the brim. While I’m very much an entertainer and people-lover, I typically require significant down-time between social affairs. I did not have time for the downtime this month, and so far, I’m going strong!

Alaskan winter prep

For Thanksgiving, I flew from Alaska to Cabo San Lucas to officiate my best girl, Ashlee’s, wedding. It was such a gorgeous celebration and I was honored to officiate!

I flew back into Juneau on November 27, and then took a THREE seater plane the next morning to my home. It was the first time I was able to see the geography of where we live from a bird’s-eye-view and I was awe struck. It was such a clear day that the pilot was able to fly through the 17,000ft mountain peaks and over the ice fields. Yes please!

From November 28 to December 1, Shane and I prepared our home to leave for the winter months. We hadn’t originally planned to leave for the winter, but life called and we ended up making a big trip out of it. To prepare, we did errands, bought anti-freeze, asked neighbors to care for our plants and our cars while we’re away. Since we’ll be away for a few months, we had to make sure our pipes wouldn’t freeze.

Never in my life did I think I would be wiping out my toilets so there wasn’t any water left in them, or crawling under our house to turn off the water supply and disassemble the water filter. I emptied our well, poured anti-freeze down the drains, turned off our heating oil and the propane, and made sure our cars were parked properly and plugged into power. We put boards in front of the windows incase icicles got squirrly and came crashing down from the roof. Just getting ready to leave was truly an adventure!

Shane and I soaked up our last moments in our magic forest land, before heading out to the lower 48 for the holidays.

Home for the holidays

On December 1, we loaded up our bags and our little dog too and boarded the 4.5 hour ferry to Juneau. We spent the night at the sweetest little hotel, and flew to Illinois at 5:20am the next day.

In Illinois, I got to meet Shane’s parents for the first time. Shane showed me all around the small town where he grew up. I cooked for his parents, got to laugh a ton with his mom, and even met his 96-year-old grandma. We ate well and really enjoyed ourselves. I was grateful to meet them.

On December 10, Shane and I said goodbye to each other for a month as I began my solo part of this travel season. As Shane stayed back in Illinois to help his parents with some tasks over the holidays. I set off on a journey south.

My first stop was my grandparent’s house in Charleston, South Carolina. They’re 84 and 85, and more vibrant than ever.

My parents moved a lot in my life, so I don’t have a home to return to that holds all the memories from my childhood. My grandparents’ house is that for me. My sister and I would spend a month with our grandparents in the summer during our youth, and each nook and cranny of their home is a reminder of little me. They’ve owned the home for 52 years, and used it as their base camp while they traveled the world. The home is akin to a museum—filled with momentos from lands near and far.

My grandma is an artist, and I truly think that her Christmas tree is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in my life. Just like the rest of her home, it’s perfectly curated. While there, I got to spend time with my cousin and my aunt too. Each night, we played cards and talked about our lives.

Funnily, in 52 years of living in that home, my grandparents had NEVER had a dog or cat inside. I asked them if I could bring MoMo, and they reluctantly agreed. Much to my delight, they fell head over heels in love with her. I think they were happier to have her there than they were me!

I shaved my head again

After a week in Charleston, I packed my little bag (yes, I try to travel carry-on-only even if it seems impossible), gathered MoMo’s things, and we hopped on a plane to visit my dad’s house in West Palm Beach, Florida. We arrived and immediately the Steelers, aka my dad’s best friends, were playing. We cheered for them and then my step-mom made delicious muscles, and lobster for dinner. What a way to start a trip!

In the days to come, we celebrated an early Christmas together, and I ran about a million errands that I couldn’t get done in Alaska.

Most notably, perhaps, I woke up one morning and became obsessed with buzzing my hair again. The thoughts persisted over a few weeks, so one day, I pulled up to a barber shop and had the very nervous barber do just that. I cut the first locks of my hair off before he did the rest.

I thought I would feel free and happy that my hair was gone once more, but honestly, my heart sank into my ass and I immediately missed my hair. It’s totally shocking to see myself in the mirror still, and I’m wondering what it was that drove me to shave it again! I am typically the opposite of a regretful person, but that’s the emotion I’m currently grappling with. It’s a regretful feeling! Like, oh no! What the hell did I do!? I’m supposed to have hair! I’m surprised to be feeling this, but when I look in the mirror, it’s like I’m seeing a past version of myself and it’s a little confusing. 

I will say that with my hair buzzed, I feel like more of a go-getter. Very exposed to the world, and unable to hide behind the comfort of my thick black hair. I also love how incredibly convenient it is, and that there is never hair stuck to my back! 

It took me all of 2023 to grow out my hair, and in that year, so much happened. Right before the new year, say goodbye! It’s all gone again. Perhaps it was a practice in non-attachment? Anyway, I know it’s just hair. I’ll keep you updated about how I’m feeling in the coming months. I don’t have a “grow out” or “keep buzzed” plan for the time being. I’m going to just roll with it (per usual).

Holistic Sex Ed & Costa Rica

A few days after the buzz, I packed up my belongings again and headed to the airport en route to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. When I arrived, my plane was canceled from San Jose to Santa Teresa, so I spent a night alone with MoMo near the airport. It was actually rather nice to have an evening to collect myself after non-stop travel and visiting with family for 2.5 weeks.

Upon arriving in Santa Teresa, I told Camille that I had to be boring for 36 hours while I crammed to finish my Holistic Sex Educator License before my program expired. It took me THREE years (down to the day) to complete the program. I did it though. I submitted my final literature review and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. I learned over 200 hours worth of material about sexuality from the top sexuality professionals in the USA, and I’m grateful for every bit of knowledge I accumulated.

I have now been in Santa Teresa for a few days, and it couldn’t be a more different climate than my home in Alaska! It’s hot and dusty and sweaty and beautiful. Camille hosted a dinner party for Christmas eve, and out of the 14 people in attendance, 9 countries were represented. It was like the olympics! I also took note of how many different languages (in addition to English) were spoken throughout the evening. I must up my Spanish game! I must and I will!

If it’s up to me, my days are very flowy and can lack structure. When I’m with Camille, I don’t have this option. She has me on a tight schedule! Because of the heat, we walk the dogs early in the morning, and then go to her Crossfit-meets-progressive overload gym where we sweat our tails off for an hour. We come back home, have breakfast, and we’re basically ready for a brief nap before sitting down at our computers to get some work done. 

This is the first time that Camille and I have lived so far away from each other. To see her in her element makes me smile and I also consider how life will continue to unfold as both of us plant our roots so far from one another (boohoo!).

2023 in review

This year was the most magnificent of my life in many ways. Shane and I searched the United States and beyond for the place where out hearts could feel like home. We found that place in a state I had never even been. After a few years of having my energy very dispersed and chaotic, I came back to myself this year. I deepened my closest friendships, and fell more in love with Shane than ever before. Creating a home in Alaska with him has meant the world to me. I post about our life in Alaska on Instagram @loveshewolflauren.

Speaking of Shane, he’s blossomed this year as a writer. Each time I have the honor to read one of his new pieces, I rejoice. If you’d like to be moved today, check out his writing here.

During the last few months, I’ve spent most of my time with people at least 30 years my senior. I’ve been hearing stories of their youth and of their journey to where they are now. I’ve heard of the best and most difficult periods of their lives, and what they attribute their happiness to. I’ve been curious about finding and learning from elders recently, and that seems to be happening.

When I talk to older people who have lived their lives without much conscious presence (from my perspective), they emphasize to me again and again how fast life goes. They tell me not to blink and they express time they would have spent differently. When I speak with people who prioritized really being alive, they’re healthy and content and joyful in their later lives. They seem to have ripened and to wear a cloak of gratitude for all they’ve experienced. While I know life happens fast (I’ve already experienced this feeling), I also believe that by trying our best to be here in each moment, we’re able to extend our perceived time here on Earth. We get to choose to be present when it would be so easy to default to mindlessness.

As far as work was concerned in 2023, I spent most of my time writing my book. I frequented coffee shops, inhaled my surroundings and poured my heart onto my keyboard. Although writing captivates me, I felt like giving up many times. It’s been a process so different from what I was anticipating. I’m happy to share that I’m proud of what I’ve written thus far, and I hope to help you, my readers, on your sacred sexuality path by soon sharing my work with you.

What a year can do

Last year at this time, I had just returned to the USA from Tulum and Shane and I had no idea where our lives were taking us. One year later, we are more grounded and have a direction to move with our energy. Our vision is clear. We see so many possibilities with our land in Alaska, and our souls feel content just being there together in the sprawling wilderness.

It’s incredible how much can change in a year, and I want to remind you of that if it feels like your current situation in life will never improve. 

While my effort is toward presence during my travels, I also can’t wait to return to and immerse myself in Alaska’s essence once more. It’s amazing how wonderful it feels to have a home I can’t wait to return to. I haven’t had that maybe ever? Yeah, ever. I can’t remember a time where I felt so content with my home-space more than I do now. 

Each month, these love letters have given me the opportunity to reflect on my month with you. It’s really been a gift for me. I’ll be happy to read these letters in five or ten years. I’ve encouraged you before to write your own monthly love letters (even if they’re just to yourself) and here I am about to do it again. I encourage you to write a monthly recap! It’s so helpful to see where you’re spending your time and what you’re doing in your life.

Back to the time conversation, we have a finite amount. And we don’t know how much. What matters to you? Keep that close to your heart. There are so many distractions everywhere we turn… including, most often, our own minds. Writing down our thoughts and experiences is a wonderful way to express what’s often stuck and bottled up in the body. 

In 2024, I plan to focus more on structure and time management. Those two phrases— “structure” and “time-management”— illicit a nauseous response from my loins, so I know focusing my efforts there will do me well.

I look forward to 2024 with arms wide open to the universe, and my heart open to the gods above. I send you love and kindness and peace as the new year begins.

Before I go,

I sent you 11 love-letters this year, and so many of you read every single one of them. That means the world to me. I stayed consistant with very little this year, but I did type a letter each month. In the coming year, I’ll have more of myself to give on the mentorship and coaching front. I want to serve you and share what I’ve learned over the last several years. I am wishing you the best 2024 possible and I look forward to our next correspondence in January of the new year!

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