Happy New Year!
It snowed over break! Almost just the right amount... it was slippery getting up the hill, but we made it. I'm delighted to say we're back to classic PNW drizzle & drips. I worked through the break so didn't get as much time to do year-end wrap ups and reflection like I like to do, which left me trying to cram a bunch of stuff in the night before I went back to work. I'm usually a night owl, but night owl + denial that there's work in the morning again already is... not a great way to get the most sleep...
Year-end/year-ahead reflections are something I've done for about a decade. It takes a bunch of different formats. One of my year-end things is, honestly just getting into the holiday thing and taking joy in the various traditions I and my family have picked up along the way. Another is a goofy list of around 48 questions that I answer every year. The same questions, over and over. Did anyone get married, die, have a baby... Did you travel somewhere new, did you travel internationally... Did you change jobs, change your hair, change your life... Some years I go back through all of them to see how the threads all weave together, and some years I just answer the questions. It's interesting to see the evolution over time.
Related to this is the year-ahead, but I don't always use the looking back as a springboard to look forward -- I don't actually think time always works that way. I don't believe what happened in the past predicates what happens in the future. It provides some trend lines, but there are so many variables, that you never know and could end up with a surprise upend. It's good to plan for the future, and control what you can control, but in the end, the future will unfold how it unfolds. Not saying don't try - life is about trying. Just - anticipate that there will be things that you simply could not have predicted or planned for.
I look-ahead in a couple of ways. One is to just go through and list in my haphazard journal all the things that I think I'd like to do. Where I'd like to prioritize and de-prioritize my time and attention. Often this is my list of good intent. An eight hour day plus one to two hours of commute time has a way of taking a big ol' bite out of my physical and emotional energy to deal with anything else. I'm fortunate in that if I have to let someone else be my boss, at the moment, I'm doing something that suits me well. And I know that working for a big company that I'm entirely disposable. I'm never sure what's worse - to be disposable or trapped because "indispensable." I aspire to other things though. It's awkward territory to try to figure out something when you don't have a close model for 'how to'. Like - the life I saw modeled is sort of the life I have figured out how to have. And it's good. Aaaaand. There is that part of me that feels the rat race, and... it makes me tired. So, one of the things I want to do this year is continue to explore things that make me happy. This is one of those things. Spinning is another of those things. Yoga is another of those things. Stories and mythologies, another. And so on. There is so much that I want to do and time comes at a premium.
Besides my list of good intentions, I do a card spread. I have all sorts of decks that I've collected over the years. From traditional tarot to odd Jungian decks to oracle cards. I know - that thing I said about the future up there, right? You can't predict it? It's true - and that's not how I use cards. The way cards work for me, is they make me revisit my assumptions about the stories I'm telling myself about things. Reality is subjective. It's like the story about the blind men who find an elephant and get into a major squabble with each other because each has only had a partial experience of a different part of the poor beast. Using cards is one way to use a different part of my brain to play with the story I'm telling myself about what's going on and seeing things from a different perspective. Often it works and I get some new insights "I hadn't thought of it that way, but this is worth considering." Sometimes, meh, not so much... because sometimes the new perspective is going to come from sitting and noodling in my head while I'm spinning, or walking, or hanging upside-down in down dog, or coloring, or out of the blue while I'm working.
So, cards are part of my New Year's reflections. I have a Celtic Tree deck with a meditative and somewhat complex spread (which is why I only do the whole thing once a year). I've been doing this for the last 30 or so years around the New Year, looking at a matrix of storytelling perspectives about the past year, the current moment, and the upcoming year against the foundational story, the spotlight, what is being said/heard, what are the dreams (or ideals), and what are the connections that run through them. Different parts of the elephant. Different parts of the tree... And also sometimes, LOL this is so irrelevant that we're just going to move along because I'm out of evens I so can't. If it triggers a useful insight, great. If not, that's fine too. One of the first things my lovely therapist told me was that I didn't have to believe every story I told myself about myself. And I certainly didn't have to believe stories other people told me about me either. So I super don't have to believe the stories I find in cards unless I want to or find them useful.
All of which is quite a bit more about a thing I do than I meant to get into until it appeared. LOL! Besides these things, there's also just taking time to feel the feels about the last year, staring at the tree, staring at candles, staring into the dying embers of a fire lit to make a room cozy while filled with all the people I love dearest in my life. Allowing the feelings of melancholy because connecting with friends & family is so often sucked away into the void of the schedule and routine of rat-raceness... that keeps a roof over my head, keeps my family fed, and helps create the elusive sense of stability that allows for the feelings of melancholy in the first place. Human brains are funny places when you start digging into them!
I was going to write more about spinning. There are not enough hours in the day. A good intention is to try to spin along on instagram's #spin15challenge2018 -- spinning at least/just 15 minutes a day. Ariel Gore says in her book Mother Trip - if something is worth doing, it's worth doing half-assed. Ok, who can't do 15 minutes of something a day? (Narrator: her. She was not going to spin 15 minutes that day. Mostly because that day was gone already & work was coming up and sleep is a thing, but like all things, the sun rises and it's a new day and she would try again anew... basically later today). Like - doing something is better than nothing.
Sometimes the thing that stops me from doing or saying something is the fear that someone will say, "who do you think you are doing THING!? There are others who do it faster/better/WAYYYbetter/knowmore/blahblahblah" And who am I indeed? Who cares? I'm someone doing whatever I'm doing as only I can do it. And maybe I'm not the bestest fastest most knowledgeable whatever whocares, I'm me. And I'm doing a thing which is, in my opinion, better than not doing a thing, even if I'm doing it however I'm doing it. Brene Brown said in a presentation, If you're not out here on the front lines with me, I don't care about your opinion. Totally on board with this.
But back to spinning because while I've rambled enough, I'm going to say something about spinning and mythology before I stop rambling tonight. Athena has fascinated me for a long time. Ever since I was little and picked up a book on Greek mythology from one of those Reading is Fundamental programs. The story of Athena and Arachne was included. Classic story warning against hubris. Speaking of perspectives on stories and the stories we tell ourselves about reality, I have seen often enough that mythologies carry cultural values both explicit and implicit. The explicit story in the Athena/Arachne story is that of hubris. Turns out there was a neighboring port city near Athens, a center of significant weaving capabilities, who was a competitor to them. The city weavers' motto was (do 🕷 you 🕸 know 🕷 where 🕸 this 🕷 is 🕸 headed 🕷 yet?) - the spider. Which, that's a pretty straight-up explicit commercial threat too, and not so much implicit at all... I guess implicit and secret values are another story to dig into another time. I'm going to do what I hate when others do and not provide a cite on this story tonight. I'm sorry. It's late, I read it somewhere, and it is endless entertainment value to me to see how widely Athena & Arachne are used as internet tech names because of so many reasons (mostly the connection of tablet weaving to computers and thence to "the web").
So. Happy New Year! What do you do at the end of the year?
With love, reflection, refraction, hope for the coming year, and curiosity,