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.

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?

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?

Truth Tellers

ImageI’ve been watching Skins again, that ridiculous teenage melodrama crack addiction of a show.  Aside from the pleasant brainlessness of watching fictional British high schoolers make bad decisions over and over, Skins does have occasional moments of virtue and insight.  In one of my most recently viewed episodes, shy gay Emily explains to mildly autistic genius JJ that she is going to counseling to be better at sharing honest things about herself.  Not a bad idea.

So here are some truths about me.

I am captivated by theory (political, scientific, social, you name it), but spending too much time thinking about it doesn’t really make me happy.  Practice does.  Dancing.  Cooking.  Living and acting connected to my body and emotions rather than relying so heavily on my head.

I.  Love.  Androgyny.  This doesn’t always have to look a certain way, though I think we’d all do better in life taking a leaf out of David Bowie’s book once in a while.  For my own self, androgyny means I end up looking kind of like a cute anime creature.  Manifested in my kind of sort of lady friend, it’s a delicious muscular athleticism.  In men I enjoy, it’s a sinewy, aesthetically attentive beauty.

I am an equal blend of introversion and extroversion.  No one expects this.  Most acquaintances assume I am all extrovert.  They are wrong.  I love people, particularly in one on one/small group settings.  But I need my space, my cats, my journal, and books books books to relax and retreat to daily for recharging.

What are a couple of your  truths?

Words to Live By: Nelson Mandela

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” -Nelson Mandela

This is not a new quote.  It has spread through the internet on countless blogs, and likely used by teachers, therapists, and commencement speakers to the point of exhaustion.  But like many deeply insightful but overused statements of wisdom from world leaders, the significance of Nelson’s words did not strike me until reading them in this particular moment in this particular essay, in this particular place and time in my life, an era of personal rediscovery and personal re-empowerment.  As I ground myself in my own strength and self respect, these words are perfect for contemplation and meditation.  I want them to sink into my skeleton, to infiltrate my metacognition, to infuse my realigned priorities.

Let us hold our darkness but embrace and live from our light.