Reflecting: October 2019

We’re almost a week into November already—wow. The passage of time is always a bit blurred in my mind when I find myself wearing shorts on November 6, for example. Or laying on green grass under the warm sun in February, as I was this year.

I’m in a much better place than when I wrote a month ago, feeling more myself with increasingly more energy. I’ve been in the same area for about three weeks now, and I’m sure that familiarity and growing comfort with a place is aiding the stability—though it wasn’t the constant moving around last month that caused my unrest. In fact, I think the slow monthlong drive cross-country aided in processing the grief I was feeling. But it does take a certain amount of energy to always be in new places, feeling a bit “outsider” all the time. (Though I’ve been trying to intentionally mix things up lately, as I’ve fallen into an easy routine here: library, grocery store, post office, gas station, BLM—and the days are notably passing “faster.”)

Also, I was offered the internship I’d applied for back in September, and have an expected start date in a week and a half. I’m hoping to find housing by then, once I’m in touch with the other interns. That’s probably my biggest news since last month.

Here’s a look back at where I wanted to place attention in October, and how it went.

October Attention

Obnoxiously Encouraging Thoughts

This was pretty good—some days it was simply three modified sun salutations in the morning, like when I was hiking the AZT. But I was pretty good at being aware of when I’d had several less-mobile days, and breaking up the stretch with walking. It’s been important to value the short 5-min stroll as much as a 1-hr hike.

Make moments book (SARK)/affirmations zine and read daily.
I made my own mini-book using phrases from SARK’s moments book. It’s now my bookmark in the Celtic Devotional.

Inner Universe

Celtic Devotional morning and night.
I haven’t been as regular about it this month as I was prior, though you’ll see below my daily journal writing was great. Sometimes it seems like I can only do one “daily-must,” and that’s fine with me. It’s probably a limiting belief, but often it’s what happens naturally. I did use the Celtic Devotional to have a small ritual on Oct. 31 in celebration of Samhain, which was a great step in the direction I want to be moving towards.

Lean into goddess card.
It continued to be a quiet month, and I leaned into it, working my way through the books I brought along (and acquired along the way).

Daily journal writing.
Like I said above, this went really well. Perhaps I missed two days total? I’m at the halfway point in this journal already, and the bulk of it is October. (I started the notebook in January.) There are many element working together to create my feelings at any given moment, but this practice likely played a healing role in getting through the latest grief wave that was Sept/Oct. Perhaps that would have happened with time, regardless, but who knows.

Writing Projects

There was minimal progression with “Boxes” (my in-progress, not real title) during the month of October, though energy grew around it. In the past week I’ve worked on it three times, and my word count has doubled, from 3,000 to now over 6,000 words. It’s on the front of my mind (I’ve even been dreaming about the topic)and I’m motivated to get the first draft text finalized and edited in November. It feels good to have creative energy again!

November Focus

Here’s what feels important for November:

Obnoxiously Encouraging Thoughts

Celtic Devotional + Daily Miracles
I’d like to get back in the habit of reading my Celtic Devotional morning and evening pages, along with that “Daily Miracles” zine I made last month—which is basically short affirmations. The book lives right next to my pillow, so it really should be do-able to get back into that routine. It’s just a matter of giving equal importance to the journal writing and the devotional. (Can I have two daily-musts?)

Inner Universe

Lean into goddess card.
I couldn’t believe how much this month’s card assured and resonated with me at this point in time: Isolt — Undying Love. Her message is “The love you have shared is eternal, regardless of the situation.”

She assures that “the healing you’re undergoing is swift and efficient, and you truly are healing from the inside out” and reminds us to “treat yourself as you would any ailing person: with caution, gentleness, and tenderness.” Then, get yourself out into the world, she encourages—not in a harsh way, but to visit parks and forests.

So I shall continue to spend time among the plants and animals, as Nature is the great healer, and lean into the comforting thought that Cathleen’s love is all still here, around me and inside me.

Daily journal writing.
I want to keep writing each day. I often wrote several pages for each entry, but it really helped that I’d made the rule about just jotting down three things I’m thankful for if I feel too tired to write. That low barrier had me putting pen to paper on days I otherwise wouldn’t have. And sometimes, once I got started with that short list, more came out.

Track 5-min. meditations.
Perhaps it’s too much to add this on top of my two daily-musts, but I do want to be meditating more frequently than I have been. So to start, for the rest of the month I’m going to track when I do meditate. Next month I can see how my other daily-musts went and evaluate from there.

Ritual for Cathleen.
Cathleen, my close friend who died earlier this year, would be celebrating a birthday next week. So I want to do a small ritual or something on the day in her honor.

Writing Projects

Continue tracking time spent on Boxes.
I have a page in my planner/notebook where I’ve been recording the date I work on it, word count, and amount of time. From this point forward word count won’t be as relevant, as I’ll be splicing and deleting once the bulk of it’s out, and it feels like I’m nearly to that point.

My ultimate goal is to handwrite and illustrate the whole thing, but I know that’s way too ambitious for the next three weeks. (Especially without a desk to handwrite!) First, I need to finalize the text, which means doing a few more brain spills, letting the words marinate, revisiting and editing. (I’ve been using GoogleDocs offline to work on it from my campsite.) My November goal, then, is to finish the first draft, such that I can begin writing it by hand in December.

Outer-Material World

Find housing.
I’m waiting to hear back from a fourth and possibly fifth intern, to see if they’re interested in getting housing together. Once we have a total headcount, then the housing hunt can become active. Hopefully this will gain steam next week, as it’s our last week before work starts.

Track expenses—make a budget?
Many years ago I bought YNAB, used it and liked it, but when I moved to France and all my purchases were in euros (and thus I’d have to wait until each purchase was posted on my credit card statement so I could enter the dollar amount) I stopped using it. With such variable income and expenses these last three years, budgeting hasn’t even been on my mind.

But now that I’ll have a steady income for six months, very likely monthly rent, and now that I own a vehicle—which I haven’t during the past decade—I want to sit down and look at the numbers and come up with a system that works for me.

Last week I had to buy a new battery for my car. Yesterday I ended up buying a new iPhone when my old one broke, totally unplanned. I’m grateful that I had the money available to go forward and pay for those expenses right away, but I don’t want to go on blindly buying whatever’s needed when I need it. Like, here’s another example—I’ve been buying groceries whenever I’m in need on the road, but I have no idea if I’m spending a lot, not much, or a good amount on food. So, I want to track these out and give myself allowances for certain categories (like YNAB did), so I won’t feel guilty about purchases, and so I’ll know where I’m at each month with the different categories.

Anyway, in the years since I first bought the software, it’s now a yearly subscription (of course), and I’m not sure I want to pay for that. So, action steps look like:

  • Researching if it’s possible to re-download the old version (it’s on an old Mac and old iPhone I no longer have/use) and use that
  • Doing their free month trial with the current YNAB as a test
  • Adding up how much I’ve spent on gas/groceries in October to have a rough idea.
  • Possibly making a spreadsheet or trying a pen-and-paper method

So, that’s what’s on my mind this month: budgets, “boxes,” and getting settled into life in Utah.

What about you, what did October feel like?

What feels hot with energy this month?

Where would you like your attention to be in November?

As always, you’re invited to share your reflections in the safe space comments below. And wherever you are, I wish you a November of patience, gentleness, and much Nature. Thanks for being here today!