We are longing.

I have come to the thorough conclusion that we, the modern humans, are desperately in  need of mystery.  Not the Sherlock Holmes kind, but the spiritual kind, the deep magic kind, the lovely imaginary world kind.  This delightful and dark Tumblr I discovered through 8tracks case in point.  The Sandman series I am rereading as well.  We long for something beyond the veil, beyond the material.

This winter shall be the perfect time to devote to the study of mystery, the cold clarity of days and murky mystique of hot toddys an ideal combination for delving Beyond.

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The whole heart of saying yes.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a doer.  And a thinker.  And a dreamer.  And a bordering on compulsive multitasker.  So deciding that saying yes to life should be one of my 2014 Practices to Enact wasn’t really a stretch at all.

Life has gotten pretty crazy as of late, largely because I say yes.  To everything.  I say yes to my amazing queer book group, and the queer board game group that has emerged from it.  I say yes to volunteering at two different book related places, and yes to moving my shift at the library because it’s better for their schedule.  I say yes to planning – retreats, summer bike weeks, local food asset maps, you name it.  I say yes to BUYING MY HOUSE, even when it is thrust upon me, rather than a process I have actively chosen to begin at this particular moment in time because I am financially and socially stable.

I love saying yes.  But I have a problem.  I rarely say yes to myself, yes to sleep, yes to hours straight of reading a fabulous novel I picked up from the library, yes to watching a show on Netflix that only I want to.  I set aside a handful of minutes to sew together a couple of quilt squares or to work out at the YWCA, but it’s scheduled time, planned time, MANAGED time.  Not relaxation, truly.  Thus I am not doing justice to myself, or my practice to enact, for wholly saying yes to life necessarily must also mean saying yes to calm, to contemplation, to slowness at times.

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Rico and Daria will help me on my journey, I do believe. No time is as present as kitty time.

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2014 Practices to Enact

A couple of years ago I decided to begin recommitting to my best self each new year; I still find the calendar year somewhat arbitrary, and prefer my birthday and seasonal holidays (solstices and equinoxes and the like) as marking points in time for ritual and centering.  However, it is nice to engage in renewal in solidarity with others while still making it my own, so I began creating yearly Practices to Enact.  I’m sure I did them for 2013, but must have felt that they didn’t need to be publicly posted.  2012’s Practices are here though.

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May 2014 be this joyous without pause, and filled with the best friends anyone could hope for.

 

Each year, coming up with practices is an exercise in balance between the practical/measurable, and the nebulous big picture sorts of projects and self improvements that I am truly most interested in.  I refuse to set myself up for failure, so too many ‘I will do x thing y number of times per week/month’ is no good.  But if everything is huge and general then how do I check in later in the year to see where I am?  In a way I think I subconsciously modeled 2014’s Practices after my post bike tour life focuses, because it was really the first time I was able to make an honest assessment of myself and my priorities and set ambitious yet realistic goals for myself.

In 2014 I shall:

  • Commit to being a writer, to cultivating this skill, to practicing my craft, and to giving myself the gift of time to do this.  Perhaps at least a two hour, undistracted portion of time each week?  At least to begin with.
  • I commit to continuing on my path to fully loving my body, to treating this part of myself with respect through good food and continual strengthening through work outs and bike trips and really ambitious sex.
  • I commit to letting go of shame an guilt in my life, recognizing that these are a tragic waste of my life energy, and instead will love my Self and my emotions, as well as those around me.
  • I commit to solitude, to noticing when I want/need it, and to attending to that desire, recognizing that I am the best version of myself when I have time with myself.
  • I commit to saying YES to life, to new friends and opportunities.  This life in this body is short, and the time where I am this physically and mentally able is even shorter.  Memories are not made through routine and caution, and I will trust in both my intuition and my support network to keep me from harm.
  • I commit to continuing to expand the boundaries of both my patience and my vulnerability, so that I might be in deeper relationship with others.
  • I recommit to noticing and noting beauty, and to sharing those moments with others without embarrassment or expectation.
  • I commit to drinking less, and i am lucky to have many wonderful people in my life who support this. My body is already thanking me for this one.

What are you committing to this new year?

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My 10 Favorite Happenings of 2013

My lovely college friend Brit posted a list of her favorite moments of 2013 today on Facebook, something I feel is a lovely prequel to posting my 2014 Practices to Enact (which are, without a doubt, far too vague, very emotion-based, and lightly pretentious).  So many of my friends have been posting ‘good riddance’ sorts of things in regards to 2013, and while I too am happy to leave this year behind, I have learned SO VERY MUCH about myself, and truly look forward to this next year.  The solstice and my birthday might feel more momentous, but a new calendar year is as much reason for reflection as any.

10. Transitioning into a role as the Transportation and Sustainability Coordinator for two great neighborhoods in St. Paul.

9. Fantastic volunteering with books at the Hosmer library and Boneshaker Books.

8. My first Pride festival!

7. Discovering tarot.

6. San Francisco/Yosemite with Sarah in early February.

5. Three tattoos in one year (thanks Adam at 4 Points for two of them).

4. Finding ample, wonderful queer culture in Minneapolis, and feeling remarkably at home in it.

3. The growing zeitgeist around intentional community in the Twin Cities.

2. My community house becoming The Moon Box (<3 to Haven, Katie, Laura, and Natalia, my lovely housemates).

1. Biking solo down nearly 1,000 miles of the Mississippi River.

2013, you happened.  You were incredibly challenging, and contained many tears, but even more love and growth and laughs and hope, all things considered.  Stay tuned for 2014 Practices to Enact, friends!

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The clear blue air.

I’ve been feeling a little bit psycho lately.  Because here in Minneapolis it’s been below zero even before windchill for the last couple of days.  And I love it.  Maybe it’s the sun glowing off the styrofoam crunchy perfection snow (this is the only time I will positively refer to styrofoam, mind you).  Maybe it’s the dichotomy of cozy warm indoors with tea and Netflix and blankets and housemates with the frozen tundra urban outdoors, cars sliding left and right on the ice that even the harshest salt currently can’t melt.  However, I am certain that winter biking is a key aspect of my possibly psychotic love for this weather.

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One of my winter steeds, Pink Lemonade the Pugsley. Riding her is like an elephant on a trampoline in the snow.

I was honored to be the first winter cyclist highlighted by my friend Brian on his new BIKEFUN Tumblr page, and in a way it feels appropriate, because going into my fourth winter of riding, I’ve finally left behind the nerves and anxiety at the prospect of ice and loose new snow and complex layering of clothing.  I can just ride, the clear blue air freezing my nose hairs, pitying the angsty drivers while giggling to myself as I glide around another corner.

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The necessity of nearly nothing.

Sometimes it’s not so bad getting a little bit sick.  A light head cold, just enough to sway the decision of whether or not to leave the house outside of dire necessity for a couple of days, might just be your body and heart saying ‘hey, take a break, lie low, the world will still be there’.  Among many other things, my bike tour reminded me that almost nothing is mandatory, and that I am much happier and more centered when I listen to my inner Self rather than guilt myself into doing any particular activity.  Listen and I will find balance.

Today has been a day of endless coffee and tea.  Of enjoying a lovely brunch made by my housemate and her twin sister, for which I did nothing other than dishes afterward (another lesson from recent months: I do not need to be part of everything, and it is a gift to everyone to sometimes just sit down and receive for once).  Of Rico curling up as close as possible to my side, to best soak up maximum amounts of my body heat.

ImageIt’s been a day of listening to the newest Tegan and Sara album several times through.  And then some Led Zeppelin. A day of writing.  Of absurdly early sunsets (argh, daylight saving time, you thwart me!) on our only full size tree, one of few that still remain after a tornado ripped through this corner of South Minneapolis over ten years ago.

ImageDo you let yourself do nearly nothing when it’s necessary?

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November is ladies month.

In my post-bike tour pre-re-entry into my routine work/volunteer/house/a million responsibilities life I wrote about the NEW LAUREN that was going to live my life into the future.  Well in general I think I’ve done pretty well with progress on said focuses, somewhat unintentionally as pertains to feminist culture.  Basically, my life is full of ladies.

My community house (now named The Moon Box) is now entirely composed of women.

Today biking into work I was passed by two other bicyclists on my route.  Both of them were women.  Ladies, we are taking the cycling world by storm!  Don’t stop now!  Winter isn’t that bad, I promise!

Aaaaaaand…I’m going on a date tonight.  Which is exciting and horrible, because I’m always a tiny bit worried it will go like this:

 

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Hyperbole and a Half has answers for everything.

But change!  Is!  Good!  And the worst that can happen will at least make a good story, right?

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