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One thing most people don’t know about me is that I’m interested in numerology. Numerology deals with the significance of numbers. Each number indicates a specific meaning depending on whether you’re talking about a person’s name, birthday, or the universal year. Like this year…

When you add together 2 + 0 + 1 + 6 it equals nine. A nine universal year signifies completion, reflection, and service. All year we have been bringing to an end whatever started within the last nine years, that which is ready to come to a close as we prepare for a new nine-year cycle starting in 2017.

For some, this past year may have been slow, low-key, and relaxed. I know that it certainly was for me. I started my new career, ending a long stint of college education. I had several months of learning to rest and relax as this year comes to a close. I’ve even spoken with a couple people who have had similar experiences from friends to family members. This year has brought change and closure to a lot of people’s lives.

But looking back over the past nine years, I find I have a lot to reflect on.

Nine years ago I was in my final year and a half of high school and starting a journey of independence and self-reliance. That’s about the time that I became interested in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Self-Reliance,” and used it as a guiding light for my own self-understanding. Upon reflection, I see how Emerson and that essay foreshadowed and fully encapsulates what the last nine years have been for me.

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great mean is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

After high school, I went on a four-year journey not only from home to home but also an inner journey as I awakened to a reality much greater than my self-obsessed one. I can remember each specific step along the path that cracked open my mind and heart with each moment subtly leading to the next. Until one day, my world got turned upside down and, like an explosion, my consciousness expanded to include the cosmos.

I can remember my perspective shifting from one of self-centeredness to literally include my view of the earth from outer space. Since then I have grown tremendously as a person and spiritual being.

While my spiritual lessons were underway, so were my human lessons. I had to figure out my life path and purpose. And I was dedicated to discovering what was right for me. Many times I wanted to move from my path to nursing but with each step or even hint in any direction away from nursing, my guides forcefully redirected with me. Yes – forcefully.

The force included anything from upset and nauseated stomachs with diarrhea or even headaches to flat tires and broken parts within my car. I quickly learned that I’m on a path that is crucial to my life purpose. And I learned to trust my body and the environment for signs about which direction to go. I developed a strong intuition as I navigated choppy waters and made mistakes along the way.

I made it through two college degrees and finally into my career where I’ve settled into the beautiful knowing that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. And that feels good.

Throughout the last nine years, my career, life purpose, and relationship with myself underwent an overhaul. My personal expansion literally blew my mind and still blows my mind today. I am in awe of the woman I am today as I am still learning to love and appreciate myself deeply instead of relying on others to validate what I already know to be true about myself. This is a major lesson I’m wrapping up.

My family relationships have certainly shifted over the last nine years. The structure of my family has changed immensely with divorces, marriages, and babies. There have been breakdowns in my extended family, difficulties between siblings, parents and children, and tremendous collective growth as we have all changed with the times, no matter how small or large the change. Some of us have matured, myself and my siblings included as well as cousins, as we’ve come into our own. We contribute to the family in ways we were unable to do so before.

I’ve learned a lot about family in the past years. I’ve learned about expectations, traditions, patterns often passed on from generation to generation, the sponge-like ability of children, and the enduring power of love – if and when love is actually present. We all just want to fit in and be accepted.

Personally, I have found my voice within my family. When I entered my teenage years I felt different than the rest of my family. And as I entered many years of metamorphosis that these last nine years have been for me, I’m now exiting this cycle with a sense of self that I am confident in and able to express vocally to my family. This was not possible before.

Before, I did not feel as though I had a voice or a place. Today, being different is still a challenge but I’m learning, at great strides, to trust the bonds of familial love and risk my uniqueness in favor of self-love rather than self-betrayal. From this, I learn that family will either love me or not no matter how I show up. Being myself is far more important. Being loved as who I am is important for my own happiness and for the happiness of those around me.

The journey I’ve been on continues to inspire me to move forward with greater vigor, enthusiasm, and passion. The lessons I’ve learned, no matter how hard, have shaped me into a human worth being and excites me about the human I’ll continue to become.

We are now entering into a new nine-year cycle. I want to encourage everyone to finish 2016 with deep reflections over the last nine years. And take the time to set intentions for the next nine years.

I have learned from personal experience that self-reflection positions me to respond at a higher level the next time I have challenges to face. As I encounter and work through challenges, I can up level my response and grow as a person, becoming a better version of myself. Self-reflection plays a major role.

When you know where you’ve come from and what you’ve learned, you can make smarter and wiser decisions going forward and be an active, happy co-creator with the Universe. Yes – you – can actively participate in the creation of your life. It is a dance after all. The Universe may be leading the way but you have the opportunity to have your own flare and style along the way. That is the beauty of being human.