Today I am reflecting back on the month—because yes it’s the last day of June, but also because today I am able to do this. Earlier in the month I wouldn’t have been able to sit down, reflect, and write.
Several weeks of June were spent in the midst of an inner storm of grief, frustration, anxiety, and a swirl of other emotions new to me in magnitude and combination, which I don’t have words for (see this post for a little more context). Even though in most of those moments I didn’t feel good, I knew there was no other option than to go through. To feel what I was feeling and accept it as my current condition, protect my limited energy as best I could, and show myself compassion. The old rules didn’t apply here, so I had to adjust my expectations accordingly.
This past week is the first I’ve been able to look back and even attempt to articulate that period, so it appears I’m moving onto a different backdrop. (I’ve never danced with this particular grief before, and can’t make any assumptions about days to come, but I do know that today I’m feeling more like myself than I have in the past month.)
In addition to experiencing and exploring these unsettling feelings—which was a huge part of the month—here are some more places my attention has been:
Books: I read something like eight books this month, which is high for me. Of those, recommendations include:
- “Mating in Captivity” by Esther Perel
- “The Best We Could Do,” a graphic memoir by Thi Bui
- “Refuge” by Terry Tempest Williams
Portraits project: I painted three portraits in June, bringing me to 66/100.
Cooking/baking: I made my own hummus (twice; bought dried chickpeas for the first time last week instead of canned, and think I’m a convert), shepherd’s pie (to use up instant mashed potatoes purchased for my thru-hike), rhubarb crumble (made with rhubarb from the backyard), vegan pot pie, chocolate banana coconut smoothie, and baked these pretzels the other night. And my chocolate chip cookies have been a weekly necessity; will be baking another batch tonight.
Netflix: I finished up season 6 of “Orange is the New Black,” and season 3 of “Easy.” Since then I’ve been working through season 2 of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” and trying to savor season 15 of “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Back in Flagstaff in March a friend introduced me to the CNN mini-documentary series on decades, from the ’70s to the ’00s, which covers events and pop culture in the United States. So I’m starting with “The Seventies” and am two episodes in. Since I’m usually focused on a single moment or small action, I’ve found it incredibly interesting to look back at a whole decade through this program—to see the influences that would shape my childhood, influences I was never aware of.
Language teaching: I started teaching two one-on-one Spanish classes weekly (to a 5- and 6-year-old), and got hired on as an English teacher with VIP Kid. I’ve taught six (25-min) classes so far at VIP Kid ($48), but haven’t had a booking since June 19, and so far have no slots booked for the next three weeks of July.
Van hunt: I put this on hold when things went haywire earlier in the month—did not have the energy for this. I have fear because I know zip about cars or car mechanics, and this will be a huge purchase for me—it’ll clear out most of my savings.
So with all of that background, here’s what my June focus items look like:
Obnoxiously Encouraging Thoughts
Read “The Art of Living” by Thich Nhat Hanh.
I finished this book earlier in the month and copied down a few quotes while reading. I especially enjoyed “The Five Remembrances,” which I’ll share here:
The Five Remembrances
I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill health.
There is no way to escape ill health.
I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. They are the ground upon which I stand.
I used Calm once this month, way back on the 3rd. This quickly fell from focus, and that’s okay.
Lean into Goddess card.
I trusted in this period of Transformation, returning to my card when I needed the reminder. I actually bought my own set of Goddess cards this month, as well as my first tarot deck. Then during a room cleaning, I emptied the top right drawer of my desk and transformed it into a tarot drawer, using a bandana and scarf I already owned. This has made it really inviting to do a daily draw, and it’s felt fun to have a secretly magical place disguised as a desk drawer.
I’m slowly familiarizing myself with the tarot cards using “Tarot 101” and “Modern Tarot” from the library, both of which I’m enjoying as a beginner. I definitely want this to be a focus in July—both because it feels good and because the books are due at the start of August!
Filling a Poetry Notebook
Track 10-min. poetry play sessions.
I have four poetry checks for the month. Setting a 10-minute timer has been helpful. During one of those sessions I used a prompt and wrote and wrote and wrote, felt great at how much I’d gotten out, peeked at the time—sure I was nearing the end—and saw I was only at the five minute mark! Ten minute bursts are great.
The other thing I did maybe a week ago is I put a small cardboard box in my top left drawer, which is where my “Poemcrazy” book, my guided poetry journal, and my slew of small poetry journals all now live. Keeping everything together within arm’s reach of my desk has definitely lowered resistance to starting.
Track IG and Netflix frequency in monthly tracker.
I tracked this, and it became clear to me that I wanted to leave Instagram. So a week ago I left. It’s deleted from the phone, though I still allow myself to view others’ pages from the computer if I want to.
No phone in bedroom.
This worked really well! I got back into reading before bed and in the morning, which I enjoy and which I’ve noticed makes me sleep and feel better as well. Because of early-morning VIP Kid classes and choosing to rely on my phone’s alarm instead of switching to an alarm clock, I transitioned to using airplane mode (usually around 7:30 p.m.) during the evenings and mornings, and also during writing periods.
Check email max once per day.
This went really well for a week or so, when I was checking it at noon. Now that I’ve been writing on the computer more frequently the past week, I’ve definitely been checking email more than once per day. It feels okay, though.
Obnoxiously Encouraging Thoughts
Lean into Goddess card (Dana)
Today I set up my journal for July, copying the month’s Goddess card description beside the calendar. I’ve been working on informational blog posts about the AZT, so it feels in alignment to keep bringing those into the world this month, as well as other ideas I have churning.
Finish reading “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers”
This book is my introduction to the shadow and shadow work, and I’m interested to see if any insights are gained. So far I’m enjoying the book, and think it was a good one to start with.
Filling a Poetry Notebook
Track 10-minute poetry play sessions in journal.
Same as before, this time with my poetry box and timer in hand.
AZT Guide + Gratitude Project
AZT guide: 30 minutes of writing, 4x/week.
To keep the focus on process, I’ll aim to sit down four times per week in 30-minute increments to keep working on this guide.
When the guide is finished—which I think is doable—I’ll spend that time on my Gratitude Snail Mail project.
As always, you’re welcome to use the space below to share what your month has felt like.
I also invite you to join me in taking some time for personal reflection. What’s been going well lately? What is no longer serving you? What would you like to illuminate in July?
Thanks for being here. You’re doing a great job!