So(u)l Invictus

Last year, around this time, I set an intention of marking nature holidays – solstices, equinoxes, and the pagan holy days halfway in between.  I did pretty well with the 2015 Spring Equinox, writing up a lovely little ritual based on the elements after reading about historical ceremonies and goddesses connected with the day.  I haven’t quite reached that level of ceremony for the holidays since, but hope to begin next year’s round by putting together a weekend retreat to celebrate Imbolc, the early February holiday of fertility, cleansing, and the first signs of early spring.

sad_1But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The Winter Solstice just passed, and with it the darkest day of the year.  I always want to do a mini dance to celebrate having made it through this super challenging time, the several months where all so many of us can do is take Vitamin D, hang out at conservatories, and binge on Netflix in hopes of distracting ourselves from the incredible lack of Sol Invictus, the invincible sun.  We somehow make it through every year though, and learning more about the roots of the holiday somehow make it easier.  Astrology is a particular focus of mine, and the social justice and positivity-focused postings of Chani Nicholas are a particular favorite of mine.

“You can become a source of revolutionary self-love. You can become an unending source of appreciation and acceptance for yourself.”

I’m still working on setting intentions for the new year, but I am certain they will include continued learnings and focus on herbalism, astrology, and magic.  What do you want to manifest in this next wheel of the year?

Right now I’m listening to: Fleetwood Mac, all the albums, always.

Called back.

Called back.

It has been an EXCEEDINGLY long time since I’ve blogged.  I’ve gone through several iterations of ‘I really just hate how much time is taken up by silly technology, so I should eschew it in order to live up to some ridiculous moral standard I have arbitrarily set for myself’.  But I’m getting over it.  Because I really do write more when I use a computer, and have an audience, however meager and elusive it might be, holds me accountable.

So here I am.  Back again.  ::cue some ridiculous 80s soundtrack::

2015 has been a crazy year of becoming someone I would actually venture to say is an adult.  Part of this has been by choice (setting boundaries in my committed relationships, starting a farm and business with my partner, leaving a job that was meaningful but drained me), and part of it has been completely out of my control (the sudden death of my previous partner).  It’s all given me a pretty solid shake up as to what is important though, in this short life we have on this marvelous blue planet.  So here’s the wisdom I’ll start my new blogging era with, things I have to remind myself of pretty much every day in order to stay reasonably happy and sane:

  1. Do what you love.  Every day.  Gently but firmly leave behind the things that don’t feed your soul.
  2. Practice radical self love first and foremost, so that you have the energy to be a rock for those who need it.  When friends, family, and acquaintances are brave enough to reach out to you, make time for them.  Very few things are as important as this.

“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
-Mary Oliver

Things that inspire me right now: Felicia Day’s memoir.  Baking bread.  Herbalism rooted in social justice.  Local businesses standing up against bigotry.

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.

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.

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?

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!

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.