I’ve been using the month of January as a transition month, letting the seeds that were planted in various year-end reflections begin to grow tiny roots.
Now that there’s been some space, I’m placing a bookmark here today, so that future-me will have a place to turn back to.
Looking Back on 2020
I’ll start with a zoomed-out version of the year, looking at some of the bigger themes and happenings that arose in each of my personal seasons. If anyone’s new here and looking for a bit more context, here are my reflection posts from the past year:
Personal Seasons of 2020
1. Regaining Energy @ Zion (Jan. – May)
Themes: Creative Play, Community, Opening, Trusting My Instincts, Slowly Rebuilding
Sunny Place: Coal Pits
This was a time of investing in myself and my desire for community. Attending Nicole’s weekend retreat in Arizona was huge. Being known at my local library and post office meant so much to me.
I made weekly creative play a priority, which included songwriting fun. I danced through grief and hugged trees when the tears came. Remained gentle with myself; walking 100 feet to sit by the river was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. Deer escaped the sun by hanging out under my back deck.
There was the NPS job application process, putting myself in difficult spaces, supporting myself with affirmations and magick. Learned new maintenance skills (first plumbing experience).
Feeling the spark for a short time, being disappointed, learning to let go when I so badly wanted to hold on to something comforting. But it wasn’t Real. It wasn’t soulful. It wasn’t Right Relationship. I could feel that. When I could no longer unsee its truth, as opposed to what I so badly wanted to see, I could release.
Began drinking tea gong fu style. Had my first experiences with Shamanism. Added new Oracle decks to my tools.
2. Facing Storm Head-on @ Crater Lake (June – Nov.)
Themes: Darkness, Love, Art Nights, Spiritual Lens
Sunny Place: Zion and Arizona—which I put up all over the walls of my bedroom as a haven.
I felt entrapped and not soul-singing in my actual surroundings:
It was a difficult chapter for me, surrounded by dark, demanding energy which strongly activated skins I’d wanted to shed. Skins that clung to me tightly—even when I could see most clearly they were a Hindrance. Flight-or-flight at work sucked all my energy. I was no longer in control of my home environment: the sounds I heard, the smells I smelled, the things I saw.
So I turned to pages of Marianne Williamson in the mornings, to help me find and create light each day.
I turned to baking, cooking, podcasts, and snail mailing: how I spent most weekends.
Health appointments had Priority this season, while I had a pocket of health insurance. So I spent precious weekend days driving 3 hours to take care of the things that needed tending. Got new glasses. Worked on my teeth. Uncovering a shock, sitting with a fearful uncertainty for FIVE months until there was a grand relief and exhale. My anti-racist education began to get weekly attention, too.
September brought a Deep Darkness, along with smoke and fires.
And amid the shadows there was also a new path emerging. I began to learn from Shamanic teachers, and sensed this was something worthy of pursuit. Challenging work had also graced me with angelic presences—smiles of hope; love in human form. Light with the dark.
4. Workaway @ Buddhist Retreat Center in Coastal Redwood Mountains (Nov./Dec.)
Themes: Healing, Stillness, Safety, Resting, Nature, New Lenses, Spiritual Expansion, Grief & Pain.
Song: The sounds of puja; Starhawk’s anthem [not yet online; will post here when her powerful song is released.]
The land and surroundings feel safe and expansive. The Mushroom Trail is a grand adventure, Cam’s Secret Creek Trail is magically Swiss Family Robinson-esque, Redwood Reading Nook is cozy and has become my Power Place.
Because my basic needs were wonderfully met, that freed up just enough energy to begin looking at the mucky muck I’d been brushing under the rug the past two years. My first look led me to discover Mucky Muck I hadn’t known was there. For 31 years I hadn’t known. It’s painful and difficult, mucky and hard; but I’m doing it with Help and Nature Allies. I’m sitting in Dualities, holding it all at once. Working to rewrite the story. Healing.
It’s been a time of Transition, of deepening, of noticing and shifting perspectives—challenging but rewarding. Painful & lonely, but necessary. Returning to that rawness which has accompanied my grief. Back to a method of gentleness and tenderness. Observing how present-me responds to new situations and environments.
An abundance of new-to-me teachers and resources have surfaced. Glimpses of spiritual community, at long last. Wanting to sink deep into it quickly, like when I first moved to France in 2015 and excitedly sponged up everything French. Also: deepening my tea exploration; meeting mushrooms & plants; learning more maintenance skills, happily building the Yogurt Cabin.
Words That Felt Important in January 2020
Jan 2020 compass directions:
Curiosities I wanted to continue exploring:
• Alt. healing
• Witchy women
• Sacred space
• Experiences in community
• Creative play
I’m not at all surprised, but as seems to happen over and over (and which makes much sense when you think of the time that needs to pass before a seed takes root), these concepts feel as though they’re coming to fruition. They’re taking center stage, a year after I’d identified them. Fluidity and Space are my norms. Energy and Grounding are becoming familiar friends. The curiosities above still hold interest.
I have a big list of fuck-yeah celebrations in my pen-and-paper year-end reflections. Tiny wins are important to celebrate. Here are some of the bigger Woo-Hoo!s I’ll remember from the year:
+ Restarted and completed 100 Portraits Project.
+ Got an NPS job. (Much learning and stretching there.)
+ Dental work. (x6) Eye exam. New glasses. Body check-up.
2020 Reflection Booklet
Near the Winter Solstice I attended a year-end gathering, which began the reflection process. Another day, sometime after, I sat down with pen and paper.
I folded scrap paper into a very quick booklet, so it could all be held in one place. I made the booklet for the same reasons I’m writing this blog post: to have a snapshot of a particular moment in time; to remember what things once felt like in this ever-changing life.
- Proud of…
- People I met
- Gratitude for…
- Role models & teachers / Podcasts / Shows explored
- Spirituality growth
- Stories I’m willing to give up
- I invite…
- Wishing for…
- Still curious about…
Looking Ahead to 2021
January has felt like a season of blooming teachers: Starhawk, Tara Brach, Sandra Ingerman, Magical Activism, the women in my Shamanism book club, Valarie Kaur, etc. The plates are shifting a more noticeable distance. I see possibilities for transformation in my thinking, based on spiritual tools. It’s challenging work—but it’s a new way forward, a road I must go down.
Other bits I’ve noticed lately:
Much comfort eating to help soothe the pain and grief that’s resurfacing. It doesn’t feel “problematic,” but I’m aware of the crutch.
Wanting to finish books simply so they can be “done” and lessen my to-read pile. I brought books with me that I had during my whole stay at Crater Lake, and I haven’t opened them yet. Then I’ve bought more books and magazines in the two months I’ve been in California.
Podcasts piling up. I haven’t been listening to podcasts as much as I did at Crater Lake—because the routine/surroundings are different, no 3-hr drive for groceries; so weekly podcasts have been piling up over the past two months. I’m not listening as fast as they come out, and it feels like a weight.
I need to either a) reframe how I think about said podcasts + books, b) release some books/podcasts without reading/listening, or c) some combination of (a) and (b). I must slow down and read/listen more intentionally, not just to mark it as “done.” This feeling has hints of the summer of 2019 when I was grief-reading so many books.
Remember, less is more. Reduce my inputs and take in the content slowly and with intention, for it to make a bigger impact, a deeper ripple.
There is pain, there is grief. There are days when I wake up and cry. There are moments when I laugh and play with others; moments when I’m grateful to have friends here. Moments when I feel so alone and unseen; moments when I deeply crave a sense of belonging, a close friend. Grateful I still have drive to learn and send snail mail & Polos when I have light to share. Grateful I have new spiritual tools to turn to, to help me with this pain. Surprised that nearly two years after the death of Cathleen, my capacity is nothing like “before,” and that the rawness is still so close to the surface, but learning to reframe and accept my current capacity and capabilities. No longer expecting to “return” to how things were “before.” Learning to love the rawness and the tears, my newly acquired “sensitivity,” where getting flicked off by a passing car can bring me to tears, as can a kind gesture. Accepting this softness as part of me. Learning that I never grieved in community.
I can turn up the gratitude. Sometimes it feels icky/embarrassing how low I’ve been feeling, when I have so much to be grateful for. Both can exist at the same time: low, mucky feelings and beautiful surroundings. And also, I do recognize that I can certainly give gratitude more air time. I bought a gratitude journal which is on the way (and which I absolutely didn’t need, but it was under $4 and if I actually use it, it’ll quadrilion-ify in value!). I plan to set up an altar for gratitude, too.
Shedding skins. Feeling that a community I’ve been a part of is no longer a right fit. Noticing it feels better to use that energy with my book club or magical activism community.
I haven’t been writing lately. I wrote a little bit in my journal this week, after more than a monthlong break.
I have no idea what this year will look like, how long I’ll be at the retreat center where I currently am. Who I’ll see or not see. What new friends I’ll make. What my next paid job will be. What skills I’ll learn. But my focus now is on healing certain relationships and deepening my spirituality. I need these roots of support in place.
Daily connection with inner self. Applying the spiritual principles I’m learning. Using the tools.
Here are the containers I currently have in place:
Daily ACIM. On January 1 I started using A Course in Miracles‘s Student Workbook, which I’d bought last fall at a thrift shop in Moab. The book has a small thought-exercise each day, for 365 days. So far, this feels like a pursuit I want to continue.
Shamanism Book club. I’ve been meeting with a group of three other women as we read Sandra Ingerman’s “A Book of Ceremony” together. This still feels good, but will perhaps explore biweekly meetings rather than weekly.
Magical Activism. Last week I joined Starhawk’s Magical Activism offering for the year. We met the night before the Inauguration and created a web of protection & light around DC. It was powerful and meaningful. We met the day after the Inauguration as well, but it’ll be a monthly meeting February through November. This feels like a sustainable frequency, and so far the online community space has been fantastic!
February Spirituality Actions:
- Make Compass with the new directions gathered earlier in January ( & use weekly).
- Identify new quote for room
- Make new quotes for room
- Put up new quotes in room
- Ceremony zine
- Use Spirituality notebook to take notes / digest while reading / podcasting.
2. Finish three Feldenkrais courses.
The other big part of my January—which I forgot to include above—was learning of Feldenkrais! I love it. I’m excited by it.
I’m a few lessons into my second course. Without putting out a weekly minimum, I’d like to have finished three courses by the end of the quarter (from Project Feldenkrais). That means minimally finishing my current course in February, and a third in March—which feels quite doable.
February Feldenkrais Actions:
- Complete “For Standing, Walking, and Running” collection.
3. Close loops.
There are some older things I have online, which are in need of an update or removal. They feel like weight I don’t want to carry around any longer. So, this quarter of the year I want to revisit and decide what to do about each thing, breaking it into smaller projects.
(Korean Food Guide, Rebe With a Clause blog posts, Summer Camp Lesson Plans, this website)
I’ll also lump into this category releasing other weights (ie books, podcasts, magazines).
February Close Loops Actions:
- Look through Rebe With a Clause posts. Save any? Republish any in PDF collection?
- 25-min look at summer camps; decide what action to take.
- 25-min look at to-read books and to-listen podcasts. Use intuition and spiritual tools to change thought until that situation feels less burdensome and more easeful.
- Magazine mornings. (Read Orion in the mornings before work.)
4. One small zine: Micro/Macro
I think clearing out the old (above) will help make room for new creations. But one idea I’d like to turn into a creation is “Micro/Macro.” Two weekends ago I splurted out a bunch of rough ideas on paper.
- 30 min. / week rough writing.
There are plenty of other interests I’d like to keep pursuing during this quarter, and likely throughout the year. I’m sure they will continue to ebb in and out of focus while I shine the light strongly on the three intentions above.
Branches such as
- Plants & Mushrooms
Some Resources That Helped Me Transition
Finally, here are a few resources that have helped me process 2020 and look forward to our current year:
Entering the Bardo by Joanna Macy (uplifting op-ed)
Forgiving and Releasing 2020 with Marianne Williamson (powerful 45-min. video)
The People’s Inauguration (Grief Interview on Day 2)